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This amazing desk—the latest work by Denver woodworker and puzzle-making artist Kagen Schaefer—gives new meaning to the term “woodwind”. The desk is a labyrinth of beautifully crafted wooden puzzles that unlock hidden compartments. The highlight is a built-in pipe organ, for which the drawers serve as bellows. Sounding the right sequence of notes unlocks one of the secret compartments.
But the desk is more than just an elaborate plaything. It is also a beautiful piece of furniture. Schaefer built the desk of Bastogne walnut, Macassar ebony and maple, with pink ivory stringing. The internal components, including the pneumatic systems that power the organ, are made from holly and lignum vitae. The project took five years to complete, with much of that time spent designing and refining the organ’s inner workings. He rebuilt some of the most complex components four times to make sure they were right.
He puts it simply: “I was learning a lot as I went.”
If you browse his website, though, it’s clear that he already knew plenty when he got started. We first wrote about him in 2005, back when his wooden puzzle boxes were winning international awards. The desk project did take him beyond his comfort zone, as recounted for the local press, presenting challenges both technical and personal.
Want to see more of this desk in action? Take a look at another video demonstration from Kagen Schaefer. This fellow’s brand of work is rare, and exciting.
Schaefer’s anonymous client asked for a functional desk filled with wooden puzzles and music. The five-year wait paid off handsomely.
Schaefer began making puzzles for his dad when he was a kid. As an adult, his wooden puzzle boxes like this Dodecahedron Box, have won international awards.
The interlocking movements of Dodecahedron Box require careful grain orientation to prevent binding caused by expansion.
Disc box, requires up to 150 moves to open. Each of the 19 discs must be rotated to form an overall triangular checker pattern. This box is made of wenge, maple, and bubinga.
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anderson behling-awesome endeavor in all disciplines of art/craft-creative with great patients
Wow, what an amazing piece of work. I always enjoy seeing work that inspires.
I believe MikeSweet means "beginner's mind" in the sense of not being biased by the normal confines of what "can't be done". A mind that's free to dream and create amazing wonders. And you have certainly done that!
Your desk is extremely cleaver and well executed. And beautiful. What an amazing piece of work. I'm a woodworker as well, but I certainly have never made nor seen anything like this.
As a woodworker I am nothing short of astounded by this work. That he is demonstrating it in an art museum is fitting, because this desk is a real work of art. He is not just a woodworker, he is a wood artist.
As a writer, my mind whirls with plot lines dealing with this desk.
Absolutely AMAZING. Incredible! Words don't give it justice!
A total creative masterpiece and engineering marvel. Thank you for sharing this artwork with us.
WOW! Amazing craftsmanship, let alone the added fun of the puzzles. Wonderful!
That is one of the most creative things I've ever seen. Very, very cool. You have a Beginner's mind.
The low-down on prefinishing parts, and the perfect finish for tools and drawer runners.
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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