First things first: I am a mostly self-taught woodworker that has been at it for about 20 years. I’ve made a wide range of projects, mostly focused around furniture and accessories for the house, typically Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, Stickley, and Greene and Greene influences.
I’ve been working in the chemical manufacturing world as a chemical engineer for 27 years. I’m currently a Project Engineer by day, working for one of the largest corn processing companies in the world building chemical facilities.
As my woodworking skills have progressed, I find the most helpful tips come from other woodworkers and not so much from the numerous publications out there that claim to have some kind of great and wonderful new, secret tip. Furthermore, as I read through many of the projects posted around the internet, I find that most of them focus on “WHAT” was done, not necessarily “HOW” something was done, and more importantly “WHY” it was done that particular way.
I remember watching “New Yankee Workshop” marveling that Norm Abrams always had the perfect tool and set up for whatever task he was performing, and it always looked so quick and easy, without really showing more than a token clip of the work. I would get out the woodworking magazines and catalogs (early days of the internet when catalogs still were sent out), or look on the internet to see what the jig, tool, or machine was and how much it cost thinking this must be the item I needed. Usually, it was prohibitively expensive, had limited use, or some other major limitation which meant I wasn’t going to buy it. Over time I realized that I needed to figure out how to creatively use the tools and equipment I have….. and occasionally buy something new and cool if my conscience (wife) let me.
With that background, I want to focus on the “HOW” and “WHY” aspects of my current woodworking project.
First Step – Figure out what you want
I want a new computer desk. The glass topped abomination that currently sits in the office was never intended as a permanent fixture.
I spent several months looking at, and saving, pictures whenever I saw something I liked, trying to come up with a look that was compatible with the Stickley table that I built for my wife’s scrap booking while highlighting other aspects of the A&C approach. Google Images is a great way to look through lots of pictures. I searched variations of Craftsman, A&C, G&G, desk, table, to find images. In the process, I kept coming back to Kevin Rodel’s Taleisin Desk. His work has elements of Charles Mackintosh and I just finished renovating our bathroom using Mackintosh elements in it.
From there I found Jim Young’s excellent, thorough LJ blog on his build of the Taleisin Desk. I read through it several times and looked at all of the pictures he included and his discussion of what he did. I decided that this would be the desk I built. All of the window shopping took a while, but it was time well spent. Take the time to define a clear idea of what you want and how it will work with the rest of the room, area, and surrounding furniture.
Next Up – More decisions
-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"