tenkay desk

Discussion in 'Worklogs' started by jamsomito, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    My wife and I just bought a house and I finally have a space of my own. I work from home and play on my PC at night, so I spend a lot of time in this room. I'm currently using a cheap plastic folding table as a desk temporarily until I could come up with something better. Well, it's time to come up with something better.

    Here's my current desk situation:
    [​IMG]

    A long time ago, I was really inspired by this awesome-looking desk. It's still my inspiration:
    [​IMG]

    Also, I was recently inspired by jen4950's master woodworking in his thread here: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1828878

    I'm not expecting it to turn out quite as amazing as jen4950's work, but I do like woodworking and trying my hand at various projects. So here we go.

    I drew up a plan. The room is not to scale, but I wanted to get an idea of how the desk design would fit. Here's my first sketch of the desk:
    [​IMG]

    Current objectives:

    1. Finalize design. I want 3 sections: left, middle, right. The middle section needs to adjust between sitting and standing heights, or at least be able to be modified for this later on. I don't know how I want the legs to look yet, but they need to be sturdy.

    2. Make a scale sketch to use as plans for the build. Does anyone know if there's a free version of AutoCAD for 2D sketches? I've been using SketchUp, but it's just too different from what I'm used to to make good use of my time. I'd rather draw by hand almost.

    3. Pick materials. I want it to be nice hardwood so it lasts and doesn't get dinged up as easily. I'm thinking Maple or Hickory because they're very hard and affordable. The budget for the whole thing is ~$300 or so. I could go higher, but I might be in the doghouse for a while...

    4. Think through how it will go together. Because logistics.

    5. Figure out finish. Gotta be honest, I thought a photoluminescent resin inlay would be freaking awesome, but I think it'll just be too pricey (and working with pecky cypress is nasty to work with apparently). I also considered a reclaimed pallet wood design with epoxy resin on top, but again, pricey (for the epoxy), and pallet wood can be hard on tools. One big plank for the top would also be pricey, so I think I'm just going to get 6-8" wide boards and glue them together with biscuits, sand it down, stain, and clear coat. Stain and finish (gloss, semi-gloss, matte) still needs to be figured out.

    Any suggestions, I'm all ears! Going to be buying materials this month.
     
  2. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Ok, here's a scale drawing of the desk in the room. A few of the arcs in the drawing didn't like the tangent endpoint so some of the endpoints between arcs and lines are not smooth - I'll smooth those out in the final product.

    Nevermind it looks like a dong...
    [​IMG]

    Next I need to section it off into the 3 sections, then draw in my boards to determine how many I'll need to buy.
     
  3. spugm1r3

    spugm1r3 Gawd

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    Any reason you wouldn't just hug the wall with 90 degree angles instead of the curves behind? You could french cleat the portion against the wall and no need for legs back there. Besides, a desk that size and shape will never get moved, might as well go for the built in look. Looking forward to seeing how this goes.
     
  4. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    I thought about it, but the left and right sections will probably end up being supported by cabinets underneath (long term), and the middle section I want to be adjustable height between sitting and standing - but that will have to come later, maybe in a year or so, for budget reasons.

    Are you talking 90degrees behind the middle section, or the left section by the window? I can still play around with those.
     
  5. deadlift1

    deadlift1 [H]ard|Gawd

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    You now have a name for this project - The Dong Desk.
     
  6. zaniix

    zaniix Gawd

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    OMG I thought the same thing
     
  7. spugm1r3

    spugm1r3 Gawd

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    Both the left and the middle, up against the wall. I can understand the want for an adjustable portion of the desk. Honestly though, I work with a lot of guys that use adjustable desks and, even with a triple monitor setup, they are raising a section of desktop no bigger than 30in x 48in. You still have to have a stable surface to mount your risers to, and the smaller the surface you are raising up, the cheaper raising it will be.

    Regardless, I only have so much to say because I'm excited to see how this goes. I'm also in the planning stages of an office remodel and I would love to find out where my assumptions are wrong :)

    PS, flatten out the back and it'll like Florida, instead of a phallus :eek:
     
  8. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Hahaha, I suppose it deserves that name. I was honestly thinking "Dongsk," but maybe yours has a better ring to it.


    I'll play around with the design. "Florida Desk" would go over much better with the family ;). Sadly I'll be out of state for work this week, but if I can get the design figured out this coming weekend, I'll pick up lumber and start the process next week. Glad some people are interested in this project. Hopefully someone can take something away from this for their own project.
     
