Sunday, April 1, 2012

Workin' on a Workspace

A few months ago, Deanne and I were walking through Pottery Barn and of course we couldn't resist walking by the scratch and dent section.  We quickly noticed one piece of a modular desk that was in perfect condition and marked 75% off.  Obviously the problem was that this was the last part they had from a discontinued set.  The saleswoman checked their system for matching parts but the closest store with any pieces remaining was in Philadelphia.

Common sense should have told us to walk away but our IKEA desk was nearing the end of its useful life and our creative minds had already started spinning.  I have been wanting to start building some of my own furniture and  I thought that building the base for a desk would be a good beginner project.  The part that had me stumped was the desk top, but that's where Deanne's creativity kicked in.  She suggested that we buy an old antique door, and cut it to size for the desk top.

Most people would settle with the 75% off sticker but I thought we could do better.  We must have convinced the woman that no one else in their right mind would buy this thing because she agreed to knock off an extra 10% bringing the total price to $65.

Just like all the other projects that we've been planning this spring, the desk was put on hold because of my wrist surgery (If you're a college basketball fan, I have the same injury as North Carolina's Point Guard, Kendall Marshall).  My cast is (supposed to be) coming off this coming Tuesday so barring any setbacks I am hoping to start constructing the rest of the desk soon.  In the mean time, Deanne and I have started searching for possible ideas and we settled on this one below from Pottery Barn.   We both really like the idea of having a desk with a bookshelf on the end.

When I've built things things in the past, I typically just relied on hand drawn sketches (like the one above) or even just relied on hand written dimensions.  While this is perfectly normal, I decided to make plans for this project easier for me (and anyone else) to read.  I had read that some woodworkers like to use Google Sketchup to make their plans so I decided to give that a try.  If you've never used Sketchup, I would highly recommend it.  It is basically a dumbed-down 3-D modeling software that is very easy to use.  A lot of people use it to make a 3-D model of a building or a room but it is also great for things like furniture.  You can download Sketchup for free here.

After searching the internet for some video tutorials, I found the website  This awesome website has everything that you ever need to know about designing furniture in Sketchup.  Once I watched each of the video tutorials , I felt ready to start making the plans for the bookshelf side of the desk.  After an hour or two, here's what I came up with:

With the plans ready to go, I am very eager to start cutting.  I'm still a few weeks away from being able to start this project but it feels great to finally have a plan.  Now we just need to find a cool antique door.


  1. Reed, looks awesome. I've been wanting to build furniture too. I'm hoping to build Kate and I a new bed. Found a few plans on google sketchup. Let me know how it goes when you get started.

    1. hanks Adam. If you are looking for furniture plans, check out the website She has a ton of detailed plans. I remember seeing a few beds on there too. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

  2. Hey Reed! Just wanted to share some things that we've done. I'll post pictures of them on Facebook so you can see what I mean. When Andrew built our living room furniture, he used European Steamed Beechwood and made the tops himself. He used his Kreg, like you have, to join the pieces together. Once they are sanded, stained, and varnished, you can barely see the seam. However, we are big fans of using antique doors in our house too! We have an insert that looks like it would go in the storm door for winter over our bed and we purchased ten salvaged doors that we plan to sand, restain, and varnish and use them in the new home we plan to build this year. Either way, I know it will be beautiful!

    1. Those tables look great Emyli! I've never used Beechwood on any projects but I know that it's used for aging Budweiser (so I guess I have used it indirectly). I really like the stain color that you guys chose. Has he made any other furniture?

      Keep us posted on how the salvaged doors work out. We've actually been talking about replacing our interior doors and we discussed buying some old doors at Restore.