DIY

The desk is done!

One of the things I decided to do when I accepted a job working from home: make a new desk. I know nothing about desk-building, but I’m pretty resourceful (and stubborn) and Tim has lots of tools, and how hard can it be, right? Yeah.

So, six months later, I have a desk.

I knew I wanted something funky that combined different woods and metal. I like interesting juxtapositions. And That was about all I had in mind when I started. I visited Bingham Lumber in Brookline, New Hampshire to pick out wood for the desktop. Everyone there was really helpful, and I loved their reverence for old wood. I opted for walnut and some white oak.

Tim decided that the top part of the desk really needed to be smooth, well-joined, and functional, or I would go crazy trying to use it every day. He joined the three boards for me and sanded everything down to a beautiful silky finish.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.

frame.

Simple frame.

Then I put a frame on the underside of the top to offer some additional stability (and a way to attach legs). I didn’t get fancy with the frame, just used some 1″x2″ we had in the loft in the garage. I planned to wrap the edge of the desk in molding that would cover that frame later. Next, I had to sort out the legs. That took a while. I knew I wanted some kind of metal, but wasn’t sure what – and I knew metal would be harder to work with than wood. Hmmm. Maybe just some kind of metal element? Old brackets? Fence parts? Rusty something interesting?

Trench grates. Awesome steampunky industrial heavy intricate trench grates.

They're 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

They’re 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

How do I incorporate these puppies into the legs? Uhhh… yeah, I had no idea. I went to Home Depot and started looking for wood that could work. I found some 2″ square poplar in a length that felt desk-height-y.

trying out ideas for the legs.

trying out ideas for the legs.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of recessing the grates into the legs. Tim and I could do it, but it would have taken a long time and probably ended in marital strife. Things really stalled, as neither one of us was looking forward to a weekend of meltdowns.

My attempt at illustration.

My attempt at illustration.

Then the wonderful and talented Jack Younger had some free time and took pity on me/us. He even understood my wacky drawings… Yeah. Bonus points there.

While Jack was working on the legs, I gave the top of the desk a few coats of Tung oil to bring out the grain of the wood. The legs and the molding got different flavors of Danish oil to create a variety of tones and add depth… I wanted all kinds of grains and hues in this desk. No matching here.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Finally: assembly time. Tim spent the day helping Jack with studio projects, leaving me alone so I could work at my own pace and figure things out for myself. It took longer than I expected, and some of my plans changed as I tried things and found that they didn’t go quite as well as I thought they would.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Finally, after a day of sawdust, sweating and swearing, she was done.

The final product, on location.

The final product, on location.

A closer view of the top.

A closer view of the top.

It’s a standing desk, so I needed to raise the monitor to a more comfortable height. Cigar boxes from our neighbor were just the right size and let me incorporate more cool wood into the design. I’m thrilled with the way the desk came out – everything about it is funky, unique, and functional. It’s exactly what I wanted. So cool to have an awesome work space that I MADE.

Next up… converting the old desk into a glamorous vanity.

 

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A good day for creativity…

My horoscope for today–

“Today is all about art. It’s a great time for creating new work if that’s where your interests lie, but it’s just as good for soaking up culture in all its forms. Your creative energy is magnificent!”

OK, so it’s not just MY horoscope, it applies to Scorpios all over. Including the other resident of this house. Which is probably a good thing, as I may need Tim’s guidance in today’s endeavor: I’m building a desk. Yesterday I left work early and hit up a ton of antique stores; while I didn’t find anything that was exactly right, I did come home with a ton of ideas. Couple those with all the stuff I’ve curated on Pinterest recently and… you’ve got a recipe for a one-of-a-kind desk with personality. Keep your fingers crossed that I can translate what’s in my head to a functional piece of furniture.

If you don’t follow me on Pinterest (hi, Mom!), here are some of the sorts of things I’m drawn to for inspiration:

Garment Factory Desk

Deco Industrial Desk

Simple wood and industrial vibe

I’ll incorporate lessons learned from my current desk into the design of the new one.

My current desk. Soon to become a dressing table.

My current desk. Soon to become a dressing table.

Those lessons:

  • I like real wood.
  • This desk is a good size in terms of height, length and depth.
  • I need drawers for storage.
  • I also need to be able to fit my legs UNDER the desk, which completely can’t happen now. And it’s not about the chair. If I lower the chair enough to get my knees under the desk, my keyboard is in my boobs. Awkward for typing.

Wish me luck. I’m off to finish my coffee, put on some lipstick and head to the lumber yard.