Oh, Hai. Look!

DAD MADED A indoor kitteh dek.

I know I haven’t been posting much about progress on The Great Study Project. That’s mostly because I haven’t really had much progress to report. Not “none,” mind. Just… “not much.”

Over the last — I dunno — month? maybe? two? — I’ve been working on a typing desk.

This qualifies as a change order.

I had originally planned to have my desk project out from the wall in a slab, just to the right of the door as you come in, and six feet out into the room. Over time, I discovered a few things. For one, I don’t really like that idea, and for b, I didn’t like the compromises that were being force upon me in its design. It was starting to look like a Frankenstein’s monster, rather than an elegant and graceful creation. At the same time, I had the spark of another idea.

In order to allow myself to keep a desk set up while work is going on, and yet not take up the whole room with it, I faked up a temporary. I stacked two Crate-a-File (milk-crate-looking things that hold letter-sized hanging files) crates on a four-wheel furniture dolly. It felt so good I did it again. Then I fastened them together with a strip of dentil molding clamped between the dollies with C-clamps. I tied some fiberglass reflector rods into a bundle with Velcro cable wraps and then Vecroed the bundle to the crates. This gave me a fairly rigid plinth for a desktop. I hung a power bar on the back of one of the crates, stuck a quarter-sheet of 1/2″ MDF on top, clamped it down with miniature friction clamps, and called it a desk.

After awhile of rolling this assembly around the room pretty freely without having to really knock it down, it occurred to me that I could actually design a real, permanent desk like this.

At the same time, I’d been thinking about building a taboret. That’s a small, low cabinet, with drawers in it, often on casters. They are frequently used by artists to hold brushes, paints, and other paraphrenalia. As I played with various potential layouts of the room, I realized I was filling the room up and not getting to one key purpose for most of the spec –storage. The desk and the taboret were crowding things. I had to do one or the other. Then I had the peanut-butter-in-the-chocolate moment.

Put the two ideas together — the taboret and the rolling desk, and you find my solution — a rolling desk with LOTs of drawers. I’ve worked up a schematic (still no blueprints) of a desk with twelve drawers. The drawer pedestals are 12″ wide and 30″ deep. Each pedestal has three drawers — stacked — 11″ wide by 15″ long and of varying depths, front AND back. So that, when you’re sitting at the notional front of the desk, there are six drawers that you have to get up and go around the desk to get at. Inconvenient if you want all of the storage for the desk ready-to-hand, but a really neat idea if six drawers to-hand is more than enough. The other six become a storage bonanza.

Between the pedestals, which are on 4 casters each, is a 30″ wide kneehole, bridged by a desktop that is 40″ deep by 68″ wide. This leaves a 4″ overhand on all four sides of the pedestals. The desktop is hinged to the pedestals along the front edge and has pneumatic lift tubes built into the free side, allowing the top to be tilted for use as a drafting table when needed.

The whole schmear can be rolled around ad lib, the only limit being the length of flex that runs the 110v power from the wall socket to a power bar built into the underside of the desktop, just inside the kneehole in the back. The laptop that will normally reside on the desk will drive a set of monitor-mount computer speakers hung close to the power bar. I’ve been running a similar arrangement on the temporary lashup and am confident that electrical interference will not be a problem. That flex will be the only tether the desk has, as the laptop uses a wifi connection to the house LAN.

So I came to the idea of a typing desk. I needed to have a place where the keyboard, mouse, and monitor for my server/desktop machine wouldn’t create problems if should I want to clear the rolling desktop for drawing operations. A small, cantilevered bilevel arrangement, which utilized the supports already built into the East Wall bookshelves for the old slab desk design, seemed a natural. I drew up plans, bought lumber, and started cutting.

Bearing in mind the hassles I had with the Chinese crap, I specifically went looking for Canadian Birch at the Home Despot. I found a pile of 3/4″ plywood labelled Birch that looked fairly decent and bought a sheet. It wasn’t until I got it home and split the thing in two that I discovered the MADE IN CHINA stamp on the edge. I swear I checked. There must have been gremlins riding along ontop of my Jeep merrily painting that legend on the edge of that board, just to confound me.

(I have determined I will not suffer this again. I have made contact with a Real Lumber Yard and learned their stock and ordering processes and suchlike. I have a good source of real Birch plywood from people who know how to make cabinet grade sheet goods. Next time, this Will Not Be A Problem.)

But in the meantime, I bought it, I cut it, so I was stuck with it. I decided to make the best of it. I cut templates from 1/4″ hardboard. (1/2″ MDF would have been better — take note.) I did a rough cut with the sabre saw, then clamped the templates down and, using a guided 1″ cutoff bit on my router, faired the edges. Except I didn’t really do that hot a job. I mean, it worked and everything, but there’s a place where I’m going to have to cover up with trim.

And I discovered that there’s a technique to hot-gluing edge banding to curved edges. No matter how carefully you think you’ve compensated for the curves, you still end up with the tape being too long or too short to snug up perfectly against the edge So you have to make a vertical slit in it. Always wondered why they did that. Now I know. Except I didn’t do such a hot job. Nor were the slits probably placed in the best spots.

And I should have made the other side the top. The outer veneer peeled. (The guy at the real lumber yard described the behavior as potato chipping. Works for me.) I have a place that looks like there was some HEAVY wear — right where the mous will go. The rest of the surface is only marginally better.

The leg is a 3.25″ newel post with the bedknob part cut off and the turned spindle used as a foot. It’s the best looking part of the whole mess. Too good for that cheapass Chinese crap. But I am NOT starting over. I’m just going to pretend that the thing is intentionally distressed. I learned that from my cats.

Sunday, just before we left to go to dinner with both Number One Son, wife, son and daughter, and Number One Daughter, siggo, son, and daughters, I clamped up the leg of the typing desk and screwed it tight.


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