The Finish Line

Welcome back! For those of you that follow me on Twitter (see the link to the right) and Google+, you may have seen a few updates to the glue-up and staining progress. The glue-up went surprisingly well (anything that turns out right is surprising to me at this stage), albeit slowly since I don’t have that many clamps.

Glue-up 1After the glue-up I took the top outside and sanded it down to 400 grit to get it as smooth as possible. Not as good as a smoothing plane, but that don’t work so well on plywood, does it?

After a quick drop-on test fit, I finally got around to applying stain. One of the overriding factors in this project is that it would have to relatively dark to “fit in” with the dark office furniture we have. I think the laminate is supposed to look like walnut, but its really hard to tell at this point. I decided to stain the top and base separately, but this ended up making it take longer since I could only do one at a time. Not a decision I regret since I don’t think it would have come out as well if I did it the other way.

The only stain I had on hand that would have been even remotely close was a Watco Cherry Danish Oil. I did some testing on scraps of all 3 woods, and they all came out with a more reddish tint than would work for me, so on my way home from work the next day I headed to the local Woodcraft and chose a General Finishes American Walnut oil stain. I started applying that night, and knew I was on the right track after the first coat.

Desk Top-1st coat The next week or so were full of evenings of “apply a coat, wait until tomorrow”, but after 4 or 5 coats I finally got it to the tone I was looking for. So then it was time to move on to the legs. These actually went quicker, or at least they seemed to since it was just one type of wood and a consistent absorption and curing rate. All in all, I’m somewhat amazed that all three types of wood came out as close as they did.

Next came the varnish. I used Arm-R-Seal since its easy to apply and I like the look of the satin finish. Nothing more complicated than that. I used old, clean T-shirt pieces to apply, with #0000 steel wool rub-downs on either side of the final coat. All-in-all, the finishing took about 2 weeks, wrapping up around Halloween.

The following weekend I finally got to move it into it’s final location-my day-job office. As I said at the beginning of this project, I have a space in the corner next to my regular desk that I wanted to use for working on other computers without taking up any space on my desk. This is the perfect size for setting up a keyboard, mouse, monitor and other connections so I can quickly set up a desktop or laptop and access it quickly just by swinging my chair around.

Transporting was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I assumed (yes, I know) that with the base’s odd shape, I would be able to slide the long side into the trunk with the back seats folded down and the other end would plop down nicely into the trunk opening. Not so. Turns out either the left side was too wide or the front-left section was too long to be able to fit it in the trunk without breaking it, so I ended up wrapping a blanket around the front-center leg and rested it on the back window while coming through the gap between the trunk lid and the window. Then I tied down the trunk lid carefully to prevent damage, and I was on my way. Luckily the weather cooperated.

I got it to the office in one piece (well, actually 2 pieces), laid the top upside-down on the carpet and attached the base with some table clips I picked up at Woodcraft. I cleaned out the corner and dropped in the desk. Perfect fit! It came out a little taller than I intended, about a half-inch taller than the other desk, but I can live with that.

So, now that that’s all done, what’s next? Well, one thing this project drove home is that at this point, my basement/workshop is so cluttered that I spent more time moving stuff around to make room for that task at hand than I spent working on the desk, so I’ll be spending a lot of time just cleaning. I also plan on making some small things like a bench hook and shooting board.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

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