Work in progress: Writing Desk

With an unexpected evening to myself, I did what any well-prepared creative does: I worked on my current project, an interpretation of Gustav Stickley’s No. 708 Writing Desk in quartersawn oak. Here you can see the boards I’ll use to make the 22×40″ top. The desk carcase is in the background.

Desktop and desk

The boards were too wide to go over my 6-inch jointer, so with the help of a Stanley No. 40 scrub plane, a No. 5 jack plane, and a No. 7 jointer, I set to work flattening one side of each board. Truth be told, I enjoy the work. I find it less wasteful than using a powered jointer, which can’t be trained to split the difference when taking out twist in a board. It also doesn’t generate the fine dust particles that a powered jointer does, and it’s just darned satisfying to develop a skill that broadens your creative options.

With the board positioned against a stop on the workbench and wedged so that it doesn’t wobble, I start by running the jointer across the board a few times to find the high spots. Then I switch to the scrub plane to take down the high spots. Another few passes with the jointer tells me how much work I have left, and I work out the remaining high spots with the jack and scrub before a final few passes with the jointer make the board flat enough to pass through the thickness planer.

No, I’m no purist. Once I get a “flat enough” face, I like the 12-inch thickness planer because it creates a predictable result. Plus, by the time I’ve gotten this far by hand, it’s been workout enough. Here I’ve left the boards a bit thick of their eventual one inch, and stickered them so they air out evenly.

Future desktop, thicknessed and stickered

Here’s a close-up of the carcase. As you can see, my daughter has moved in. Once I complete the drawers and the desktop, plus stain and finish, it’s all hers. She really wanted something she could paint, so we compromised, and I let her pick out a chair at a local antique mall.

Desk carcase, already lived in

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