Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not sure if this is a good idea.

So, here are the pieces for the desktop as they will soon go together.  It looks pretty straightforward, but there's a rub.  My son was absolutely adamant that the rear part of the top and the gallery be quickly and easily removable because he expects to change apartments frequently.  I argued against it strenuously to no avail.  What that means is that there will be a seam across the desktop right in front of the gallery that will be prominent in the middle of the desk where the top extends all the way to the back.  Yuk.  What I decided to do is use hardware made for table leaves to hold the two pieces of the top together.  The front of the top will be held in place like a normal top and the rear portion with the gallery will come off.  The expansion and contraction will happen toward the back.  Using the Woodweb calculator, the expected expansion is less than half an inch, the value for flatsawn lumber, and more than a quarter of an inch, the value for radial sawn lumber.

The first thing I did was carefully joint the two pieces of the top face to face.  By the way, that's Maude in the picture below, with her painted knob and tote and bakelite adjuster carefully stowed away in a drawer, replaced by rosewood, brass and a Hock blade and chipbreaker.  As usual, Maude worked great.  

Then I installed the hardware, two latches on the sides that pull the pieces together and two positioners (I don't know what else to call them) in the middle that fix the position of the "leaves" side to side and up and down.

 With a lot of trepidation, I turned it over and it wasn't too bad.  This is a close-up shot of the center that I am most concerned about.  Surprisingly, it is smooth to the touch.  It looks like, well, it looks like a dining room table with a leaf in it.  Big surprise.

 I don't like this, but it was the best way I could think of to do what he wants.  Another way that occurred to me as I was doing it is to glue blocks onto the bottoms of the pieces at the joint line and fasten them together with bolts.  It would have taken longer to take the top apart but would perhaps have been a little more secure.  Oh well.

The remaining task is to come up with a way to fasten the gallery to the rear stretcher that will allow it to be removed quickly.  He will need to be able to undo the latches and slide the gallery back in order to disengage the positioners before lifting the gallery up.  That means the attachments in the back will have to accommodate a considerable amount of movement.  I've got a strange idea that I think will work.


  1. I'm glad that you could accommodate your son because it's just a fact of life these days - people, especially young people, move more often. Thinking about the restraints of modern life, I've started building things lighter, smaller and more portable than the furniture in my parents' home. A kitchen table for my daughter and son-in-law was built to a width to allow it to easily fit through a standard doorway. A 6 board box for a friend's granddaughter is just 16 inches high, so it can be used for seating when she has company in her small apartment. I gave my son-in-law a hammer when they moved into their first apartment - not a 20 ounce Estwing, because he won't be nailing 10d nails into oaken studs - I gave him a tack hammer that is perfect for putting hangers in sheet rock.

    I'm going to wager that you do a bang-up job with your two-part top and that nobody ever notices it except for you. And your son will thank you every time he has to move.

  2. I appreciate your comment and have come to the same conclusion. Young people are delaying home ownership and living in much smaller spaces. Your designs are creative responses to that reality.