Once the Policeman’s Boot Bench was collected by the client I turned my attention to my next project – a staked worktable from The Anarchist’s Design Book. The maple had been sitting in stick at the end of my study (which is where the completed desk will stand) since April, and I’ve been looking forward to getting stuck into this project. As well as the desk I need an extra bookcase to house my library of woodwork and history texts, and so next year I am planning to build the boarded bookcase from The Anarchist’s Design Book, in maple to match the desk. Of course, a desk is no use without a chair to sit on, and I had originally planned to buy a generic office chair. Then, as I was tidying up the workshop at the end of the Policeman’s Boot Bench build, I looked over my timber stock and realised that I had enough surplus maple for a staked chair (also out of The Anarchist’s Design Book). So my plan is now to build a matching office set of desk, chair, and bookcase. Because it is good to have both a plan and a set of durable, stylish office furniture.
Due to various committments I’ve not generated much momentum or rhythm on this build yet, but the stock for the desk legs and battens is now processed, ready and waiting to be shaped and for the joinery to be cut, and today I have started to tackle the three boards that make up the desk top. This is all very much as I’ve written about before – flattening rough boards with a No.5 jack plane followed by a No.8 jointer. Because the legs and battens are structural components I processed them in two stages to ensure they would not move once at final dimension. The first stage involved flattening one face and one edge of each piece, and taking the opposite edge and face down until they were 1/’8 shy of final dimension. I then left the stock for another week to rest before taking to final dimensions. Because the stock had been stickered for 4 months, and the humidity in my study is reasonably consistent, the pieces didn’t move whatsoever. I then took them to final dimension.
There are a lot of aspects of this project I am looking forward to. In addition to having a sturdy desk to work at (my first proper workspace in 5 years – no more writing from my arm chair) the desk will involve a number of new skills and techniques which I am looking forward to getting to grips with – half-blind dovetails for the drawer, turning the tenons, and the longest edge joint I’ve done to date (two 52″ long joints for the top). Then there are the finishing options – traditional soap, Osmo, or shellac and hardwax? And of course, a return to octagonalisation, with some big tapered octagons for the legs.
Building the chair alongside the desk will be an interesting experience – as the chair requires many of the same techniques, but on a much smaller scale. So as well as practical projects these should offer plenty of valuable learning opportunities.