WIP Oak Corner Desk

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Fitzroy

All the gear...
Joined
12 Mar 2013
Messages
2,794
Reaction score
2,268
Location
Aberdeen
My brother is 50 soon and for his birthday I’m building him a desk for his office. When we were chatting he had showed me a photo of a horrid thing made from scaffold boards. Urgh, but it have me the idea that making something rustic from the old sleepers I have could be an option.

FA47D038-9145-4603-8E4C-6CDA618ED4EC.jpeg


Back in autumn i’d experimented with cutting them up on the bandsaw. A total pain at 80kg each but I managed. Having bought rollers for bench tops and rearranging the whole workshop.

CB701D9B-5089-49FA-8BFC-0347B8BDD372.jpeg


The design is pretty basic in form, but close to the image he had shown me and fits my skill levels. I’m glad my woodworking is better than my drawing, on that note I am however liking having a sketchbook for my projects, and hopefully my sketching improves.

D1198296-4AC1-4BF4-BE2D-0D4C996200C3.jpeg

86319F91-E8F9-4315-B984-A793EADD8C04.jpeg


The plan is to ebonise the frame using oak tea and nail soup. The frame legs will come up through the top. Pop out sockets for charging and electric fees up one of the legs.

The main challenge of the build is my brother lives many many miles south of me so this will have to be transported flat and assembled by him. The plan is; frame ends are glued up and then use custom bed bolts to assemble leg frames and apron rails; top is in two parts with a T&G alignment joint and kitchen worktop bolts to pull tight. Top then uses standard buttons to hold to the frame.

The top is going to be c. 35mm thick and hopefully rigid enough to eliminate the need for a front apron. This is my main problem at the moment, hoping I can do so as my bro is 6’6” with long legs and a front apron can get in the way of legs being comfortable under the desk.

That’s the plan so far. Currently milling up the rough sawn wood and deciding on board selections for the tops. More to follow.

Fit
 
Interesting project. I’d be interested to know how the timber has behaved since you have put it through the bandsaw. I did something similar with a reclaimed oak beam and the planks developed quite a bit of twist so I lost quite a bit of thickness getting them flat.

On the design is it going to have a 90 degree internal corner or a curve?

Cheers
 
Boards were rough sized down and then I selected boards for long and short aprons/stretchers. Since rough sawing the boards there has not been too much movement, a bit of twisting and some of the long aprons have bowed, which I expected so I had cut a few extra just in-case.
FF2206F2-0B91-4A86-B0E7-1F8D635F4E31.jpeg


Having rough cut the worktop boards a while back one of the short lengths was wider than I required, with the table saw still having the fence rails and fence not installed (as I needed it min size for the workshop rejig) I broke out the 6TPI rip saw and trimmed a few inches off one side. I'm in love with my leg vice, it's incredible how good solid work holding makes everything so much easier. I was happy with my ripping from each end, met perfectly on the front but not on the back, my technique still has some way to go.
A73B457C-C377-4023-8F32-789C289AC262.jpeg


Legs are 80mm square (sorry for the unit swap but I'm a bilingual ambidextrous imperimetric unit person), they all machined to size very nicely. Although I've just put fresh knives in both machines so they are purring at the moment and leaving an incredible finish. the frame of the desk will be ebonised which will cover a few of the timber marks.
9E285C16-5A09-4A3F-A1B6-0002EB72854C.jpeg


Next across the surface planer and through the thicknesser were the worktop boards. I could then see the pattern of each board and decide how I wanted them to lie together. The timber has some major splits in it so it will be a characterful worktop, we'll come back to stabilising the splits later. With all three boards from the same piece I ended up with two book matches, and I decided to put one split at the other end to try and balance the look. This will mean my grain runs in all kind of directions and I'll need to try and minimise any required plane work on the final top!
655F4A3D-C989-495A-8C28-2FCAF7222D70.jpeg


After surfacing the boards for the short side it became evident that the colour is different, with less red tones that the long worktop. I hope this will become less obvious when the wood is finished, but to also try and fool the eye I'm going to use a piece of contrasting timber where the T&G joint sits between the two pieces of worktop.
5BB96171-BAB1-4905-BA53-8EF91CBBB353.jpeg

5F608AD2-7098-4666-AC71-03BB88515F17.jpeg


The short section has some character but nowhere near as much as the long piece. Additionally the current design has the legs coming through the top which will eliminate a couple of knots in the corner of the boards that I don't like.
2C4C8BBD-D03C-45F6-B6B0-3F6F823E9E73.jpeg


I plan to reinforce the splits in each board with bowties/butterflies, I will additionally fill each split and some other surface imperfections with black epoxy. As it is a desk I don't want nooks and crannies that will steal pens, pencils, etc. I'll bowtie and fill the boards before I join the worktop as I think it will be easier.
9AC3054C-93D3-4A7E-A52C-A0BC0AC3A962.jpeg


