Lea's Desk

I want a desk that's not just a piece of plastic in some shitty metal legs, that has some room to store stuff. Plus I've always wanted to make a nice desk, so here we go.

Design Draft 1

More Detailed Design

Left Shelves


I got tired of designing, and went out and bought some wood, and got started. These are 3“x1”x8' clamped together 3 at a time to form the upright legs. I also bought 8“x1”x8's to be the main paneling. I will cut these to size, whatever that ends up being. With woodworking especially, I don't feel designing to the last millimeter is necessary, I just give myself a basic design and figure it out on the way.

Sooo, just a few clamps, huh? Used every single one in the garage. The best are the pipe clamps (as expected) and the worst are the squeezy ones closest to the bottom in the photo. Absolutely worthless. No noticeable gaps between boards except on that edge. Some of the edges don't line up, but I expect to be able to get rid of those without to much trouble with the table saw. If you're trying this, you might want to just try one leg segment at a time, especially if you have fewer clamps.

The first set of legs, after overnight drying. Took off the clamps, trimmed both sides with the sawmill. Ended up being perfectly square. How, I have no idea. 2.25“ on each side. From here, I'll repeat the same with the other two legs, and them cut them all to size. Right now that should be around 27”, but I might just cut the first set in half and go with however long that is.


Turns out routing is much more difficult than I expected. The router bit that I had was only 3/8“, and I needed channels 3/4” wide. I just routed along one edge of the channel, then flipped the leg over and did the other edge. I only figured this out after routing one channel, naturally, so one channel is slightly wider than the other. No matter, it's accomplished.

Ok, so I'm something of an idiot. You know dovetail joints? Well the obvious solution to my channel problem is a dovetail channels. Like so.


And so…The making of this is quite simple, if you have a router and routing table, which my Dad happened to have lying around from a project he never got around to, and so both had never been used. I did have to go buy the only dovetailing bit at lowes, $20, for 1/2 in & 14 degrees. But it worked out.

The dovetailing will reduce the need for internal framework, since it will hold together on its own.

Just a bit of dovetailing here, huh. These are all the side panels, which will slide into the dovetailed slots in the uprights.


I'll put up a BOM later, but here is the left side bookshelf. So far so good, although it never turns out as you expect it to. This structure holds together fairly well, but as you would expect, the sides pull apart too easily. This will be reinforced by the shelves, for which I will be using screws, for the first time in this project. I could just glue it all in, or just use dovetails, but since it will be on the inside and won't be noticed too much, I figured go the easy route.

Here's the same structure with the shelves put in. Notice the screws? Yeah I got tired of making it look pretty and decided to take the easy route. Effective though.


I still need to do some final sanding, stain and varnish. That will likely not be done until the entire desk is assembled. I will either do as I should, and disassemble before staining, or just stain it assembled (by far the most likely).

Right Drawers

The heart of this desk is going to be the drawers. I've wanted a file drawer for the longest time, and I'm tired of having tonnes of shitty little plastic drawers lying around everywhere. I'll put the drawings for this drawer later. I've already most of the framework, waiting on finishing the drawer so I can make sure to fit the frame properly to the sliders. At any rate, here is the drawer about halfway through completion. The only part that is full height is the front (the part with all the clamps). The rest will be brought up to the same height.


Ok, the construction of drawer completed, I was able to then build the frame around it. This was easier than I expected and fit on the first try. Very exciting. On to the others.


The second drawer went very smoothly, having learned from the first one. I glued the bottom first, then screwed/glued right side, then back and left, and finally the front. I estimated the height first, and cut all the boards to fit.

The third drawer I rushed a bit, and put it together before cutting the boards to height. This was also because I didn't know the final height until I installed the second drawer. To fix the problem I set up the saw in this incredibly stupid and dangerous way. It worked though, and I didn't even cut myself.



I took a plunge and finished the rest over spring break. Unfortunately this rushed me a bit towards, plus my own impatience made the quality lower as I went own, as you can see in this detail.


Still though, once I put it together the defects are much less obvious, as I had planned (hoped). The design changed from what I had originally planned, as expected. I ended up just buying 16“ wide planks for the top, gluing them together. Much lighter and cheaper. Certainly stiff enough. Ended up with only 24” of leg room, mostly because the drawers were designed around legal size paper, for the bottom drawer. I eliminated the top shelves, they took up too much top space.

It was a lot of fun, I'm going to miss having a project. The total cost was somewhere around $300. Pretty expensive for a pine desk it seems to me. Here is the final shot of the desk installed. It looks beautiful.


lea_s_desk.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/24 17:16 (external edit)
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