WRITING DESK

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eing self-taught, I rely on a very informal approach to design. My furniture tends to evolve as I proceed through the construction process. For example, seeking an alternative to the common tapered leg, and inspired by 1920s cabinetmakers Jules Leleu and Emile Ruhlmann, I developed a multifaceted fluted leg. To do this, I designed a fixture for my spindle shaper that allowed me to profile and flute the twelve facets of the leg. After much trial and error, I had one prototype leg and a whole new chal­lenge: Namely, how to attach the leg to a table or desk apron. Eventually, I made a mock-up of a desk with a diagonal corner post and attached the leg to the post. Presenting the leg at a 45° angle produced visually pleasing details that became the inspiration for this lady’s writing desk.

To construct the desk, I used a combination of mortise-and-tenon and dovetail joinery. The drawers are also dovetailed. I chose Bubinga—African Rosewood—which is remarkable for its striking figure and color. The grain pattern in the desk top was achieved by resawing a plank into Vio-inch-thick veneer. A wonderful streak of light – colored sapwood graces one edge of the plank. When the sapwood edges were glued together into bookmatched (mirror image) panels, the results were spectacular. Around the perimeter of the top and where the surrounding frame meets the panels, I inlaid a thin line of curly maple to add visual texture and to emphasize the frame – and-panel effect. Adding curly maple pulls and a cockbead around the drawers further enhanced the color contrast. All these features work together to evoke a sense of func­tional elegance.

While this desk is obviously a complex piece, you should not feel intimidated; every craftsman was once a novice. You can, with the right instructional information, along with patience and practice, master all of the techniques that you will need. Remember, though, the museums can wait to enshrine your masterpiece, so don’t bite off more than you can chew right away. Start with simple projects that allow you to practise your skills and develop your design sense. A simple project well executed is far better than an elaborate piece that has been shoddily made. There will be failures and mis­takes along the way, but this, too, is part of the process of learning. The main objective is to enjoy your work and do the best you can.

Originally from Wales, Terry Moore designs and builds fine furniture in Newport, New Hampshire..