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Desk Organizer Part 1 : Inspiration

Desk Organizer 1Everything starts from an inspiration. Inspired by practical necessity, financial need, creative concept, or various combinations thereof, we then set out to make something. In the case of this recently fabricated desk organizer I was inspired to improve upon a piece I had made once before (creative) and also to begin to use up some short “leftovers” that have accumulated (practical).

Courtney's desk organizer

Short leftoversFrom my earliest days in fine woodworking I’ve been inspired by the work of the late James Krenov, by both the actual pieces he created and his philosophy of satisfying your individual creative ideas. Another strong influence has been the small book “Chinese Household Furniture” by George N. Kates published in 1948. Both of these sources came into play when this design developed.
Chinese Household Furniture
A couple of years ago my wife, Courtney, asked me if I would make her an organizer for her desk at the college where she teaches five (you heard that correctly, five) writing and literature courses. A shelf for each class’s papers. What came together was made up of a spalted elm board that was lying around, some 1/4″ plywood scraps, and scrap poplar L channel I had made for door casing trim which became legs. Except for the elm everything got painted black. The piece was a success. Since that time I’ve wanted to try my hand at a different design. The dimensions and proportions seemed okay on the first organizer and I used them as a general guideline, but did change the space between the floor and the first shelf. A full rendering on paper involved a little more tweaking. The leg curves took a few goes around but eventually looked good to me. I made a mock up in poplar and settled on what was drawn. Having the full scale drawing helped clarify how the joinery would work.

Drawings of desk organizerSo, what follows will be a step-by-step account of how I went about turning an inspiration into the object just photographed.

Planing with winding sticksRight off I addressed the shelves and top. You want things like shelves and tops to be flat as a general rule, but in this case their flatness is critical. The top was a wide board, the shelves book matched from narrower boards. After planing them (note the winding sticks) and thicknessing, they were stickered and left to move around while the rest of the work proceeded.

Shelves with stickers

More anon.

Desk Organizer 3

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