A friend of mine recently relocated from NYC to Orlando. His desk was in pretty bad shape and would likely not survive the move. So we made a deal - we'd take this opportunity to build him a new desk. I'd show him the ropes of woodworking and, in exchange, he'd teach me how to weld - something I've been wanting to do for quite some time. Seems like a fair trade to me!
Since this was intended to be a learning experience, we went with a simple, tried & true design - one flat surface on a set of mid-century modern style hairpin legs. Simple doesn't mean boring! It's a clean, no-nonsense approach to style and functionality.
Walnut is among my favorite wood species. Of course there are countless other wood species to choose from, many of them more affordable, but I got my hands on this lumber for a steal - $4.00/BFT! So walnut was a clear choice for this project.
Here's what we started out with...
We clamped the table up in two halves so it would fit in the planer.
Once they two halves were dry and planed, we put the whole top together. While it was drying, we used the cutoffs to make matching monitor and speaker pedestals.
There was some tension in the wood that caused some slight bowing in the desk top surface. To flatten it out, we clamped it with cauls, running the entire length of the desk. We soaked it with water to make it a bit more pliable, put some fans on it, and added a few lights so the heat would evaporate the water quicker. Science!
After letting it set overnight, I removed the cauls and the bow was gone. After that, all that was left was sanding and finishing.
Just look at how the finish brings out the richness of the walnut's grain!
We ended up putting 8 coats of glossy waterborne lacquer on it, wet sanding between each coat. Here's the result...