I just finished refinishing a 90 + year old handmade desk. Here's the back story.....
Sometime around the turn of the century (1900's) my great grandfather planted a walnut tree on his property. About 20-25 years later he chopped it down. He owned a lumber mill in Louisiana and took the tree there to be milled. He then contacted a local carpenter to turn the wood into a desk for his oldest son (my great uncle).
After my great uncle died the desk was passed onto my grandfather. Sometime in the early 70's he gave the desk to my parents. Around 1973 my mother decided to paint the desk white to match her sewing room. Four years later my parents divorced and my father took the desk with him. In the early 2000's my father gave the desk to my younger brother. My brother gave to desk to me last year when he moved from Texas to California. For the last year or so the desk has been sitting in my attic collecting dust.
Over the holidays I decided that I needed a larger desk as I have been using a sofa table as my home work station. I remembered that I had this old desk in my attic, so I decided to renovate it to something more modern. When I first started this project I had no idea about the history of the desk, but as soon as I peeked at the wood grain behind the white paint I was curious to find out what the story was.
Long story short, this desk has been in my family over 110 years if you count from the time my great grandfather planted the tree. It is made of solid black walnut. As a furniture buyer for a large furniture retailer the last 14 years I can tell you that they don't make them like this anymore. Today you'd be hard pressed to find solid anything for under $10,000.
When I began this project I took some "before" picture. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted those photos (don't ask). To give you an idea of the differences between before and after, the original desk had side shelves built into the legs with mission style slats. As mentioned previously, the desk had also been painted solid white. I removed the side shelves and stripped the white paint off. I added a shelf across the bottom as well as a back support panel for stability. Unfortunately I didn't have access to black walnut for the shelf additions, so I had to use oak. Below are some of the photos of the desk project.