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L-Shaped desk, best joinery for top?

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Forum topic by Tyler posted 888 days ago 1713 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tyler

174 posts in 1325 days


888 days ago

I’m gearing up to build a desk similar to the one pictured below, but I’m agonizing over how to join the two top sections together. The one pictured is butt jointed, but I’m sure its not solid wood. I’m looking at using 1” or maybe 2” walnut for the top.

How can I best handle wood movement? Do I glue the two sections together or fashion some way to allow movement?

I know I could miter the joint, but I’d rather not mess with that unless I have too – maybe movement would still be an issue with a miter?

Thanks for any help.


10 replies so far

View Jero's profile

Jero

75 posts in 1618 days


#1 posted 888 days ago

That is tricky. I thought of the following: Mortise and tennon, kind of like a breadboard end, secured in the center, allowing each side to expand and contract, but still remain “joined” together. I think that’s how I would do it.

I would think you’d have issues wtih a miter joint with each side being solid wood.

-- Jeremy - Marshfield, WI

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Tyler

174 posts in 1325 days


#2 posted 888 days ago

Good idea Jeremy. Do you think there is a need for breadboard ends on the two ends of the top? I’ve been going back and forth with that one.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4836 posts in 1209 days


#3 posted 888 days ago

Splines and or spline?

I like the Mortise and tennon in the center idea as well.

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1052 days


#4 posted 888 days ago

This type of desk is usually made modular so that it can more easily be transported through a standard doorway.
As such, the joinery of the tops would be dog bones, or, draw bolts—the type typically used for countertops. Also, the use of mending plates to join the base together is typical.

You could get more fancy than that, but, just consider that this should be detachable into two sections.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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Tyler

174 posts in 1325 days


#5 posted 888 days ago

I like the idea of making it modular. Would dog bones necessarily allow movement or just accomplish a joint that can be taken apart?

I can see in the distant future maybe taking the two sections apart and using them separately. This is not a requirement now, but would be a nice bonus.

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1052 days


#6 posted 888 days ago

It’s been done this way a very, very long time and on tens of thousands of desks.
As long as you aren’t using glue in the joint, I think the wood movement would be okay.

You can see in your photo that the left hand section is a free standing unit and the right hand section has only one set of legs. The other end of the right section bears down on the left section for support.
There is likely a corner brace behind where the drawers meet in the corner too.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1700 days


#7 posted 888 days ago

Modular is definitely the way to go or you’ll have a helluva time getting this into the room.

I would make the front apron of the desk (the piece against the wall) full length. The left apron on the wing piece can be screwed (or thru bolted) to the desk apron.

Since you don’t have much “meat” above the drawers on either front apron, add some 1/2” aluminum angle stock inside the aprons and above the drawers to add support from arms resting on the desk tops.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Tyler's profile

Tyler

174 posts in 1325 days


#8 posted 888 days ago

This is all good stuff – keep it coming.

That is a good point about not having much support above the drawers. If I decide to do a 2” top, I’ll need to support quite a bit of weight.

The idea about taking the left apron all the way across makes a lot of sense too. I wonder how I would account for the top overhang, while still having the joint between the wings be tight?

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1700 days


#9 posted 888 days ago

Fill the wing overhang with a piece that brings it flush with the top.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112015 posts in 2209 days


#10 posted 888 days ago

If your going to join the two tops I would ether use Jeremy’s idea with a single piece of wood with tenons set up like a bread board or using a sliding dovetail with out glue to make the desk easier to move.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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