Credenza for Home Office

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Project by PlanBWoodworks posted 11-18-2020 01:20 AM 1456 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello all,

My most recent post was my new executive desk for my home office. My home office recently has taken on a new importance for a couple of reasons. First, in March, I left my job after 11 years with the company in order to open my own business. The timing was certainly interesting as it was JUST pre-Covid craziness and shutdowns. On one hand, being unemployed throughout the shut down led to a LOT of time in the shop. Unfortunately, as my house is pretty full after a few years of woodworking, there were very few projects that I could build that really interested me.

After making my career change, the need for a truly functional home office took on a new importance. An added benefit of the home office update was the ability to have an entire room full of furniture to build. The existing office furniture was repurposed from other areas of the house. As an example, the “desk” was actually a coffee table that had a rising top designed to allow you to eat on it. The bookcases that were in the office were particle board units that I bought from Lowes over a decade ago. Building replacements for all existing office furniture would feed my project list for a few months.

After completing my desk, I decided that the next area that needed attention was the bookcases. I have 2 bookcases side by side behind my desk. As I am sure many of you understand, working virtually has led to an increase in video calls and meetings. The bookcases look nice behind me, but in reality, the face frame of one is held on with tape, and the other has started to separate at the bottom. I wanted my new bookcase to be cabinets on the bottom, with a wide top and then book storage on shelves above.

In replacing my existing bookcases, I wanted to carry over certain design elements from my desk. Again, I would use 2×12s for lumber. The stain would remain the same – Minwax Red Oak. I wanted the same 2×2 legs with coves on exterior corners and curves on the bottom stretchers. The sides and back would be 3/8” panels glued up from 2x stock and the doors would be frame and panel, again with 3/8” glued up panels. In order to stay organized, I started with a rough drawing (ignore my total lack of drawing ability and the sketches of other desks – my desk build has given my wife desk envy). When I do draw out a rough sketch/plan, I like to tape it to a cabinet in the shop for reference.

I decided to build this project in 2 pieces and started with the bottom, what I am calling a credenza. I wanted the unit to be the same width as the desk, 66”,with the top having a 1/2” overhang on either side. The height would be the same as the desk at 31”. I also wanted the base to have a usable storage depth of approximately 11”, and after accounting for the unusable space created by frame and panel centered on large legs, the overall depth ended up at 13 1/2”.

I joined all structural pieces to the legs with mortises and tenons. Over the years,I have struggled with loose fitting joinery due to inaccuracies that I created while cutting the joinery. For instance, I used to use my drill press and a Forstner bit to remove most of the waste on mortises, and then square up the mortises with chisels. I have also used routers with spiral bits and an edge guide to cut mortises, but if the bit wasn’t wide enough to complete the mortise in one pass, the second pass invariably varied from piece to piece. This time, I decided to pull my 3 1/2 hp Triton out of my router table and use it with a 1/2” bit to cut my mortises in one pass. Also, after setting the edge guide, I didn’t adjust it, even if it didn’t line up EXACTLY with my layout lines. As usual, I used my Freud box joint blades to cut my tenons. The difference made with these few adjustments was remarkable!

Further, in the past, I have squared up my mortises with chisels as opposed to rounding off my tenons. It has always seemed to me that it would be easier to do it this way. As I am not a chisel master, this inevitably led to further inconsistencies. On this project, I rounded my tenons with a rasp, and WOW, that is SO MUCH FASTER AND MORE ACCURATE!!!!!! As you can see in the photo below, the only challenge that I had using this method was that I was a little loose with my rasp and left myself a slightly ragged edge on the shoulders of the stretchers. I cut all grooves to accept my glued up panels using the same box joint set.

I decided that I wanted to used inset doors. This project is the first time that I have used this technique on a project that mattered. I have inset doors on a couple of shop cabinets, but the stakes were certainly higher here. Once all is said and done, the doors worked, but I am not thrilled with the reveal on all sides. The tops don’t line up perfectly, and I would like a smaller reveal. In the future, I think I will build them slightly oversized so that I can perfect the fit with hand planes. I cut the mortises for the butt hinges on the table saw, using a technique that I learned from Mike Peckovich where you raise the blade to the appropriate height and slide the workpiece back and forth over the blade to remove the waste. I used a Forstner bit to drill a recess for a magnet on the backside of each door. After using epoxy to secure the magnets, I attached a wood screw on the shelf to ensure that the doors stay closed.

When it comes to finishing, I have not always done a great job. Like most woodworkers, I hate sanding and have always struggled with glue squeeze out. Over the past several projects, I have refined my methods into a system that is working well for me. First, I like to complete the my projects fully before doing any glue ups (with the exception of panel or thickness glue ups) or sanding. This includes all fitting of parts, joinery and edge profiling. After completing this process, I like to sand ALL pieces at the same time. I’ve begun marking all pieces with a pencil to gauge my progress, and use this method all the way to 220. Depending on the size of the project, this could take a few days!

Next comes staining (at least until I start using real hardwoods instead of SYP…). Again, depending on the size of the project, this step can present challenges as I like to apply stain to all pieces at once. I work in an 2 car garage. I finally broke my wife of the notion that we should park in the garage, and have the luxury of a large workbench that is 79” x 30” and an outfeed table that is the full length of my table saw giving me a total working area of roughly 72” x 67”. Even with all of this space, I still ended up pulling out a rolling shop cabinet and my router table (both live in recesses below my miter saw station) in order to have enough space for all parts.

Before I begging applying any finish, I tape off all joinery to ensure that the finish doesn’t effect the glue.

I apply stain with a t-shirt scrap, finishing with strokes in the direction of the grain. I generally apply at least 2 coats.

After applying stain, I use either Arm-R-Seal or Minwax poly thinned with mineral spirits. I apply a minimum of 3 coats with 0000 steel wool sanding between each coat.

After completing all staining and poly, I move on to gluing up my pieces. The reason that I like to glue up after finish is that glue won’t stick to finish! Instead of dealing with glue discoloration in stained projects, I let the glue dry totally, and then I can just peel it off my workpiece with no issues.

Overall, I am happy with the first half of this project. Next up, I will be building the bookcase that will sit on top of the credenza. I will post that upon completion. I have lots of pics that I am going to add below.

Thanks for looking!

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

7 comments so far

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10889 posts in 3871 days

#1 posted 11-18-2020 05:07 AM

Wow that came out nice.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Eric's profile


5149 posts in 1335 days

#2 posted 11-18-2020 12:00 PM

Very nice build. Finishing first must have it’s challenges, but you end up with a even stain in all areas. Great job

-- Eric, building the dream

View oldrivers's profile


3114 posts in 3029 days

#3 posted 11-18-2020 01:31 PM

Looking good a great project you can use every day. Job well done.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View tt1106's profile


248 posts in 4531 days

#4 posted 11-18-2020 01:48 PM

Beautiful piece. Love the finish on it. Looks great.

-- -Todd

View swirt's profile


7693 posts in 4434 days

#5 posted 11-18-2020 02:02 PM

Very nice. Thanks for all the great build photos.

-- Galootish log blog,

View dshute's profile


229 posts in 4148 days

#6 posted 11-23-2020 11:56 AM

Nice workmanship!

-- dshute, Warsaw, New York

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4478 days

#7 posted 11-24-2020 12:57 AM

very nice job with SYP..using the straight grain makes it not so chaotic to the eyes.

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