I've done bowties before, but only one or two, which I have completed by cutting the bowtie then marking around it. This has been a slow task and with 16 to do on this piece I plan to make router templates and use an router inlay approach to cut the bowties and corresponding mortices. I'm also thinking about contrasting timber for the bowties (Question one or many different types, light or dark contrast?)
87352FCA-A520-46A6-8C2D-C063C0B281FA.jpeg


The plan was to buy the bowtie router template, but having spent time cutting out different sized bowties and finding a shape I liked I realised none of the available templates would work. In fact I don't think anyone who sells the multi-sized versions actually does woodworking, as aesthetically they are all horrid once you factor in the offset from the router guide bushing.
3109D853-5454-4A3B-9F7C-D5A7C659DD02.jpeg


That'll do for now, next post is about reverting to sketch-up to play with some of the design, as it is so much easier than on paper, or by prototyping in wood. But sketchup is on my old computer and you can no longer download a free version, so I'll have to stoke the boiler and raise steam on the old beauty to get it working.

Fitz.
 
Last edited:
Hi Fitz,
The project is looking great.

I assume you know you can use sketchup on the web for free but don't want too for some reason. I have been using it like that for some time now and overall find it works OK. You might find it less frustrating and more convenient than breaking out the old abacus.
 
Love the trick of putting in dark hardwood to break the colour mismatch in the two tops!
 
Building the desk in sketch-up enabled me to test a few things. It has definitely confirmed I do not want an apron below the working edge of the desk, and I want to put a heavy bevel (chamfer?) under this edge. My desk in the office also has a shallow bevel on the top edge so that the edge is less hard on your wrists/forearm, I'm still thinking about this one. The lower stretchers (is that the correct term) were too thick at 100mm and I've thinned them down to 80mm, still thinking about doing similar to the top ones.

Desk 1.JPG


I do not like the idea of the heavy bevel on the outer edge of the desk and on the ends I'm also not convinced, I think it interacts with the apron in a way I do not like, I think a flush edge all round except the working edge is the way to go. Thoughts?
Desk End 1.JPG
Desk End 2.JPG


By eliminating the aprons under the working edge I have a definite concern over the strength of this area, as someone will sit on it one day! As previously mentioned the two desktops will be joined with a T&G for alignment and worktop bolts (not shown) to pull it together and still allow seasonal movement. I've offset the T&G to give as thick a lower lip as possible but at only 12mm I do not think it is strong enough. The lips will be glued on. Thoughts?
Desk Join.JPG
Desk TG.JPG


My options to reinforce are an apron/stretcher set back sufficiently from the edge that you can't see it, or a metal plate. The diagonal support maintains a symmetry that my brain likes, but it is visible if you stand even a short distance from the desk. The set back support is I expect the strongest and easiest to implement as it's just another bit of wood, but my brain hates it. The metal plate is likely the best aesthetically (as it's recessed and invisible) but it's a pain to add another construction element to the mix.
Desk Join 2.JPG
Desk Join 3.JPG
Desk Join 4.JPG


Outcomes
- Bevelled front edge
- Flush sides and outside edge
- Metal plate for support

Today in the post arrived. Router inlay kit for bowties. New marking gauge wheel that I had broken. Epoxy resin and black tint. 25mm stainless bar stock for making barrel nut bolts. Still waiting for router adaptor plate so I can use the inlay kit, popup USB socket, M10 stainless bolts. Still to order worktop bolts.

It'll be a free present as I'll make it from old sleepers..... already more than £100 in the hole.

Fitz
 
I think your 12mm tenon will be more than strong enough. My computer desk in my workshop is made from a couple of 25mm solid wood worktops joined at right angles using biscuits for alignment and worktop joining bolts routed into the bottom. I even stand on it to get to the fuse box behind it and it hasn’t failed on me after five years of constant use. It has no support along the front edge just the back and the ends.
 
A few observations:-
1. I agree with Paul above on the strength of the T&G
2. 32mm of oak is not going to flex much and the metal plate is not going to provide any extra strength in addition to the worktop joining bolts. The diagonal brace has more merit. The plate, however, would prevent misalignment of the front end of the T&G.
3. You have considered seasonal movement in the T&G but the out ends are constrained by the leg tops.
Brian
 
but the out ends are constrained by the leg tops.
That is a good point to consider.
EMC being on the high side in winter months means that the top wont expand further.
If he completes the desk in the near future, it'll be fine, but if he does the notches in the
warmer months, the leg to apron joints might come apart slightly a few months later.
 
avery nice project.....
a couple of things rather like the size of ur workshop.....
u have a proper sized belt sander....
I hope those brackets that hold the galv poles "racking " is bolted to something stong....a lot of weight up there....lol....
because of athritus I'd struggle with pine.....
looking forward tot he finished article......great work.....
 
