My corner desk is completely finished with all the protective coats needed to keep it smooth through the decades ahead. This spalted beech came from a friend who sold it knowing he would never be able to use it. I’ve had it now for four years and confess I had no way of knowing what lay beneath the rough exterior to each board. I am that to some this interior wood will be like Marmite –– some will love and some will hate it or indeed my use of it in my house for this particular application or whatever. The wood grew on me. It wasn’t instant love but in the end it suited my need and the rarity and scarcity along with its different look pleased me.
The first thing I made using this more unique beech came after the four years of owning the wood and allowing it to acclimate in my workshop. What was wet and flat when it came cupped and bowed with a twist here and there and I was glad to let it go its natural way knowing that once straying that way it would settle and never return to its awkward nature in a finished piece of work. I took a small piece from a shorter length for one of my first prototype router plane designs. My first router plane came from a spruce stud and some components I found and bought online. This beech version wasn’t picked for the grain patterns, colour and configuration but for the beech wood itself it being the single most traditional choice of British plane makers for several centuries. Making my corner desk from several boards I now have but half a half dozen boards left and these too will likely go into another Sellers’ home project or two.
Currently, I am working on a complementary cabinet for hanging files with a couple of useful drawers for the everyday stuff of a home office together with neatness and order. The top will not be seen because the top will support an office printer too. 8I’m using cherry for the primary wood but will use the spalted beech as a tie between the two pieces and as a complementary wood to the desk. Beyond that, I will make some nice accent pieces like a desk lamp or some kind of holder/container for desk accessories –– my mind starts racing here!
Last night I glued up my cherry panels, two sides and a top, for the next cabinet I am on. They look quite bland compared to the busy eccentricity of the desk so adding spalted beech somehow and somewhere will be my challenge. First thing this morning I sharpened my scrapers ready to refine the levels and prepare for joinery. Here, I have choices to make too. What joinery will I choose and use? I have some new ideas for as-yet-unseen joinery, just to complicate things or perhaps simplify them. I see this stage as a phase in composition. How will the joinery flow and how will it work with the interconnecting parts? At 5 pm last night, I decided to take my three rough-sawn pieces of cherry and make the last panel after declaring ten minutes before that I was done for the day and would do the last one tomorrow. At 5.45 pm I cooked dinner with the last panel left behind glued up in three clamps. Cherry is so much easier to work than the spalted beech but even so, I doubt that many could take rough-sawn wood, surface plane to remove defects like twist, cup and bow from 6`’ wide boards with hand planes and bring them to an equal thickness of 22mm (to with fractions of a millimetre) and square everything up in a glued up panel. For some reason, this work just flowed from me and it’s not everything that always goes that way. Maybe it was because I was tired.
I’m looking forward to today. Prepping my wood by hand is my warm-up. I like to do this first thing to get my heart pumping. My brain is racing again now as I plan the stages for the day. I am not alone in the work because, of course, we will be filming and part of my planning includes how best to get which shots for the camera. My new desk no longer hovers in the background waiting for me to take its place upstairs in the house. It’s in the new sitting area as a functioning desk. It brings order to domestic bill paying, writing, researching, drawing or whatever. Down below I also have my garage workshop to make my upcoming project in. Here I also draw, write, make furniture or create whatever. It takes time to settle a workshop area…years, really. Each tool added takes its place and takes up highly valuable space. I no longer allow excess things. I add what’s valid and valued in my working. I have three metres by five metres in which to do all that I do in a day. I can move my bandsaw for space and to cut. It’s on wheels for that reason.
I have just finished my morning coffee in the cafe where I write every morning for a couple of hours. Before I got here I cycled for half an hour to an hour. That’s an eight- to sixteen-mile (13 kilometres) ride depending on my mood, the weather and time. There is very little that parallels delivering a piece of furniture to a home or office. All the planning you did comes together in this one act. The walls were indeed square so the two sides of the desk slid neatly up against the two adjacent walls. The space I allowed for traffic using the landing and the stairs could not have been accommodating and better used. The curve to the front edge of the desk seems as complementary as the overall functionality of the desk for working at.
I am happy with the wood but it would have been equally as nice in just about any wood you care to choose. Oak would have been nice as wood the pine prototype I made from studs. paint that graphite grey and spray with a top coat of clear finish or a ragged-on jell finish and it would also look pleasing. perhaps that’s what I will do with the prototype now and use it somewhere else in the house. I like the corner desk for different reasons not the least of which is how it uses an otherwise little-used and almost blocked-off space in a home or office.