Compact "Yacht" Desk




Introduction: Compact "Yacht" Desk

About: Happy in wood shavings YouTube: Patreon:

This small desk, made from mostly recycled materials, has mast, oar, and decking hints in it's design, and as such I'm calling it a yacht desk.

The main joinery is by dowels, aided by a shop-built jig I made for my cutting board build.

I've included my design model in SketchUp, but you'll notice I made slight changes to the legs and drawer pull during my build.


Contrasting wood to make the top and drawer front

Straightish grained hardwood for the legs and drawer post

8mm (or similar) dowels


Sanding sealer and lacquer, or your chosen finish

Step 1: Top - Part 1

Glue the top up from the contrasting woods. Wider pale boards, separated by narrow dark strips looks best, resembling the decking on expensive yachts.

Once dried, plane the top flat and smooth.

Trim the ends square, before cutting off the last four inches at each end to make the sides.

The top of the sides, and both ends of the shortened top, are sawn and shot to 45°, preparing the mitre joints. Keep the off-cuts for clamping blocks.

Glue the clamping blocks to the top and sides with several dabs of hide glue.

Use dowels, biscuits, or dominos, to reinforce the mitre joint, and glue the ends to the top. The angled clamping blocks will allow you to easily clamp the joints together.

Step 2: Top - Part 2

To attach the legs to the top, bore 40mm holes at the four corners with a forstner bit. Align the centre so that at least half the hole is open at the side to allow the leg to be pushed in.

Now use a 40mm cylinder, cross bored with 8mm holes in a row, to bore a line of dowel holes into the top/side recesses. The square end on my cylinder helps keep it aligned to the sides.

Step 3: Legs

Make squared blanks from the hardwood, 42mm x 42mm, and centre punch each end.

Turn 40mm cylinders on the top four and a half inches of each leg. If you don't have a lathe, then use rasps and files or similar.

Next taper the inside two faces of each leg from below the cylinder section to the middle of the foot, leaving it 21mm x 21mm.

Now plane the square edges off, to make the legs hexagonal.

To join the top, the legs need corresponding dowel holes bored in them, using the mating doweling jig.

Finally, just for show, bore shallow holes into the to of the legs and insert contrasting plugs (I used holly).

Drawer Post

The drawer post is prepared much the same way as the legs, but obviously much shorter. The bottom can just be rounded, or shaped with a finial as I did. It is attached to the top with two dowels, using the same method as for the legs.

Step 4: Drawer

Glue up a thin drawer front from the paler wood, and cut a groove down the centre to hold the drawer pull.

The drawer pull is simply sawn and shaped from the darker wood, and glued in the drawer front.

The drawer front is then attached to a simple drawer box, which runs on rails attached to the top and side.

Step 5: Assembly and Finish, Plus Charger

I suggest pre-finishing the parts before gluing up. Any squeeze-out is more easily removed, and it's just awkward to apply finish to the leg joints after assembly.

Glue all legs on together, so that you can check they are all sitting square and adjust as necessary while the glue is still wet.

With it all glued up, you can apply further finish without worrying about the nooks and crannies.

As a bonus feature, I added a wireless phone charging point. The invisQi hardware readily mounted below the top with it's supplied housing.

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    1 year ago

    Nice piece. I LOVE your definition of "scrap" wood LOL


    1 year ago

    That’s beautiful! I particularly like the carved pull. Very elegant.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Many thanks

    Alex in NZ
    Alex in NZ

    1 year ago

    What an elegant piece! Thank you for sharing :-)