  9. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Anyone have any suggestions for the legs? After spinning my wheels for an hour I'm seriously considering T-shaped legs (kind of like the Jerker, only wooden) for the center piece, and cheap SPF 2x4 legs for the ends (temporary until I can build the cabinets).

    EDIT: Hmm, maybe just some chunky legs like this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  10. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Did some more brainstorming on the shape. Still not 100% happy. I like the bottom one the best, but it leaves an awful lot of open space in the corners behind the desk. I also determined I don't like the 90deg angles.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Exyia

    Exyia Limp Gawd

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    try out google sketchup. A very lightweight auto-cad-lite style program (think basic modeling, nothing too complex and/or engineering related). It has a very generous trial period, great documentation for new users, and is great for planning out stuff like this!
     
  12. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    I've tried Sketchup. It was fun for 3D stuff, but not worth my time with 2D stuff. I'm much more fluent in AutoCAD. My problem right now is I'm just struggling to find the idea I like the best - whenever that comes to me I can draw anything in AutoCAD or Sketchup, but it's faster for me in CAD.
     
  13. Exyia

    Exyia Limp Gawd

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    ah, well if you know how to autocad, then disregard my comment :p
     
  14. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    [​IMG]

    Did a few more sketches today, and I'm leaning more towards the boomerang shape. Gonna put this in CAD to get my wood quantities. I also have a bunch of cardboard left over from the holidays so I'm going to try to make a mock-up that I can later use as a template as well.

    The latest is the one with the pencil on it.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Here's my final sketch:

    [​IMG]

    I'm about 95% happy with this. The key things I think I found I'm looking for are:
    1. sleek curves. No sharp edges.
    2. No tight curves, except where the desk meets the wall.
    3. I want a feeling of pulling up into the desk when I sit at it. Not a totally encapsulating wrap-around, but I want to be able to access more than just a straight line when I'm working at it.
    4. The lines on the edges should be more or less in-line with each other.
    5. The big curve where I'll be working can't be too narrow, or too deep.


    Here's my autocad sketch. This was done to scale to give me a baseline to sketch on, as well as so I could overlay board sizes to see how much wood I'm going to need. The green outline of the desk is only a rough drawing in CAD though (traced over a scan of my hand-drawing) - there will be some scrap so I don't need that to be exact. Getting all those curves to line up is unnecessary for now. Getting the curves correct on my mock-up / template will be much more important.

    [​IMG]

    So, using a board width of 6 inches (I'm thinking 5/4 thickness to give it some strength and heft), according to this, I'll need about twelve (12) 6-foot boards, and six (6) 4-foot boards. I'm not including legs because I only have preliminary ideas there right now - discussed below. I'm hoping I can get this lumber for ~$3-400, but I'm sending in for a quote now. We'll see.

    As for legs, I'm seriously considering just some ugly, beefy 2x4 construction for now. I want the center section to be height adjustable, so I'll just buy a pre-fab unit for underneath that section when I finally have budget for it (another ~$400). The two outer sections I'll be making cabinets for underneath, so I either need legs far enough apart to span those pieces of furniture, or just rig it up to fix those sections to the cabinets as supports. I already have an idea for how I want them to look, but, one project at a time, and I'll also have to save up budget for those again as well. I'm assuming those will not be cheap either (~$4-500 for both). But that's a project for another day.
     
  16. MrWrong

    MrWrong [H]ard|Gawd

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    Looking forward to seeing the final product. I'm thinking about building a desk myself, nothing close to this elaborate though.
     
  17. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Called up my hardwood supplier after a few days of no responses to my emails. Real quirky guy... I'll be stopping by in-person this Saturday to make sure he understands my request.
     
  18. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Called up another place, though it's a few states away. My parents live there though, so I might plan a trip around it. We'll see.

    Select or better quality
    $3.07 / bd ft for rough lumber (5/4 thickness)
    $0.15 / bd ft surfacing (s2s)
    $0.15 / bd ft straight-line
    -------------------------------------
    $3.37 / bd ft for a workable piece.

    The average price online for rough hard maple is ~$5.50 / bd ft. I'm not sure what gives here... But, if the local guys prices are like what I'm seeing online, I may very well make a purchase and a trip out of it.
     
  19. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Went to the local wood place today and the guy had nothing that I asked him for... only 8/4 hard maple, which is way too thick for what I need. If they had 10/4 or 12/4 I might have gone with that and sawn it down the middle, but they didn't have that either. Ugh. He also said he couldn't touch the prices I posted in the previous quote, but he would call his suppliers early next week and let me know a price. So, I sent him an email (again) highlighting what I need and he'll put a price together for me. Not too impressed so far.

