The suite life

The desk top is looking fantastic. I still need cut it down some to length and make all the ends and edges dead square, but the wood is the star here. This beautiful black walnut is tricky to work with in some ways, but unbelievably gorgeous.

After leveling the panel front and back yesterday I sat it aside for the time. I say that like it was nothing, but there was plenty of sweat involved and lots of trips back to the sharpening stone. That beautiful swirling, reversing grain comes at a price and I was battling tear-out the whole way. just as I would find the perfect angle to traverse the grain with my jack plane, WHAM, the grain would turn and a hunk of wood was gone. I had to mitigate the tear-out with my smoothing plane and then finally come back with my Stanley no. 80 to get the last passes. I left the final smoothing for when I return to work on it, but I wanted to make sure both faces were planed to avoid cupping.

Anyway, by the time I finally sat that aside it was late and I only had a short while to examine my stock for the battens and legs.

I have 3″x 3″ x 32″ leg blanks ready to be shaped, but the battens need to be cut out of a 12/4 block. I’m weighing my options as to whether I want to re-saw that block to 8/4 and cut out the 1 7/8″ thick battens or leave it a little thicker to accentuate the tapered form. Either way, these are all going to sit for a little while as I wait on a delivery from Mark Harrell over at Bad Axe Toolworks.

But this is an office suite, and the desk needs a mate, so now that the wood for the top has been chosen and glued up, I need to start gluing panels for the bookcase.

This morning I went back to the pile and started choosing the stock for the sides of the case. I’m looking for 13″ in width, but I’m also looking for the best looking stuff to match the desk top. The rest will get milled and glued to become shelves and backboards. It’s all nice looking, but I want the best faces out and my goal is for the two pieces to feel like they belong together.

My wife has a sewing/craft table from IKEA. It’s sturdy and very functional. I can’t actually fault it for any of the normal things we generally like to point out about big box furniture. The one thing I can say is that it’s top is made up of lots of smaller pieces joined together to make what is essentially a solid wood sheet. From a certain distance, this is innocuous. Up close, it’s distracting to me. It’s like a thousand different pieces that don’t belong together trying to explode away from each other, big bang style.


OK, I’m being dramatic, but hyperbole makes the point. (Also, my apologies for the gratuitous guitar shot. It’s the only picture I had of the table)

When I deliver this desk and bookcase I want them not just to match, but to seek one another out across a room like two poles on a magnet. I want them to look like they came from the same tree, because well, they did. I want them not just to be two utilitarian things that you can set next to each other, but to (as the Dude might say) really pull the room together.

That’s the idea at least. We’ll see how these panels work out.



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Her life is in your hands Dude.


    1. I cannot stress that enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please tell me your customer’s name is Bunny.


  2. And this is why my No.112 and 212 scraper planes are life savers. That difficult reversing grain can be a nightmare – I’ve worked beautiful Indian Rosewood that would have made me weep if it wasn’t for the scraper planes.

    But the table top looks stunning, Jim – definitely worth the pain of dealing with truculent grain! Btw, welcome to the Bad Axe club! What did you go for in the end?


    1. I’ve definitely had my eye on scraper planes over the last week or so, but in the end my Stanley no.80 pulled me through this time.

      I ended up ordering the 16″ tenon saw. It fills a definite gap in NY current setup and I’m counting on it to cut those monster dovetails for the desk.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The 16″ tenon saw is a fantastic workhorse – I use mine far more than I expected to. Nice choice. Did you have it filed hybrid or rip?


      2. Hybrid. I already have a restored 14″ tenon saw in rip. I intend to use it as a crosscut but like the idea of some versatility.


      3. Hybrid is definitely the way to go with the 16″ in my opinion – that’s how Mark filed mine and it definitely adds versatility.


    2. In “my” current arsenal that is.


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