My son is a successful internet guy. He must be because people pay him really well to do what he does. What exactly he does is beyond what my mind can grasp, but it really isn’t something you need to know to appreciate this build. If he wants me to show a better picture of the finished desk in an uncluttered office he will have to send me a better picture.
The story begins with an email from my son telling me he saw a picture of a parsons desk that would work really well for him in his soon to be new office. Unfortunately it cost thousands of dollars, and he’s basically cheap like me. When I looked at the thing it didn’t seem like it would take much to build one similar so we got to talking. Next thing I knew I was drawing and figuring out how to build such a thing. And then started measuring the lumber I had to work with.
Now unlike the guy in the movie that said “oak’s nice” my son doesn’t really like oak. And hard maple is pricey like walnut and cherry, so we looked for an alternative. What we settled on is poplar. Poplar is easy to work with and pretty structurally sound, which is important when supporting a slab of granite that will weigh in over 200 lbs.
The first parts I made were the legs. Notched so the weight would be directly supported on those legs rather than rely on fasteners to hold the weight. To cut down on the overall weight of the finished desk, I designed the legs to be hollow but we wanted them to look, I believe the word my son used was “brawny”.
Edge gluing with good glue and lots of clamps, then using the planer to do the final sizing produced just what we needed.
Then it was time to make the top framework. This had to be very structural to support the weight and have the necessary support under the granite so it wouldn’t ever crack. Laminating seemed to be the answer rather than using a single board of the width I wanted. Stronger and much cheaper to produce. Originally I was just going to make up the parts needed and send them to my son for assembly, but as the design came to physical reality, it seemed a better idea to ship it as an assembly.
It was going to take a lot of clamps and gluing to make this thing come together correctly. So I went on to assemble the parts and fasten it all together as a unit. The cross braces are notched to fit snugly into the side rails, which were glued and screwed together.
The top had to be assembled to be as exactly “square” possible so the granite would fit when it was added to the project. And the dimensions had to be spot on also. Another challenge was to be sure no screws or “plugs” would be visible on the outer surfaces, so fastening the legs to the top frame had to be engineered so all the screws are on the inside surfaces.
The measurements and “square” of the desk were darn near exactly what was ordered.
The finished desk is 30 inches tall, so the wooden base needed to be 29″ to allow for the 1″ granite slab to be installed on top of it. The top was “squared” to really close tolerances in hopes the granite would be finished as closely as the wooden base.
The bottoms of the legs were plugged and then the final sanding before staining.
The first coat of stain turned out to be too red for the desired color so it took another two coats of darker brown to get what we wanted. In the end, it came out just about how we wanted it.
Then a couple coats, three actually of semi gloss polyurethane completed the finish.
One thing you can’t see is that the top edges, where the granite would be glued to the wood surface, was done with a top grade spar urethane, an exterior grade urethane, so the glue holding the granite would have the best possible surface to bond with.
The base was now sent to my son’s house where the granite was to be delivered and installed. The finished desk is just what he wanted. Another job well done.
Now I expect him to make a lot of money as he enjoys his new work surface.