Saturday, February 18, 2012

There's a Desk in Here Somewhere

....I just have to find it.

My wife's job is very demanding. Most days she works nine hours or more at the office and then comes home, eats dinner, and works another hour or two from home until it's time for her to go to bed. This being said, she loves her job. What she doesn't love is having two monitors, a docking station, her work lap-top, keyboard and mouse sitting on a folding table in the living room serving as her home desk. She hates clutter and she likes to have the house looking nice at all times. Her present work station doesn't fit in with that. That's where I come in.

She has asked me to build her a desk. Somewhere she can work comfortably, but when she's done, be able to hide things behind closed doors for that neat, clean look she desires. So, after looking though a bunch of my furniture books and scouring the internet I came up with something we both like. It's a plantation desk, sized and modified to suit her specific needs. We decided on Walnut for the desk. I'm thinking 55 to 60 board feet of primary wood and just a few poplar boards as a secondary wood where I can get away with it. I had contacted a local hardware store/slash lumber company about the walnut and was told they just got in a fresh batch from Pennsylvania. When I got there and looked at the stack, I was pretty disappointed. Of all the 4/4 walnut, there was none that was over 6 inches wide. And they had no 8/4, which I was hoping to find to avoid a glue-up for the legs. That's when I spotted the mahogany. Beautifully clear, 15 foot long lengths, and none of it under 9 inches wide. I inquired about the price; same as the walnut. Surely there was a premium on the wide boards. Nope. Same price per board foot no matter how wide. There was even a piece 23 1/2 inches wide that I opted not to take. Needless to say, right then and there I switched from a walnut desk to a mahogany desk. All the wood I need is in five boards; four of them 4/4 x 15 feet long. The widths are; two 12 inch boards, one 9 inch, and one 13 1/2 inch. The fifth board is 8/4 for the legs. Almost 8 inches wide and 6 feet long. Enough for the legs for this desk and another table or desk down the road.

I've never worked mahogany before and I've never had the opportunity to work with such nice, wide stock. I'm very much looking forward to it. The only thing that I'll have to glue up on the whole piece it the desk top, and that will have only one glue joint. This is going to be strictly a hand tool only project and I can't wait to get started. I think I'll work out a cut list tonight to get the maximum yield and grain match out of my purchase. Much more on this desk to come as I get started on some actual woodworking.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the finished product and mahogany is such a beautiful wood:) Love the plans you posted. Jen hope it's all you're hoping for (I'm sure it will be with Jamie building it:))


Trevor Walsh said...

You're in for a treat with the mahogany, it's a really nice wood to work.

I wish I'd have been there to snag the 23" wide board.

Rob said...

Do you know which species of mahogany you have there?

The desk design is very elegant. Will the doors sweep across the work area?

baconj said...

Hey Trevor, I started working on the legs a little last night, ripping to width and straightening and smoothing out the saw marks. My Clark and Williams smoother worked the mahogany great, my 30" Kellogg jointer, not so much. Guess I need to do some more work on the iron. Ended up doing the initial planing with my 16" Marples fore plane and it did a fine job.
The 23 1/2" board was quite nice. Clear and straight. The one caveat to this wood, and this can be good or bad, is that it is planed both faces to between 13/16 and 7/8, not much room for flattening and taking out twist. All of it is pretty much nice and flat though. Flat enough for me anyhow. I'm not one of those woodworkers that build furniture with a micrometer. ;)

baconj said...

Hi Rob, Not really sure on the species of mahogany. It's a wood I'm not very familiar with. I do know there are many different species though. The gentleman at the desk refered to it as "genuine" mahogany, but based on the price of $5.95 a board foot, I'm thinking it may be more like African mahogany. Strictly a guess though.
Yes, the doors will hinge open sweeping across the desk top. the bottom rail will be about 3" tall so that's the clearance that will be over the desk top. This won't be a problem because when my wife is done working and she closes the doors to hide the monitors, she'll leave nothing on the desk top. She's a "A place for everything and everything in it's place" type of girl. :)