Desk rebuild #2: Apron construction, etc

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Blog entry by Ben posted 08-16-2009 05:51 AM 2067 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Desk destruction Part 2 of Desk rebuild series Part 3: Starting to take a new shape »

Since the last blog entry I have made some good progress on building new parts for the desk. The apron and legs are nearly ready to assemble. This was my first attempt at building curves into my work. To curve the front and sides I built up layers of laminate and formed it in an mdf forms. I used poplar as the base for these curves, and cut the original mahogany down for the outside faces. Not having a drum sander to smooth each layer, I had to rely on my bandsaw to cut true, which it generally did (Powermatic makes a nice bandsaw). Overall, I am pretty happy with the results.

Working with curves has proved to be a new challenge. I don’t have a great feel for what is actually square like I do with straight boards. If I have a slight twist in the board, there is no easy way to get it out. As best I can tell, I have a slight twist in the front and side aprons. I was originally going to try to mortise the aprons into the legs, but am convinced that with the twist it will be near impossible to pull off without giving the entire desk an awkward twist. My current plan is to go with pocket screws on the front. This way I can focus on getting a flat surface for the top. The back apron will be a straight board, which I made out of some of the Makore I had on hand. This will be mortised for some extra strength.

I am having some doubts as to the original material of the desk. I still think it is some sort of mahogany, but it may be a fairly cheap version. It is very soft. As I mentioned in a previous post, the top is very scratched, likely due to this. Of course, future use will risk scratching it quite heavily again. I will try to mitigate this with a good hard finish. I’m not sure what the best answer is quite yet, and am open to suggestions.

Pieces of the apron layed out

Bending the front apron in the form

3 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 08-16-2009 06:26 AM

Good work Ben

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View cpollock's profile


34 posts in 3410 days

#2 posted 08-17-2009 03:10 AM

Nice work, Ben.
How many plys are in your curved section? It looks like a farily soft curve. Any thoughts on why it twisted? Your clamps look pretty substantial.
I’m enjoying the progress, thanks for keeping us posted.

View Ben's profile


26 posts in 3810 days

#3 posted 08-17-2009 05:31 AM

Each of these are 6 plys thick. I ended up with a few different thicknesses, and found myself getting wider as I went along. In general, each layer is about 1/8” thick. At least one layer from the end of the board ended up >3/16” thick, and it bent just fine. In hindsight, 4-5 plys would have been more appropriate.

As for the twist, what I have is very slight, and likely comes from the form. I cut out the form fairly square on the bandsaw, but then smoothed it by hand. I don’t think I introduced much twist, but just enough to scare me away from the more exacting joinery.

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