Desk job

I spent a lot of years behind a desk. This time it’s different…not just behind, but in front, on all sides and angles, underneath, on top, inside out. After posting nothing but hiking pictures for months it’s time to catch up with the shop, and the latest project is a desk for a good friend.

It started out in oak to match the other woods in the room, mostly plywood, two pedestals, eminently usable for the writing, photography work, and deep ruminations that go on at the tiny desk currently in place, but when Warren and Peggy came to pick oak boards from my stash a chance encounter with a cherry dresser triggered an avalanche of change.

It didn’t hurt that I had planks like this hanging around the shop:



This plank is from an amazing tree that Dan at Horizon Woods told me about. It had two stems, each with nearly 40′ of clear straight wood as much as 27″ in diameter. Six logs of matching wood so nice you could have it for dessert–look at that color with no finish, steaming, or anything!

And this one, the instant choice for the desk top:

Cherry seemed to call for a more refined design–like this one, which just happened to be in the shop:

I designed this desk years ago before I had the skills to build it, and John Fisher (another College of the Redwoods grad) did a fine job making it. I am very excited to build it this time! The original drawings were not to be found, so the first order of work was to carefully measure and redraw the whole thing. Seemed slightly recursive to draw plans on the desk that is the subject of the plans.

Once the revised plans were approved it was time to make big pieces of wood into smaller ones. One big reason I like to order wood by the log comes into play now – I can select wood from different portions of the tree to control the grain orientation for the different parts. This first section of plank had nice legs at the outer edges where the rings run about 45 degrees to the faces, and drawer faces or panels from the center of the plank, a nice use for the more swirly flat grain found there.

I always feel butterflies cutting up nice wood–will the choices work well, will the wood move like crazy, will there be hidden defects? Here we go working out those commitment issues on the bandsaw:

Another round of sawing yielded a collection of roughly 1/8″ thick veneers for the desk top. It was a major workout, as my big resaw blade was getting dull. Thankfully the heavy work had a nice payback:

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