Desk for my daughter

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Project by Salty posted 09-14-2011 12:26 AM 1937 views 8 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter just started second grade and needed a desk for homework and other things. I thought why not build one. Considering this was going to be my first desk project, I wanted to keep the design simple so that I can learn the basics of mortise and tenon joinery. Although the table is a basic design, I decided to use nice high quality wood. The legs and aprons are made from clear grain Douglas fir held together with mortise and tenon joinery. The top is constructed from cherry planks joined with full-length hidden splines. My kids are pretty brutal on furniture so I thought that splines would add extra strength to the top. The drawer front is made by cutting out a section of the front apron. I don’t like the gap left by the saw kerf. Again, this was a learning project so I have some new ideas how to handle this on future projects. I also included a picture of the rails I used to hold the drawer sliders. Those are held to the front panel with two stubby mortises and tenons and a couple of dowels to keep them from detaching from the front apron. The back of the rails are held into dados and a screw from the back of the apron. Finish is shellac to seal the grain. And then a bunch of wipe on glossy poly buffed to a satin finish. The top has extra coats of poly; a sanding at 320, and then 400 wet sanding. Rubbed out with 0000 steel wool and paste wax. Then a final rub down with 0000 steel wool. I experimented on the bottom of the table first. Once I liked the final look, I proceed to finish off the top.

I learned a lot from this project. Keeping it simple was the key for me. I really like the fir and cherry combo. My daughter is so happy to have her own desk. The drawer has a secret compartment in the back. She loves that too. Now I need to make something for my older son. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advanced for your advice and comments


9 comments so far

View Andy123's profile


226 posts in 2836 days

#1 posted 09-14-2011 12:48 AM

The simplicity is the main reason I like the table. It looks really nice. Keep up the good work!

-- The mistakes I make in woodworking are not mistakes they just give my projects character- Me

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3285 days

#2 posted 09-14-2011 01:11 AM

Nice project Salty. Hope your daughter really enjoys it.

-- Life is good.

View CampD's profile


1772 posts in 3849 days

#3 posted 09-14-2011 01:25 AM

Nice simple lines for the kids.
good choice of wood for your first M&T real easy to work with.

-- Doug...

View Kobi's profile


12 posts in 2994 days

#4 posted 09-14-2011 01:34 AM


Nice work – looks great.

View jim1953's profile


2736 posts in 4204 days

#5 posted 09-14-2011 02:34 AM

Great Lookin Desk

-- Jim, Kentucky

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2860 days

#6 posted 09-14-2011 03:16 AM

This is nice crisp work. The proportions and shape on the knee hole space are very attractive. Nothing wrong with a good mechanical slide here and a secret space is always good. Splines will not strengthen the top at all though they will help align for gluing. The top itself looks fabulous and you can never go wrong with clear Doug fir. Ripping the front apron and jointing back after removing the drawer piece can give you very fine lines without disturbing the grain pattern much. All in all it’s something she can carry forward for many years. Good on you.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Salty's profile


76 posts in 3409 days

#7 posted 09-14-2011 05:09 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments and kind words.

Vipond: I thought splines would be better than nothing as far as improving strength. The alignment between the boards was perfect however. I thought of adding breadboard ends for warp control, but that would have been another weekend’s worth of work and more delay on finishing the project. Same with the drawer. I opted for prefinished ply and prefab sliders. I can always replace the drawer with solid wood and nice wood sliders system.

Thanks again.

View mxrdrver's profile


38 posts in 3024 days

#8 posted 09-14-2011 05:56 AM

I’ve always liked the look of douglas fir. Your desk came out very nice. Keep up the good work.

View phil619's profile


35 posts in 3814 days

#9 posted 09-14-2011 06:07 AM

I really like this project. It’s simply and elegant and proportions are perfect. Very nice job.

-- Building fine furniture in my driveway.

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