Pearl's Laptop

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Project by Ric posted 07-25-2008 05:09 PM 3917 views 41 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got the inspiration for this portable writing desk from the “Treasure Chests” book from Taunton Press. The original desk was made of camphor wood in the mid 1800’s and was owned by a sea captain by the name of Elisha Palmer. All I had to go by for the project were the pictures in the book and the museum catalog entry for it from the Mystic Seaport Museum giving the overall dimensions.

It took me several design attempts before I was happy with the overall “feel” of the desk. I did not make a reproduction as I did not have enough information about the desk for that. What I ended up with is my interpretation of it and if I ever do it again, there are several things I would change, but I guess that is normal for most projects.

I used Honduran mahogany as my primary wood and quarter sawn white oak for the secondary wood. There is a removable tray under the tambour area that i veneered in crotch mahogany. I was lucky with the tambour slats as I only had 50% rejection on them. They are backed with linen attached with yellow glue. The tambour is linked to the drawer so it retracts as you open the drawer.

There is a secret compartment and a hidden compartment. (Secrete – because you have to know it is there to even look for it. Hidden – because you can stumble across it just checking out the desk.) The area just behind the pen tray has removable lids to access three small storage areas.

-- Ric :{) - Appleton, ME - (

28 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4546 days

#1 posted 07-25-2008 05:39 PM

Very nice. I’ve always been fascinated by these types of writing desks. A beautiful piece.

-- Working at Woodworking

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 4323 days

#2 posted 07-25-2008 06:00 PM

very beautiful work.. A beautiful piece.

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4256 days

#3 posted 07-25-2008 06:03 PM

that looks great!

curious – in terms of usability – since the desktop space is folded in half – how convenient is it to write on that top? (with the connecting line between the pieces and all)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4721 days

#4 posted 07-25-2008 06:10 PM

Wow that is absolutely beautiful. Great work on your interpretation with no working plans. It would be a nice project to work on someday.

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 4280 days

#5 posted 07-25-2008 06:16 PM

Wow! A georgous piece of art! Simply beautiful.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View GregS's profile


23 posts in 4480 days

#6 posted 07-25-2008 06:20 PM

Great job, Ric. That a beautiful piece, well proportioned and executed. You make it hard for me to get my office work done, with my shop only a few steps away. I believe I hear the plaintive call of the lonely power tools.

-- GregS, Snohomish, WA ~ Some of life's greatest lessons I learned at my mother's knee; the rest I learned at other joints.

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4933 days

#7 posted 07-25-2008 06:20 PM

this looks really cool.
you did a great job on it.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4054 posts in 4671 days

#8 posted 07-25-2008 06:25 PM

I have admired this piece in Scheining's Treasure Chests for quite a while. You have done the piece proud.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4292 days

#9 posted 07-25-2008 06:26 PM

First rate work.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View puzzled's profile


72 posts in 4400 days

#10 posted 07-25-2008 07:07 PM

I have done ALOT of research on writing desks/slopes/laptops and that is a great design and example….great job. I recently built one Writing Slope, on a little bit different design, but the same concept. Thanks for sharing!!

-- -- Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of a woodturner.

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4776 days

#11 posted 07-25-2008 07:23 PM

Very fine work.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4825 days

#12 posted 07-25-2008 07:34 PM

Fabulous craftsmanship. This is a real heirloom piece!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4768 days

#13 posted 07-25-2008 08:35 PM

this is SO beautiful.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View wwnovice's profile


104 posts in 4793 days

#14 posted 07-26-2008 12:16 AM

Very interesting piece – outstanding execution.

-- John

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4374 days

#15 posted 07-26-2008 03:57 AM

Beautiful laptop. You don’t even have to worry about the network going down. Thank you for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

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