Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dawson's Live Edge Desk

Here's a rundown of the desk I made for my son this fall. The concept for this project starts with my neighbor and friend Jim stopping by my shop one day. He said he had some walnut slabs in his garage that had come from a tree in his yard. He'd milled it up over a decade ago. Of course, I told Jim he had a buyer if he ever wanted to part with them. A few weeks later he took me up on my offer. 

They were wonderful live edge black walnut boards. None were much longer than 5 ft, but they were plenty wide and clear. I selected two of the slabs below for a desktop. 

They still had the bark on after all these years. I removed it with a drawknife but did my best to leave the sapwood and the natural profile. 

One had a large check/split from drying. I could have ripped and reglued it but no. That board had Nakashima butterfly inlays written all over it. George Nakashima was a wonderful Japanese furniture maker whose signature was embracing and stabilizing slabs like this with ebony butterflies. 

With the top laid out, I began work on a dovetailed drawer box. 

A little home brew makes hand work even more enjoyable.  

I guess I've still got it. 

With the top glued up, I began flattening that monster. 

Drawer box made, I laid out some splayed legs. I kicked around the idea of ordering some steel legs for this desk. I dig the look of steel and live edge wood but I had some 3" thick walnut shorts that have been sitting around for years. I had to use them. Plus, I had visions of massive dovetails. 

Sumpin' like this...

Cut and fit by hand. They were a lot of fun. 

The desktop slab wasn't quite as thick as I would like but that was okay. 
I took some 6/4 material and reinforced it. 

The framed structure. 

Of course, the desktop slab would move seasonally. To allow this I made the countersunk screw holes slotted. This way, even though the desktop would be fastened to the frame, it could still flex. 

Onto the butterfly inlays. I laid these out progressing in size. Just whatever looked good to my eye. 

Then, I cut and shaped these from some ebony scraps I'd bought. 
I do use a 'lectric router to remove the bulk of the waste (freehand). 
The Wood Whisperer has an excellent video on this method. You can find that here

Planing dark chocolate shavings. 

Ready for finish. 

Some 1/2" poplar drawer boxes. 

I rather enjoy this corner where I left the chainsaw marks. 

These slabs really came alive with some Arm-R-Seal. 

Finished Shots....

The dovetails are left slightly proud.

A few with my favorite Photo Bomber.  

All for this goofball. 

One day I'll be gone and I don't want my children or grandchildren sitting around wondering what kind of man I was. I want them to sit at a desk I made for them with my flawed, freckled hands. I want them to run their fingers across the lines, the dovetails, the finish.....and know exactly what kind of man I was. 

Dan Westfall 
December 10th, 2017