What goes with lacewood


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Established Member
11 Feb 2011
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I need a little desk for the spare room. It looks like we are going to be working at home for a while yet.

I have a space for it about 3ft wide, so it isnt going to be huge. 3ft x 2ft give or take.

I am using this design staked_worktable_adb-l1000157a.jpg from Chris Schwarz book, which was actually why I got the book.

I have some quartered London plane left from a project that didn't happen which I can use for everything except the top. I dont have anything for the top which I will need to buy. I am struggling to know what species to use for the top and would appreciate suggestions.

The restrictions/considerations:

The room is small and fairly bland. The desk itself doesn't need to be bland, but I dont think it should be too dark or too showy.
The lacewood is not snow white, it is fairly similar to http://www.jeffsegalworkshop.co.uk/images/Nesting tables - close-up of lacewood figure (500 px).JPG in colour
The timber must be sustainable or urban salvage.
The drawer front can match the top, or match the base.
I would love a single board, second choice a book match, failing that could be a glue-up if the species typically produces narrower boards. The cutting list in the book finishes at 13/16" so ex1" sawn.
It is too late in the year for me to do anything significant with resin. I could probably manage filling a small void or two.
I am open to character, or "perfect", but I would prefer that the character is in terms of non uniform colour than voids, holes and damage.
Open to live edge.

Any thoughts? I wondered about cherry or sycamore. I am struggling to picture what will work with the lacewood figuring.
I think sycamore would be a little bit on the plain side, I would hesitate to try and do it with one plank across that width, I am presuming the batons dovetailed to the underside of the top are only glued in on the front edge area probably for the first 3 inches or so, otherwise they will stop the top moving creating all sorts of problems in the future.
I would suggest also that you draw it up to see what the proportions look like when you are reducing it down to 3 feet long. Ian
Personally I think Sycamore could be a little soft for that top though I do like to see a nice contrast, Holly or Hornbeam would look really striking though Ash or Maple are more commercially available.
I've seen a few ukes and guitars made from London Plane. To me they look best with a spruce top, which helps the lace wood pattern stand out rather than detracting from it. The nicest ones have the top bound in rosewood, separating the lacewood and spruce.

So I'd go for a maple top, with the edge banded in something dark or rich brown. Walnut would look good, cherry too I think.
Hello marcros.

I can see why Lacewood would work well for the top and the drawer front, because you want a bit of drama in those components. But Lacewood for the legs and undercarriage? That might be a mistake.

As you know Lacewood isn't actually a species, it's a cut, specifically the quarter sawn face of London Plane. If you use that for the legs, even if you orientate all the quarter sawn faces to the front, it'll still look a bit weird as you move around to the side. It'll seem to change into a completely different timber which, besides wrecking the harmony of a piece, takes the eye away from where it should be.

It's a common issue and worse with certain timbers, such as Oak or Beech, which have radically different quarter sawn and flat sawn faces. The solution is to cut your legs from rift sawn stock (so all the faces have the same grain pattern), but I don't think that's an option for you in this particular case.

This is all just my opinion, and as you're the one who'll have to live with it your opinion is the only one that matters! But personally, given your criteria for lighter and sustainable, I'd go for Sycamore with some nicely figured stuff for the top and drawer front, and plainer stuff for all the other components.

Good luck!
What about quarter-sawn cherry for a contrast?

cherry and plane.jpg
I made a coffee table with Lacewood top and Sapele legs that worked nicely, but I don't think would have worked at all had I used Sapele on the Top.
I feel a darker contrasting timber for the top such as walnut would be nice.
You could always consider fuming Oak with Ammonia to get a lovely dark finish. Alternatively experimenting with Osmo's range of tints with a lighter wood - Ash, Maple, sycamore may be interesting.

I must say I agree with custard, Lacewood (London Plane) feels more suited to a tabletop or box kind of application.
thanks everybody for your thoughts. I am going to draw it out full size so I can check the proportions. It seems likely that I will abandon the lacewood rather than force it into an unsuitable application.

I have used this site in the past, Desk Dimensions & Drawings | Dimensions.com for general dimensions, before looking around at the likes of heals (and even ikea) to compare. Having thought a bit more about this specific desk, it is predominantly for a laptop, cup of coffee and possibly/rarely a mouse. I can't print, I make notes on the computer, my phone is a headset through the computer. Anyway, long story short and I probably dont need it to be as deep as 2' which I think that it will help with the proportions too.

As chance would have it, I have a single board of rippled ash which is 19" wide and a little over length which may do the job nicely. It has been seasoning in the house for some time and has remained nice and flat. It should be reasonably easy to get some plain stock for the remainder of the table. I dont have enough rippled stock for the drawer front, but it only needs to be deep enough for a couple of pens- I might either set it back a little so that it isn't seen or go for something contrasting. That detail can be worked out later!