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Ash desk build

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Bodgers

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This will be my first proper project since the Hayward bench build (see other thread).

I've been doing a string of built in wardrobes since, and I was getting sick of it.

So my 9 year old daughter needs a desk.

My wife picked a design she liked and I have sort of changed it a lot and thrown something up in Fusion 360.



Left and right slots will probably have drawers in.

Comments and criticism welcome.

I bought some air-dried Ash from Scawton Sawmill (my first air dried timber!) That I will make the top box from. I am going to attempt to hand dovetail them which is probably beyond my skill level so I am already practing that.

With the air dried ash I was planning on leaving the slabs in the house to acclimate. Not sure if that's the right thing to do..



The base frame will be old stock pine, painted (hopefully sprayed).

Anyway, I reckon on about 4-6 months for this project. Mix of hand tools and power tools.
 

marcros

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I like the design. Watching with interest
 

thetyreman

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I think you'd have to be picky about the drawer handle so that it's modern to match the style, a simple hole for the handle always looks nice with this kind of thing, also doing mitred dovetails for the ash carcass would be well worth it!
 

custard

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I've never heard of "Fusion 360", but that looks amazing! I guess it's one of those software packages that costs squillions and takes a lifetime to learn, otherwise it might be the answer to many independent furniture makers prayers!

Having seen your bench build there's no question that you can deal with dovetails, but practising is always a good idea. Here are three dovetail suggestions you may find useful.

Firstly, the biggest problem when dovetailing larger case work is the transfer (which is when you "transfer" the scribe marks from the tail board to the pin board...or vice versa). It's easy enough on drawers as the components are fairly small, with an item of case furniture this big the components become unwieldy. Therefore keep an open mind about "tails first" versus "pins first", it's easy to get locked into one method where as having both at your disposal can be a get out of jail card on a larger project like this...you don't want to find yourself balancing the desk top vertically on top of the desk sides.

The second dovetail suggestion is this, if you're not happy with your free hand progress then spend a few quid on a magnetic jig like this,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWZp5DRkRi4

Or like this,
https://www.classichandtools.com/acatal ... l#SID=1766

Given enough time anyone can cut immaculate, totally gap free dovetails. But if you don't have that time then these small jigs are transformational, and you can still cut London pattern, needle dovetails which no other jig, no matter how expensive, can manage.

Thirdly, for larger case work dovetails then mitred dovetails just look so much nicer.
how-to-cut-mitred-or-mitre-dovetails-wip-t112467.html

Looking at your design, the semi circular details at the tops of the legs are the signature feature, have you thought about repeating the motif elsewhere on the desk? You could incorporate the same feature into the rails that connect the legs.

Ash is an astonishingly open grained timber, even more open grained than Oak. Personally I like the textural contrast of marrying Ash (without any grainfilling) to painted components made from a close grained timber like Sycamore or Tulipwood.
 

AndyT

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That looks fun. Nice looking ash too. I'll also be watching with interest on this one.

One question - if the two outer spaces get drawers in, what happens with the central space? Does your daughter have things that will store well in it? I'm a bit worried that it could look as if you never finished the last drawer. :D

Also, although proper trad drawers are satisfying to make, decent full extension runners are very convenient to use, strong, quiet and can even come with built in soft closing. Which could be a classy option on a very nice desk. Just wondering which way you will jump on this one.
 

Adam9453

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Fusion 360 is a great piece of software and is certainly aimed at keen diyer’s or pro’s without a big budget for design software. It also has great cadcam functionality for people looking to use cnc machines straight from their design. We use inventor which is the full on expensive pro version but it is awesome and provides additional functionality to make designing quicker which is obviously valuable in a pro environment. The learning curve for either is not as steep as you might think and I’d certainly recommend watching a couple of the YouTube videos which give great tuition on getting you up and running really quickly. Both offer free trials with full functionality so you can see if you like them before you commit.
Anyway, back to the desk, I really like the design and in fact ash painted has become very popular recently due to its heavy grain showing nicely, of course it also looks nice lacquered but I’d try and make sure it stays nice and white as I’m personally not keen on yellowed tinged ash. I agree with custard about perhaps utilising the shape for other parts of the desk such as the draw pulls maybe
 

dzj

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Is this 5/4 stock?
If it's ordinary 4/4, you might have to redo the design and see how the top looks when planed to 3/4".
Also, how will you be attaching the legs to the top?
 

Bodgers

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custard":5izdycds said:
I've never heard of "Fusion 360", but that looks amazing! I guess it's one of those software packages that costs squillions and takes a lifetime to learn, otherwise it might be the answer to many independent furniture makers prayers!

Having seen your bench build there's no question that you can deal with dovetails, but practising is always a good idea. Here are three dovetail suggestions you may find useful.

Firstly, the biggest problem when dovetailing larger case work is the transfer (which is when you "transfer" the scribe marks from the tail board to the pin board...or vice versa). It's easy enough on drawers as the components are fairly small, with an item of case furniture this big the components become unwieldy. Therefore keep an open mind about "tails first" versus "pins first", it's easy to get locked into one method where as having both at your disposal can be a get out of jail card on a larger project like this...you don't want to find yourself balancing the desk top vertically on top of the desk sides.

The second dovetail suggestion is this, if you're not happy with your free hand progress then spend a few quid on a magnetic jig like this,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWZp5DRkRi4

Or like this,
https://www.classichandtools.com/acatal ... l#SID=1766

Given enough time anyone can cut immaculate, totally gap free dovetails. But if you don't have that time then these small jigs are transformational, and you can still cut London pattern, needle dovetails which no other jig, no matter how expensive, can manage.

Thirdly, for larger case work dovetails then mitred dovetails just look so much nicer.
how-to-cut-mitred-or-mitre-dovetails-wip-t112467.html

Looking at your design, the semi circular details at the tops of the legs are the signature feature, have you thought about repeating the motif elsewhere on the desk? You could incorporate the same feature into the rails that connect the legs.

Ash is an astonishingly open grained timber, even more open grained than Oak. Personally I like the textural contrast of marrying Ash (without any grainfilling) to painted components made from a close grained timber like Sycamore or Tulipwood.
Fusion is free on the Startup/Hobby type license. I think you basically have to be using it on a non profit basis. I like it, it isn't too bad too learn. I'm no expert, but I can throw an idea together with it

Thanks for the info on the dovetails. I was wondering what would work the best. I was going to actually try doing say 4 longer pins across the edge, but I wasn't sure if if doing a lot more was necessary for some structural or expansion reason, or it was more appearance related...

I will have a look at those templates as well, thanks Custard.
 

Bodgers

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AndyT":1onpxofo said:
That looks fun. Nice looking ash too. I'll also be watching with interest on this one.

One question - if the two outer spaces get drawers in, what happens with the central space? Does your daughter have things that will store well in it? I'm a bit worried that it could look as if you never finished the last drawer. :D

Also, although proper trad drawers are satisfying to make, decent full extension runners are very convenient to use, strong, quiet and can even come with built in soft closing. Which could be a classy option on a very nice desk. Just wondering which way you will jump on this one.
The middle is just a space/ledge to put papers/iPads/keyboards. I know what you mean about it possibly looking the odd one out, I'll look at that in Fusion and see how it turns out - cheers.

Not sure about the drawer runners, I don't want them to show, so would have to use under mount ones. I was thinking of something just based on grooves. I need to sort that before I start building though.
 

Bodgers

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dzj":1eel4sq5 said:
Is this 5/4 stock?
If it's ordinary 4/4, you might have to redo the design and see how the top looks when planed to 3/4".
Also, how will you be attaching the legs to the top?
I'm not sure what that means?! Is that the US/Imperial system for thicknesses?

The sawn boards/slabs currently range from 29-32mm in thickness. The model is about 22mm thick on the top components. So I will be planing down to that.

Attachment wise I am open minded. I was thinking some sort of hardware actually - maybe concealed through bolts in slots of some kind. Something to cope with the top movement anyway. I might actually prototype this setup in some way to prove that out.
 

dzj

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"I'm not sure what that means?! Is that the US/Imperial system for thicknesses?

The sawn boards/slabs currently range from 29-32mm in thickness. "

Yes, it is. Is it not also used colloquially in the UK?
In any case, ~30mm would be OK.
Looking forward to seeing how it goes.
Good luck.
 

Bodgers

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dzj":10dch8a9 said:
"I'm not sure what that means?! Is that the US/Imperial system for thicknesses?

The sawn boards/slabs currently range from 29-32mm in thickness. "

Yes, it is. Is it not also used colloquially in the UK?
In any case, ~30mm would be OK.
Looking forward to seeing how it goes.
Good luck.
I have heard it mentioned on some US YouTube videos, I never really understood it.

The place where I got it from sells stuff by mm's in thicknesses and is priced by the cu/ft! We need to choose a system and stick with it in the UK...confusing.

I should point out that the desk isn't very big, it is sized for a 8-14 year old girl. That might be why the top pieces look thick.

Using a standard sort of adult chair I could probably squeeze my legs under it and I'm average UK adult male height. The youngest daughter will take it over when she grows out of it I think.
 

MikeG.

