For a long time I had dreamed of the perfect desk and finally last summer I got around to actually building it. Having come across pieces of furniture made from laminated birch plywood grain-side up, I opted to use that technique for the desk rather than making it from solid planks. Using leftovers, I also built a liquor cabinet in much the same fashion.
The surface features inserts of walnut, apple and padauk and the beams are held together by compression using threaded rods. Adjoining the desk is a side table also built using plywood but this time held together using glue. The side table has been made hollow to accommodate some computer parts in a fashion similar to that coffee table I built some years ago. To manage all the cabling, I simply reused a system I had put together for my first desk.
Now for the actual experience of making that projet into reality, it was much much more difficult that originally expected and ended up taking a lot more time. The surface of the desk is actually assembled using beams composed of three planks of plywood screwed together and then planed. Thinking that the beam would sit square once assembled by alternating the saw cuts to offset any errors, I omitted to joint the beams before planing them. In the end they didn’t and I ended up with many crooked beams and a wavy desk surface.
Plywood is not very rigid, that I was aware of, but it’s also quite compressible. In the end, my desk was not thick enough to account for that so once assembled and taught by the threaded rods, it would start bowing after a while. I managed to make the surface sort of straight using shims, but it’s still far from perfect. I’m also not exactly satisfied with the look of the legs, so I plan to revisit this project in the future to build metal legs and a frame to straighten it out.
In spite of all the challenges of building this desk, I’m still very happy with the way it came together. I don’t think I’ll be reusing plywood again for woodworking projets, but I certainly gained a lot from the experience.
Or rather a liquor table. It was built entirely using laminated baltic birch plywood with walnut, apple and padauk inserts. All the layers of plywood are grain-side up and held together using threaded rod. The table features its own lighting system for a spectacular effect at night.
The projet was meant to match my computer desk and was put together using leftovers from its big brother.
For a while now, I’ve had a stockpile of apple tree wood from a tree we felled a couple of years ago. Normally, thinking of woodworking projects isn’t too difficult, but this particular essence of wood is unfit for most projects but the smaller ones (for example, wine bottle stands). However, what it lacks in workability it makes up in beauty. Some pieces are rather drab, but others, especially the ones that have been damaged by pest and water, can be spectacular.
A simple idea came to me upon seeing my girlfriend’s clotheshook overly crowed with scarves and coats. By expanding one hook into a column of smaller vertical hooks, we’d be able to free up some space.
Here’s what it turned into. The whole project took about an hour an half and I was able to put to use the most crooked but most visually appealing plank of apple tree wood (excuse the bad pictures, I could not get proper lighting).
The mother beam
During a remodeling project in the fall of 2016, one of my family member decided to remove a load-bearing wall that divided a living room and kitchen. In order to maintain the structural integrity of the three story building, my brother, a civil engineer, worked his magic and came up with a solution that involved a 17ft x 19in x 7.5in parallel strand lumber (PSL) beam, commercially known as Parallam. Had it been covered in gypsum, the beam could have been slightly smaller in width and depth (to account for the fire retardant properties of gypsum), but PSL being a beautiful engineered wood product, leaving it exposed greatly enhanced the appeal of the room it was in.
As delivered, the beam had an extra foot of length that was removed using a chain saw. My cousin wanted to toss away the left over part, but interested in the looks of the material, I picked it up with the intention of turning it into a piece of furniture. This summer, I finally garnered enough free time to get to it. PSL being very porous and brittle, it took severe belt sanding and 13 coats of polyurethane varnish to get a decent finish. Four legs later, I had myself a curious looking side table that since then has never failed to catch people’s curiosity (even more so than those other tables).
Two years ago, we had to fell an old apple tree from my parent’s garden. Wanting to experiment with this unusual variety of wood, I gathered the best logs and took them to a sawmill to have planks made and let them dry for a year in a shed.
Fast forward to last Christmas, not wanting to buy gifts and being left with very little time to come up with something before the 24th, I had the idea of making balanced wine bottle stands for everyone out of that old apple tree. It’s a simple project, it’s can be made in batches, can be gifted along with an actual bottle and would make an awesome souvenir of that tree we had so much fun climbing onto and playing around during our childhood.
Apple tree is a pain to work with, the grain is highly irregular and convoluted and the density of the wood varies widely within the same piece. However, the end result is spectacular, especially on the more weathered down parts of the tree, which have turned multiple shades of pink, brown and black due to parasites and moisture. From log to plank, there was a huge amount of loss but through keeping the project small I managed to get something workable out of all that wood.