Curly maple desk

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Project by ADHDan posted 02-18-2015 05:19 PM 3253 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Now that we have two kids, my wife opted to start working from home rather than going into the office – and so she needed a new work desk. I offered to build her a maple desk, as part of my plan to start replacing all of the crappy particle board furniture in our house with nice, hand made hardwood pieces.

The majority of the desk is curly maple; the face frames are hard maple and the drawers are Baltic birch ply (and the temporary backer board is an MDF panel with hardwood frame), but all big, flat visible surfaces are curly maple. I box jointed the drawers with the Porter-Cable dovetail/box-joint jig (originally I was going to half-blind dovetail them, but decided to use box joints when I realized my dovetail template was a little bent).

Other than that, it was pretty straightforward frame and panel construction for the cabinets. I scavenged the drawer slides from an Ikea dresser we tore down a few years ago. They were by far the highest quality part of that dresser – metal glides with smooth nylon rollers. Learning to install them was an… experience.

The finish (currently) is two coats of Transtint dye (first coat sanded back to pop the curl) and three to five coats of glossy Arm-R-Seal (the desktop has five coats, the rest has three).

There are a few things that eat at me (one drawer is a little sticky and the cabinet door is not quite square), but nothing that would prevent me from putting this into use right away. I can always fix those little things later if they really turn out to be a big deal.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

7 comments so far

View misterChips's profile


83 posts in 1892 days

#1 posted 02-18-2015 06:40 PM

Wow, what a nice job, I’ve always wanted to make a solid wood desk (but with a roll up top) but after looking at yours I may soon draw up plans for a desk and move it to one of my top ten projects over the next year. Once more nice job, and I as well am doing my best to avoid and replace crappy particle board furniture.

-- Don't only practice your art, but force your way in to its secrets... Ludwig Von Beethoven.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3294 days

#2 posted 02-19-2015 12:43 AM

Very nice desk made from some unique maple. Good job!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dusty56's profile (online now)


11856 posts in 4292 days

#3 posted 02-19-2015 01:06 AM

The top looks great : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Russell Eck's profile

Russell Eck

178 posts in 2029 days

#4 posted 02-19-2015 05:05 AM

Amazing work! Stunning!

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2809 days

#5 posted 02-19-2015 05:47 AM

Well I like it,but more importantly what did your wife say?

Sticking drawer, substitute anothere one to isolate where the fault lies.

Out of Square, do not tell anybody ! failing that do a rebuild later, after identifying what caused it.

-- Regards Rob

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2713 days

#6 posted 02-19-2015 03:18 PM

Thanks everyone for the kind words! I got lucky with the desktop. I ordered about 50 bft of 4/4 curly maple from a local roughsawn dealer who delivers (he sells cheap, but you don’t get to pick the boards), and it just so happened that there were two 10” (or so) boards in the stack that were already bookmatched. Once I cleaned them up and paired them, it was crystal clear that they’d be perfect for the desktop. Then, it was just a matter of finding a 4”-6” wide board that matched well enough to complete the top, and I wasn’t too concerned because I’ll be putting a hutch over it eventually anyway – so the bookmatched part will be the most prominent.

As to the defects, I’m pretty sure the drawer problem is that one of the slide brackets is mounted about 1/8” or so forward from the other. And I told my wife I’d be happy to rebuild the door down the road, but I know that right now she just really needs the desk in use. She loves it and has already asked if we can put plexiglass over the top so the kids can’t scratch it up.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Ken90712's profile


17819 posts in 3793 days

#7 posted 05-25-2016 03:31 PM

Love the table, and the wood…... What a great job! Well done…..

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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