When I bought this vintage desk, the owner told me it was maple and I had no reason to disbelieve him as it is very heavy and it was covered with a thick red/brown stain. This was a popular stain in the 1940’s-50’s for maple furniture but it is not the honey-brown that we usually see on such pieces I forgot the before photo of the desk so it looked something like this dresser:
It was impossible to see the grain of the wood underneath the opaque stain which was almost like paint. After stripping it, I was delighted to discover figured maple. Figured maple also known as flamed, curly, ripple and bird’s eye is a feature of maple in which the wood fibres are distorted in an undulating chatoyant pattern. It is quite distinctive and doesn’t look like ordinary maple.
You can see in the photo that the grain is very pronounced and resembles something like oak. I went for a darker colour stain and mixed Dark Walnut with Jacobean. On a wood like walnut or mahogany this would have come out much darker but maple is difficult to stain and I highly recommend wood conditioner that acts as a sealer and helps the wood to absorb the stain evenly. I prefer standard oil-based stains because they allow you to see the full beauty of the wood. If you are going to spend hours stripping and sanding, it seems a shame to cover it up with gel stain.
I painted the base in a 50/50 mix of Country Grey and Greek Blue. I love watery blues and this is a blue/green/grey hue.
I had thought of staining the knobs like the top but instead I painted them and added gilding to make them a bit more feminine. I am quite happy with the result.
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