This is a solid pine desk I made in the Invention Studio at Georgia Tech. The top is a live edge weathered pine slab I found in the north GA mountains. I din't use any fancy joinery in this project, just some quick and easy methods that give good results.
Step 1: Prepare the Top
This project started when I found a pine slab with a single
live edge that was the perfect size for a desk. The owner had left it outside, so it was a bit weathered. The first thing to do was to prepare the top. I cleaned up the back edge using a track saw and then squared up the two sides with a miter saw. Next, I used a handheld belt sander to even out the surface. When using a belt sander like this, especially on a soft wood such as pine, make sure to constantly move the sander. Check for raised spots with a straight edge and sand those down. Once the weathering was removed and the top was flat, I noticed a few cracks. I thought this would be a great chance to practice bow-ties, so I made a few black walnut bow-ties to hold the cracks together. Here is the link to the video I followed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfBcEvssM9I . Now to clean up the live edge. I wanted to square up the bottom part, so I used a flush trim bit to square up the bottom half of the live edge to make it more like a live chamfer. Next, I sanded the slab using a orbital sander to remove the sanding marks from the belt sander.
Step 2: The Cabinet Side
Now it is time to design the base. The narrowest part of the top is 18” so I decided to design the base to be 14” deep. The right side will be a cabinet with drawers and left side will have two legs.
The first step of the cabinet is to cut the legs. The legs
are made from fir 4x4s cut down to 3”x3” to make the proportions look better. To make the inside a little bigger, I cut the inside corners off the legs, but this turned out to be unnecessary. The front two legs are part of the face of the cabinet. The rungs are attached using pocket hole screws. The nice thing about cutting the corners out of the legs is that the back side of the rungs are even with the cutout. To be able to use the clamp with the offset, I cut a spacer to make up the difference between the thickness of the rungs and the thickness of the leg. To make a solid piece wide enough for the back, I had to glue two pieces together. The method I used in shown in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfnYGvsCQag Normally I would use biscuits, but I didn’t feel like waiting for the glue to dry so I glued it and used more pocket holes alternating direction to hold the pieces together. I then cut the back to length and width. The back is attached to the two back legs using pocket holes just like the rungs on the front. The sides were cut so that the total depth would be 14” these hold the back to the front and are again attached using pocket hole screws. The frame of the cabinet is now done.
Step 3: Drawers
The drawers are 12” deep. The height is 1” less than the height of the opening. The width is determined by subtracting the thickness of the drawer slides from the width of the opening. I had to strip pieces of wood to mount the 12” full extension ball bearing drawer slides to. These are glued and nailed into the sides of the cabinet. The drawer fronts I picked from good looking sections of my boards and cut to allow for a ¼” gap with a flush fit. To ensure that the gap is even, I first mounted the box to the drawer slides, then glued the front on with the drawer closed. While the glue was still wet, I shimmed the gaps until they were even around all sides. I held the drawer front in place with two nails that will be covered up by the handle later. I then removed the drawer by pushing from the back and clamped the drawer front on while the glue dried.
Step 4: Legs on Left Side
For the two left side legs, I attached a rung across the top with pocket hole screws just like for the face of the cabinet. For the bottom rung, I used a single biscuit in each end. I used the same spacer from the cabinet to ensure that the biscuit was in the correct location and that the offsets would be even. The back-left leg is attached to the back-left leg of the cabinet in the same manner. The front left leg is attached to the front left of the cabinet with a single board across the top, but it is rotated to allow room for the pull out.
Step 5: Pull Out
The pull out is essentially another drawer. It has a board for the bottom and three more for the sides and back. Again, I had to cut pieces to mount the drawer slides to. The front of the pull out is attached with hinges, so that it can fold out of the way when the pull out is opened. To get the fit correct I mounted the pull out without the front, then used shims to get the gaps eve, and then attached the hinges. I then added the handles to the drawer fronts and the pull outs.
Step 6: Attaching the Top
To attach the top, I drilled a few more pocket holes on the inside of the base. I then laid the top upside down on the floor and then put eh base upside down on top of it. Once I had the base centered, glued them together and held the top in place with screws. I removed drawers and the pullout from the base for this step.
Step 7: Finishing
The fabrication is complete!
I darkened the wood using Minwax stain and followed up with 3 coats of Minwax Helmsman semi-gloss Spar urethane on the base and the drawers and 4 coats on the top and pull out. Make sure to remove the hardware before applying finish to the pieces. Once the urethane is dry, the desk can be re-assembled and ready for use!
Step 8: Special Thanks!
I would like to give special thanks to the Invention Studio at Georgia Tech for the tools and space used to build this project!