    My dad is checking out the one I got a quote from above sometime this week and will confirm prices / stock there. I may be making a trip. In the meantime, I found a couple dealers on Craigslist who claim to have stock and milling machines for surfacing and jointing so I'll give them a call as well.

    Hardwoods are definitely not as easy as picking up some 2x4's, that's for sure.
     
  20. spugm1r3

    spugm1r3 Gawd

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    A quick thought regarding your decision to avoid the sharp corners anywhere: have you considered using color to minimize the effect? You could still have 90s on the back, to get the surface area and support, but make them fade away by using a darker finish outside of the boomerang shape you've settled on.

    In my brain, I see a really light stain inside the boomerang, and something dark like kona in the back corners, with a beveled groove to create separation without the need to join curved edges.

    Regardless, I think the curves are a bold design choice and I'm looking forward to seeing the cuts. I may even steal some inspiration from your drawings for my office remodel :)
     
  21. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Thanks for the compliment and comments. Interesting idea, and I see where you're going. I'm not sure I want that filled in in the back though... I've had corner setups before on rectangular desks, and the space behind the monitor is usually frighteningly dusty and not useful (because the monitors are in the way), not to mention you couldn't reach it without standing up from the chair. Plus, with the curve, cables can just drop straight over the edge to a tray underneath instead of running the cables the length of the desk to the back, or needing a hole/grommet. So, I think I'll leave it open for these reasons. But, if you wanted to do something like that, I understand its purpose, so I'd have no qualms with it. Just comes down to preference.
     
  22. FireBean

    FireBean Gawd

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    For the legs, you could get creative with some tube or bar aluminum and a torch. Then polish to a mirror shine. Aluminum polishes so EASY.

    Also, I see that you know a quality chair when you see one. That is the chair we use for all of our office... all 30,000 office oriented positions. Gawd that is like $24,000,000 in chairs...
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  23. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Haha, thanks. I always wondered how/why businesses furnish everything out with this chair, it's so pricey. I bought it used, and it was worth that price, but dang that's a lot of money for a whole office of new. Don't tell anyone, but I'm thinking about selling it and getting something different... I got the size C because I'm tall, but I have some back issues that it just doesn't jive with, it's like it's too wide and doesn't have enough support. Used it for 8 years or so now and it's in the same shape as when I bought it - thing's a tank.

    I thought about aluminum legs, but I've just never done any worthwhile metal working before. I think I want them black, or matching maple. So, I could do black metal legs, but I'd like to add some cabinets underneath eventually that will support it, and if that happens soon after I finish the top, I wouldn't want to waste money on something nice that'll just get taken off. Still thinking this over though...
     
  24. FireBean

    FireBean Gawd

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    Cabinet idea i like. You can get vanity cabinets since they are shorter and not as deep at kitchen cabinets. I recently overhauled my kitchen with maple cabinets from Kraftmaid. I think the avg price for a finished cabinet out here in Kansas (we don't have a lot of trees) was about $120 a pop. But they were also plywood constriction with quite a few options.

    If you do decided to go that route, shop around Labor Day. Best deals at that time. I was able to know 40% off my total.
     
  25. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Update: found a local guy who wasn't so demeaning, and prices seem reasonable too:

    5/4 Hard Maple: $3.30/bdft
    Surfacing: $0.25/bdft
    Straight line: $0.15/bdft

    So, assuming I can get away with 75 bd ft (have to cut the rough parts off of the wood, only need ~50 for the final qty), that's about $380. So, maybe $400 out the door if I'm lucky. I'm willing to pay that to avoid a multi-state trip. He's getting back to me today about availability. If it's soon, we can finally get started!
     
  26. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Put in my order! Should be ready for pickup next week.
     
  27. FireBean

    FireBean Gawd

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    SWEET!
    Take some phones of the stock that you get!
     
  28. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Had a work trip come up next week so I need to bump pickup back to next week Saturday.

    But, in the meantime, I have other stuff I can do, like getting my template ready. So, just doing a bit of planning, I've come up with a few layouts:

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately I can't get this all on one 4x8 piece of plywood, so I'll have to get two, or see if I can glue together some 2x4 sheets onto it. The latter might be a bit cheaper, but I'm not sure I want to mess with gluing these up, especially just for a template, so I'll check plywood prices at the store when I pick it up. The idea is to cut out a close shape with cardboard in the actual room, then smooth out the corners and make an exact template with plywood. Then, when I get my real wood, I'll glue it all up, take it to get planed down to flat and smooth (I could use a hand sander, but a commercial drum sander I think would do a more even job, and it would be a lot quicker), then lay the template on top and go around it with a router to get the final shape.

