Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DIY Desk, Part III

A bit over a year ago we decided that, having far too much free time and excess funds, it was time we bought a house to relieve us of both. Having been cooped in an apartment for the better part of a decade, we had a dearth of furniture[i]. When we moved into our relatively larger new space I decided I needed an equally new desk[ii]. As I’ve written about previously, the idea of a DIY wood desk was sparked by seeking something I liked in the store and thinking those four damnable words “I could build that!”
I spent some time figuring out what I wanted and and how to build it. I acquired tools…manly tools. Tools brimming with the shiny electric promise of power, craftsmanship, and potential accidental dismemberment.  I perused lumber stores, read up on finishes, made 3d computer models, and started work on my trestle desk[iii].

And then changed my mind. A lot. I ended up ditching the trestle style for a passing infatuation with a “campaign” style desk I saw on a website. Many a tree was sacrificed to my mental vacillation. Hunks of mangled wood built up in the corners of my miniscule shop like misshapen children, mocking me with their little streaky, warped faces. I learned almost entirely by trial and error which is evident by the mixture of sawdust, blood, and tears that carpets every surface in our garage.

Something went awry.

The final steps in the process were to assemble and finish the base, build and finish a new top out of pine and poplar edging, build drawers and install them, and finish the base in lacquer (shown below). So essentially, everything but cut the wood. The addition of a pocket hole jig and new drill helped a lot.  

Constructing and finishing a new top.

Finished top grain. A little streaky, by weathered look works for campaign style.

Drilling pocket holes.

Building and staining drawers.

Finished drawers in place.

Desk before final staining, lacquer application and hardware.

Hardware attached, drawers partially open (they fit flush). Spreader on bottom still needs to be put in place.

Here at the tail end of the journey, I now have a functioning desk. Not perfect, not without flaw, but functioning. The one upside of going with a historical “campaign” style is that any flaw can be simply written off as “historic”. Issues with the finish? Historic! Slightly wobbly? Historic! Potentially cursed as a result of desperate pacts made with dark entities in some of my more desperate moments? Historic!


[i] In conversations with friends, no one would buy that it was simply “minimalist” aesthetic, or at least not deliberately so.
[ii] My previous desk was also a DIY special, but one made without the benefit of such niceties as appropriate tools, plans, or common sense. More than one woodworker hissed and recoiled like a vampire from holy water when they saw it. 
[iii] I even put aside my ongoing blood fued with math long enough to figure out the angles and dimensions and such. Don’t get complacent, math. I still hate you. Just saying.


Joel said...

This is beautiful.

Benjamin Rogers said...

I have to ask how your draws are kept from falling in? Did you use slides or just a 'chute'?