A Behomoth of a desk


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Established Member
5 Jan 2017
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lincolnshire Wolds
This is a desk I have just completed and delivered, this thing took over my life for a while, it weighs in at almost a quarter of a ton – not easy when you work alone! The overall original concept for the desk was from the client, I just had to work out how on earth to do it and make it.
The most challenging aspect was grooving out for the tongues to hold the splines of the elliptical barrels together so that the inside faces lined up. I grooved them on my spindle moulder but they but they had to be held up at an angle so that the face was against the fence. There were 60 splines altogether and thought had to be given not to groove where the doors were on each barrel, and just to make it interesting the doors weren’t all in the same places or opening the same way. The decorative grooves on the outside of the barrels are a seemingly random pattern which along with the elliptical shape was designed to match the architecture of the building. Ian
The original model for the client is on top of the desk.
The stainless steel drums which hold the desk off the floor and the top off
the barrels can be seen. The overall effect that the separate parts appear to float is very effective in the room it isn’t easy to see the stainless steel drums unless you bob down.
Showing construction of the top with the lift out squares for electrical wires, also the tongues which were "stopped" and intended to save me an enormous amount of cleaning up time on the top surface of the desk, so they were grooved on the spindle moulder with the top surface of the desk down on the bed and I had to construct an extra long plywood bed onto my old Sedgwick moulder. The desk at its longest is 8 feet long.
The two parts of the L – shaped desk top are held together with 10 mil stainless steel threaded bar with large recesses on the underside of the desk top for the nuts and washers, a bit like on a staircase handrail. The brass locating pins were marked out by using a panel pin cut off close to the wood and then the two pieces of the top were offered up together and the sharp end of the panel pin marked the position. The brass pin of course is just a large brass screw with its head cut off and rounded with a file.
Each barrel is made up from 20 splines, the bottom of the barrel is rebated in and the top is in a groove.
Movement in the barrel is uncontrolled, and the tops and bottoms are only glued in for 6 inches either side of the door for stability of the door aperture
That's very unique and skillfully executed ........................ not sure I'm sold on it as a design, however if the client likes it then "job done" and well done on a one man project.

PS if the piece of fruit is for scale, is it an orange, satsuma, clementine or cumquat?
I had upwards of 10 mm to remove from the outside of the staves sorry I don’t know why I called them splines, I know this isn’t textbook but it was the only way I could think of of keeping my fingers well away from the blades and it worked very well indeed. Obviously the Tommy bar of the sash cramp could have fallen into the blades so it was secured with tape.
Then came planing up the outside of the barrels after the planer had got it reasonably to profile, the same set up was used here to put the decorative grooves on as well.
Each half of the L-shaped top of the desk was glued up into sections and as I said I was on my own so this was how I got the end cut square on the saw ready for hand planing. Then each set of two sections were glued together
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I had decided that one of the decorative grooves should land on where the hinges were going so they were not so apparent when the door was closed, whilst that did have the desired effect it also meant that the doors couldn’t open quite as far as maybe I would have wanted. More than adequate though
I’m happy to report that the client was delighted, or as he said, he was blown away.
You deserve a big slap on the back for all the work you did to please your client. They will be bragging about it for some time to come.

The only thing I would have done differently would have been to use my biscuit tool for the elliptical bases rather than using the shaper cutting splines in the staves. Easy decision since I don't have a shaper but think the biscuit tool is easier to and quicker to change angles on.

Really impressive project. I'm glad you sound like you enjoyed it, it must have been exhausting!

I'd be interested if you could tell us any more about what sort of customer is willing to spend what is presumably a large sum on making such a statement. And how they found you and whether there were others bidding for the job.

But this is me being nosy, and I shall understand and shut up if you can't go into any of that or prefer not to. I was just thinking about the "change of career into woodworking" thread - you are clearly getting a lot of things right.
Hi Andy, that must be my natural exuberance coming through haha, actually by the time I was finishing it I was pretty sick of the sight of it.
Can’t say too much as you guessed, but the client is actually a friend of mine. Ian