Shaker Lap Desk - Cherry

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Project by beaudex posted 02-04-2010 09:52 PM 4400 views 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the second of two identical projects the first was done in pine as a sample this is done in Cherry and finished with flat polyurethane. I discovered that pine is much harder to work than cherry.

I invite critiques and comments .

-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4082 days

#1 posted 02-04-2010 10:58 PM

Looks wonderful Derek

View stefang's profile


16722 posts in 3839 days

#2 posted 02-04-2010 11:16 PM

Very nice work Derek. Coincidentally I have been thinking about using breadboard ends like you have on your lap top desk for a box. I am thinking of doing this using a sliding dovetail and just pinning it in the center from underneath. The main top board ends would be the pins and the tail would be routed the length of the breadboard. Have you ever tried that?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jayjay's profile


639 posts in 3550 days

#3 posted 02-04-2010 11:45 PM

Nice work Derek. I have to agree with you about the pine being harder to work with than cherry. I recently made a mock up of a humidor our to pine and redwood, and am now building them out of cherry and walnut. I found that the pine has a tendency to chip out and split real easy, so I had to take extra precautions. However with the cherry, I haven’t had that issue at all. The cut seem to come out straighter and cleaner too.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4266 days

#4 posted 02-04-2010 11:56 PM

This is beautiful. Very nice craftsmanship.

I’m under the impression that the Shakers used a lot of cherry and walnut in their furniture. Did they ever use white pine?

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4177 days

#5 posted 02-05-2010 12:50 AM

Beautiful desk.

View beaudex's profile


65 posts in 4143 days

#6 posted 02-08-2010 01:48 PM


I have made sliding dovetails and do not see why they would not do very well in the location you are suggesting. I would caution you, the top in the case of this piece was only 3/8” so finding a bit to fit would be a problem. Also, If were going to do this in such small stock I would likely start with 3/4” material to cut the dovetail and then plane it down to final thickness to avoid try to work entirely with small stock.


I completely agree with your assessment regarding pine, in my neck of the woods pine is the cheapest wood you can get. I originally assumed that it was a poor quality wood to work with however after having made a few projects with it I have decided I like it a lot. It does have a few qualities that you have to learn to work with but I can make some very nice projects. It ages very well, and I have a few items that I simply left bare wood no finish at all and they are holding up very well.


I am not an expert in shaker however I have read a few books and you are correct they did work primarily in walnut and cherry (predominantly cherry) however I have seen a few pieces in pine (which exact species unknown) so it was used by them just not extensively. From what I have read I would guess that they choose the wood they used based on local availability, their religious outlook wood have prevented them from choosing exotic species for projects.

Cheers and thanks for the comments,


-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

View stefang's profile


16722 posts in 3839 days

#7 posted 02-08-2010 03:26 PM

Thanks for your reply and good advice Derek. I also think pine is a lot better than many think. As I see it, the main problem with pine comes when trying to do anything decorative such as carving or profiles like raised panels. If the grain characteristic is so strong that it detracts from the details. So I believe it is more a question of a design problem than the quality of the wood itself. Otherwise sharp tools and good technique make it a pleasure to work with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View snewOevaD's profile


26 posts in 3289 days

#8 posted 10-11-2010 03:28 PM

How is the bottom attached? I’m specifically wondering about wood movement and how to work with or around that. I’d like to make one of these for my sister-in-law, but I don’t want to give one to her and have a huge crack down the middle of the bottom in a few years.

View beaudex's profile


65 posts in 4143 days

#9 posted 10-25-2010 12:21 PM

snew0evaD, my apologies for the delay in response, was on vacation. I used plans for this from a fairly old Fine woodworking book, it recommended using nails which I did, specifically square headed nails. to date I have not had a single issue with movement. I would suggest that this likely due to the small size of the peice.

hope this helps,


-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4192 days

#10 posted 07-07-2011 03:55 AM

The figure in the Cherry is beautiful and the design is very nice as well : )

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3371 days

#11 posted 04-11-2017 01:01 PM

This is a beautiful lap desk. It looks original and has a lot of nice details and craftsmanship.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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