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…


Mechanics Desk

I was in need of a new desk, one that not only was nice looking, but that also could store my flat bed scanner I use for scanning film.  My house is very dusty and so an enclosed cabinet seemed like a great idea!  After many different designs over the last few years, I was in the local hardware store when I saw 5 panel doors (wood) on sale for $35!  I came back the next day and picked one up, not sure exactly what I would do with it, but confident that I at least had gotten a great deal…


So the desk formed in my mind over the next couple of days.  I cut the door so that the top of the desk would be comprised of 3 panels. I was happy to find out it was indeed solid, and not a hollow-core door.  The top was then painted with gloss black paint (3 coats). Next I bought some plexi-glass, and cut it to fit exactly in the panels.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find plastic thick enough to be flush with the desk top, so I used a bunch of foreign coins I had lying around the house as spacers.  Under each piece of plexi glass I put some polaroids from our beloved SX-70.

I was having trouble deciding on a cabinet. I had a few designs when I stumbled upon a mechanics tool chest that was on sale, and was slightly dented (woohoo 10% extra off!).  I drilled a hole in the bottom for the scanner wires, and the top drawers hold random computer bits.  The whole unit was about 1cm lower than my speaker, so with a little piece of rubber I shimmed the desktop to be the same height on both sides.  The desk sits a bit high for my liking, but the convenience of using a speaker and a tool chest as legs can’t be beat!


Overall I’m very happy with this project. When I am done scanning, I simply close the door and presto, no dust!  At some point I may put legs on the desk and simply roll the scanner cabinet out when needed, but for now it adds some nice colour to my living room.  The whole thing cost about $145 ($35 door, $75 mechanics chest, $35 plexi-glass – although I have lots of this left).