Walnut Writing Desk in the Federal Style
I designed this writing desk drawing on the influence of the Federal Period. After studying design elements in furniture of that period, I went to the drawing board and designed this Writing Desk for the 2008 Texas Furniture Makers Show. The highly figured walnut used in this desk was salvaged from a tree that came down when a storm passed through central Texas in 2006.
After carefully removing the damaged tree, I cut the log into boards and then air dried the lumber before building the desk. All the components are constructed of solid wood.
I employed the use of traditional joinery throughout, including hand cut dovetails for the drawers. The fans are sand shaded using curly maple and ebony. The knobs are turned out of solid ebony and then inlaid with a ring of holly which was bent around a hot soldering iron before inlaying into a 1/16” groove cut into the face of the knob. There are over 275 hand cut miters for the stringing as well as the ebony trim. The top is French Polished.
Information on my work and classes is available at the CFEE School of Woodworking’s website. Visit www.cfeeschool.com.
The walnut logs were salvaged after a tornado swept through central Texas. Here we are milling in the neighborhood where we obtained some of the wood. I cut the rest of the wood on a Wood-Mizer band mill.
Each piece of holly stringing was hand cut and inlaid into a recess that was cut by hand. As in the picture, I started by inlaying the legs so that I could assemble the case.
Clamping the veneer onto the solid walnut curved drawer fronts. I cut all the veneer to approximately 1/16", using my old 20" Rockwell bandsaw.
Hand cutting one of the many tenons to hold the case together.
Trimming one of many miters for the holly inlay. I estimate to have hand cut over 275 miters.
Most all the components where hand scraped, using my trusty old Stanley #80 cabinet scraper. I spent many hours scraping the figured top.
This photo captures many of the elements of the piece, the hand cut dovetails, the holly stringing as well as the sand shaded fans. You will also see the ebony trim around the drawers and the panels. Upon looking closely you will see a ring of holly inlaid into the face of each knob, not easily done!
Some of my preliminary drawings prior to construction. I also drew the project out full scale to get a better feel for the design.
A detail shot of the top fan and trim. The top trim was made by gluing holly and ebony together. The fan is curly maple and ebony.
Marking one of the dovetails. All the dovetails were handcut, using traditional methods. I used curly maple for the drawer sides.
Shading some of the fan pieces in hot sand. It is a little overboard with the turkey fryer, but that's all I could find at the moment!
To read about what the Fine Woodworking editor in chief wrote about this desk, click here.