Mini-Desk, Joinery Edition

So, I’ve been kind of stalled the past couple of weeks while I tried to figure out how I was going to join the legs to the aprons. I thought about going full mortise & tenon, but seeing as I’ve never done one before and this is supposed to be a relatively quick project, I quickly tossed that idea. The second issue I wanted to address was to somehow dress up the aprons so they wouldn’t be too plain. At first I thought to add a slight arch to each of the pieces, but since they are all different lengths, (from 8″ up to 40″), that would be more trouble than it was worth. Inspiration came in the form of the latest issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. There I noticed an article that showed a Shaker side table, and two things caught my eye-one was the edge detail given to the aprons, and the other was the use of dowels to join the legs to the aprons.

The edge detail it showed was a simple bead along the bottom edge. And as luck would have it, I actually picked up a beading bit from Rockler sometime during the past year when they had it on sale for $9.99. Score! So now I had to cut the 4 aprons down to size, and since they’re all different lengths I couldn’t just measure 2 sides, cut two pieces for each measurement, and be done with it. Nope, I had to do each one individually, and I figured the easiest way was to mark where each leg would be on the underside of the top and measure in between. Once that was done, it was off to the table saw to cut each piece to length. Let me reiterate that I really dislike having to make crosscuts on this thing. Having a non-adjustable sliding miter table is really annoying when I keep having to back the miter/crosscut fence off 90 degrees by 1 degree in order to get it square. I need to come up with a way to make a crosscut sled that will work on it.

Anyway, once I had those cuts done, I set up the router table with the beading bit and ran a few test cuts to make sure the profile looked right. I have to say, making the bead was one of the easiest parts of this project, but it makes the finished product so much nicer. I really love this router! (yes Dyami, just one).

I still hadn’t cleaned up the saw marks on the legs yet, so I finally got to break out the hand planes. God, what fun that was! I used a combination of a  #4 smoother and a low-angle block plane, and once I got tuned-in and going, it was hard to stop. I know this is only poplar, but the planes left a surface smoother than anything I’ve ever gotten from sanding. And quite a pile of shavings!

Next up is attach the aprons to the legs in a sturdy, non time-consuming way. I have a dowel jig, I had a bag of dowels the right size, so this was also a no-brainer. My dowel jig is actually a BeadLock device, but I didn’t quite use it the way it’s meant to be. I just drilled out the 3 primary holes so I could get 3 dowels in there close together. Just had to make sure I used the same measurement down from the top of the legs and aprons to set the jig so everything would line up, and even this was just a “yeah, that looks good” kind of measurement. I had to really concentrate here to keep the position of each leg straight in my head so that each leg would have the right number of holes drilled in the right place, as 2 legs only have one set of holes and the other 3 legs have 2 sets. Once the drilling was done, I did a dry fit using 2 dowels per face, laid the desktop on top of the base and was actually somewhat amazed it looked as good as it does!

Next up: Glue-up and maybe even finishing! Thanks for reading, and please let em know what you think.



Posted in Projects
5 comments on “Mini-Desk, Joinery Edition
  1. Guest says:

    I really enjoy the detailed explanation and photos; thank you! But: I find it very difficult to read light text against a black background. Sorry to dump on your theme selection. My guess is that it isn’t just me who has to increase the font size dramatically to compensate for the difficulty of reading. If this sort of accessibility thing matters to you, you might run a poll to see if there’s anyone else with the same issue, or try a dark on light text theme. Just for you to consider. But think about this: what color / background choices do sites like Amazon, eBay, CraigsList, etc., make? They’re not as artistic as yours, but they sure are readable. Hope this doesn’t offend; only bothering to say this because I enjoy your content so much and want to keep reading more…

  2. Ralph J Boumenot says:

    I am planning on making a desk and your design has me re-thinking what I had planned.
    The angle in the front and the unusual positioning of legs is visually interesting. I can’t wait to see the finale.

  3. Adam W says:

    Marc has a great video on cross-cutting sleds if you haven’t seen it.

    It’s a great afternoon project that really helped my accuracy.

    • BeavesBench says:

      Thanks Adam. I remember seeing that one a while back so I’ll have to go back and take another look. My main problem is the saw has no slots for accessories like that, it has a sliding miter table (almost the entire top to the left of the blade slides back and forth) so I’d have to somehow adapt to that. It does have 2 holes that could be used to register the sled and I suppose I could make adjustments from there.

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