Tasha’s Lift Top Desk

Viewer Project - By Tasha Russell from Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Added on April 9, 2012

I’ve been woodworking for just over four years. In that time, I have built various pieces of furniture for my home. This recent project is one that I am most proud of. I wanted to build a new desk for my small office space. It needed to be slim line but with usable storage space. I wanted to be able to keep the top clear so it looks like I’m tidy! I liked the idea of the old retro style school desk with the lift top, but with a slightly contemporary take on it. I think the clean lines and the x-shaped legs keep it modern with that classic style.

I have used several different jointing methods. Biscuits on the desk top, oblique halving joints on the legs, lap joints and housing joints on the carcass, and a piano hinge for the lift up top. I sanded from 80 to 120 to clean up the wood, and finished with 180 to 240. Finish is with Briwax applied with 000 wire wool and buffed with a cotton cloth.

I work mainly with recycled timber. I get old pieces of furniture from second hand shops, the recycling centre or just stuff that people throw out. I strip it down and take it from there.

For this piece, I had an old oak headboard that I got from the recycling centre. I wanted to use it for the desk top and the front body panel but it was warped so I ripped it to 100mm planks and biscuit jointed four of the planks with the grains running opposite to help even out the wood. Prior to jointing, I had to soak the planks and clamp them down and wrestled with them to get them to behave–which they kind of did eventually.

I had various bits of Rimu (a New Zealand native) that I could use for the body and legs. The base came from my old desk which I was throwing out/recycling as it was wobbly, too big and a bit ugly. The legs were from house cladding from my brother-in-law’s old place. The curved piece at the top came from another old headboard that I got from the roadside junk collection!

I built the desk mainly in my shed. I also used the workshop at the local night school as I don’t have my own table saw. The teacher at night school is great, he’s got me involved in the local art scene too!

Our arts collective, The Red Shed had a wood show where I showed this desk along with some other small furniture items I have made. I have posted photos on my Facebook page, so please check it out!