Composer's Desk #1: Composer's Desk - blogging the project

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Blog entry by nickbatz posted 03-07-2018 09:36 PM 946 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I was having these made by a shop out of solid oak or maple for over a decade, and all along I wanted to develop an affordable version. Then – spurred on by someone actually offering money :) – I figured it out: make it myself, and use nice oak plywood and high-quality Douglass fir dimensional lumber instead of solid oak that brings the materials cost up to about as much as this whole thing sold for!

Based on posting pics on Facebook, I now I have two more “commissions”... and I got bitten by the bug.

The concept is there’s a desktop on heavy-duty drawer slides over the keyboard, which is at standard piano height (about 29-1/2”). You go between writing/typing and playing in half a second, and you’re always the right distance from your computer monitor.

All the joints on the frame are just dowels + glue. The leg assemblies are attached to the frame by… well, it’s sort of half a dado – a ledge – and I used the dowel jig to drill holes for bolts to attach the legs to the bases.

I learned a whole lot about all this from the experience (also, special thanks Izzy Swan on YouTube!) and used every hand power tool I’ve collected over the years in one way or another. That includes a circular saw; jigsaw; belt, random orbit, and finishing sanders; two different drills (because my battery-powered driver is too wobbly for dowel holes); an oscillating tool; and a Dremel.

But naturally I had to add more toys along the way. :)

The first problem was that the depth adjustment on my circular saw was jammed, so after researching online, I sprung from a brand new one. It’s a Makita, the one without the electric brake, and it’s just great.

Then – after getting bored cross-cutting one blade width at a time to create the first “half dado,” I figured it was time for a router table. My plunge router – which I bought years ago and had only used once – comes with a warning not to table-mount it (most likely because it has cooling vents near the motor, and they don’t want sawdust in there). Luck: I found a combination router table with a very loud router on Craigslist for $30. (I was prepared to make the router table, but this was easier.)

The guy selling the router table also had a Dremel scroll saw for sale, in great shape with some extra blades. It got the better of $40, and I’m amazed at how versatile it is.

Since then I’ve picked up a pretty decent Craftsman table saw ($50 + I spring for a new Freud blade); a Ryobi sliding compound miter saw ($60, and its high quality belies the brand name); and… well, I’ll post separately about the vintage Craftsman bandsaw I just picked up. I’m trying to figure out whether it needs a new blade or what.

The finish was another adventure – I kept spending $10 and $10 and $10 – but to make a long story short, I used dark walnut Watco Danish Oil on the frame.

And I’m just a little bit too proud of how nice this turned out. The customer is very happy. :)

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