I've been working on fixing up an old secretary desk I got from my grandparents. I've already stripped and sanded it down and have a few questions before I move on to the next phase.
1.) I've decided I like the natural color of the desk, so I do not want to re-stain it, but I would like to protect the wood. Would a coat of mineral spirits suffice or should I do a coat of something else.
2.) Two of the tracks that hold up the drawers have come off. The were previously nailed in. Should I nail them back in or use wood glue? Can I re-use the old tracks and replace the nails or should I have new pieces of wood cut for the tracks?
3.) The handles for the drawers, which were previously tacked in, come out when pulled on. Should I use wood glue to hold them in place or I fill the hole with some sort of putty and nail them back in? And should I do this before or after the protective coat?
Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Mineral spirits is not a top coat of any kind, it's a solvent. If you're looking for a "minimalist" top coat, I would suggest something like Watco's Danish Oil (which is mostly oil with a little varnish) or a wiping varnish like Waterlox or General Finishes Arm R Seal (which is basically thinned regular varnish). Both are very easy to use and forgiving. Here's an excellent article from Fine Woodworking that discusses using a wiping varnish. Before committing the entire project to a finish, you should test in an inconspicuous area like the back or bottom of the piece.
For the runners, I wouldn't waste my time filling wood inside of a piece, instead use small screws offset slightly from the original position of the nails, pre-drilling as necessary. Screws have much more holding power than nails.
For the pulls, it would be helpful if you could post pictures. Wood filler generally has low strength and I would probably use screws again. Just go right into the existing holes with slightly larger screws. If the pulls are any kind of metal, then wood glue wouldn't work anyway and Pat's correct, glue residue will interfere with finishing.
Thank you both for the suggestions. I've uploaded a few pictures of the pulls and of the runners. It's the middle drawer where the runners need to be fixed. Unlike the other two drawers the middle drawer does not have a back support, so it's just the runners on the sides.