Introduction: Distressed Industrial Desk

This is without a doubt one of my favorite builds!

A client of mine recently commissioned me to design and build an industrial desk for his office--and well, lately I've been obsessed with pictures of old abandoned factories so I tried to work that aesthetic into the design, and this is what I came up with.

Special thanks to my Patrons, as well as Lincoln Electric, and Waterlox for sponsoring my work and making this possible!

Here is a comprehensive list of the tools and products I used.

METAL WORKING
Dewalt DW872 Cold Saw - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Dewalt Flexvolt Angle Grinder - http://amzn.to/2oQtZyl
Dewalt DWE4011 Angle Grinder - http://amzn.to/2nFSRof
Lincoln Electric 140C Mig Welder - http://amzn.to/2oFfJJ9
Lincoln Electric 375 Air Plasma Cutter - http://amzn.to/2pYrNTh
Proto 90 degree die grinder - http://amzn.to/2w3JVz6
Arrow welding magnet (4-pack) - http://amzn.to/2uFgS74
Dremel 4000 - http://amzn.to/2oKBvIy

WOODWORKING
Dewalt 20V circular saw - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
DEWALT DW734 Planer - http://amzn.to/2o6byVC
Dewalt DW682K Plate Joiner - http://amzn.to/2w3r5rR
Dewalt 20V XR Brushless Drill - http://amzn.to/2oF9q8G
1/4"x20 Brass threaded inserts - http://amzn.to/2nBAYvF
Preppin' Weapon Sanding Block - http://amzn.to/2t3TAHx

FINISH
Waterlox Tung oil finish - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Sculpt Nouveau Cleaner & Degreaser - http://bit.ly/2lIJQd6
Mineral Spirits - http://amzn.to/2pFkCie
Rust-Oleum sunrise red enamel - http://amzn.to/2w3Gus3
Minwax Dark Walnut wood stain - http://amzn.to/2p5acIw
SC Johnson Paste Wax - http://amzn.to/2oNi2up

MEASURING
Empire Drywall square - http://amzn.to/2nRVqV7
Swanson Speed Square - http://amzn.to/2nNOUDd

TRACKLIST
1. Cullah - On the rising sun
2. Studio Noir - Strella Sing a Singsong to the Moon
3. Cullah - Comfort to you
4. Juanitos - Brasilian Reggae

Factory Industrial Desk | How-to

Step 1: The Frame

Image 1: Most of the frame & legs were built with 3" channel iron--this stuff is heavy duty, but it really lends itself to the aesthetic I was going for.

Image 2: The build began by cutting all of the channel iron for the top as well as the legs. I am using a DeWalt Cold saw for this--cutting this channel iron requires a bit of patience.

Image 3: And here I am welding up the frame, all of the corners are mitered at 45 degrees--I will grind the welds down flat before I paint and distress the frame. I am using a Lincoln Electric 140C MIG Welder.

Image 4: Although the legs will be bolted together to form a sort of I-beam, I tack welded the ends together so they didn't shift while drilling the holes.... Again-- nothing happens quickly with this stuff :)

Image 5: Here I am positioning the legs before welding into place. You can see that I welded some 1/4" plate in the inside corners of the frame for the legs to sit on.

Image 6: Welding the legs on, it's important to get some solid tack welds in place before running a continuous bead as the heat can easily pull the legs out of square.

Image 7: Here I'm welding what I call the apron for lack of a better term below(the table is upside down) the frame. This does a few things-- it really bulks up the appearance of the table, but it will also serve as an attachment point for the drawer rails. The aprons are just 1/8"x3" mild steel

Image 8: My wife getting in on the action :)

Step 2: The Drawers

Image 1: These are my quick plans for how to bend the drawer to shape. This was my first time making metal drawers, so I must admit I was a bit anxious.

Image 2: I cut the overall drawer dimensions out of 18ga sheet metal with the plasma cutter, but you could also do it with tin-ships and then made a metal brake with the frame of the table and a scrap piece of C-channel. Here I have everything clamped in place ready for a beating!

