Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My Desk - the desk top

The desk top was going to be too large to cut from a single sheet, and even if it wasn't, a single sheet was too large to get home in the car. So I had the timber shop cut one sheet into two long thin rectangles, and planned to join them, together with a further small triangle for the back corner.

I was concerned that marking out the lines for cutting out such a large shape would be prone to cumulative errors - a slight error in a right-angle at a corner would magnify along the lines spanning from the corner. So I took measurements from multiple pairs of corners from the plan in Sketchup (the tape-measure tool makes this very easy), and used several measurements to "triangulate" the position of each corner point.

As with the rounded-rectangle holes in the backs of the units (see my previous post), I cut the desk top edges roughly with the jigsaw, but I waited to do the second pass with the router once I had the three pieces joined together, to make sure the straight edges were neat across the joints.

Holes for dowels to join the three pieces were drilled very quickly thanks to the dowel jig, but glueing and joining the pieces was unexpectedly difficult - I could not use my sash-clamps to compress the pieces together because a) they're too small, and b) there's no straight edge at the back corner of the desk top to clamp onto. By the time I had realised that the pieces weren't simply going to push together (8 dowels along the longer joint put up quite a resistance...) I already had the glue on and it was setting. I pushed and hammered jumped up and down on it (carefully - dowels snap easily if a joint is bent) and eventually gave up with a tiny gap along the joint.

The end result is that the desk top has wood filler along the joints, which is not great, but you can only see it if you look directly above the joint. I'm looking on it as part of the character of my home-made desk.

Once the glue had set, I took the desk top outside (too big to fit in the garage!) and used the router to cut the final clean edge to each side.

Now it's starting to look like a desk!

In this picture you can also see that I've attached the drawer sliders and put the drawer in the left-hand unit.

I actually sat at the desk in this state and did some work for a few days. That felt so good that it spurred me on to finish it properly.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

My Desk - the desk units

One of the desk units will have the computer in it, and the other may contain other electrical equipment that may get warm, so some ventilation is needed front and back.

I don't want holes to spoil the front, so I've arranged the base to stop a couple of centimetres short of the door, leaving a gap that can't been seen from the front unless you get on the floor and peer under the door. Cunning, eh?

At the back, I decided to make one big rectangular hole with rounded corners, giving good ventilation and easy access for cables.

For the first unit I used a wood drill to cut the rounded corners. This made the MDF rather too hot (not a nice smell), and the results weren't particularly neat, but after applying a bit of wood filler in a few places, then sticking on veneer edging, it wasn't too bad. And it's at the back so no-one is going to be inspecting it too closely.

For the second one, I used a forstner bit in the router to do the rounded corners, which still made the MDF too hot, but gave a neater result.

I cut the straight edges roughly with a jigsaw, then neatly with mutiple passes with the router. This took a long time to do as each line required a straight edge to be clamped in place first, and I couldn't think of a way of doing this accurately other than trying it with the straight edge clamped too far away, then measuring the error and adjusting the clamped straight edge. Tedious, but it worked.

Dowels were used again to fix the parts together. The base is raised up by 40mm as it has a small "kick-board" at the front edge, so it was not possible to use the dowel jig for the holes for this. So instead I measured carefully, then drilled as straight as I could without the jig, and it all fitted together just fine: