Taliesin Desk Build - How's and Why's #1: Part #1 - Where to Start

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 07-17-2016 01:53 PM 1551 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Taliesin Desk Build - How's and Why's series Part 2: Part #2: Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions »

First things first: I am a mostly self-taught woodworker that has been at it for about 20 years. I’ve made a wide range of projects, mostly focused around furniture and accessories for the house, typically Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, Stickley, and Greene and Greene influences.

I’ve been working in the chemical manufacturing world as a chemical engineer for 27 years. I’m currently a Project Engineer by day, working for one of the largest corn processing companies in the world building chemical facilities.

As my woodworking skills have progressed, I find the most helpful tips come from other woodworkers and not so much from the numerous publications out there that claim to have some kind of great and wonderful new, secret tip. Furthermore, as I read through many of the projects posted around the internet, I find that most of them focus on “WHAT” was done, not necessarily “HOW” something was done, and more importantly “WHY” it was done that particular way.

I remember watching “New Yankee Workshop” marveling that Norm Abrams always had the perfect tool and set up for whatever task he was performing, and it always looked so quick and easy, without really showing more than a token clip of the work. I would get out the woodworking magazines and catalogs (early days of the internet when catalogs still were sent out), or look on the internet to see what the jig, tool, or machine was and how much it cost thinking this must be the item I needed. Usually, it was prohibitively expensive, had limited use, or some other major limitation which meant I wasn’t going to buy it. Over time I realized that I needed to figure out how to creatively use the tools and equipment I have….. and occasionally buy something new and cool if my conscience (wife) let me.

With that background, I want to focus on the “HOW” and “WHY” aspects of my current woodworking project.

First Step – Figure out what you want

I want a new computer desk. The glass topped abomination that currently sits in the office was never intended as a permanent fixture.

I spent several months looking at, and saving, pictures whenever I saw something I liked, trying to come up with a look that was compatible with the Stickley table that I built for my wife’s scrap booking while highlighting other aspects of the A&C approach. Google Images is a great way to look through lots of pictures. I searched variations of Craftsman, A&C, G&G, desk, table, to find images. In the process, I kept coming back to Kevin Rodel’s Taleisin Desk. His work has elements of Charles Mackintosh and I just finished renovating our bathroom using Mackintosh elements in it.

From there I found Jim Young’s excellent, thorough LJ blog on his build of the Taleisin Desk. I read through it several times and looked at all of the pictures he included and his discussion of what he did. I decided that this would be the desk I built. All of the window shopping took a while, but it was time well spent. Take the time to define a clear idea of what you want and how it will work with the rest of the room, area, and surrounding furniture.

Next Up – More decisions

-- 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 07-17-2016 02:17 PM

Hi Earl—I made Rodel’s Taliesen desk into a table. Check out my projects. Well, I think that was it—I’m gone for a week, but could answer any questions about what I did.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4634 days

#2 posted 07-17-2016 05:29 PM

First things first, but not necessarily in that order. – Mark Twain

Congratulations on taking on Kevin Rodel’s Taliesin Desk. It’s a beautiful piece and inspired me to make a somewhat similar version for our dining table. It will be a challenging project that you will be proud of. Also, thanks for starting this blog. I needed something like this to read with my morning cuppa Joe until Jim starts another one. I also appreciate the “why” approach as that’s how I teach.

I actually credit Norm for teaching me how to do woodworking, even though I always suspected that his techniques were based on the free tools sponsors had given him, making it tough for someone to start out to decide what I actually needed. I didn’t find out until decades later that he had someone do all the setup on the tools for him off camera. No wonder he can make an armoire over a weekend and it takes me 4 months.

I’m looking forward to your progress. For the readers, here’s a pic of the table in question.

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

View EarlS's profile


4447 posts in 3424 days

#3 posted 07-17-2016 07:38 PM

I realized I didn’t post a picture of the desk in the first post. Thanks Captain Skully for helping me out.

Chuck – it was a table and I spent a fair amount of time looking it over as well.

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

View JimYoung's profile


407 posts in 2663 days

#4 posted 07-17-2016 11:37 PM

Hi Earl,

Looking forward to following along with your project and your perspective.

If you need any help along the way, just ask.

Good luck,

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

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