Taliesin Desk Build - How's and Why's #2: Part #2: Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 07-20-2016 02:24 AM 592 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Part #1 - Where to Start Part 2 of Taliesin Desk Build - How's and Why's series Part 3: Part 2B# - Inspiration at the Chicago Art Institute »

Great, now I know what I want to build AND I think it will be compatible with the style of other furnishings in the room.

I have a picture, provided by Captain Skully, since I forgot to post one. Many thanks!!

Before I go any further, I must give credit to Kevin Rodel for his design. I wish I could afford to buy his works, they are amazing. Thank you for providing the rest of us with such inspirational pieces to imitate. If this turns out well I might try reproducing the Glasgow desk. If I win Powerball I will buy one of each….. now where is the magic 8 ball so I can pick my numbers….???

The hard part is over, right? Time to start cutting some wood. Well, no not really. Now the hard part starts – identifying all of the crucial details that make the desk a work of art, worthy of notice.

If you want a plain desk, pick up a couple of 4×4’s and a piece of plywood at the big box store. If you want a work of art, you have to identify those elements that make it truly exceptional. What makes this desk special? Why does it stand out?

To me, the wedged thru -tenons and the side spindles are quintessential Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style, the slightly thicker bread board ends with the ebony bars are Greene and Greene, toned down slightly since the signature ebony splines and square plugs are not included, the graceful curves in the long stretchers and the bottom aprons are reminiscent of Stickley, softening the square Prairie lines. The blending of these styles is what draws me to this desk.

Still, I’m not sure what to make of the walnut or ebony cut outs on the legs. Similarly, the tapered bars across the bottom of the drawers are interesting but the jury is still out on them as well. I definitely like the hidden nature of the drawers, no pulls.

Why, you ask, does all of this matter? For me, it helps clarify why I want to build a desk like this, it will keep me focused on these design elements so I don’t stray and start adding a lot of bits and pieces of details that don’t flow with the design. Nothing is worse than finishing a piece that with all kinds of disparate details that you like, only to realize they don’t work together and the piece looks horrible.

So I have a picture and there a few small details that I want to change. I am very fond of using walnut and cherry together. The top will be 4/4 walnut and the breadboards will be 5/4 walnut. The inner spindles and the small vertical and horizontal spindles will be walnut. I’m also making the desk 1” taller and a couple of inches wider and longer. I’m still thinking about the tapered bars on the drawers. The walnut inserts might need something like a grid to liven them up… still thinking….

While I ponder the finish details, it is time to start on dimensions, plans details and a cut list.

Depending on what you decide to build, you can start with a complete set of plans and directions. Woodsmith, Taunton Press, and others have complete plans you can buy which can be a huge time saver if that is exactly, or nearly exactly what you want. I recently finished a G&G bed that started out as a complete plan and part way through I changed most of it except for the general dimensions. There are also many books with shop plans, less complete plans that give the crucial dimensions and information but leave the specifics up to you. I have a library of Woodsmith and Fine Woodworking magazines as well as numerous books on G&G, Stickley, Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, Prairie style, anything that has a project that catches my eye. You should be able to find something that gives the important details. After all, a desk is 4 legs and a top with some little boxes under the top.

In this case, I was fortunate to get a very detailed set of plans from a helpful person simply by asking. His kindness saved me a couple of months of work drawing up plans. That might be the most telling quality that I find in fellow woodworkers – the desire to help other woodworkers, whether that is with plans, tips, tools (as long as you give them back), or just encouragement. That sounds like a pitch for the idea behind Lumberjocks…..

At any rate, I have a set of plans and a cut list, marked up with the changes. I know what I like about the desk. I know what I want to change, and most importantly I know why I want to build one that looks like this, and not something else.

Part 3: Time to raid the wood stock in the shop….after this heat wave cools off.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

1 comment so far

View Doe's profile


1291 posts in 2253 days

#1 posted 07-22-2016 12:18 AM

Thanks, I’m really enjoying your series. I can’t wait for the next exciting installment! I hope the weather cooperates.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

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