    If I have time, I'd like to get the cardboard mock-up done today. We'll see, lots of other stuff going on 'round the house.
     
  29. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Big update today.

    Checked my saw blades. I think I have what I need, but I'm getting another combination blade that was just sharpened from a family member, and I'll take in my rip blade and miter saw blade to get sharpened as well. Need something good and sharp for the hard maple, so that should cover that. As far as other tools, I'll still need clamps. I'm thinking about 5 or 6 4-footers should do it. Might end up borrowing some and buying the rest.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So that was pretty quick. Next was the cardboard template. This thing took me for-ev-er. Lots of planning, lots of measuring and marking, and tons of free-hands that involved scribbling a curve, standing up, looking from a distance, erasing most of it, lather, rinse repeat. It was actually very similar to drawing the smaller scale version on 8x11 paper, just used up a lot more pencil and a lot more eraser. When I was done, I went over the whole thing with black sharpie, scored with a box cutter, then went over a second time to cut through.

    Setting up enough cardboard with rough measurements
    [​IMG]

    Taped everything together with packing tape, and drew a known-square corner for a reference
    [​IMG]

    Tried various pyrex lids to get the curves for the edges smooth (the blue one was perfect, about 5" radius
    [​IMG]

    Getting my common line for both ends
    [​IMG]

    Reference lines, dots, tick marks, max and min lines drawn. Time to free-hand
    [​IMG]

    Genius idea: ghetto-mod compass. An old parallel printer cable (because yarn and even twine stretch slightly, or a lot), with the sharpie taped on the end. Had my wife hold down the center point and I just walked it around. Lined up perfectly - good measuring!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Part-way through the freehand parts. You can see the curves don't jive perfectly yet.
    [​IMG]

    Had to add some masking tape because I couldn't draw with pencil over the packing tape. This is the free-hand curve for the left portion of the desk.
    [​IMG]

    Sharpie lined, after I was happy with the freehand pencil.
    [​IMG]

    Cut it out, 2 passes with a box cutter razor blade
    [​IMG]

    Left end, with wall notch cut-out
    [​IMG]

    Cut the sections
    [​IMG]

    Recycle
    [​IMG]

    And slid along the wall for storage until I have the plywood to make the actual router template with.
    [​IMG]

    I have a work trip this week, and some family events planned for next weekend, so it will probably be a couple weeks before I get back at this. I will be picking up the wood next weekend though, so maybe a small update there. Next steps are to make the plywood router template, rip the hardwood boards to size (I'm getting them surfaced 2 sides, and a straight-line on one side, the other side will still be rough - I just don't have the tools for surfacing and jointing), glue up the 3 sections (this will take several weeks, lots of smaller glue-ups), take it to be planed, cut the three sections to shape using a router and the plywood template, round the corners with a different router bit, and clear coat. Yikes. One step at a time. Oh yeah, then the legs. Whatever, we don't need those :p

    Cheers!
    [​IMG]
     
  30. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Last night I was really excited about how it turned out, but now I'm thinking a few sections might not be deep enough. I'm going to save the excess scrap since it lines up perfectly with the current template, then lay it all out again later to see if I need to make any adjustments.
     
  31. hound

    hound 2[H]4U

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    I'm really appreciating all the insight into your process, since I imagine that I might do something similar (plot out and build my own desk) when I'm a home owner.

    I was also going to say that it looked a little narrow, but it also depends on what you're actually going to have on it (versus, for example, mounting monitors to the wall and having drawers underneath) and how deep a desk you like (I like mine deep, which is also what she said).
     
  32. spugm1r3

    spugm1r3 Gawd

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    I was about to make the same comment about the depth. The shape on the leading edge is nice, but it seems like you could do with another 2-4 inches depth in some places.

    Is your plan to rough cut this with your table saw and then rout the curves? Just curious. Cutting curves scare the crap out of me, so I'm always interested to see what other guys are doing.
     
