Greene and Greene Standing Desk

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Project by mileskimball posted 08-25-2014 01:00 PM 2119 views 16 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my own design of a Greene and Greene-style standing desk. It’s my first project in G&G’s idiom. It has the typical G&G features: floating keys for the breadboard ends, pegs, multiplanar design, cloud lifts, and pillowed finger joints. But I added some things myself.

The biggest feature is that the cloud lifts support the desk top and the drawer box, making them look like they’re floating. That gives the whole piece a lighter look than one might expect.

I also decided to use cherry rather than mahogany, just because I like cherry!

Finally, rather than using ebony (which is crazy expensive) for the plugs, I experimented with maple, stained in Japanese calligraphy ink, sealed with shellac, then polished on a buffing wheel. Looks pretty good, total cost around $15.

To accommodate wood movement in the top, it’s attached only by hinges on the back rail. It just sits loose on the front rail.

The whole thing weighs only about 30 pounds, so it’s easy to slide from room to room on felt pads glued to the feet. (A requirement from the commissioning client, my wife!).

-- Miles

10 comments so far

View david38's profile


2386 posts in 1764 days

#1 posted 08-25-2014 01:47 PM

great looking desk

View Blackbear's profile


137 posts in 1640 days

#2 posted 08-25-2014 02:02 PM

That doesn’t look like your first piece of G&G, great job! You are right, it feels very light and airy. Also, great idea on the ebony substitute, they look great.

View ChrisK's profile


1794 posts in 2502 days

#3 posted 08-25-2014 02:07 PM

Nice looking desk.

-- Chris K

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1291 days

#4 posted 08-25-2014 05:50 PM

Exceptional, very unique. I love seeing styles like G&G applied to newer types of pieces. Also great creativity on the ‘neo ebony’.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View BTimmons's profile


2298 posts in 1906 days

#5 posted 08-25-2014 06:25 PM

Very stylish. Well done.

-- Brian Timmons -

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#6 posted 08-25-2014 07:40 PM

Beautiful work and design.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#7 posted 08-25-2014 07:43 PM

Handsome desk. A work to be truly proud of.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View mileskimball's profile


97 posts in 1435 days

#8 posted 08-25-2014 09:45 PM

Thanks for all the kind words!

I like the term “neo ebony”! Since a couple of people have commented, here’s the procedure I came up with:

1. Cut and shape the pieces. I used soft maple, but I suppose any close-grained, neutral-colored wood would work.
2. Prepare a mixture of about 2:1 amber shellac in a 1 lb cut and Japanese calligraphy ink, available in art supply stores. (I also thought about India ink, but it’s considerably more expensive.) The alcohol (in the shellac) and the water (in the ink) mix together just as well as they do in a bottle of beer
3. Get a container (I used a pickle jar) big enough to hold all the pieces and soak them in the mixture overnight.
4. Pull them out and lay them to dry on an edge that will be unexposed.
5. If the coverage isn’t as good as you like, add more shellac to the mixture and paint on another coat. At this point, the mixture might appear a little grainy – I think from the particles clumping together. I didn’t do this, but I wish I had strained it through a filter first, just to get rid of the biggest clumps.
6. After all has dried, give it a light buff on a buffing wheel. Careful of the corners – the ink sinks in a little bit into the wood, but it’s still possible to grind off a corner and let the white maple show through.
7. If you’re going to finish your project in shellac as well, give the parts a quick spray of clear lacquer from a spray can. Otherwise you have the chance of pulling the ebonizing off the parts.
8. Apply paste wax and buff again. (Be careful to keep wax off of any gluing surfaces. A little masking tape helps.)
9. Install.

That’s it. If I were to do it again, I might experiment with scorching the maple with a blow torch, then go through the shellac/lacquer/wax buffing process.

-- Miles

View Mean_Dean's profile


4939 posts in 2568 days

#9 posted 08-26-2014 12:03 AM

That’s a beautiful drawing desk! I love G&G, and you’ve certainly done the style justice!

Interesting to learn your ebonizing procedure. I’ve heard of ebonizing walnut, because it’s already relatively dark colored, but never maple!

-- Dean

View mileskimball's profile


97 posts in 1435 days

#10 posted 08-26-2014 03:51 AM

Doh! wish I’d thought of that!

-- Miles

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