White Oak Curved Desk

I’ve been toiling away for 30 years now and it’s kinda fun to think that my creations are all over New York City. They’re uptown and downtown. Eastside and West. A few months ago, this curved desk landed on the 43rd floor of a glass tower overlooking Times Square. Guess this is the “loftiest” piece I have in town! Ha! What a view!

In the spring of 2016, my client, Dessins, LLC asked me to design and build this piece. We knew early on that it would be made of rift white oak, but weren’t sure what the finish would look like. After a summer of working on my own projects in Beacon, it was time to bring this piece to life. I presented a variety of drawings, showing the desk in relationship to the space, but they could only convey so much. So it was necessary to create a life-size cardboard mock-up and deliver it to the space. I wanted the person actually using it to see how it fit in his office. Within a day or two, I was asked to trim a couple of inches from the length and width. Then get busy.

Leather Insert and Construction

One of the key elements that I had to consider was the leather insert on the top. It needed to fit perfectly, but also had to be removable in case it became damaged or worn. So, when it came time to build, I laid several panels down on the floor, attached my router to a long swing arm and began creating the curves I needed. The first panel I cut was for the leather insert. Then I repeated the process several more times with a piece of rough plywood. These shapes allowed me to create long curved forms or “jigs” for making the drawer front, which consisted of several layers of bending ply glued together. Once dry, the long slightly curved piece was cut apart, edged with solid wood and then placed in my vacuum press for veneering. The same basic steps were followed for the back edge.

The legs, as you can imagine were pretty straight forward, though I did add a small indentation at the bases of each which added some visual interest. Before the desk was assembled, it was necessary to install the thin pencil drawers. They had to function perfectly before the top was permanently set in place. Otherwise it would have been very difficult to make adjustments. With this task completed, the entire desk was assembled and the last of the veneer applied to the top.

Wrapping Up with a Simple Finish

The last step in this adventure was adding the color and applying the finish. It was pretty straight forward process consisting of a black dye/stain combination. Then a couple of layers of clear coating.

While the piece dried, I focused on wrapping the leather over the panel I had cut and gluing it down. The next day, the leather insert was installed and the desk was wrapped for the journey into the city. As memory serves, it was an uneventful trip with parking just around the corner from the service entrance. Not bad, and I’m glad to say, the piece was well received.