Desk on frame

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Project by acanthuscarver posted 2332 days ago 1908 views 9 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Desk on frame
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This is one of my signature pieces. I designed this piece using some elements from old pieces and a fair amount of my own imagination. It’s pretty typical of the type of desk that could have been made during the Queen Anne period in America.

-- Chuck Bender, Senior Editor Popular Woodworking Magazine, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

25 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2447 days

#1 posted 2332 days ago

The design and finish of this piece are simply gorgeous. The details are simply too numerous to comment on but the piece has a lot of visual interest.

How about the wood(s) used and how did you finish it?

thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Shopsmithtom's profile


780 posts in 2820 days

#2 posted 2332 days ago

That’s really amazing! I can’t think of anything more to say. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 2399 days

#3 posted 2332 days ago

Hi Chuck

Beautiful looking piece. Have not seen non better. My brother wants to build him a Pennsylvania Secretary once I get the new shop up and running. Might have to pick you brain down the road. Any hidden compartments in this one? Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 2614 days

#4 posted 2332 days ago

That’s a great desk. It’s like the slant top I built except I had all drawers below and a bookcase on top.

Fantastic detail inside.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Grumpy's profile


19378 posts in 2477 days

#5 posted 2332 days ago

first class excellent work Chuck & great design.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1145 posts in 2624 days

#6 posted 2332 days ago

Holy smokes, this is perfect. Extremely nice project. I don’t think I could ever make anything even close to this. How many hours does it take to make one of these? You are a true artisan. WOW WOW WOW

-- Bob A in NJ

View Colin's profile


243 posts in 2546 days

#7 posted 2332 days ago

Simply magnificent, I admire your craftmanship, your proportions and your attention to detail. Excellent work.

-- Colin, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. "Every craftsman was once an amateur"

View Douglas Krueger's profile

Douglas Krueger

396 posts in 2349 days

#8 posted 2332 days ago

Nice work Chuck, pretty obvious that you should keep your day job.

-- I can so I wood but why are my learning curves always circles

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2786 days

#9 posted 2332 days ago

oh my goodness; oh my goodness; oh my goodness.
STUNNING …..... what a treasure!!! (bowing to your brilliance)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View acanthuscarver's profile


261 posts in 2338 days

#10 posted 2332 days ago

Thanks folks for all the compliments. I’ll try to answer all the points you raised in turn.

First, the wood is Eastern Black Walnut. The lid and lower drawer fronts are walnut crotches. The color and finish are as follows. I used a homemade water-based analine dye to color up the walnut. Once it was dry, coats of shellac were applied. I lightly sanded between coats and the final coat was rubbed out dry with 0000 steel wool. After being rubbed out, the piece was lightly waxed with a good paste wax.

Pick my brain all you like. I’m a full time woodworker so there isn’t much to pick from. I’d be happy to help answer a few questions on a secretary. In this desk on frame the only secret compartment is behind the little tombstone door. Immediately behind the door is a bank of small drawers. If you pull out one of the drawers, there’s a small pin hole in the side of the case. If you insert the end of a paper clip, it will release a standard Quaker lock. The entire document box then slides out to reveal three more hidden drawers at the back.

The desk on frame design is rarer than the full blown secretary in America. There are far fewer period desk on frames. The exception to that is the reverse serpentine secretary. It seems you’ve found one of the few rarer forms of period desk to build than I did, Gary. What a brilliant piece you made.

The number of hours I spent on this desk comes in around 60 to 70. I don’t have any “in progress” photos of this piece but I will try to post some other views (if I can find them).

Thanks again to everyone for their kind words. What I’m really looking for by posting some of my pieces is earn enough of your respect to be able to help you achieve those woodworking goals you have. Please feel free to ask for help. At the prodding of my family and friends, I’m trying to open up new avenues in my woodworking. When I see a secretary like GaryK’s, I’m humbled by the notion that the person who made it hasn’t been locked in his shop continuously for the last 25 years trying to perfect his skills. The more I learn about woodworking, the more I realize there is yet for me to know. If I can help enlighten any of you on a problem you’re having with a project, I would be greatful for the opportunity to help.

-- Chuck Bender, Senior Editor Popular Woodworking Magazine, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 2500 days

#11 posted 2332 days ago

My goodness! That is a beautiful piece of furniture.

View BrianM's profile


116 posts in 2378 days

#12 posted 2332 days ago

First class all the way Chuck!

I see talent like this and think I should just go and burn my tools because I’m wasting wood.

-- There is no such thing as scrap wood!,

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4435 posts in 2588 days

#13 posted 2332 days ago

Another great piece, Chuck. I too would like to see some more views of this piece. thanks for the info.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View CharlieM1958's profile


15684 posts in 2844 days

#14 posted 2332 days ago


I’m kinda like Brian. I don’t know whether to try harder, or just go throw my tools in the lake.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 2491 days

#15 posted 2332 days ago

Nice legs. I would love to do one of these someday.

-- He said wood...

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