A few observations:-
1. I agree with Paul above on the strength of the T&G
2. 32mm of oak is not going to flex much and the metal plate is not going to provide any extra strength in addition to the worktop joining bolts. The diagonal brace has more merit. The plate, however, would prevent misalignment of the front end of the T&G.
3. You have considered seasonal movement in the T&G but the out ends are constrained by the leg tops.
Brian
Thanks regards strength, that’ll simplify things.

I’ve left a 4mm gap around legs, which gives 8mm total across a 620mm desk. I think (hope) that should be ok for a desk in an office environment.
 
avery nice project.....
a couple of things rather like the size of ur workshop.....
u have a proper sized belt sander....
I hope those brackets that hold the galv poles "racking " is bolted to something stong....a lot of weight up there....lol....
because of athritus I'd struggle with pine.....
looking forward tot he finished article......great work.....
I love my shop, the sander is a beast. Bought second hand and it’s got a bit of a vibration issue to be honest. It seems very high speed and I think the drive tumbler on the belt side is not concentric so the tension on the belt varies as it turns. It’s a rubber covered cylinder and I’ve improved its concentricity using a chisel from a fixed edge like turning on a lathe. This has improved it somewhat with the machine still noisy in use, but at least it’s not bouncing around like mad.

Each bracket is attached with 130mm M12 lag screws into one of the studs. I (110kg) can hang on them, so I’m confident in their strength. However lifting the big boards up is still a bit terrifying and definitely a two man job.

Fitz
 
I will be doing the bow ties using a router inlay kit. This kit uses a bushing kit where a second bushing snaps over the first bushing, the offset between the two bushings is the same as the router bit diameter. In this fashion you can cut the inlay bowtie and mortice for the bowtie with the same template.
CAC5200C-CA69-4184-B111-9D26BA0B8CC0.jpeg

Having cut bowties in cardboard at the size I liked I would have to make templates myself. Making the templates can be done with the same router bushing kit. I measured the angle of the bowtie and cut the top and bottom pieces on the table saw. I’m using 6mm ply for the template as that’s what I have.

The height of the bowtie end can be found with a bit of maths, these can be screwed in place using a square to keep the ends level, and perpendicular reference lines the correct distance from the centre point.
3F76DF6A-D497-436D-8BBD-34AB7406D62B.jpeg


The top and bottom template sections are lined up with the centre line and tight against the ends.
CAF166C2-3FF7-4007-B4A5-114C0E09FB16.jpeg


All the pieces in place and ready for routing.
61142EAF-442A-4507-A8E8-63D209BB69EE.jpeg


Rinse and repeat for the other sizes. I wa going to have a template for each size, but figured I could get them all on one board.
F8D95C6D-2FBB-4549-A534-054AD4651459.jpeg


The template is attached with double sided tape to the scrap board to make the bowties from and the routed out. Before you know it your cut all what you need and some spares.
7BAB9513-0B01-4326-B6FA-30C0FAC6BCA8.jpeg


I wanted contrasting bowties and had a few different scrap boards. Of course the one I like best was the smallest board I had. I cut one set in the board l, bandsawed them to release, flattened the board and then routed a second set. Not much of the board left over but managed to squeeze out all I needed.
028957B2-46AB-485C-A6DD-AF4592197B85.jpeg


The inlay router bit does not have a long flute and with the bushing offset the maximum thickness of the bowties is only 8mm, which I was worried about, how having fitted one I’ve decided is more than strong enough. The cracks are also going to be epoxy filled so you won’t actually see how thick they are.

The template is then taped to the board in the correct location and the socket outline cut, then all the waste removed. I chiselled most away and cleaned up to depth with the same router bit. It’s 1/8” two flute spiral downcut bit. The bowtie needed a little fettling to fit with light sanding on each side, then some titebond and a mallet to knock home.

Couldn’t resist planing and sanding flush only after 10mins of drying and I’m so impressed with you accurate the inlay is. A touch of white-spirit to get the look of it, I like it a lot. Only 14 more to do!

C224CA63-5E6C-4F7C-AC4F-07000AB69564.jpeg


Fitz.
 
Not much progress as working away at the moment so only brief interludes in the shed at the weekend. One board all stitched up. It’s a pleasant task, routing the outer edges, chiselling out most of the waste, routing to depth, then fettling the ties to fit. A bit of glue, bang them in and a clean up with a card scraper.

2C65B1C4-9825-4384-BCE0-081E7055CFFC.jpeg


I’ve also been researching transportation for the finished desk. I can send a 1800x650x150mm 35kg parcel with parcel force for £40, I think I can get the desk into two of those, three worst case. I also tested the water with Shiply and it was coming up similar at £100-£120. It cheap but acceptable to send it most the length of the country.

Fitz.
 
