Solid Cherry Desk....For Me!

Solid Cherry Desk....For Me!

Posted by Bill McBeth on

Sometimes you have to look on the bright side of life (I bet you are whistling that tune now aren't you, if not go watch Monty Python Life of Brian).  May of 2016 the company that i have been with for 5 years laid me off due to budget cuts and a re-org.  It was quite a kick in the gut and I thought being an IT Manager and Systems Engineer I wouldn't be out of work for very long.  Fast forward 4 months, I finally got a job offer.  It wasn't the ideal position, however, it paid well and was work from home.  The work from home left me in a lurch, my desk only had room for my gaming system and wouldn't work well to add another workstation, so I decided I was going to build my first piece of furniture using quality materials.  I had some cherry that was slated for a Morris Chair i wanted to build....I'm not going to lie the wood has been in my workshop for a couple years now.   I decided that this material would be perfect to build a minimalist desk with a large work surface, but there are so many design options.  I spent a couple week looking at desks online, I tell you what Pinterest is a wonderful site.  I finally decided that I really enjoyed the aesthetics of a Parsons Table.

I began this journey by milling the wood for the top and getting the legs ready.   The top wasn't quite deep enough so i had to go and get more cherry, unfortunately I couldn't find any that was as thick as what I had, this means there is going to be a lot of planing.  Lucky for me my Father In-Law has a nice new thickness planer that he was more than happy to let me come test out. After getting the boards to the desired thickness, I decided I was going to use pocket holes and glue to create the panel for the top of the desk.  So i went ahead and drilled all the holes for the pocket screws and then thought it was a good idea to go ahead and glue the panel up and then put in the screws after it dried.  This was a big mistake, the boards shifted a lot when I clamped them.  In retrospect, I will use dowels or biscuits next time, this will ensure that I have even boards when glued and clamped.

The next steps were the apron boards for the bottom of the desk.  Well here is another mistake, somehow I cut one of the boards for the apron way to short...and by short I mean damn near a foot, I knew I should have measured when squaring the boards.  So now i have to cut the top to fit the aprons or go and buy more cherry wood.  Well being unemployed and living off unemployment pay the option was to cut the table top to fit the apron.  Now instead of having a nice 8ft long desk it is now a bit over 7ft.  I learned some more valuable lessons during this part of the build.  Next time I will create the leg and apron structure before I even touch the top, I will use dowels instead of pocket holes or take the time to do a mortise and tenon.   Well the desks construction is gone, I won't go into the horror story of trying to use the drum sander on this large desktop panel, I really don't want to relive that horror.  Side note, I will be creating a new cart for the drum sander and building in larger extensions.

Once again I am stumped on how to finish this desk, like I said it is my first build with quality material and I want to finish it with a quality finish.  I watched so many videos, read forums, it seems that not one woodworker out there can agree on how to finish cherry.  Cherry can be tough to finish, it can be blotchy, blah blah blah blah, the only common thread was cherry can be blotchy.  I decide I am going to take a risk and use Watco Cherry Danish Oil and then finish it off with a wipe on polyurethane.  To quote one of my favorite movies Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade "I have chosen wisely."  The desk is exactly what I wanted a minimalist desk with no storage and a lot of work space.   I learned so much from this build and can't wait to build another.  Thanks for reading.



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