Charles Mackintosh Inspired Computer Desk #7: Topping things off

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 10-07-2017 01:16 PM 1136 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Drawers Part 7 of Charles Mackintosh Inspired Computer Desk series Part 8: Finishing up the Odds and Ends »

I saved the best for last, or certainly the most challenging part of the project, the desk top. This is a close up of the top profile at the leg from Kevin Rodel’s desk.

At first glance it doesn’t seem that difficult, cut some panels and glue them together, then cut a profile on the edge. I came up with a combination of steps using the table saw to cut the 45 deg bevel and then remove the remaining material with a 1/2 router bit. Unfortunately, wouldn’t work on tapered leg sections or the curved ends.

I spent many long hours looking through the various websites to find a router bit that could cut the set back beveled edge. The beveled router bits all had a guide bearing on top of the bit which wouldn’t work. I also found a beveled bit without a guide bearing which would work for the sides, but not the curved ends. I needed a beveled bit with a shoulder and a guide bushing on top. Raised panel bits seemed the way to go. MLCS had what I was looking for.

As I was pondering my options I also decided that the best approach would be to router the profile on a 4” wide piece of stock, mortise the squares, then glue them to the top panel. After the bit arrived (another beast of a bit) I cut a test piece.

It looked good so I set up the router and cut the side profiles. Everything went extremely well (whew). I moved on to mortising the square holes. I used the test piece to set up and test out the mortises and proceeded to cut them.

From there, it was a matter of gluing the top pieces together, making sure the profiles lined up with the legs correctly.

That left the curved end profiles. I didn’t want to use the inside curve template from the drawers and rely on keeping the bit tight up against it so I used it to trace an outside curve template, rough cut it on the bandsaw and sanded it smooth. The template was clamped on the desk top and I used a 3/4” x 1-3/4” pattern bit (another large bit). Generally, I don’t like to use such a large bit when I’m using the hand held 2.25 HP Bosch router but the need to keep the template clamped to the top and the size of the top made this the best approach.

I had to set up the router table to cut the profile with a rather unconventional support for the top since it was so large and heavy. I couldn’t use the profile bit in the hand held router since it wouldn’t fit and I wouldn’t feel safe with a bit that large in it.

After going through a couple of dry runs to figure out how to best maneuver the top to make a smooth cut, everything went as planned and the top profile was finished. Whew!!!

Working with large router bits seemed to be the theme during this project, something I haven’t done much of before. I’m proud to say I didn’t ruin anything or get hurt in the process. The adage of measure twice, cut once applies, or in this case, think things through and make test pieces before trying it on the actual wood for the project.

I’m in the process of sanding, staining, and prefinishing everything before it is sprayed with a final top coat and everything is assembled. The glass panels for the legs should be ready soon as well.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

4 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile


455 posts in 4636 days

#1 posted 10-07-2017 03:29 PM

Super-cool, Earl! Way more work than mine—but the results are fantastic. The challenge I’ve found with the large panel bits is getting the profile even if the wood is a bit warped. Looks like you’re mastering that too!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4634 days

#2 posted 10-08-2017 03:01 PM

Dude, looking at your Projects page, you’ve done my 3 favorite desks! Very cool! Thanks for taking the time to make the blogs. I read them with my coffee in the morning to start my day right…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View robscastle's profile


7875 posts in 3280 days

#3 posted 10-08-2017 09:22 PM

Earl, you may know this already but if you find a router bit that will do the job but the bearing gets in the way you can always first up remove the bearing and if necessary secondly grind off the shaft supporting it The bit still works the same and produces the same profile required but it now the needs to be used with a fence, or you can fit another bearing in the shaft.

Here is a cove bit I modified to do bowl work.

This is a round over bit modified for different moulding work.
I ground off the end bearing and support post and then added a shaft bearing in its place.
There is a locking collar or spring which fits over the shaft to retain the bearing I havent shown.

Its not something you would do to high end bits as the functionality is changed to a special use custom bit which after the job is now possibly redundant.

Your table is a great project to follow along showing the various construction steps . Well done its going great. Keep up the good work.

-- Regards Rob

View EarlS's profile


4447 posts in 3424 days

#4 posted 10-09-2017 05:19 PM

Chuck – I spent plenty of time looking over your version as I was working out the Sketchup details for this one.

CaptainSkully – thanks for the compliment.

Robert – Thanks for the ideas on modifying router bits. I did give that some consideration when I was working out the details of how to cut the edge profiles. The curved ends were the problem with a bit that didn’t have a guide bearing. Fortunately, I was able to find a bit that had the profile and a guide bearing.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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