My Mission to Restore and Refinish an Oak Desk Chair!

Restoring an Antique Solid Oak Desk Chair

I saw this awesome chair at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and I immediately fell in love! It is solid oak (quartersawn, I believe) and was needing a little TLC. The joint at the seat had split, was very dry, and the spring was rusty. I paid a whopping $8.00 for it (fantastic for an antique oak desk chair!!) and as I was loading it in the car, I already had a plan as to how I was going to repair and refinish it!

restore and refinish an oak desk chair

I started by taking the chair apart. Some of the buttons that hid the screws were glued in, so I had to drill those out to get to the screws. The first order of business was to repair the seat where it had split. I used my pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes on one side of the split, then used glue and 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws to pull everything together tightly!

restore and refinish an oak desk chair split seat

restore and refinish an oak desk chair pocket holes in seat

restore and refinish an oak desk chair finished seat

Next, I throughly sanded all of the pieces and prepared them for a new finish.  I think painting oak is a bad idea so I settled on a new stain color by Rust-Oleum called “Carrington”. It is a brownish color and I ended up applying two coats because the first coat looked a bit too orange. I sealed all of the pieces using Rust-Oleum’s Ultimate Polyurethane in Matte. I put everything back together replacing parts as they needed to be.

restore and refinish an oak desk chair stain applied

restore and refinish an oak desk chair sealer applied

I cleaned up the spring and all of the other metal parts, as well as the screws. Then because I have to use a shout of color somewhere, I spray painted them using Rust-Oleum’s 2x Ultra Cover in Satin Aubergine which is a gorgeous purple-y color!

restore and refinish an oak desk chair springs and hardware


So what do you think? I am so happy with the way the chair came out! I am on the hunt to repair and refinish another antique oak desk chair, though I don’t think I’d want purple-y metal hardware on this chair! Maybe gold?

I was not asked to or compensated for mentioning Rust-Oleum products. I am a huge fan (i.e. “stalker”). These products work well for me and I like sharing my experiences with my readers!

Originally posted 2013-10-08 08:00:06.


  • maarts says:

    I picked up a 1956 Krug oak office chair on the sidewalk. It is in awesome shape but needs a good cleaning and new upholstery on the seat. Mine is not stained and most of the finish is in excellent condition. I would like to just lightly sand and recoat the ‘varnish’ to pep it up and address the spots with hand wear (any thoughts on what the finish might be from 1956?).
    Did you completely dismantle the hardware before spray painting it or just take it off the wood? How is the paint “wearing” on the threads and spring? I cleaned the very thick dust from mine and the hardware finish has no wear but I hadn’t thought about painting it to spruce it up.

    • CherTexter says:

      What a lucky find – how awesome is that? If I remember correctly, I removed the base from the bottom of the chair seat, then taped off any wood the hardware was still attached to. I used primer for rusty metal then sprayed the hardware. The paint held up beautifully! Hope this helps and good luck with your project!

  • Charles Vierthaler says:

    I have a similar desk chair to the one that begins this article. Where aare you and how much would you charge to do the same work on my desk chair. I would like it done with the same stain. Your work appears exceptional.

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