All the bowties were cut into the boards for the main top.
7CB96F18-D3B4-446E-9DA0-9451C46D45A3.jpeg


I then pontificated for many hours as I worried how to do the epoxy fill on the splits. I could have left them open but as a desk there are too many places to loose a pen etc.

In the end after more research I decided to use duct tape and crack on. Luckily I had a 10cm role from some previous project. Ends of boards were trimmed with the mitre saw to give a flat surface for the tape, and boards were sanded to 180grit where the tape would go.
87357F69-87F8-4DB0-8201-C54C5E92DE0B.jpeg


I was about to pour all three boards until I figured to try one first. Luckily it held with only one minor leak where a crack ran past the tape end. A bit more tape sorted that out.
C3031D12-9891-4A45-8D11-CF3107109740.jpeg

0665A67A-3E42-48A5-BEA3-C1D2C1D1FE7E.jpeg


I’m using glass cast 50 which actually recommends a max pour depth of 25mm, go figure! As the cracks are not very wide and c. 35mm deep I expect one pour would have been ok, however I did two so as to mitigate the leak scenario. I’m tinting the resin black and the instructions left something to be desired, tint a few drops or solid colour 1%. As I was doing two pours I started a little light and then added more, I tinted the whole of the resin bottle so that all subsequent pours would be the sand colour.
94F1DA76-2CAC-49E1-AF83-43CBEF4BB84C.jpeg


Over the next two days I made three pours with 24 hours between them. The shed is set at 18degC and after 24hrs the resin is part set but still sticky to bond with the second pour. Lots of epoxy later.
E9440954-56F8-41CB-BCEB-115EBA4199A2.jpeg

6805493C-AF91-4C3F-B90E-0EFA6775C20D.jpeg


I had a bit of epoxy left from the last pour so I’ve tested my luck, pouring it into one of the legs. It’s much deeper so the greater hydrostatic head could spell disaster!
A636A126-B685-468F-AEC4-2207A23EC5EB.jpeg


Leave it for a while to initial cure, then it can be put to one side for a week whilst I work on the frame next.

Fitz
 
All the bowties were cut into the boards for the main top.
View attachment 152929

I then pontificated for many hours as I worried how to do the epoxy fill on the splits. I could have left them open but as a desk there are too many places to loose a pen etc.

In the end after more research I decided to use duct tape and crack on. Luckily I had a 10cm role from some previous project. Ends of boards were trimmed with the mitre saw to give a flat surface for the tape, and boards were sanded to 180grit where the tape would go.
View attachment 152930

I was about to pour all three boards until I figured to try one first. Luckily it held with only one minor leak where a crack ran past the tape end. A bit more tape sorted that out.
View attachment 152931
View attachment 152932

I’m using glass cast 50 which actually recommends a max pour depth of 25mm, go figure! As the cracks are not very wide and c. 35mm deep I expect one pour would have been ok, however I did two so as to mitigate the leak scenario. I’m tinting the resin black and the instructions left something to be desired, tint a few drops or solid colour 1%. As I was doing two pours I started a little light and then added more, I tinted the whole of the resin bottle so that all subsequent pours would be the sand colour.
View attachment 152934

Over the next two days I made three pours with 24 hours between them. The shed is set at 18degC and after 24hrs the resin is part set but still sticky to bond with the second pour. Lots of epoxy later.
View attachment 152935
View attachment 152936

I had a bit of epoxy left from the last pour so I’ve tested my luck, pouring it into one of the legs. It’s much deeper so the greater hydrostatic head could spell disaster!
View attachment 152937

Leave it for a while to initial cure, then it can be put to one side for a week whilst I work on the frame next.

Fitz
Is the ‘depth of pour’ actually the smallest dimension of the space, not the one to the air?

Edit to be clear: if the gap is 25x 50x 100. Is the pour depth 25 irrespective of the orientation of the gap? Or is it the one in the vertical direction? Trying to get my head round this as I didn’t think air was involved in the curing process. Or is it something to do with air/bubbles being able to escape?
 
Last edited:
Is the ‘depth of pour’ actually the smallest dimension of the space, not the one to the air?

Edit to be clear: if the gap is 25x 50x 100. Is the pour depth 25 irrespective of the orientation of the gap? Or is it the one in the vertical direction? Trying to get my head round this as I didn’t think air was involved in the curing process. Or is it something to do with air/bubbles being able to escape?
Its about heat escaping from the pour and not ending up with a run away exothermic reaction. So theoretically it's the max depth from where heat can escape the system, which in most pours would be the upper surface. In reality for my pour the lower surface is only separated from the environment by a piece of duct tape (negligible insulative properties) and there is a high surface area to volume ratio as the crack is narrow, so I would I expect have been fine. The bigger driver for two pours in my case was managing the leakage risk, a small first pour to seal the base of the crack, then topping up is less risky.
 
Back
Top