Friday, November 20, 2009

Building a desk

Way back in 2001, I taught a class where everyone made a Roll-Top desk. Or a desk with a tamboured hutch, depending on what you want to call it. Instead of this class being a typical six-week long session, we doubled it and built the desk in twelve weeks, or roughly 36 hours.

It was an amazing class, and to this day, I still hear from some of the people who took it, saying how much they love the desks they built.

Imagine this desk being passed down through the years to family members.


So along with everyone else in the class, I built a desk too. Instead of including a upper hutch, I added a smaller storage area on top, where my laptop could be stored. I also played around a bit with curves, which I love, Love, LOVE.

Anyone who is familiar with my work knows I have an obsession with circles and squares. I'm not sure what that's about, but they're everywhere.

In tile.

And tops.

And insets.

And relief carving.

It's a weird thing - even one of my favorite albums of all time is In Square Circle.

And though you can't tell by the angle of this photo, the top on this desk has a large sweeping curve on both ends.

The fronts of the three drawers mimic this curve, and tie it all together. I was also experimenting with Milk Paint at the time, and decided to add a little color to the piece, so the teal areas that you see are milk painted and slightly sanded, so the wood grain shows through.

All of this leads up to the new desk I'm currently building.

I loved the design of the original desk so much that I'm building a duplicate - for myself.

People who hang around my studio/school know I've been working on the desk for probably three months. It's tough to finish something like this when I only get about five hours a week to work on it.

So I'm in the homestretch - all that's left to do are the drawer fronts. Now usually, finishing the fronts is a little hectic for me, as they're the last thing I work on, and one of the more noticeable details.

Imagine my horror when I planed the piece of wood I'd saved for the drawer fronts, only to discover that the grain on it was awful. And of course.. it was my last piece of this wood.

What wood? Good question.

I bought this lumber at an auction, it wasn't labeled, but it was gorgeous. After a little calculating, I decided I had just enough to build this piece. I've been trying to identify the specie ever since, but every time I decide that it's a certain wood, I do a little research and decide it's not that wood afterall.

A little research helped me locate a wood identification service, so I recently sent a small sample of it off to their lab. Hopefully, I'll soon know what the hell this wood it! (And as a professional, I'm a little embarrassed that I can't identify it!)

So stay tuned - I'll be finishing the drawers in just a few days, and will post my solution to this design problem.

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