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Taliesin Desk Build - How's and Why's

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Blog series by EarlS updated 10-28-2016 01:27 AM 17 parts 21976 reads 37 comments total

Part 1: Part #1 - Where to Start

07-17-2016 01:53 PM by EarlS | 4 comments »

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 ch...

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Part 2: Part #2: Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions

07-20-2016 02:24 AM by EarlS | 1 comment »

Great, now I know what I want to build AND I think it will be compatible with the style of other furnishings in the room. I have a picture, provided by Captain Skully, since I forgot to post one. Many thanks!! Before I go any further, I must give credit to Kevin Rodel for his design. I wish I could afford to buy his works, they are amazing. Thank you for providing the rest of us with such inspirational pieces to imitate. If this turns out well I might try reproducing the Glasgow desk...

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Part 3: Part 2B# - Inspiration at the Chicago Art Institute

07-22-2016 01:21 AM by EarlS | 3 comments »

I realized shortly after posting Part #2 that some inspirational pictures might go a long way towards illustrating my point (like the pun?). After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Last summer we visited the Chicago Art Institute. Wow what a place. We saw plenty of major works of art. This one might be familiar: Of course there were plenty of other Masterpieces. Then, towards the end of the day we sauntered into a gallery that had furniture in it. I immediately spotte...

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Part 4: Time to make some sawdust

07-27-2016 01:30 AM by EarlS | 3 comments »

I don’t have any 8/4 or 12/4 to make the legs and side aprons. Online 12/4 X36 square blanks are very expensive ($40 on Rockler) plus most of them are glued up. So I decided to make them from existing 6/4 and 4/4 stock. When the changes were made, I needed roughly 20 BF of 4/4 and 20 BF of 6/4 cherry for the legs, side aprons, various stretchers, as well as the drawer fronts and the back rail. I also needed some 5/4 square walnut spindles and some 4/4 square walnut spindles. The 4/...

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Part 5: Making Legs

08-04-2016 02:27 AM by EarlS | 1 comment »

It’s been a few more days than usual since I spent any meaningful time working on the desk. Weather has been hot and humid so time in the shop is more like a sauna than a woodshop. A single fan wasn’t keeping me cool and the humidity was wreaking havoc with the wood moisture. Consequently, I broke down and bought an 8,000 BTU/hr window A/C unit. WOW, what a difference in both humidity and temperature. While I was at it, I also decided that an air cleaner would probably be a big...

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Part 6: Big Mortises

08-14-2016 01:15 PM by EarlS | 2 comments »

All of the leg pieces have been cut to length and marked for the multitude of mortises and tenons. Before I get into the details of what I did, I wanted to talk about options for cutting mortises and tenons. I spent a lot of time researching some of the new options on the market. I really wish I lived near a wood working store that had demonstration tools to look at and maybe even try out. The Festool Domino looks like a biscuit jointer on steroids, with a special router bit mounted h...

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Part 7: Mortises Three Ways

08-21-2016 01:41 PM by EarlS | 0 comments »

As I mentioned in the last entry I broke the mortising into 3 groups. The big mortises were made using templates and a router. Most of the smaller mortises were ¾” which were made using a ¾” Forstner bit and squaring up the holes with a corner chisel. Some what tedious, but a sharp chisel makes quick work of it. Any square holes that were ½” or smaller were made with a mortising attachment on my drill press. There are some serious shortcomings in the Delta Morti...

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Part 8: Intermission

08-31-2016 02:40 AM by EarlS | 1 comment »

I’ve been doing everything but woodworking lately. Our oldest daughter started college, high school started, along with the girls swim season. It keeps raining and the grass keep growing necessitating mowing every 3 days or so. A thunderstorm last weekend resulted in a lightning strike on the house behind us (which started a fire) and caused an arc flash when the plug from our computer surge protector blew out of the wall outlet and cracked the outlet, tripped the surge protector, and ...

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Part 9: Time to Talk Tenons

09-03-2016 01:07 PM by EarlS | 2 comments »

Time to talk tenons. I’ve made tenons using 3 different methods, a router with a straight bit, a stacked dado on the table saw, and a tenoning jig. Tenoning Jig:I discarded the tenoning jig some time back because it was a pain to set up and keep things square. I never could get the miter bar tight but not too tight and keep things running parallel to the blade which made for tenons that were tight on one end and loose on the other. Long tenons were also a problem since the saw blade wil...

