While the glue on the shelf is setting, cut the mortises in the side skirts and the long and short aprons, and then the tenons for the inner top supports. With the holes drilled, now is the time to dress up your base with decorative cuts and router details. Recreating the classic tumbling-block illusion using end-grain lumber is an exercise in precision. The one other item that really helped was the Freud LM72R010 tablesaw blade that I used to make the rip cuts.
The top is made up of 84 hexagonal segments, each made of three rhombuses (or diamonds) laminated together to form the pattern. From your stack of ripped rhombus lumber, select one piece each of cherry, maple and walnut, and arrange them into a hexagonal bundle. Once you have all eight logs glued up and dry, you’ll need to true them using a thickness planer. Lower your cutter head in your thickness planer so it just contacts the face of your log, and then lower it exactly a half a crank (or about 1?32″).
Using a fine blade in your bandsaw or mitre saw, trim one end of each log square before using a stop block to cut each log into 11 segments 41?8″ long. While the tumbling-block pattern tabletop looks great, it can be quite challenging to build. Once the blanks are dry, plane them down to 2″ thick to even out the joints, then get out the glue again. A quality plan will help you get quality results by providing detailed illustrations and clear direction.
If you can’t afford to buy a high quality plan, you might be able to find a suitable free plans online.
When you accomplish the reading of basic plans, you can move on to bigger and better projects. Now that you have decided on a project with a plan, this is the time to choose the type of wood to use in your project and carefully make a material list allowing enough material to complete the project. If you don’t have all the tools to complete this project, it may mean going shopping for some tools.
A laminated maple top, bench dogs, and a bench vise make this a fitting centerpiece for any home workshop. Purchase the full Simple-to-Build Workbench Woodworking Plan, including detailed diagrams and complete material list.
I tackled the final assembly of the desk base in two phases: glue-up first, followed by peg installation.
Start by assembling the two right-side outer legs into a single unit (connected by the right-side skirt at the top and the side leg brace farther down).
After you clamp the parts tightly, install the eight drawer bank rails on the front and back of the drawer bank. Finally, pull up a chair and be the first of many, many people to use your desk over the generations. When I designed and built this desk, I used some key approaches for reducing my shop’s environmental impact. Use this piece to lay out the cuts for the handle on the other workpiece, and cut it using the same technique. With the two handle end pieces sandwiched together, mark the location for the holes that make up the ends of the cutout in the handle. Take your other piece of 5?4 decking and cut it into four pieces, each measuring 30″ long.
Start this cabinet by making four simple face frames that form the foundation of the project. After the four individual frames are complete, sand the inside and outside surfaces flat and smooth, then get out your router. Start by gluing and clamping the front edge of one side frame to the back outside edge of the front frame.
The unique diamond design on these door panels is a distinctive feature of early French-Canadian furniture.
Routing the distinctive beaded grooves comes next, and this is where the fun really begins. To rout the bead on the side panels, I used a handheld router following a plywood straightedge clamped in place as a guide.
Routing the diagonal beads and grooves of the door panel is a slightly different process, although you still use the same set-up and method.
The main challenge you face now is planing and sanding the end-grain edges of the applique without chipping the wood along the points of the triangles. After shaping all the parts, switch from your coarse sanding block to a fine-grit block when the profile looks good, then finish-sand all parts. French settlers often painted their furniture to brighten up the home and escape the monotony of blonde wood throughout the house. I started with a wash coat of one part Classic Oak Polyshades and one part golden oak stain. Complete your cabinet by attaching the door with some reproduction or antique-style hinges and a door knob.
