Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fourteen tenons later ...

Fourteen tenons later, the skeleton is complete.  It took an inordinate amount of time but these tenons fit very snugly.  It took so much time because I cut the tenons fat and sneaked slowly up on the fit with a router plane.  Since I intend to drawbore these joints it really is true that glue is optional but I will use it anyway.

Craftsman library tables or desks have a pretty standard form, but the area where there seems to be the most latitude for creativity is on the sides.  It is almost as if the sides of the desk constitute a frame for something to draw the eye.  There is no functional need for anything here but without something the desk looks austere and sterile.  You see all sorts of choices about what to put in this frame.   Some sort of gentle curve seemed like it would look good as a way of breaking up the straight lines and drawing the eye:

What could be better for a young lawyer than an hour glass?  These sides fit with another decision I have made that is a departure from the traditional form.  Most of these desks that I have seen have sharp edges without any roundover.  I find them uncomfortable in use.  I decided on substantial rounding of all the corners and edges on the desk.  With the curves on the sides of the center pieces, these decisions will substantially soften the look of the desk.  To me, this is one of the things that Greene and Greene brought to the arts and crafts style and I like it.  I did the roundovers on the straight pieces with a plane and those on the curved side pieces with a spokeshave.  Sometimes I feel like a recovering alcoholic forced to sit in a bar and drink coffee as I do this in full view of my router table and extensive selection of roundover bits.

You will notice a through mortise in the lower stretcher.  I had tentatively decided to put a lower stretcher between the rear legs and omit the wide stretcher in the middle of the traditional design because of its interference with the legs of the user.  In the end, I decided I wanted more strength so I am going to put a second lower stretcher toward the back in a sideways configuration.  It will be 6/4 material 4" wide with a substantial roundover and won't interfere with the user's legs.  It's an echo of the traditional design and I think the through tenon will be a nice detail.

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