The Endless Table Project

mid century modern minimalist design

Whenever I make something, I always try to incorporate some new skill so that I can learn while creating.  This time I went a little over board.  My daughter was in need of a lap desk to replace the dollar store plastic one that had an untimely death when she used it for steeple chase practice in the living room…  My father made my brother and I two such desks when we were kids, except that he simply used three pieces of plywood and some piano hinges (in hindsight, not a bad idea to be honest…).  I decided I was going to go much more upscale!

My mid century modern inspired lap desk started out as a way to practice bending plywood.  I made the apron of it from several layers of 1/8″ baltic birch plywood that I bent around a form.  Then I attached it to the top which I decided to veneer with some walnut I had lying around.  I was using the white glue and iron technique which unfortunately led to a few large cracks.  This meant I needed to do some inlay to cover up these cracks.  The legs were made using angled bridle joints, and finally the top was coated with an epoxy finish.  Did I mention I had never done any of these skills before?

The final piece is not something I am truly proud of, there are many “first time” mistakes which I have learnt from and will be better able to handle next time.  It’s only failing if you aren’t learning after all right?  I do like the design, and some of the techniques I’ll try again (bridal joints), and some I won’t use (vacuum press veneering would lead to a much better finish).  There should be more furniture pieces showing up on the blog throughout the spring, so stay tuned!

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Failure, Redemption, Repeat…

I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I don’t take failure well, which is a bad combination.  Things are never perfect and I’m rarely satisfied unless they are.  It doesn’t really matter if it’s my first attempt at something, I still expect myself to do it perfectly.  The problem is I’m not perfect and things don’t always work perfectly, which leads to me getting down on myself.

The other day I started work on a small lap desk for my daughter.  My dad made me one of these when I was little, only he made it out of three pieces of plywood and a couple of piano hinges.  My design consisted of bent ply lamination, veneer pressing, and through tenons on the legs…  Were all these aspects necessary? Of course not, but they are all things I wanted to try so why not do them all in the same project?

I started with the bent ply.  First attempt, the 3mm baltic birch snapped on the third of four corners.  Second attempt, same thing but on the fourth corner.  I gave up for the night.  The next morning after some cheering from friends on Instagram, I gave it a third try and the bend worked.  Normally I give up on the first or second try, sticking out three times is a new record for me, and an example of the patience I need in order to improve my woodworking.

This desk isn’t going to be a beautiful piece that people will lust after, but it has taught me some patience as well as improving some of my techniques.  They are far from perfect, in fact some aren’t even good enough to sell, but I’m getting there, and it’s the only way I’m going to improve…