Summer School - Craftsman Library Table

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Project by EarlS posted 06-28-2015 02:05 PM 3091 views 10 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife has been asking for a scrap booking desk for years. As usual, she left the design up to me. Her only request was that it be oversized (34” x 62”). The Craftsman (Stickley) style library desk was the only choice. I remember sitting at similar desks when I was a kid at the school library doing research (yes long before the internet).

Summers here in the Iowa are hot and humid. I convinced my wife that I needed a portable A/C unit for the shop to “keep the humidity down” while I worked on her project. Of course it was for the wood, not my personal comfort. She agreed. Since I was on a roll, I also suggested that if she wanted dovetail drawers I would need a dovetail jig. She agreed. I figured I had maxed out the project budget at that point. Fortunately, I had enough cherry and walnut to make the table so I didn’t have to ask for funds for the wood too.

The build was straight forward. Plans for the Craftsman Library table abound. I settled on the Woodsmith Volume 30 No. 179 plans since they were quite thorough. I made a few minor changes along the to fit my personal preferences on techniques.

I also wanted through dovetails for the visual effect on the draw fronts. The Leigh 12” superjig makes perfect dovetail. This was my first time making dovetails and I was worried they wouldn’t look good. The directions that come with the jig were very easy to follow and produced excellent dovetails.

Assembly was done in stages, first the legs and sides, then the stretcher, and rails. The interior sections for the drawers were slid into the completed base and glued and screwed into place. All of the finishing (3 coats of Watco Danish Oil, followed by 2 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane with 600 grit wet sanding between coats, and 1 coat of rub on wax. The top and corbels are walnut and the rest of the table is cherry.

As with all projects I learned something new. My wife is thrilled with the desk. I can work through the summer in reasonable comfort and I have another woodworking tool.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

14 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 06-28-2015 02:41 PM

Win, win, win all the way around and a great project to boot. Congratulations on “killing so many birds with one stone (project).”

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View dshute's profile


221 posts in 3936 days

#2 posted 06-28-2015 07:51 PM

It’s commonly know that each new job should allow for a new tool, to accomplish the job of course.

-- dshute, Warsaw, New York

View Dlhornscxm's profile


4 posts in 2317 days

#3 posted 06-28-2015 09:42 PM

Gorgeous desk! I have the same barter system with my wife for tools, supplies, etc.. It seems to work so far.

-- Dlhornscxm, Elk Grove CA,

View Bigkahunaranch's profile


140 posts in 2758 days

#4 posted 06-28-2015 11:47 PM

Awesome looking desk.
Thanks for sharing photos of the build.

So you really like the Leigh jig ?
Does it do both types of dovetails ?


-- Living the american dream in central Texas !

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3593 days

#5 posted 06-28-2015 11:47 PM

nice desk

View EarlS's profile


4762 posts in 3598 days

#6 posted 06-29-2015 01:49 AM

Dave – I talked to a number of friends about dovetail jigs and their pros/cons. From their comments, Leigh is the best jig out there and it is worth the extra cost compared to similar knock off versions. I am very impressed with the sturdiness of the jog and the ease of use and adjustment. The instruction manual goes through all of the operations in great detail in a nice booklet. It does both half blind and thru dovetails, box joints, sliding dovetails, rabbeted half blind dovetails, and all of the ones I tried while learning the basics turned out great. I give it a big thumbs up. I also got the vacuum attachment which takes care of the wood chips and provides additional support for the router. Definitely worth the $$.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Matt's profile


137 posts in 3132 days

#7 posted 06-29-2015 02:50 AM

Looks great! I like the visible tenons on the lower stretchers. Are they cut flush or proud?

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3677 days

#8 posted 06-29-2015 06:37 AM

Beautiful desk. And what a an inspiring scene you have from your workshop windows.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View EarlS's profile


4762 posts in 3598 days

#9 posted 06-29-2015 11:44 AM

Matt, the stretcher is a through tenon and the side rails are embedded tenons with a faux tenon that is a frequently used Craftsman detail.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4116 days

#10 posted 06-29-2015 03:01 PM

You did a really nice job on this.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3507 days

#11 posted 06-29-2015 09:03 PM

Earl, that is a great looking project with excellent craftsmanship. You should be very proud.

-- Art

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4397 days

#12 posted 06-30-2015 11:54 PM

Great looking library table! I’m sure your wife will spend many happy hours working on it!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View dnick's profile


986 posts in 3632 days

#13 posted 07-01-2015 03:11 AM

A really great piece. Well done.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1503 posts in 2542 days

#14 posted 01-14-2018 07:18 PM

It was very generous of your wife to allow you to buy the tools to build this wonderful table.
Being on a budget is a good thing. Most men wouldn’t be as considerate as you.
I have no debt so I never considered asking my wife for permission to buy anything. Maybe is should start.
You setting a good example.
Your a great craftsman. The arts and crafts movement never died. And your proof of it.

-- James E McIntyre

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