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Writing Desk from a Handtools Class

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Project by Natalie posted 574 days ago 1268 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First off, I’m sorry about the poor quality photos. The best representation of the actually color is in the third photo.

I made this writing desk at a class I took from Monroe Robinson at the Marc Adams School in Indiana. The class was a focus on hand tools.

The wood is “California Walnut” (whatever that is). It was air dried, which makes a big difference with walnut. Air dried walnut has more of a reddish tone as the kiln drying seems to give it a grayish cast.

The top is veneer which was cut to 1/8th inch thick on the bandsaw. It was lightly planed in a machine planer but mostly hand planed for the the finish. The piece of wood was machine jointed before it was cut into veneer and then the pieces were jointed with a hand plane to fit together. The veneer was vacuum glued to apple-ply and the edge banding is 1/4 inch thick and cut from the same wood.

The legs were created with a spoke shave. I started with 4) 2 1/2×2 1/2 pieces of Cherry, which I stained with a homemade stain. Recipe: Pieces of rusty metal soaked in vinegar and applied as a stain. I mounted it on my lathe then drew lines on the piece and shaved to the lines. The shaved areas revealed the natural wood creating the look of marquetry. (Sorry, I didn’t get any photos of the process). The grooves down the center were made with a router. I used the same process on the table skirt. The medallion in the center is what I call “overlay”. Lets just say, it needed something and I was not in the mood to attempt marquetry at that point.

As you can see from photos it has a floating top attached with buttons. The final finish was the same recipe which Monroe go from Sam Maloof and is a secret. Actually, he freely gave out his recipe, but if you ask me for it, ill have to tell that its somewhere is a box of papers somewhere in my shop. If i come across it I promise i will post on a blog here.

Thanks for viewing my project.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.





12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112008 posts in 2202 days


#1 posted 574 days ago

Beautiful desk Natalie,great job.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6912 posts in 1928 days


#2 posted 574 days ago

this is so beautiful, and hard to believe you did this with a kitchen aid, your a real master…lol…ok..i could not help myself, now serious, you really did do a fantastic job here, i love walnut and love seeing tables made from it, your design is terrific and would enjoy having a piece like this in my home, sure would…congrats on a wonderful project…walnut tables are my fetish…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2094 posts in 813 days


#3 posted 574 days ago

A handsome and functional table !

According to various sources (eg Wikipedia) California walnut is just another name for claro walnut (juglans hindsii). Claro walnut is also found where you are located (Oregon), but I suspect some of it is actually a hybrid where claro and black walnut intermixed. I have quite bit of Oregon claro and most of it is quite dark in colour, sometimes with a purple hue to it. Frequently figured also.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Natalie 's profile

Natalie

366 posts in 591 days


#4 posted 574 days ago

Thanks for the info on the walnut. This particular bit of it is such a gorgeous color and the grain is wonderful.

Speaking of walnut, I have an entire walnut tree cut into 8 to 10 inches wide and 8 qrt in my loft. I bought it from a man who was closing up his shop and moving into assisted living. He had brought it to Washington from his sisters house in Tenn, 15 years prior to selling it to me. I have had it now for another 15 years. Do you see why I am so excited to be getting back to woodworking? I have so much wood out there the NEEDS me. LOL

Just to gloat a little more Grizz, I also have dibs on a living walnut tree that is slated to be cut down sometime this fall. Its from a house I sold to the city. They demoed the house to build a new police station and I promised to make them a sign from the tree.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6912 posts in 1928 days


#5 posted 574 days ago

lol…well well, to have so much walnut is a real gloat and that is really cool to be getting your walnut from the house you lived at, that will be so great…but i hate to say it but i do view this as a wood gloat challange, and i usually dont back down from those..lol…so, some day somewhere…you just might see a walnut gloat from the grizzman…;).........until then im going to enjoy all of your pieces you make from this walnut you have…have fun.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2630 posts in 2337 days


#6 posted 574 days ago

Natalie,

You incorporated so many interesting things in this table. The idea for the legs is very original (at least to me). I’m wondering how much contrast will remain as the cherry ages and darkens. Does your stain formula work on other woods as well? How about that technique with maple? Could that work?

Thanks for sharing. What a great way to learn!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Natalie 's profile

Natalie

366 posts in 591 days


#7 posted 573 days ago

Lefty,
The photo of the legs was taken recently, so you will see that contrast has remained. For one thing that stain is almost black. Also, it must be that I used the sap wood, the outer part of the log, which is lighter to begin with and doesn’t darken as much as the heart wood.
I haven’t tried that stain on anything else. Let me know if you do, I’ll be interested to hear how it works.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15582 posts in 1491 days


#8 posted 573 days ago

That is a fine piece of work. I’ll bet that you learned a lot.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View michelletwo's profile

michelletwo

2222 posts in 1640 days


#9 posted 573 days ago

very well done. The legs are rather interesting/fascinating. the apron has a nice detail too..Overall, a very well done piece of furniture, that would go into just about any setting/decor

-- We call the destruction of replaceable human made items vandalism, while the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources is called development.

View Roger's profile

Roger

14318 posts in 1429 days


#10 posted 570 days ago

Very beautiful Natalie. Another fine build. Lotsa gr8 details.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View woodmizer14's profile

woodmizer14

14 posts in 255 days


#11 posted 241 days ago

Great table Beautiful craftsmanship Natalie, great job.

-- Michael from Hickory North Carolina, michael.owenby@yahoo.com

View Steve Diogo's profile

Steve Diogo

87 posts in 217 days


#12 posted 154 days ago

Beautiful work and an inspiration for me to keep learning.

-- http://chicagowoodworker.wordpress.com/

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