A Desk for the Queen

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Project by dakotawood posted 03-18-2015 09:35 PM 2999 views 11 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Queen Ava that is! My wife wanted me to build a desk for our 9 year old daughter Ava. She wanted something girly, curvy, simple, yet elegant. So this is what I came up with on Sketchup:

I watched and read numerous things on the cabriole leg. Phil Lowe’s videos on FWW were top notch. I knew that I wanted cherry, so off to my local mill to pick some up. (I used soft maple for the interior drawer parts.) Picking out the best boards for the project:

Also had to buy a few more hand tools to work on the legs. I bought a couple Auriou rasps and a Veritas spokeshave. I loved all of these purchases – top notch tools.
I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time on the legs, so I sped things up with domino joinery for the aprons/legs. Here’s the square looking form to start with:

Made myself a template, then to the bandsaw to cut it. After that it was all hand tools to shape the legs. The hardest part was getting a good crisp shoulder line from the top of the leg to the flat apron part of the leg. A good chisel and shoulder plane worked well. I also actually learned how to use a card scraper correctly for the first time. What a joy to use!
Shaping after the bandsaw:

Right to left – square leg stock, off the bandsaw, after hand tool work:

Transition blocks are roughly cut. Much more work was needed after glueing them on. This was a very time consuming part. Lots of finessing with a chisel and scraper.

Hallelujah! Four legs that actually match! I took a caliper to them at a couple different spots and they were less than a 64th in difference from one another. Rather be lucky than good!

Fairly straightforward glue up using dominos and a couple pocket screws to further solidify things.

Sometimes I had some helpers out there:

This was where I was fine tuning the transition blocks flush with the legs. Took my time with it and it turned out just fine.

Hand planing the top. This was the first time I fully planed it flat. Was quite fun. Used my Veritas bevel up #5 – worked like butter! Finished it up with a #4. I still followed it up with some sandpaper.

I brushed on one coat of dewaxed shellac – first time brushing it on. I used my new Gramercy ox hair brush. What a joy to use. I still suck at it, but it is a sweet brush. I sanded that down, then sprayed 4 coats of water based lacquer satin (Target Coatings). Only had to sand after all the coats were on. I was happy with the build of the lacquer and sanded nice and smooth. All interior drawer parts received one coat of dewaxed shellac and then I waxed the drawer sides/bottoms and interior for a smooth slide.

For the drawers I used my new Leigh D4R Pro that I received for Xmas. This was the first time I used a jig. I actually struggled fine tuning things. I was still left feeling frustrated. I couldn’t get some of the gaps to close. Not a huge problem, but annoying none the less. I almost bagged it and started cutting by hand – actually would’ve been quicker this time! I need to set aside a day and get better acquainted with it I think.

My daughter absolutely loves it! She is one happy customer! I just received my glass topper for it today. I don’t want her messing things up. I’m actually pretty nervous having her use it!

Thanks for looking and reading! On to the next project…

-- Travis, South Dakota

29 comments so far

View MC's profile


234 posts in 2858 days

#1 posted 03-18-2015 11:25 PM

Very nice work!

View AandCstyle's profile


3219 posts in 2768 days

#2 posted 03-19-2015 12:26 AM

Travis, that is one beautiful desk. Congratulations on a job well done! Now, what will you make comparable for the other 3 kids, not to mention your wonderful wife? :)

-- Art

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8381 posts in 3309 days

#3 posted 03-19-2015 12:28 AM

Well done. You are right about the card scraper. It is absolutely the answer for those crisp shoulder corners.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View mafe's profile


12110 posts in 3600 days

#4 posted 03-19-2015 12:38 AM

What a beautiful daughter.
Ok, the build is also quite ok…
No it’s truly a beautiful build a queen worthy, what a lucky daughter to have you as her dad.
Really impressed and love your shop setup.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View dakotawood's profile


211 posts in 3294 days

#5 posted 03-19-2015 12:52 AM

Thank you guys!
Art – I know… The other girls haven’t been too jealous yet. They’re younger now, but I will build them a desk of some sort as well.
Paul – indeed! The card scraper is about the only thing that worked to get into the shoulder. Sand paper would just muck up the adjacent surfaces too much.
Mads – thank you for your kind words.

-- Travis, South Dakota

View mafe's profile


12110 posts in 3600 days

#6 posted 03-19-2015 12:56 AM


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile (online now)


1354 posts in 2145 days

#7 posted 03-19-2015 03:40 AM

Nice work, cute helpers.
Nice looking shop too.

-- Jeff NJ

View WhattheChuck's profile


367 posts in 4071 days

#8 posted 03-19-2015 05:01 AM

Nice job—some Queen Anne stuff looks clunky, but you really pulled it off!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3537 days

#9 posted 03-19-2015 05:30 AM

Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View RustyHacksaw's profile


145 posts in 1774 days

#10 posted 03-19-2015 11:04 AM

Oh don’t worry about her messing up the top… You know you’ll gladly build her another one if she does…

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3378 days

#11 posted 03-19-2015 12:24 PM

It is beautifully done and fit for a Queen. She shall surely be pleased and will bestow Knighthood upon you. Well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CampD's profile


1790 posts in 3997 days

#12 posted 03-19-2015 01:55 PM

Wow! very lucky girl.

-- Doug...

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2854 days

#13 posted 03-19-2015 02:25 PM

nice work looks great

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4231 days

#14 posted 03-19-2015 02:58 PM

Looks great, very impressive. I also set out to make something special for each of my three children. The oldest received a cherry Shaker style desk, the middle received a tiger maple pencil post bed. The youngest is scheduled to receive a walnut shest of drawers but she swapped her spot on my project list with her Mom. That trade earned her the cherry step back cupboard when my wife dies or downsizes ( known around here as “D & D”). Neither of those are anticipated to happen anytime soon, but still a good trade. While she waits, my skills improve and she ends up with two major pieces instead of one.

Had to share our solution to the kids wanting things Dad made.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View MrStyle's profile


88 posts in 2241 days

#15 posted 03-19-2015 03:17 PM

Can’t determine if I am more jealous of your skill or shop.

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