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Part 10: Arches for Aprons

09-04-2016 02:01 PM by EarlS | 2 comments »

Finally feels like the project is starting to move along. Alex from Glass Heritage just told me the glass for the inserts have been cut. He sent some pictures so I can approve the colors. Meanwhile, I’d better pick up the pace if I want the desk to be complete by the time the glass is ready. Making smooth arches seems to baffle a lot of folks. The problem is that most arches require a combination of a circle with a large radius and just the right amount of flattening the circle...

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Part 11: Moving Along

09-09-2016 01:54 AM by EarlS | 3 comments »

Things finally are moving along, unfortunately, a little too fast in the case of the beveled through tenons on the bottom apron and the long stretchers. I forgot to cut the bevels on the tenons BEFORE I cut the arches. As a result I had to come up with plan B. As you can see from the picture, it entails a long fence on the miter bar and a longer piece of sacrificial wood clamped to the miter bar and the stretcher. Probably not the preferred method for cutting bevels on the tenons, b...

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Part 12: Framing the Drawers

09-17-2016 01:25 PM by EarlS | 1 comment »

After dry fitting the legs and stretcher I moved on to glueing things together. Wedges were pounded into the tenons. I never really put much thought into making thin wedges so when it came time to make some, I was at a loss. I wound up using the tapering jig on the table saw to rip thin, tapered strips to use as wedges. It was probably not the most efficient or creative way to make them. Anyone have a good way to make thin wedges? Cutting the wedges off and sanding them smooth w...

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Part 13: The Big Top

09-30-2016 01:21 AM by EarlS | 1 comment »

I didn’t really spent much time thinking about how the desk top would be built. I planed and jointed the walnut along with the maple and cherry. I proceeded to glue up the panels using a biscuit jointer. With a top this large (39×72) I used 4 – 10” wide boards and glued them in pairs then glued the pairs together. I also clamped the ends and middle to keep the board from cupping from the clamping pressure. From there I glued up the final 4 board panel. After...

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Part 14: Breadboard Ends

10-08-2016 03:09 AM by EarlS | 3 comments »

Before I jumped into making the breadboard ends I decided to do some reading and get a little more explanation on wood movement and what role breadboard ends play. Excerpts from Popular WoodWorking magazine website: “Boards expand and contract at a greater rate across their width than they do along the length. How much they expand and contract is more a matter of species and final resting place than anything else. Also, wood tends to expand and contract more actively toward the bark ...

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Part 15: Drawers

10-13-2016 01:49 AM by EarlS | 3 comments »

There are as many different approaches to drawers as there are woodworkers. The way I see it, a drawer is a box that slides into an opening. The use and type of drawer decide what is needed. In this case, the drawers don’t need to be fancy or complicated. The center drawer is 2” x 12- ½” x 24”, the side drawers 11– ½” wide. The drawer box is ¾” maple to give it a nice clean appearance. A cherry front will match the rest of the desk, and the drawer bottom is ¼” walnut plywood to add a vi...

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Part 16: The Wood Working Blues

10-18-2016 11:59 PM by EarlS | 1 comment »

I’m a huge fan of the Blues. The Blues are my go-to music in the shop. Stax, Chess, MUddy Water, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Elvin Bishop, Buddy Guy, the list goes on and on. Well, this week I’ve been singing the Woodworking Blues. I’ve been working on the finish for the walnut desk top. Cutting the openings for the cords went well. I made an mdf template that ran the full length of the top with notches removed where the openings needed to be cut. A little dusty, but the end result t...

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Part 17: All Good things Must End

10-28-2016 01:27 AM by EarlS | 6 comments »

I’m finally finished with the desk. There were a few odds and ends that needed to be wrapped up. I decided to use figure 8 fasteners to hold the top to the base and allow it to move with the seasons. I happened to get my latest copy of Fine Woodworking and there was an article discussing how to properly connect the top and base and why it was important to allow for seasonal movement. A variety of methods were explained. I did learn that the figure 8’s along the front and back need to ...

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