Build a Curved-Front Desk
A smart approach to the joinery makes it an easier build
Synopsis: This desk is awash in curves: the inward curve of the front, the stepped heights of the drawer fronts, the shape of the legs, and the edge of the top—even the drawers have curved fronts. But before you discount it as too difficult (after all, joinery can be challenging on curved parts), take another look. Chris Gochnour’s method ensures that all of the joinery is cut while the parts are still straight, and they are shaped after the joinery is complete. He even has a trick for cutting the dovetails. That’s the key to simplifying this project—plus templates, and plenty of them.
From Fine Woodworking #225
Of all the furniture that I’ve designed, this desk is one of my favorites. I love its graceful lines and the inward curve of the front. The stepped drawer fronts echo that arc, but are also practical, creating space for your legs. The shape of the legs—a simplified turn on the cabriole—is curvaceous, too. and the top, which has a curved edge to match the front of the base, completes the picture.
Because it’s a study in curves, i know this desk might seem too difficult for many woodworkers. Joinery on curved parts can be demanding. But actually it isn’t. All of the joints are cut when the parts are still straight. The shaping is done after they’re complete. That’s even true of the drawers, which have curved fronts. And you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to cut the dovetails, after i show you a trick that lets you treat them as if the front were square to the sides.
Another key is to make templates of all of the curves. You can use a batten or flexible ruler to…