Image 3: Then I welded the drawer slides to the drawer--because ummm that's how you do it...

Image 4: And then the drawer slides to the drawer support rails. All I had left after this was to cut and weld the back of the drawers on.

Image 5: So here is the frame all welded up (minus the feet). I still need to paint and distress it, and build the top.

Step 3: Paint & Patina

Image 1: Since I was going for an old battered distressed finish, I didn't feel the need to use fancy spray equipment. Most factory equipment is just enamel, so I just bought 3 cans of red enamel spray paint and went to work. Everything in my shop is a little more red now :(

Image 2: Time to burnish! Although I did some test pieces, it was a bit nerve wracking to scrape off and sand the paint off, too much or too little and it could easily look artificial. I tried my best to burnish high wear areas like the drawers a bit more.

Image 3: After burnishing the frame, I wiped everything down with dark walnut wood stain followed by 3 coats of paste wax.

Step 4: The Top

Image 1: I think I ordered like 40 board feet of 8/4" ash for the top-- I love ash, it's like oak, but I find the figuring a bit more interesting, oh and it's less expensive. This is the same stuff they make baseball bats with, it's also ridiculously heavy.

Image 2: Here I'm using a DeWalt lunchbox planer to dimension the rough cut ash. If you are unfamiliar with rough cut lumber, it's not like the pre-dimensioned construction lumber you get from most home stores. Rough cut boards are rarely consistent width or depth, so you have to do quite a bit of work to dimension them. I can't believe I haven't blown up this planer yet.

Image 3: I'm going to get a bit technical for a minute--real wood expands and contracts (the majority of it occurring across it's grain) with humidity & temperature changes, there is not much you can do about it. By cutting the boards into butcher block style strips and rotating them 90 degrees so that what were the sides are now facing up and down, most of the expansion & contraction will be up and down instead of side to side. This is important because the top will sit inside of a steel frame--which does not expand. This whole process was done to ensure against the top eventually warping and/or cracking.

Image 4: The big glue up. I actually did this in sections until I had two halves to glue together. This was the first time I used a plate jointer to align the top for glue up, and it was amazing. The plates(or biscuits if you prefer) keep the pieces from sliding during glue-up which saves tons of leveling(planing or sanding) afterward.

Image 5: This was also my first time using Waterlox wood finish, I really like this stuff! I'd never used a buffer to apply stain & sealer with, but if you are dealing with a flat surface this is definitely the way to go, you get even coverage, and my hands were even clean when I was finished!

Step 5: Finished!

Well, there it is!

I'd love to hear from you all, let me know what you think about this project, and feel free to let me know what you would like to see next!

Tools & Products used:

METAL WORKING

Dewalt DW872 Cold Saw - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Dewalt Flexvolt Angle Grinder - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Dewalt DWE4011 Angle Grinder - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Lincoln Electric 140C Mig Welder - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Lincoln Electric 375 Air Plasma Cutter - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Proto 90 degree die grinder - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Arrow welding magnet (4-pack) - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI
Dremel 4000 - http://amzn.to/2nH3SWI

WOODWORKING
Dewalt 20V circular saw - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
DEWALT DW734 Planer - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
Dewalt DW682K Plate Joiner - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
Dewalt 20V XR Brushless Drill - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
1/4"x20 Brass threaded inserts - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ
Preppin' Weapon Sanding Block - http://amzn.to/2ogztlJ

FINISH
Waterlox Tung oil finish - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Sculpt Nouveau Cleaner & Degreaser - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Mineral Spirits - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Rust-Oleum sunrise red enamel - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Minwax Dark Walnut wood stain - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
SC Johnson Paste Wax - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications

MEASURING Empire Drywall square - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications
Swanson Speed Square - https://waterlox.com/zh-fabrications

TRACKLIST
1. Cullah - On the rising sun
2. Studio Noir - Strella Sing a Singsong to the Moon
3. Cullah - Comfort to you
4. Juanitos - Brasilian Reggae Factory Industrial Desk | How-to

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Bio: My name is Zack, I'm a full time craftsman. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love full time--turning ideas ... More »
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