Stand the plywood box upright on your workbench before cutting and fitting the stiles and rails. I make raised panels with an ordinary benchtop tablesaw and a hand plane, even though I have a big router that could easily spin a panel-raising bit. Next, draw reference lines on the face of each panel, a little further in than the farthest reach of the bevels. Applying the mouldings is standard cabinet work; proceed around the cabinet, taking measurements as you go and cutting all the moulding pieces to size. Once the bottom shelf is dry, scrape, sand or plane the surfaces to remove any glue squeeze-out, then mark and cut the tenons to fit through the mortises in the side skirts. If you do the math, it adds up to a lot of dowel holes that need to be drilled in precisely the right places. An end-grain block is the hallmark of a professional chef, as it preserves sharp knife edges far better than a cross-grain or acrylic board.
This blade is made specifically for rip cuts in thick hardwood; as the lumber we are using needs to glue up perfectly right off the saw, this blade is a good investment. In order to make these segments, I started by assembling eight hexagonal “logs” 48″ long, cutting them to length later. It is imperative that all of your lumber is exactly the same thickness to ensure there is no deviation between boards. Set your tablesaw blade to 30° from square (creating 60° bevels on the wood) and double-check the angle. Flip and rotate your pieces within the bundle to get the grain direction of each piece perpendicular to the ones beside it for the best illusion. Scrape off any squeeze-out, then label the sides of each log, at both ends, using the numbers one to six.
Take four blocks and slice them in half on your bandsaw, cutting down through the point of the maple and through the seam between the walnut and cherry to form the filler blocks for the short ends of the top, then slice the maple diamonds in half (down through the point) for the 10 half-segments that make up the long edges of the top.
You will see that the board is made up of eight staggered rows of 10 full blocks, with half-blocks filling in the edges of the cutting board.
The hexagonal shapes make alignment and clamping difficult, the sheer size and weight of the assembly makes shifting individual pieces tough, and the limited open time of the glue meant I had to work quickly to get it all together. Small ones are most easily filled with two-part epoxy dribbled into the cracks, left to harden and sanded flush. The wood requires careful placement of your pushsticks on the stock and extreme caution as you cut because a large portion of the stock remains unsupported by the table due to the previously cut angle. If you’d like to create a more traditional (and simpler) butcher-block top, opt for a checkerboard pattern. Otherwise, cut the truss boards to 20″ length and set in place and mark angles by hand. This will give you a chance to get used to reading plans without all the stress and complications.
Sand these flat and smooth after taking them out of the clamps, but don’t cut them to final size yet; custom trimming comes later. Carefully position the pair of legs on the left the same distance apart as the pair on the right, then measure the length and width of the drawer bank panel required to fit in between.
Bring the legs and braces together completely (without glue) when the fit is perfect, then mark and bore holes for the tapered pegs that lock these joints together.
To minimize seasonal expansion and contraction of the top, choose boards with growth rings as parallel as possible with each board face.
I used brush-on urethane, hand-rubbed with pumice and rottenstone, to create a glass-smooth surface. Use locally cut, air-dried lumber According to research by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, it takes 550 per cent more energy to produce kiln-dried lumber than to prepare air-dried wood. Durability by design The longer your projects remain in active use, the less environmental impact they have per year. Choose non-toxic finishes Water-based and penetrating-oil finishes don’t release harmful vapours into the air, nor do they require solvents for cleaning up. Once you have both handles cut, stack the boards together to make sure they’re symmetrical.


Cut the front and back stiles, the side stiles, and the top and bottom rails to size, then mark each piece to indicate its location and outside surfaces. Cut the parts to size, then join two long and short frame members, using two #8 x 2″ screws into each overlapped corner. Allow these parts to dry, then position and clamp the two inner frames to the inside of the front-side assembly. Rout a profile along the front and side edges before sanding the surface smooth with 120-grit paper. I’ll admit that these are a lot of work to make-you shape them with a hand plane and sanding block-but the effect is really spectacular.
As you select your pieces, remember that the grain direction of the applique you add must be the same as the underlying wood of the panels. It’s very fragile here, and to get around this snag I recommend shaping the end-grain edges first, before cutting the parts to shape from your planks.
