Table Woodworking

The Boy’s Desk – part 2

In Part 1, I drew up plans for a desk to go in my son’s room. I got as far as designing the shape of the desktop, selecting the wood and planning how the one could be cut out from the other. So, in this part I will begin the cutting.

Now, since this work is supposed to be hands on, I had hoped to say that I would use hand tools wherever possible. However, cutting long curves like this by hand would be a real bind, especially the main cut that runs down the length of the grain (the structure of wood means that cutting down the length of grain is much harder than cutting across the grain.) So, I immediately broke one of my own rules and got the electric jigsaw out. It was still a long and tricky cut to make, and I think I held my breath throughout.

Before completing the cutting, I did a little work with the biscuit jointer to glue a section of scrap to the back of the desktop – to fill in the bit that didn’t quite fit within the countertop. Since both the back of the desktop and the scrap piece had a machine-cut face, it was easy to get the two pieces squared up nicely. A little sanding and polishing resulted in a very tidy and almost invisible join.

In the end I had a rather nicely shaped piece of wood. Now I could see it in detail, it became clear that the positioning of the desktop at an angle to the wood was the right approach. The pattern of the grain, and the arrangements of the blocks in the wood ran nicely parallel with the front of the desk, and from the point of view of someone sat at the desk, looked quite natural and ‘right’.

Now it was time to consider the design of some shelves to go under the desktop. I had a fair amount of wood remaining from the counter, enough to make a sturdy base with two shelves inside, and, I decided, a set of three small display shelves to go on the outside edge. It took a while to come up with the two and three shelf arrangement. I realised that inside the unit, the carpet could form a bottom shelf, but I needed something to mark where the bottom display shelf sat so that it could be noticed and used (and its contents not hoovered up!) Anyway, the display shelves would mirror the curve of the desk, be slightly smaller so that desktop would overhang a little, and be just about big enough for son’s favourite books (or, as has happened more recently, favourite video games…)

So, back to PowerPoint to see how best to use up the remaining wood. My first sketch was to produce an end view, letting me set the height of the desk and widths of the shelves. Then I modified my desktop plan to show the shapes of the shelves.

The display shelves would be a challenge. I would need three identical pieces that curved to match the shape of the desk. Cutting three identical curves would test my jigsaw skills somewhat!

I needed to think too about how to cut these shelves from the available wood. The grain of the desktop ran at an angle, and that should be reflected in the curved shelves too as these would be visible (I guessed I could get away with the shelves inside the unit being cut square.) So, back to PowerPoint again, to plan out the arrangement of the shelf pieces in the available offcuts.

More jigsaw work followed. I made a template of a shelf and traced this onto the wood three times at the appropriate angles. I then carefully cut each piece in turn and prepared myself for some sanding and polishing. As it happens, the pieces came out very close to each other in size and shape.

I shall talk about the assembly in Part 3



By nickcnickcnickc

I spend my working life staring at computer screens, so in my spare time I look for things to do with my hands, preferably involving wood. It's a little ironic then that I've now starting writing a blog about my woodworking, and thus introducing computer screens to my main hobby..!

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