knock-down tabletop standing desk #2: first through-tenon and mortise, shelves

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Blog entry by jamsomito posted 03-27-2020 06:25 PM 281 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: planning, first half Part 2 of knock-down tabletop standing desk series no next part

Finished up my little adjustable standing desk last night. Started with the shelves. Made a nice clean “tenon” on the bottom stretcher. Not sure you can call it that really, it was just a few notches. I made the width-wise cuts with a stop on the miter gauge, then raised the blade all the way and marked where the teeth enter the table on my zero clearance plate and just ran the pieces up the rip fence for most of the cut. I finished them with a hand saw and chisel.

I thought long and hard about the best way to add the stretcher, but in the end I decided an actual squared off mortise was the answer. Only problem was I’ve never made one before. The challenge was it really needed to be done right, nice and tight, because this would be the only force against racking in my design.

So I marked where it needed to go, drilled some holes and removed some of the material with a jig saw. Then I finished it out with a few passes on the router table. This plywood is rather poor quality and the bit didn’t move smoothly through the table. It liked to grab right near the end of the cut, and it went a little long on the sides. But the height was a perfect fit for the stretcher an this is really all that mattered for the racking strength. Other than a little over-shoot I’m happy with how these turned out. I just chiseled the round corners straight.

I didn’t get any pictures, but after this I got the dado stack out again for the notches in the shelf, rounded the corners on the shelf and stretcher on the band saw / oscillating edge sander, and added a 1/8” roundover to all edges. I got a little tear-out on the “teeth” part of the legs, some bigger chunks actually, so I just hand-sanded the problem areas to remove any splinter potential.

I also tried sanding off this gross finish, but for some reason it just wasn’t working. I think my shop vac filter needs to be blown out, it was just laying down a layer of dust as I sanded and it was taking forever. So instead of a partial removal, I just gave up and left it. I really wasn’t interested in spending a lot of time sanding at the moment. I’ll probably paint this white at some point, probably when my wife goes back to work and doesn’t need this to work on every day. For now though, it’s functional and I’m happy with it!

Any thoughts appreciated!

2 comments so far

View TJMD's profile


27 posts in 1402 days

#1 posted 03-28-2020 11:31 AM

Thats very cool. Well done.

View JCinVA's profile


218 posts in 1567 days

#2 posted 04-05-2020 05:41 AM

I saw the desk in the projects section and think it’s a great design.

To your comment about a vertical stretcher, maybe reduce/eliminate the cutout and add a stretcher in that area. A tapered pin in the end of the stretcher may also help reduce any racking.

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