  33. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    No, I'll only use the table saw for ripping the individual boards to the correct width. I could use the cardboard template, trace it onto the good wood, then use a jigsaw. But, I thought it would be much easier to do that with the plywood, sand it down and get all the curves perfect, then just clamp the plywood to the top of the good wood as a guide and run a router around the whole shape. That way there's a lot less guess-work and finishing with the good quality wood, and any adjustments to the hard maple will be more difficult due to the hardness of the wood too.

    I'll be honest - most woodworking tools scare the crap out of me. I learned a lesson back in high school with some pretty bad table saw kickback. I still have a scar down my arm and in the middle of my chest where it hit. Just need to go slow, think about what you're doing, wear appropriate PPE and you'll be good. Use guides and guards where appropriate, know your tools and their limitations, and keep pressure in the right areas. Basically respect the tool and it'll respect you ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  34. hound

    hound 2[H]4U

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    The tools don't respect you; they thirst for your blood.
     
  35. FireBean

    FireBean Gawd

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    QFT!
     
  36. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    lol, indeed.
     
  37. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Quick update. Picked up the wood today. I called a guy who had an ad on Craigslist. I didn't like the big guy in town, so I found someone smaller. Turns out, this guy works a day job, and does woodworking stuff in his free time - misc projects, and milling and selling hardwood lumber. He works out of his 3rd stall in his garage, and I'd say he has probably $100k+ of equipment there. He even had his own forklift... crazy. He was really nice, and I think he did a fabulous job on the wood.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is what the rough lumber looked like before surfacing and straight-lining. These are just scraps, after he had straight-lined them and surfaced them, but the edges give you an idea.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I didn't get to see the lumber before he worked on it, but that's just the way he does business. I could have chosen to see if I wanted to, but since it wasn't his standard practice, and I was kind of fed up with all the nuances of buying rough lumber, I just let him deal with it. I was a little worried about how everything was going to turn out, but like I said before, he did great, and I'm very, very happy with how these turned out.

    To give you an idea, here is a surfaced board from a different hardwood retailer. Definitely needs sanding. My boards are nice and smooth, almost ready for a finish coat.
    [​IMG]

    And, this is typically what you'll see if you look for lumber - this is the place I would have driven to several states away if necessary.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I imagine this guy's stock is similar, or maybe a little better. Seriously, I'm really surprised at how good this stuff is. I'm definitely keeping his number for future work.
     
  38. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Just brought it all inside. This stuff is heavy and solid. Beautiful clean boards.

    [​IMG]

    These are definitely ready to go for gluing, but sadly I don't have clamps. And I might not until March. But, there are still a few steps that can be done in the meantime:

    I need to revisit my cardboard template to make sure it's how I want it. Last impressions were that it may be a bit shallow. I want to lay it out on my current desk and sit at it to see if it's enough room for everything. If not, I'll lay it back out with my scraps, tape it up again, and redraw/recut for the final shape.

    Then I need to get plywood for the router template. Someone suggested baltic birch because there are less voids in the layers, so it might work better for the router to trace. But, it's more expensive, and I don't think they have it at home depot so I'd have to search for a source again. Unless someone has ideas I might put a little research into it and before too long, call it and just go to home depot for the regular stuff. I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on it either, even though I'll likely be using this plywood for the cabinets. Which brings me to my next point.

    I started looking around for legs. The original inspiration picture in the OP doesn't show the legs of the desk. I'm thinking he just used the metal IKEA legs because I see some equipment under there, but I can't be sure. I'm considering that, but I desperately need more storage in this room, so I started looking at cabinets. Here are some I kept as a reference. I like something different about each of these.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I like the last one the best. Those curves would be easy to do with a jig saw, and keep with the curvy theme of the desktop (without requiring steamed bends or other crazy difficult or involved methods). Still mulling it over.
     
  39. jamsomito

    jamsomito 2[H]4U

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    Aug 29, 2010
    forgot: *insert dirty dong desk wood joke here*
     
  40. FireBean

    FireBean Gawd

    Messages:
    991
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    I got maple cabinets and yes is is a gorgeous wood with a nice tight grain. Tough as hell. Get fresh, share carbide tips blades. To avoid getting splits and chunks from the jig saw, use a FINE tooth blade and I would sandwich the maple between some sacrificial wood. This will help with getting a clean cut.

    Also, there are these jigs called "String Jigs" that can help you get perfect curved cuts. I don't have a steady hand so I use jigs for everything. They truly are the key to perfection :D

    Here are some good examples:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuKYnA6BHKM (this guy is freaking MASTER a free hand on a band saw)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYQG-pGqN4Y

    And this is just cool!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beZIHpKyVS0