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Project by Jarrhead posted 03-23-2017 04:46 PM 1620 views 3 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I bought a gigantic roll top desk in Okinawa many years ago. It was one of those pieces that looked nice in the showroom, but, in use, quickly revealed it’s shortcomings. I won’t go into all that here, because this post is about the piece I created to replace it. The last photo is NOT the desk I built, but rather the inspiration for the desk I built. We found this desk at Pottery Barn. It is a modular design so that buyers can configure it the way they want to fit their space and needs. Configured the way we wanted it, it priced out at about $2200.00. That is a steep price tag for a piece of furniture from the eyes of a woodworker. I figured I could do it for a third of that price (not factoring in my labor as a cost, of course). As it turned out, it was probably closer to half than a third, but still a significant savings. Plus I acquired a few new tools, and skills along the way.
This project is significant to me in my woodworking educational journey in that it is my first piece “designed” and conceptualized in Sketchup. The word designed in the previous sentence is in quotation marks because I admit that most of the basic design elements were “borrowed” from the Pottery Barn example. For those Lumberjocks not familiar with Sketchup, it is a fantastic tool for the woodworker. I can’t count the number of times I have seen something I would like to build, but was stymied by the lack of a plan to work from. Sketchup lets you bring your ideas to life with detailed plans, that include all the measurements you need to head to the shop and start building. If you can conceive it in your mind, you can draw it in Sketchup. There is a learning curve. It isn’t exactly self intuitive, but once you grasp a few basics, you will be off and running, I mean designing. I spent probably 40 hours on the Sketchup drawing, before I cut a single board. But once I was ready to start cutting, I had all the info I needed at my fingertips to complete the build. The DVD available from Robert Lang; Woodworkers Guide to Sketchup; was a worthwhile investment, and helped flatten that learning curve a lot. I don’t know Robert Lang, and I am not pitching his product over many of the other available Sketchup instructional formats that are out there. I’m just saying, I used his, and it helped me. If I spent a little more time mastering Sketchup, I could probably draw designs that were similar in size and complexity in about half the time. There was a lot of trial and error, and go back and start over because it was my first Sketchup design.
The wood is all solid red oak, except the top which is Baltic Birch plywood laminated with Formica with oak edges where exposed, and the drawers which are poplar. The oak was stained with General Finishes Black stain, then wash coated with shellac. After the shellac was well cured, I applied Liming wax to achieve the “cerused” effect, (which my wife tells me is all the rage on Pinterest these days). The oak was a good wood choice for the Liming wax treatment, because of its open grain.

-- trn2wud

5 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1931 days

#1 posted 03-23-2017 04:58 PM

Nice … good job on the ebonizing!

View Charlie Kilian's profile

Charlie Kilian

86 posts in 1901 days

#2 posted 03-23-2017 07:06 PM

Beautiful desk. I’ve been toying with the idea of building something similar for myself.

Sketchup is one of the most important tools in my shop. I can’t tell you the number of times I had a design in my head, only to reveal problems when I put it into Sketchup. The problems are a lot cheaper to fix in software before I begin making my cuts!

View L3Woodworks's profile


41 posts in 4776 days

#3 posted 03-23-2017 09:18 PM

Great work! That’s another one I’m gonna file in the “Maybe someday” dream folder.

-- We are all just one moment of arrogance away from disaster

View DonB's profile


591 posts in 3976 days

#4 posted 03-24-2017 10:49 AM

Thanks for sharing. I also like the finish. Rage or not, the finish makes this unit. Your design shows the usefulness of Sketchup – I have not mastered that program yet. In short, you designed, made and can now admire your own work. Well done Jarrhead.

-- DonB

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4150 days

#5 posted 03-24-2017 02:15 PM

You have really done a fine job on this desk.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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