Writing Desk (1st Post!)

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Project by Mr. Paddy posted 01-03-2013 12:49 PM 1663 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this desk about a year ago, a few months after graduating from college, and although it’s a relatively simple design, it was a bit ambitious considering the tools and space I had available to work with. After buying a few tools to get me started (circular saw, router, belt sander), I got excited and wanted to start building immediately. After a trip to Lowes’ for the straightest red oak boards I could find, I started cutting and gluing wood together like a castaway building a rescue raft. I didn’t own a clamp, but I built a giant jig out of two-by-fours and long capscrews that I could tighten down to create my tabletop. It was a sight for sore eyes, but I was motivated by the challenge. Like a child riding a bike with no hands, I was feeding off the joy of building something that could come to a crashing disappointment at any second. Working over a dropcloth in my apartment bedroom with two roommates downstairs, I was unaware of the colossal sanding job I had just created for myself.

The resulting slab of wood was twisted and bowed so severely that I ended up cutting off 8” more than I initially had planned, just so I could get a reasonable surface to start sanding. I let it sit in the corner of my room for a long time before I built up the courage to start sanding. I took my dropcloth outside (the “home”less man’s workshop), lay the pile of glued boards on top, and began sanding. With my cheap belt sander and inexperienced hands, I gouged and ripped away until the surface began to resemble something flat. Practicing my technique on the bottom, I was able to get a routine going on the top, and after a mere 20 hours, I was confident that I needed a better sander.

After buying a new orbital sander and turning it into a well used orbital sander, I was happy enough with the flatness. I have since learned to use a hand plane.

The rest of the desk went relatively smoothly. I moved into a house with a garage which allowed me to spread out and expand my tool set, and I took a few days to build a simple work bench. Using a doweling jig and some guided router passes, I cut the legs and had them glued up in no time. The desk came out sturdier than I expected, but was really a learning experience in the end. The finish is sub-par, the design could have used a to-scale drawing to tweak some of the aesthetics, and the overall look is a bit unplanned, but it was a fun first project.

Looking forward to sharing some of my more proud moments in future posts!

-- I have the toes I have. Let's leave it at that.

9 comments so far

View luv2learn's profile


2848 posts in 2447 days

#1 posted 01-03-2013 05:39 PM

I really like the simplicity of your design. Great work. Welcome to LumberJocks by the way. This is a great site with a wide variety of talented woodworkers from all over the globe. Now we have one more, YOU!!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3865 days

#2 posted 01-03-2013 06:15 PM

Great desk. Great learning experience. My living room floor makes a great assembly area.
Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View stefang's profile


15947 posts in 3478 days

#3 posted 01-03-2013 08:20 PM

Welcome to LJ and well done. I can see from your use of a home-made gluing clamp to your innovative design and excellent result on the table top that you are indeed a woodworker and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of interesting projects from you.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dwinkel5's profile


36 posts in 2520 days

#4 posted 01-03-2013 10:46 PM

This is a great post.

I think you will find many of us start out this way. As long as you learn something new (and maybe pick up a new tool or two) with every project, you will be suprised how much fun the progression is.

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2938 days

#5 posted 01-04-2013 01:09 AM

Welcome. Looks great and 10-4 on the sanding. I know all about that…

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2642 days

#6 posted 01-04-2013 04:13 AM

“I didn’t own a clamp” I wonder how far back most of us would have to go to say that. I think I’m running about 90 to 100 now and have used as many as 50 on a large complex glue-up.
But I can remember your excitement. Long ago, bought a used benchtop jointer, couldn’t afford a motor so I sat it on top of my small table saw and ran a belt down to a pulley clamped on the saw arbor. Stayed up late doing lots of dumb things, but just like you, wanted so much to build.
That’s a fine design and a pretty good result for a first serious project and I’m sure you’ve discovered by now that careful work mostly obviates the need for massive sanding, though we all do get caught at times.
You’re in the right place and have the gumption; hope to see more from you.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Mr. Paddy's profile

Mr. Paddy

7 posts in 2114 days

#7 posted 01-04-2013 06:26 AM

Thanks for the wonderful feedback, everyone! I can see why this site is so fun to use, instant feedback from woodworkers who can relate to my struggles.

-- I have the toes I have. Let's leave it at that.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3700 days

#8 posted 01-05-2013 05:21 PM

Looking good, I like the design

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3721 days

#9 posted 01-05-2013 05:25 PM

Welcome to Ljs
This table has a very nice design.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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