Folding Desk Follow-Up

Even though I finished the folding desk last week, I’d like to go back briefly in this post and look at a few areas that I haven’t already included. This was partly because I feared that my posts would become too long but actually, it had more to do with the fact that these photos which were ‘cut’ from the final edit were actually taken on my old camera, which leaves images in a different folder to my new camera’s recordings, on the SD card.

That first photo shows the problem I encountered when trying to fit the two end frames in to the ‘back’ frame (I still haven’t settled on a name for that part of the construction!). Because I didn’t check the frame for square when I assembled it (and, neither did I square up the two thinner frames), it ended up being ‘out’ by a few millimetres, meaning that I had to trim the tops (mostly) of each frame.

I approached as I was taught to fit and hang a door… Set the hinge-side of the door so that it is parallel to the hanging jamb and scribe the top edge so it is parallel to the head of the frame (ie. scribe a pencil line along the top rail that runs parallel to the edge and equal in width to gaps at their widest).

I encountered a greater problem when I came to finish the piece…

This was the finish I was going to use – a Worktop Finish Oil from Smith and Roger. I must’ve bought this back in 2009 to use on a flip-top dining table, which I remember finishing in January 2010. Back then, it was fine and ran fluidly from the bottle. However, the leftover contents clear hasn’t survived a couple of cold winters! It’s quite solid in this state, with a much thicker consistency at the bottom inch. Breaking through the surface revealed it was only ‘sticky’ inside; not the pouring liquid I was seeking (I had to hacksaw the bottle open to get the whole lump out).

This will end up in the bin now and it’s another reminder to keep a careful and considered stock of any finishes in your workshop!

Before finishing, I had to treat each dead knot with a knotting solution and allow it to dry. This seals the loose knots and should help to reduce their chances of shrinking and falling out. I always do this before final sanding and it is essential that you clean your brushes properly (I used small, disposable glue brushes). Like a lot of people, I try to clean my brushes so that they can be used and, I had some thinners that I could use…

Do remember that thinners will eat through and dissolve any plastic containers so, learn from me; you’re better off using an old tin, even a baked beans can! Once it dried, I had to remove much of the ‘melted’ pot from my workbench with a chisel.

My mitre saw was just about able to hold the top while the individual coats of finishing oil were drying.

Both end frames were stacked on scrap blocks, lent up against the freezer but only touching at their tips.

While the ‘back frame’ was quite comfortable sat on the workbench top.

While I was setting out and cutting biscuit slots to join the end-frame members, I used a blue marker pen to mark the end-grain on each rail and invisible edges on each stile. It took me a day before I realised that these blue stains (which wouldn’t sand out) weren’t the result of some reaction between the glue and my aluminium sash cramps…!

Letter punches or even a pencil would’ve been the safer bet, if also slightly harder to see.

…Did I tell you that this is only a softwood prototype?!

I’m very glad I didn’t use some nice hardwood for this! 😀

Thanks for reading.

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