How to build a desk
Wipe away loose dirt with a damp cloth while checking the piece is structurally sound. Use a drill to replace any rusting screws with new stainless steel fasteners and add galvanised brackets to reinforce a wobbly base if required.
Use a random orbital sander with a 60-grit abrasive disc to remove flaky varnish and smooth over cracks, then remove as much varnish as possible by sanding all over with a 120-grit abrasive disc, including underneath and around the base.
Pro tip: Timber restoration requires lots of sanding. Wear a mask, work in a well-ventilated area and regularly empty the dust bag of the sander.
Wet the surfaces and dilute the deck cleaning solution in a bucket (following the manufacturer's ratio). Apply with a brush, scrubbing over all blackened areas, then rinse thoroughly with clean water in a spray bottle or hose, leaving to dry.
Apply timber filler to holes and screw heads with a spatula, leaving to dry. Use a 120-grit abrasive disc to remove excess filler, then sand all over with 180-grit to remove residual varnish, which dries white and flaky. Sand along edges and around corners to remove splinters.
Wipe all over with a damp cloth to remove dust. Using a paintbrush between boards and a mini roller on flat surfaces, apply varnish, then leave to dry. Smooth the top and edges with 180-grit abrasive paper. Wipe away dust, apply a second coat of varnish and leave to dry.
Pro tip: Varnish is a great long-term solution as it adds a protective layer, and choosing a semi-transparency or stain will enrich the woodgrain even more.
Lightly smooth over the top and edges with 240-grit abrasive paper, wipe away dust, then apply a third coat of varnish over exposed surfaces, leaving to dry. Add new rubber feet or glides to the base to raise the timber off the ground and help prevent water absorption.