Computer desk assembly advice

Your design is a common form known as a “writing desk” or a “library table”. Pinterest gets a bad rap in some circles, but I find it very useful for collecting ideas when I’m designing a new build. Search for writing desks and library tables in Pinterest and collect those that interest you and study them. Visit a furniture store or an antique store and take a tape measure with you. There are standard dimensions for these forms. You will find that the desk surface is typically 29"-30" off the floor. The apron is 4-5". Sit in a chair and measure how high the top of your thighs are off the floor and see if the standard dimensions fit you. You can vary the form and size of your desk however you like, but I think you will find that it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Just create a variation of it that suits your tastes.

After re-reading your initial post and seeing this picture, I think you were on the right track to begin with. I think using dominos both for the apron (1,2,3) and for the stretchers (4,5) is the way to go. I think you were rightly confused when you tried to model the half laps in corner #3. Those overlapping half-laps were not going to work. (Not to overload you with choices, but you might also consider a combination of half-laps (1,2) and dominos (3) in the apron.)

Just out of curiosity, what kind of wood do you plan to build your desk from? In your original post, you said you expect to be working with 1-1/4" wood. Legs typically start out square (2"x2" or 3"x3"), with the two inside faces tapered. Your design only shows a taper in the side view.

If you’re looking to learn about furniture and what it looks like under the hood, my all time favorite book on the subject is Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton. The subtitle is “How to Design and Construct Furniture that Works.” It is a gold mine of information on everything from furniture styles to furniture joints and it contains exploded drawings for just about every furniture form you can think of. It is a fantastic book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Marshall! Just say ‘no’ to gluing end grain. :nauseated_face: :nauseated_face:

The way I learned it is this: A “dado” is a crosscut groove. (A groove that cuts across the grain.) A “rabbet” is a groove that runs with the grain. It is a bit confusing because you use a “dado blade” on a table saw to cut both.

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Not overloading at all, I greatly appreciate all the help!

After measuring, you are right, 30" desk height will work well. That will save me some stock! :slight_smile:

I’m happy to hear Dominos should work. I will have to be careful about the depth of the cut, but the manual has pretty straightforward instructions for setting that. I’m using 6/4 walnut. After planing the shorter length pieces, I think 1-1/4" thickness shouldn’t be too hard. The 60" lengths for the tops ended up being about 1-1/8". Should I be calling the legs “mitered legs?” I’m sure taper was incorrect in a woodworking context.

I always like a good book recommendation, so I’ll see if I can find it. My woodworking book experience has been limited to Christopher Schwarz ones on workbenches, which are quite a bit heftier projects!

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Walnut is an excellent choice and will make a fine desk. Notes for next time you purchase your stock: 6/4 walnut is more than 1.5 times as expensive as 4/4 stock. Save the thick stock for where you really need it. (Usually the legs.) The desk top and apron are typically 3/4" stock which can be easily milled down from the less expensive 4/4 stock.

No, tapered legs is the appropriate term. Typically a leg starts out as a square blank, 2x2 or 3x3. After cutting the joinery for the aprons and stretchers between the legs (which aren’t absolutely necessary in a desk this size), check to make sure everything fits the way you want, then move on to the tapers. The tapers can be cut on the table saw, band saw, or the planer, believe it or not. You might have to make a jig to assist you with this step.

Cutting tapers on a table saw using a tapering jig:

Same technique. different type jig:

Cutting tapers on the plane using a sled. The cuts are made in very light passes. Roll the legs to cut a taper on the second face.

Well, you certainly started in the right place! I think Schwarz is probably the best writer in woodworking today. I’ve met him a few times and I took a class from Peter Follansbee in his shop last December. It was almost surreal to be working on one the benches featured in his books. My own workbench is very similar to the Anarchist’s Workbench. (This book about it is free to download in PDF format here.) I am hoping that when we move to the new space we can build two or three of them.

(I forgot to mention the hyperlink I added to the Bill Hylton book will take you to the listing on Abebooks where you can find a good used copy of it. They show a paperback copy for less than $12 and free shipping.)

I just wanted to thank you guys again for all of your help, and to @Lordrook for his tips on doing the resin! I’m very happy with the result, and learned a few things I will do differently on my next project.


Beautiful work! Love the resin fillings.

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looks great!

What method did you end up using to connect everything?

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I did end up going with Dominos. It worked pretty well, next time I will likely do half laps for the corners of the apron.


Please post that beauty to show and tell!


WOW!! That looks great!! Great job!

Nice work! Maybe I missed it someplace but did you also use walnut for the legs? Or did you end up going with something different?

All walnut!

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I was in the wood shop when you were working on the dominoes a couple of weeks ago. Glad the project worked out so well for you.

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