Introduction: Distressed Desk & Indoor Herb Garden
Now I've been browsing the site for a couple of months now and am always impressed at what people come up with especially re using stuff on the cheap, so I was about an hour into this spur of the moment project when I realised its only fair to put back what I took out, so here is my offering.
Now for the record i'd like it to be known that i am a plumber not a carpenter but fortunately imho my amatuer wood working skills add to the charm of this project.
So i wanted to make a new desk to make more efficent use of space and something that my two sons can use at the same time I am using it to work on, also i didn't have a penny to spend so this project has cost me £0 i am very lucky that i live in a pub so theres always intresting 'rubbish' just laying around.
so onto Step 1......
I found these 4 water logged rotten bits of wood out the back they've been there a while in the UK weather, the centre two are rotten about halfway through but the outer two which are 4 x 4" seem fine, now there still pretty damp so I've strapped them together with some roof rack straps to form the basic shape of the desk, its actually about the right size for what I had in mind (just over 6' in length).
I then run a hot air blower over the wood for a bit in an attempt to dry it out a bit quicker (im impatient) what this actually did was cause everything to literally come crawling out the woodwork which has now probably rehoused itself in my flat, what i should of done is let it dry naturally outside but i dont have the patience or weather conditions at the moment.
Im planning on having a glass top to show the rotten woon and provide a nice work surface, i have a shower sliding door out back waiting to be taken to the dump ive already used half of it as a shed window so im gonna use the other half as my work surface, also i will have a spare shed window/desktop of the right size if either one breaks, i should also mention that as this is a shower screen it is toughened glass and can withstand higher temps and knocks than standard glass but it is by no means indestructible and breaks into sort of cubes rather than deadly shards.
I have laid the glass onto the wood and am marking the outline with a ballpoint pen as i want the glass set into the wood, i have centered the glass leaving about an inch of wood front and back and approx 4" either end this is more luck than judgement as im using what is lying around.
i punched along the marking in a straight(ish) line with the widest chisel I have to the approximate depth of the glass 6mm in this case, i then chiselled up the remaining wood roughly to accomadate the glass, im sure there's probably an easier more efficient way of doing this but I quite like the uneven finish as it matches the rotten wood. also be careful not to catch or 'nic' your straps as this will weaken them for future use, you dont want your suitcases flying off the top of your car because you were careless with your chisel. with hind sight you could probably do the next step first to avoid damaging the straps.
I've only finished one side of the chiselling but its noisy and the restaurant below is open so ive flipped it over and screwed some old flat pack furniture pieces to the back to keep it together when the straps are removed, be warned the new desk is not flat pack furniture and is very HEAVY take care when Flipping it over so as not to crush any small children which may be trying to 'help'
I had originally planned to make some legs for it or fix some lengths of timber along the wall but I was worried about the weight + lack of carpentry skills x small children so I opted for swiping the two bedside tables from the bedroom while Mrs Westside wasn't looking, by the time she found out, the deed was already done and they are now an integral part of the desk fortunately Mrs Westside is the forgiving type due to years of my reckless impulsiveness.
The bedside tables are only 2' high but by the time the desk top is on its sitting at 28", my current flatpack desktop height is 30" so that worked out nicely.
Also ive squared the ends on left hand side and screwed another off cut to the end in preparation for the next step.
ive got a lamp im willing to sacrafice for this project so ive stripped all the casing and lampshade etc off of it and im gonna mount it on the end so it illuminates the glass and rotten wood, i cut a wedge out of my new end piece and lay the fitting horizontally the bulb sits a couple of inches away all round from wood etc as i dont want smoke coming out the end while im using my new desk, ive hammered a couple of nails over to hold it in place and mounted the attached switch to the front in the same way.
i did build a small shelving unit out of bits of the old desk but i mistook it for my stool and sat on it so instead i went for a more robust single shelf leaving the bulb accessible with a plywood lid for changing, it is nessacery to cover this end in order to focus the light but i have left some ventilation underneath to let air flow through.
In preparation for laying the glass ive identified and removed any high points then gave it a rough sanding, I didn't go mad because the different angles my chisel left reflect the light nicely I then put a thin, bead of clear silicone all the way round the wood, drop the glass down and put another bead on top, tidy up the sealant and spread some weight evenly on the glass (I used a couple of large speakers) and let it cure, if I ever need to lift the glass i can just run a stanley knife through it. the clear silicone also absorbs some light giving it a green glow around the glass.
Thats pretty much it I gave the front edge a quick sanding as its got a dark wood stain on it but i quite like it as it looks charred i also sanded the edge where my fore arm rests making it rounded and really comfy as this is one of the things i hated about my old desk.
Thats it desk complete, throw all my stuff back on try and organise the wires, just gotta find somewhere for Mrs Westside's socks to live now..... I feel a project coming on.
I would just like to say a big thanks to everyone who contributes to this site as I take a lot of inspiration from it, and I was unaware until now how much time it takes to write these instructables as it formulates in your head especially if like me you make it up as you go along.
About a week after I posted this I Decided to build a herb garden on the end of the desk for my boys as we lack a real garden in the pub so i used the old desk to build a box, made it water tight with sealant , lined it with polythene/rubble sacks put a layer of stones then potting compost and dropped some potted herbs and planted some seeds the base is slightly fleeted to one corner where there is a drainage hole and some overflow pipe for run off water ive also got a 150w high pressure sodium light from another project that im gonna fix over it to supplement the poor uk weather but they should grow anyway just from the room sunlight.