Farmers desk

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Project by jistincase posted 08-16-2010 02:16 AM 4486 views 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Farmers desk
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This is a project that I found most satisfying and challenging. This is made after a picture that I found in a magazine that I do hope to sell one day. The wood that I used is from an old grain silo that was built in the 1930’s. It is old growth Douglas fir that forestry experts estimate to be about 500 years old. The growth rings on this wood are amazing and beautiful. The entire desk, with the exception of the two accents strips in the front lid are all from the same wood, even the drawer bottoms. The accent strips made out of black walnut were added because I goofed a little and the gap was going to be to big and my wife suggested that I add something to it to fill in the gap and I just happened to have that lying around.

The sides of the desk have box joint construction as well as the drawers. The moldings are also made from the same wood as are the legs which are laminated and then tapered on 2 sides. The bottoms of the drawers are 1/4 inch that I glued together and then planed down to the proper thickness.

The wood being kiln dried when it was used was extremely hard and straight as an arrow. Douglas fir does have the propensity to splinter into dagger like slivers while working with it so I had to be very careful handling it. I tired to leave as many of the original nail holes that I could to give it that sense of a prudent farmer of the day that might reuse some perfectly good wood for their project. The surface where you would write was filled with clear epoxy so pen and pencils would not poke through the paper or cause uneven writing.

The finish was accomplished with amber shellac. First a coat went on then I took a black walnut gel stain and wiped it over the surface and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then I went back and wiped off the excess except it the areas that might collect dirt over time to give it that old look. After that had dried for a day I went back over with a couple more coats of amber shellac. Although I really like the look of the shellac it is really had to work with as it dries so fast and I was using premixed and could not find any retarder to slow the drying time.

All in all this was a very painstaking and long process but the results are there for you to see.





-- If it doesn't work we will always wished it had.

14 comments so far

View David's profile


172 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 08-16-2010 03:18 AM

Very nice, a great use of reclaimed timber.

-- “Don’t tell me what can’t be done, tell me what you want done then shut up and get out of my way and let me do it!”

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3460 days

#2 posted 08-16-2010 03:22 AM

nice desk.

i’ve read that mineral spirits added to the shellac (which has been dissolved in denatured alcohol) will make it easier to work with. never used shellac myself, but it makes 100% sense to me :-)

View widdle's profile


2069 posts in 2995 days

#3 posted 08-16-2010 03:25 AM

Nice Work
The coloring is spectacular…have quite a bit of older fir in the shop..will try your gel stain technique..thanks

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2919 days

#4 posted 08-16-2010 03:30 AM

Well done. Very nice piece.

-- Life is good.

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3085 days

#5 posted 08-16-2010 10:37 AM

Very nice work, and fantastic to make something this beautiful out of a old silo.

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

View gagewestern's profile


308 posts in 3346 days

#6 posted 08-16-2010 03:39 PM

that is verry nice . the old wood is buitful.

-- gagewestern

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3063 days

#7 posted 08-16-2010 03:50 PM

Great job!! Nice work – materials, construction & finish.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View jistincase's profile


14 posts in 2837 days

#8 posted 08-16-2010 05:54 PM

Thank you for all the nice comments. It was a worth while project. I wanted to sell it originally but now I like it so much I keep shuffling it around to the house to try and make it fit in.

-- If it doesn't work we will always wished it had.

View swirt's profile


2733 posts in 2968 days

#9 posted 08-16-2010 08:28 PM

Nice work. I like the lines of it.

Is it easy to use? I would think what remains of the aprons on the front, once the top is lifted back would make it a little hard to use as a desk (tough on the elbows).

-- Galootish log blog,

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 3073 days

#10 posted 08-17-2010 12:15 AM

Looks really great! Alcohol (denatured will be the cheapest…) is what you would use to dilute shellac, premixed or flakes.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3460 days

#11 posted 08-17-2010 12:33 AM

the purpose of the oil is to give yourself more time to work the finish. some mineral spirits added to the alcohol will help slow drying and yield a more uniform coating.

View NormG's profile


6111 posts in 3000 days

#12 posted 08-17-2010 06:21 AM

Wonderful piece. Glad you listened to your wife. Great design

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View swirt's profile


2733 posts in 2968 days

#13 posted 08-17-2010 05:51 PM

I can vouch for the mineral oil in the shellac leading to a great surface. If I am doing a small piece I just put the oil in the pad first, then squirt the shellac onto the pad. Larger surfaces I just mix it with the shellac directly. BLO can also be used. The mineral spirits you don’t have to rush to wipe off, it could sit on there for days, the BLO you have to wipe off before it starts making the surface gummy.

I haven’t used mineral spirits in it. One of the reasons I really like shellac is that I can apply it without stinking up the place. Mineral spirits would ruin that for me ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View jistincase's profile


14 posts in 2837 days

#14 posted 08-17-2010 09:02 PM

It really isn’t hard to use at all when I do use it. At the moment it just seems to be a collecting point for anything that is lying around. Legos seem to be the biggest thing that shows up on it.

-- If it doesn't work we will always wished it had.

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