21st Century Writing Desk – Making the Top

Last week, I saw a picture of a roof top that resembled a wave.

House with wave roof by Jules Gregory

House with wave roof by Jules Gregory

The roof prompted me to ponder the question: does a tabletop really need to be flat? Running with that notion, I carved this maple sample, dyed it black and waxed it to increase the sheen.

Carved Sample

I was really pleased with the sample, (and so was everyone to whom I showed it) so I decided to use the carved pattern on a table top. I glued together two mahogany boards and began carving texture into the panel using a #7/10 gouge.

Carved Panel1

The surface felt so good under my fingertips.

Carved Panel2

After two-and-a-half hours of carving, I had completed the 12″ x 25″ panel. During that time I did a lot of thinking (and tweeting). I came up with the idea of calling it the 21st Century Writing Desk.

Carved Panel3

So, with the top done, my next step was to design a suitable base for it. I went to my computer and started playing with designs.

Roots of Flair: Exploration of Texture and Latch Installation

Part of my attraction to wood was the way it felt. In its natural state, wood was covered by bark that covered the undulating live edge. After being sawn into boards at a sawmill, the surface was covered in rough saw marks. Then, as the lumber was processed, the roughness was typically removed by planing or sanding, leaving a smooth surface that showed the grain clearly.

While smooth surfaces certainly had their appeal, I had always been attracted to texture. These surfaces begged to be touched.

Brushed Cedar Box 1 and Brushed Cedar Box 2 were created shortly before I started Flair Woodworks. With these two boxes, I used a wire brush to exploit the difference in hardness between the heartwood and sapwood. As I worked the wood, the bristles deflected off of the harder areas (where the tree grew more slowly) and scraped away the softer areas (where the tree grew more quickly). This process created shallow channels following the grain, as if it had been eroded by years of water flowing over it.


Brushed Cedar Box 2


Brushed Cedar Box 1

The boxes were finished with plated brass hinges and a sprung latch. Positioning the larger part of the latch on the bottom half of the box gave it a more grounded appearance.


Brushed Cedar Box 1, open

For Brushed Cedar Box 2, I mounted the hasp upside-down with respect to Box 1. In doing so, I discovered that since the latch was sprung, there was a practical advantage to this orientation – the lid could be closed and secured in a single motion.


Brushed Cedar Box 2, open

I have decided to offer the boxes for $70 each. Additional photos are available on the product pages.