Lets talk about the construction of the desk.
So as you probably gathered from the previous post, this desk isn't particularly complicated to make. A massive slab of wood, a mitre cut on one end, glue it together, bosh. Done.
Unfortunately, that's not the Estlea way of doing things. In order to avoid the phrase that Furniture Makers have evolved immune to: "Could have bought that in Ikea for a third of the price" I always feel obliged to add some level of complexity/over-engineering to all of my pieces. Mainly to convince myself that the massive investment in materials and tools was worth it, but also so I can have the satisfaction of mentally sticking two fingers up at the comedian who delivered the phrase. Saying that, I do agree there's no point in spending hours, days, months making something by hand when the same design can be knocked together in a few operations by an automated machine, unless you're doing handwork out of pure enjoyment. Personally, I try to design/include features that can only be produced by hand and demonstrate my hard earned hand skills, not programming skills that diminish my years of training.
I best stop there, I wrote a 3000 word essay on that subject once.
The first feature that's not entirely necessary and wont be noticeable to many people is that the wood grain will flow over the corner seamlessly. What I mean by this is that the grain on the top of the desk will line up perfectly with the grain on the leg and effectively make it look like the wood has been folded into a right angle. This is done by simply chopping the leg off and then cutting a mitre right up against the edge of each piece. You can see in the render below how the grain on the top of the desk will flow perfectly onto the leg once the joint is assembled. I made a Watch Box for my dad that followed the same principle around all four corners, as well as the match between the box and the lid.
The second feature is that I will be adding 'butterflies' to fix a split at one end of the desk. If you mash them up fine enough, they made great wood filler. Colourful too!
Before you start picturing me mincing around a field with a net trying to catch butterflies, I'll clarify that butterflies in woodworking terms are pretty much a double dovetail that are installed in splits to prevent them getting any wider. Wood expands and contracts with the seasons and surrounding environment due to varying humidity levels. Consequently, it's not uncommon for the end of a board to rip itself in two, especially if it's not fully dried out. The shape of the butterflies prevents this from happening to an extent due to the wedging action they produce if the split tries to widen. I'll be making these out of a contrasting wood such as maple in order to show them off a bit; because at the end of the day if they need to be there, whats the point in disguising them?
In addition to this, the avoid the split getting filled with dust and dirt (In before 'dirty crack' comments) I'll be filling it with epoxy that I'll colour with black pigment. Again making it contrast against the Walnut for the same reason as above.
The final gripe I have with most commercial desks is that the cable management is just either shocking or non existent. It's something that annoys me every time I need to take my PC between houses because I spend a good 10 minutes attempting to work out which plug I need to unplug, let alone the effort of getting it untangled after! The cutouts in the back of the desk solve this to some extent, although, I've also decided to add small brass hooks towards the back edge of the underside that I can loop the cables through and keep them suspended in organised rows. Having three rows of hooks means I can loop all my PC wires through the first, chargers through the second and miscellaneous wires through the third. This idea can easily be retrofitted to any desk providing it's made of wood or some sort of man made wood substitute.
Now that's enough of an introduction for the project. In the next entry, I'll be getting my hands dirty and making some mess!
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I'm Matt Estlea, a student at Rycotewood Furniture Centre in Oxford, currently studying a BA Degree in Furniture: Design and Make. I also work at the Basingstoke branch of Axminster Tools and Machinery on weekends and have an unhealthy obsession with cats.