It begins with a friend asking me if I could make him something after learning I had completed my apprenticeship.
“Yep, I can make you something, what do you have in mind?”
He told me he wanted a new computer desk, because the one he’s using is uncool.
The guy I apprenticed with specialized in tables and bookshelves, so that seemed right up my alley. I was enthusiastic that I could make a little money doing what I had set out to do in the first place. It was looking good. He gave me some details and measurements, all easily within my experiences at the woodshop.
My shop, on the other hand, is vastly undertooled, and very undermanned both in experience (of working alone) and in people (as it’s just me, and sometimes my wife to assist me when the third and fourth hands are necessary.)
October ‘09, he brings me the wood. 115 bf of white oak and 11 bf of mahogany for an inlay.
June ‘10, I begin work on it. The wood wasn’t green. My shop simply gets very cold during the winter, and it’s old. No insulation, 1960’s wiring (meaning no grounds for the plugs…but plenty of those adaptors) but it does house two 220v connections. Spring was bad for me to come home and do anything as we had cleaned the house out and stored everything in the shop…ever happen to you?
Anyway, June ‘10, shop is mine again, and new tools are bought in preparation for the desk.
It’s an L shaped desk, 36×72 X 22×48 standard 30” tall.
All the boards are cut to width (to remove the rough edge) and cut to length for the panels to be glued up.
Oh, had to buy new clamps. Can’t have enough clamps right? And had to build another workbench to sit them on because my first one isn’t big enough.
Bandsaw to make the inlay (Ridgid 14”) and a Chicago Tools 12” sliding compound miter saw and a biscuit joiner.
Then, I get the news that he’s moving. The new place he’s going to has a 3 foot wide hallway, and will the desk fit through it.
No…haha, no way.
What should we do? I’m asked. Well, fortune favored the lazy and cold this time around. As the panels were only still gluing up, I had to shift gears on how to make it.
The desk has to be delivered in parts, much like those build it yourself kits from an office furniture supply catalog. Which I had the pleasure of building two L shaped desks over the Christmas holiday, and became the inspiration of how I am going to put it together after shipping it to his place.
In parts. Fun, oh yes, fun. I’m used to building furniture that is all one piece, or that join together in several large pieces to make an enormous one piece.
Size it down a bit shall we? Yep…
Now, I can’t put it together with anything permanent, so what to do? I remember pocket joints. Yah! That’ll work well! It’s strong, (enough) and can come apart if he ever decides to move again. And it’s simple enough that he can do it himself!
So, I get to learning how to make pocket joints. Erm…yeah, I don’t want to spend that kind of time measuring each panel and HOPING that I drill in the exact angle. Kreg’s pocket joint kit here I come!
I think that will work out well, and make it sturdy enough with a few supports underneath to help keep it from flexing down where he’ll be sitting.
Then, I talk to him about the inlay…all is good, and I mention that he may want some carving to go along with it around the border. Yes, he likes that idea, what do I have in mind?
Take my dremel to task and carve a few celtic knots for him, shoot it with my digital camera and send it to him. Now I get to dremel the whole perimeter of the desk top. Haha…oh, adjust the price accordingly he says. I would hope so.
So, next I start on the inlay. Bandsaw is ready to go, just need to get approval on the inlay (which I believe he will like) and then cut it out, sand it to smooth round and straight edges, cut down the mahogany, plane it, then cut it up with the pattern marked around it, and then measure the top of the desk and start in with the dremel to cut it 1/8” deep and put the inlay in it.
Then, put it all together, stain it a warm cherry, and put a nice finish on it.
Hopefully by the end of August he will have the desk.