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My Dad is a civil engineer. That means he loves to build things, and, if necessary, he’s quite resourceful at crafting viable solutions. That’s my way of saying that around the house, he jury-rigs things to suit his needs.
So when I plopped down at his desk during a recent Mesa, AZ visit it came as no surprise to me to find his computer monitor sitting on two, side-by-side lengths of 2 x 4s. That’s it. No joining, no equal board length, just a raggedy-looking monitor pedestal to keep the heights of his two monitors at roughly the same level.
The makeshift pedestal was functional enough. But it was an eyesore. Wood + eyesore = perfect opportunity to build a project to expand my skills.
Visions of figured burl veneers swirled in my head. “Yes,” I thought. “This is the project that I’ll finally get my veneer-cutting feet wet.” That thought died after pricing veneer. While I could stomach the price, I couldn’t stand the idea that the pieces that were affordable were small. Meaning that the grain would not have been contiguous across the top and sides. Hell. I don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a project look bad. I can do that with pine.
To flesh out a design, I took a whole gaggle of measurements: the desk cubby opening; the diameter of the monitor base; the length & width of Dad’s glasses and more. My spectical-wearing father uses lots of pencils and needs places to put both. So I included features to accommodate those needs.
I also chose to make two small drawers to house various Dad nick nacks. My workbench storage drawer build used false fronts for the drawers. However, I didn’t make them high enough to hide the carcass frame. It was my first drawer handy work, so I let it pass. But that error begged to be corrected on this project. If only to establish the concept in my mind for future builds.
I had some old (tight grain, near-knot-free) pine boards 11 inches wide to work with. From one long board I cut the top and bottom parts plus the sides.
Since the pedestal was going to be a gift, it was only fitting that I use the Veritas skew rabbet plane Dad gave me for Christmas to rebate the top/bottom edges to accept the two sides.
While the dry assembly felt pretty solid, I decided to fortify the carcass against the weight of the monitor with a ¼” plywood center divider. A couple of passes at the router table established the dados to accept the center support.
With the internal carcass joinery complete, it was time to finish the lid. A pass of the lid across a cove bit at the router table established the pencil well. A quick test showed that the ¼” bit made too small a groove because it took a lot of time to dig out the pencil. So to enlarge it, I set the fence back about ¼” and made a second pass.
Originally, I was going to excavate a ¼” deep eyeglass caddy, then line it with felt. However, after considering my Dad’s work habits, I left the top alone…he’ll put his glasses wherever the mood strikes him.
A dry-fit showed that everything was square and ready to accept some yellow glue on the joints with clamps to hold them in situ until the adhesive set.
The drawer dimensions were ½” thick 1” deep by 10” long by 6” wide. With the pieces cut to rough length, I zeroed in on the final dimensions with a shooting board. This approach has served me quite well on past box projects and is a fundamental reason my glue-ups turn out square.
I would have preferred to join the drawers using half-blind dovetails. However, the ½” thick stock seemed too thin to cut my teeth on this new skill. Rabbet joints would have to do.
To add a little eye candy, I selected cherry for the false fronts.
Looks ok, but not an ideal match with the pine I’m thinking. To give the finished drawers a more refined air, I lined the 1/8” plywood bottoms with green felt.
A fruitless search for drawer pulls at the local big-box store prompted me to build my own.
To make the concave finger holds on both sides I used a number 4 round woodie that I picked up at an antique store several months ago.
After finishing with tung oil, this is what adorned my desk.
May Dad’s new pedestal be as pleasing to his eye as it is functional. And may his favored trinkets quickly find their new home in the green velvet fields within.