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Bodgers":1kc8ngzq said:
.........I have heard it mentioned on some US YouTube videos, I never really understood it..........
It's quarter inches. So 5/4 is five quarter inches or an inch and a quarter. 6/4 is an inch and a half, 7/4 is an inch and three quarters, and so on.
 

Bodgers

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MikeG.":385kss3m said:
Bodgers":385kss3m said:
.........I have heard it mentioned on some US YouTube videos, I never really understood it..........
It's quarter inches. So 5/4 is five quarter inches or an inch and a quarter. 6/4 is an inch and a half, 7/4 is an inch and three quarters, and so on.
I see. It sounds nuts

Sent from my Redmi Note 5 using Tapatalk
 

El Barto

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That design is lovely - the top looks almost photorealistic!

I'm no expert by any means but my experience with using ash is that it can be wonderful/horrible at the same time. One moment you'll be planing a beautiful surface, the next there are patches of tear out popping up or a sudden change in grain direction. I've found it to be quite frustrating and difficult to work at times, just something to be aware of I guess! The end result is usually worth it.
 

woodbloke66

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The design looks good but I'd be interested to see what finish you eventually apply to the ash - Rob
 

JSW

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Bodgers":c18zuhal said:
The sawn boards/slabs currently range from 29-32mm in thickness. The model is about 22mm thick on the top components. So I will be planing down to that.
Bodgers":c18zuhal said:
I should point out that the desk isn't very big, it is sized for a 8-14 year old girl. That might be why the top pieces look thick.

Using a standard sort of adult chair I could probably squeeze my legs under it and I'm average UK adult male height. The youngest daughter will take it over when she grows out of it I think.
What are the overall dimensions? If we take the Fusion 360 screenshot at face value, wouldn't that make the legs around 22mm thick? Maybe 25 x 50mm at a pinch? 2x1" legs surely won't be substantial enough, not to mention how you would secure them to the top.

Not wishing to be a naysayer here, just pointing out what may not be obvious from the screenshot. At the very least upgrade the legs/framework from pine to Poplar/Tulipwood or Beech, and give yourself a fighting chance?
 

Bodgers

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JSW":38t39rbw said:


Bodgers":38t39rbw said:
The sawn boards/slabs currently range from 29-32mm in thickness. The model is about 22mm thick on the top components. So I will be planing down to that.
Bodgers":38t39rbw said:
I should point out that the desk isn't very big, it is sized for a 8-14 year old girl. That might be why the top pieces look thick.

Using a standard sort of adult chair I could probably squeeze my legs under it and I'm average UK adult male height. The youngest daughter will take it over when she grows out of it I think.
What are the overall dimensions? If we take the Fusion 360 screenshot at face value, wouldn't that make the legs around 22mm thick? Maybe 25 x 50mm at a pinch? 2x1" legs surely won't be substantial enough, not to mention how you would secure them to the top.

Not wishing to be a naysayer here, just pointing out what may not be obvious from the screenshot. At the very least upgrade the legs/framework from pine to Poplar/Tulipwood or Beech, and give yourself a fighting chance?
Google image search "mid century desk" and see just how thin legs can get.

The legs are thicker in depth than width, cant remember exactly (I'm not on the laptop atm) but they are something like 25x40. The dimensions are completely finalised yet, the beauty of fusion is that you can play around with it.

I'll be doing a prototype of sorts to test the ridgity - as long as those frame components come together to make one strong stand, it should be good.

The finish for top I have decided on. I actually have done some experiments with soap finishes with some workshop pieces I have done that worked well so it will either be that or Osmo natural.
 

JSW

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Forget the finishes already, and take a closer look at the design of those "Mid Century Desks". The Fusion design is flawed, it won't work. It's giving you the impression that it will, but I'll wager that in actual useage, it will fail horribly.

Mock it up, see for yourself.

And again, what are the dimensions?
 

deema

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I think it’s a beautiful design, nice thin legs would enhance it significantly. There are ways of increasing the strength whilst keeping sections thin. For instance, route out a groove on one face of the leg and implant a steel section that will take the weight and add rigidity. The groove can then be covered by say a contrasting piece of wood that will look like it’s an inlay. Alternatively laminate the legs in two sections with steel imbedded in the middle, or a brushed aluminium plate (which you can route to size) with it showing on either side hiding the joint and looking like inlay or laminated to just one side. You could use Plexiglass instead of aluminium sandwiched or again added to just the inside with polished edges either clear or coloured with led down lights buried into the top / underneath the desk to shine through the plexiglass to add the feeling of lightness as well as adding a lighting effect.

Epoxy resin and modern materials allow designs that weren’t previously feasible.
 
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