Timber Selection

American walnut was chosen for the main desk carcasses, with contrasting burr elm fielded panels in the doors, and oak for the drawer casings.

The walnut gave the main part of the construction an inherent stability, which is an important factor in an office situation where the humidity level is likely to be even lower than in a centrally heated domestic environment.

The visual impact of the burr was maximised by placing it at the front, and the floating panels would be stabilised by being in the relatively broad-framed doors of walnut.

Tops

The Lops are made up first, each of four boards which are edge-matched to disguise the joint and get the best figure. The edges are machine-planed and finished by hand, to take out the planer ripples and leave the join length slightly hollow at the centre. This puts slight pressure on the ends and allows for any extra shrinkage of the end-grain. A slot, stopped 25mm (lin) short of the ends, is cut for a ply loose tongue which is fitted to strengthen the join. All are clamped and left to set, then finished down to 150 grit. They are sticked and stored flat with the top faces protected with hardboard sheet so that all other components can be stored on top of them.

Sides

The 16-pedestal sides, of frame and panel construction, are tackled next. The bottom rail is deeper to take the moulded plinth, with the same depth showing above as the top rail. An insert is fitted to the inner face to house the back of the drawer frames and shelves. The inside edges of the frame are grooved 10mm by 10mm (Min by /fin) to take the panels, and the comers are morticed and tenoned.

The panels are made of solid wood 10mm (%in) thick, deep sawn from 25mm (lin) boards, and edge-jointed, using the same technique as the tops, to the full size. The panel edges are left plain rather than fielded. The panel faces and the inside edges of the frames are finished, the sides assembled, checked for square and wind, and left to set.

The stopped housings to take the shelves and drawer frames are then cut with a router.

To do this, the sides are clearly marked as right and left handed, and all the cuts which can be made using the router fence, are done. A fixed fence is made from ply and batten, located at the top of the side for each of the remaining cuts.

Finally, the frames are finished to 150 grit, and stored.

Frames and shelves

The drawer frames are made up with a mortice and tenon at each corner and a ply lip glued and pinned along the outside edge, between it and the side panel, for the drawers to run against. The shelves are cut to size and finished at the same time.

ABOVE! Pedestal side

The cramped and cluttered workshop, along with the fact that there were still many options and choices to make, meant that this was the most difficult, stressful, and potentially dangerous part of the operation. But it all seemed to go well, and it was with a great sense of relief that I stacked the finished pieces.

Insert for drawer frame housings

Housing for top frame

Rebated tongue

Mortice tenon

Solid shelf

Housings for drawer frames

Solid bottom

Left hand side of pedestal carcass housing for insert

Pegs

Drawer frames Plywood spacer

Insert for drawer frame housings

Housing for top frame

Solid bottom

Mortice tenon

Ply veneered back

Housings for drawer frames

Solid shelf

Left hand side of pedestal carcass

Rebated tongue housing for insert

Pegs

Drawer frames Plywood spacer

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