Thursday, February 20, 2014

The easy part is done.

The base of the desk is done, sixteen mortise and tenon joints glued and pinned.  It is square in three dimensions and the joints are tight.  Not perfect, but definitely a personal best.  A professional would have starved to death if he or she spent as many hours as I did on this, but I  eventually got there.

When things go well for me and I get to the very last step of a major project that I have invested a lot of time in, I start to feel dread.  If you have ever had something go disastrously wrong at the very end, as I have, you'll understand.  In this case, the last step was drawboring and I chickened out.  I have long Bessey clamps, so I am not as dependent on drawboring as woodworkers in the distant past were.  I chose to glue the frame together, clamp it, let it dry thoroughly and then pin the joints with the clamps in place, producing something close to a drawbore I think.  Even then, there was almost a problem.  I made the pins on my drill press with this Lee Valley tenon cutter.  I discovered to my chagrin when installing the first one that it cuts the pins .01" oversize and I had to really wail on it to get it in.  After that I carefully sanded down each pin to be about .003" oversize and things went fine.  It was laborious and I will not do this again until I purchase a dowel plate.

As I wrote previously, I originally intended to put a lower stretcher across the back and eliminate the traditional center stretcher because it interferes with the legs of the user.  In the end, I decided to add another lower stretcher near the back where it won't interfere with the legs at all.  It has a nice through tenon that makes an attractive design element.

I think this is as strong as the traditional design.  In fact, I claim to have invented a new feature for these desks, a "lean back and ponder rail!"

Here is the desk with the top on.  You may notice something missing.  That is the subject of my next post.


  1. A tool well, I mean a pencil, rule, eraser,etc well?
    There was one on the desk at school.

  2. Hi Andy,
    Is/are there drawer(s) coming? Or do I wait for the next post? Also any plans to do anything with the back of the desk or are you leaving it as is?

  3. Ralph,

    That is the subject of the next post. The short answer is yes to both of your questions.