New desk build process



I’ve been making myself a new desk. The old one I had was getting very shabby and the materials I used back in '88 were not the best, so it wasn’t worth refurbishing. I decided I would recycle most of the wood from the old desk to make into drawer sides, and build a new, L shaped desk to fit the space in my room.

I chose ash as the primary wood in the desk. It isn’t quite as hard as oak, so its not quite as punishing to work with, and it stains very nicely, unlike soft maple. And it is far more durable than pine or poplar, which round out all the rest of the cheap woods available in my area. For those of you in the US, ash is the wood used in baseball bats, so it is resistant to impact damage and is resilient.

My design is a mix of older and modern themes. It borrows the simplicity of the Arts and Crafts styles, but adds the use of different colors of wood for an impact found in more modern pieces.

I took a few pictures along the way, and since I’m not finished with the desk yet, I’ll be adding more.

Here is the first picture, showing the double thick legs and the mortise and tenon joints that give the piece its strength. There are also a couple of saddle joints here. As you might see, I was just testing the fit of the joints at this point.


The wood used in between the rails doesn’t carry any weight, and on the back most people use plywood, simply to fill in the space. But for this piece I wanted to use solid wood, but not so much that it became unbearably heavy, so I used thin slats with shiplap joints between them to make up the two back sides. This way, the desk can be set out in the middle of a room and the back will look as good as the front.

You can see the burn marks from the saw on the slats in the first picture. Those took a fair amount of sanding to get rid of. On the very ends, I used more traditional wood panels, though these are flat, not raised panels. There are two shots showing the different end pieces and you’ll see the difference in width of the two sections of the desk. One side will have 22 inches of depth, the other 16.

Oops, sorry about the orientation of the second picture. You’ll have to rotate it in your browser since I don’t know how to rotate it once uploaded here at MyCE.


The next few shots show the first crosspieces for the drawers on the left side of the desk. I dovetailed the central post into the rails, and made lap joints for the two cross pieces.

And you get to see how nicely the slats on the back cleaned up in the next two shots.

Not responsible for motion sickness as you try to figure out how to look at some of the pictures.


Now on to the top. I went to a lot of trouble to get the sweeping curve on the inside corner, though it is smaller than I had originally envisioned.

Once I had it mitered, I inlaid two dovetail keys across the joint. The wood used in the keys is Bolivian rosewood.


I made some wooden handles for the desk drawers. They are ebonized maple, with a little red thrown in there as well, though its hard to see it in these pictures. The drawer fronts are teak, and I had a terrible time stretching my limited amount of teak to fit the necessary space. So they’re a little pieced together, but still pretty. The pictures show them already oiled, so this is their final look. They will contrast quite a lot from the ash, since I’m just doing a clear oil finish for the rest of the desk.

Here are the handles:

And here are the drawers in place:


That’s all for the moment. I’ve got to do a lot of sanding tomorrow, then off to the hardware store on Monday for some Watco oil to finish the project. I’ll take a picture or two of the finished product in a few days.


Nice job Kerry, it must be wonderful to have the space to have a big shop to make things in. :slight_smile:


It must be great to have the skills to make something like that.
That is a really nice build, Kerry. :clap:


Beautiful work!


You are a true craftsman my friend. Great work!


Heh heh heh… I clicked on this story assuming it was your latest desktop PC build. :slight_smile:

That’s a superb job though Kerry. You’re tremendously skilled! :clap::bow:



Looks great Kerry :iagree:
A fine piece of work. :clap:


Thanks for all the kind words guys. I’ll get a new picture up in a couple of days.


Very impressive work. I look forward to seeing the finished product. It would be interesting to see some of the detail work on the drawers.


I got through with the desk a little early and there have been some compromises in the final finish. The only light colored Watco oil available was golden oak, which turned the ash too yellow for my taste, so I had to improvise on adjusting the color. This lead to the slightly darker color that I wound up with. Normally not a problem, but I did lose some of the contrast with the drawer fronts.

There were other options, but I didn’t want a film finish, and I don’t like tung oil, as it seems to take forever to dry properly.

So here are the pictures. I included one of the drawer construction, but it really isn’t very remarkable. I used machine made dovetails for the drawers. The old pine from the earlier desk was dry and very hard for the most part, but also brittle, so it tended to splinter a bit when cutting with a router.

First picture shows the dovetails on the drawer:

Next up is a view of the front:


And a few miscellaneous shots:


Absolutely the nicest woodwork I have ever seen. Wow.:clap:


Great work Kerry :clap:
The lighter color might have looked better, for contrast, but it still looks great. :iagree:


That’s really high quality stuff Kerry.

Looks superb!



Kerry that is awesome work. You are truly gifted. Merry Christmas to you and your family.