The Victorian School Desk Mystery

  • Advertise with us
Project by DeLayne Peck posted 02-16-2015 06:22 PM 2232 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Years ago, a pair of very rusty, cast iron legs for a school desk caught my attention at a garage sale in Winfield Kansas. The legs posed a real challenge. There were odd ratcheting arms attached to round mechanical elbows. All of the wooden parts were long gone. How did this amount to school desk and how did it work? I bit on the $15 mystery.

Back home in the shop, the legs were sandblasted, primed and repainted. Metal tabs for screws provided the essential clues to the desks construction. I was able to locate a two part desk top. The round elbows begged for a connecting turned cylinder. More tabs indicated there was an enclosed book shelf underneath. To protect carpets and wood floors from the rough cast feet, I added wood feet in the ornate style of the desk.

A charming picture of school life in the 1890’s emerged from the project. Children arrived at school, raised and locked their desk tops in the up position. At the end of the day, books were stowed away and the desk top was lowered to neatly protect their books.

A nostalgic project from a time when my shop consisted of a Shopsmith in a small Model T garage. Biscuit joinery, constructed in white oak with a satin polyurethane finish.

Complimentary photo-bombing provided my Milly, our one year-old Havanese.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

5 comments so far

View sras's profile


6255 posts in 4291 days

#1 posted 02-16-2015 06:29 PM

Nice detective work and a beautiful result.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Marty 529's profile

Marty 529

344 posts in 2881 days

#2 posted 02-16-2015 06:43 PM

Beautiful desk. Great work figuring it out and bringing it back to life.

-- Marty, Ohio

View Delain's profile


41 posts in 3085 days

#3 posted 02-16-2015 07:03 PM

Excellent work DJ, very attractive all around !!


View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3966 days

#4 posted 02-17-2015 01:12 PM

This looks very elegant.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View tnwood's profile


274 posts in 4248 days

#5 posted 02-17-2015 03:05 PM

Very interesting story and project. I’ve never seen a desk like that before. You did justice to it.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics