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I got this desk from a friend that rescued it from the dump. There's a lot of rescue efforts that I'm putting into it. Not the least is fixing the finish that's totally gross.

I started scraping the finish off of one of the drawers - it went a lot better than the belt sander I took to the desktop. scraped finish

One of the biggest problems for me is that the drawers on one side are pinched up against each other. At first I thought maybe I just had them put in the wrong sides or something but then I pulled the drawers out and started inspecting this desk closer and I discovered this:

warped support

I didn't need a straight edge to tell me that part was warped as all heck.

Here's some other shots of the affected part:

top of warped support

Bottom middle

Bottom side

How do I fix something like this? I know there are a couple of nails holding it in place, and looks to be some wood glue. That block to the left of the leg is also some kind of runner/support that goes all the way to the back of the desk.

Should I use a hammer to knock it out? Pry bar?

Obviously I'd like to salvage as much of this as possible - I'm also not sure how I'd bend the wood back, and I'm pretty sure just flipping it would just cause some other issues.

  • I think this is my first post on here - if you can improve the tags, please do or let me know! – Wayne Werner Sep 22 '18 at 14:06
  • More pics would help here to get a proper idea of what's going on. But from what we can see already you definitely need to remove that leg, replace the piece it's currently mounted to and then consider repositioning the leg when you reinstall it, as where it's currently positioned is a definite weak point of the design — normally where legs are sited the area is beefed up, which definitely isn't the case here! – Graphus Sep 22 '18 at 16:04
  • Now don't mean to be a downer but are you sure this desk is worth the effort it'll take to put right? Many pieces can be legit older furniture made from decent wood and yet still not really worth a lot of sweat equity to try to put right, except as a labour of love or deliberately as learning opportunities. Refinishing alone is days of work (minimum) and the structural remedial work isn't trivial if you have limited/no prior experience. – Graphus Sep 22 '18 at 16:07
  • @Graphus more pics forthcoming. To answer your question though, no, this wouldn't be worth it for anyone but me. It's not actually the desk that my mom used to have, but it's basically the same build. There's some nostalgia there. Also because it was free and destined for the dump I'm not going to be terribly sad if I totally screw things up. I learned the hard way that the finish doesn't take sanding very well - turned into a melted mess and gummed up my belt sander. Mainly I'm interested in this as a learning project, and I can live with imperfections... – Wayne Werner Sep 22 '18 at 17:43
  • in fact, I deliberately added a couple of castoff drawer pulls because this was missing the single pulls from the two side top drawers. They're totally mismatched, but I'm totally fine with that. Eventually I'd love to totally change up the desktop, but at the moment I want to make sure the thing will actually stand for a while – Wayne Werner Sep 22 '18 at 17:45
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A bit of this depends on how the drawer body is built, but I'd think about reducing the height of the back of the drawer to whatever the available space is... The downside is that the front might tilt forward and not sit nicely flush.

And while it won't cost much to try, I doubt that time in clamps with a modest sized additional support (as suggested in another answer) will straighten the wood enough to be useful. I think you'd want something quite big (like a 2x3, with the 1-1/2 side in contact with the desk) to exert force and hold screws. That might be visually unattractive.

Failing all that, I think you'd need to replace that piece, which really isn't too hard. Old glue frequently comes undone with a sharp smack of the hammer. The nails might be a problem...

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This is basically the same problem as having an overloaded shelf. The easiest fix is the same - add a horizontal support to give extra structure to the board. Take a piece of 1x2 hardwood and use clamps along the bottom of the warped piece to force it flat. If you can get it to pull flat right away, then remove the piece, and put it back with glue on it, then screw it to the bottom of the sagging piece with screws into the hardwood (start the screws inside the desk). Once the glue dries, you can remove the clamps.

If you cannot pull it flat the first try, clamp it as far as you can, and keep tightening it every day or so until it is flat.

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    Compression set is nearly impossible to fully reverse, and the wood will always have a tendency to return to the bent state even if unstressed, which won't be the case here if the OP doesn't reposition the leg. While I'm all for re-use and reducing waste this is what, a dollar's worth of wood at most? Replacement is totally the right call here. – Graphus Sep 23 '18 at 12:56

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