This combination doesn’t allow the finish to penetrate too quickly, preventing blotching. Set the back and side panels into their rabbets from the inside, and then secure them with nylon clips. Cut the eight corner stiles to length and width first, then saw 45° angles along one edge of each stile using a tablesaw. Measure the length and width of the panel openings, down to the bottom of the stile and rail grooves. The reason I do this is appearance-long, slim and flat-faced bevels on panel edges look great and can’t be reproduced with a router. Dry-fit the parts once more, then assemble permanently onto the plywood box with glue and pipe clamps. Start by defining the outer circle with your parting tool, always staying between the two circular lines.
Although I’m a big fan of handcut joinery, quite frankly, the thought of handcutting the 16 through mortises and laying out and drilling 144 dowel holes for what would ultimately be a utility piece of furniture didn’t appeal to me. Make the cuts on your bandsaw and clean up the saw marks with a few passes of a block plane or sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block. Apply tape over the mid part of the tenons and over the dowel holes, then prefinish all of the individual pieces.
For your top, you can choose to reproduce my pattern, or you can go with a simpler arrangement of one or two species. Once you have your orientation picked, apply a coat of top-quality, water-tolerant glue, such as Titebond III, to the mating faces with a small roller, and bring the pieces together into a hexagonal log.
You have planed half of the faces now, so you will need to lower the cutter head again by the same amount as the initial adjustment (half a crank) and then plane Sides 4, 5 and 6. So, take a breather, get all of your supplies together (including bar clamps), plan out your assembly and jump in. I did the same with the next piece, and then set it into position against the preceding one. If you end up with a larger gap or two, cut a tapered wedge in matching wood the same width as the crack and slightly thicker, put some epoxy down the crack and tap in the wedge until snug.
Because I used three species of wood with different (although similar) expansion rates, I wanted to seal the wood as thoroughly as possible to avoid movement issues.
It applies easily, buffs to a nice shine, is non-toxic and makes the shop smell wonderful when you apply it. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper.
We relied on inexpensive lumberyard stock and rugged mortise-and-tenon joinery to construct the base.
The pegged mortises and tenons, square pegs and tusk tenons all came from this same inspiration.  Start work on your desk by preparing the outer legs, inner legs, skirts (front, rear and side) and leg braces (side and rear). Since these mortises are open at the top, it’s not difficult to chop them out using a mallet and chisel. Rounded corners soften the look of the design, and also help edges and the finish resist wear better.
Slip the front and back skirts down into the notches at the top of the right-hand drawer bank side assembly.
Complete the desk base by adding anchor blocks for securing the desktop, then sand or plane all joints flush. Prepare this feature now, along with the dados that secure the ends of the shelves and the top ends of the dividers. Penetrating finishes, such as polymerized tung oil or wipe-on polyurethane, are options that eliminate the need for cleaning up brushes.
Since energy use almost always creates a significant environmental impact, the less we use, the better. A strong design in a style that continues to look good saves resources and energy while also building a heritage that increases in value as time goes on.
Every time you use a chisel, handsaw or plane, you’re saving electricity while also producing less noise and dust. One of the greenest wood finishes is hemp oil, a product that Canada is a world leader in producing. Then scribe a line from the bottom and top edges of the holes to mark the handle cutout; remove the waste using either a jigsaw or scrollsaw.
Cut tapered plugs to fill in the holes, and give the whole tray a thorough sanding with 150-grit sandpaper, rounding all sharp edges slightly. With the tablesaw fence set at 11?4″ from the blade, rip one edge off each of the boards and set these strips aside for later use. Apply the liquid, allow to sit for 20 minutes and wipe off the excess, then allow to dry for 24 hours between coats.
While you work, keep everything organized by frame, and don’t forget to cut curves into the bottom inside corner of the back and front leg parts. The bottom frame should be flush with the bottom rails; the top frame should be flush with the front and side top edges.
On the door panel only, mark an X pattern diagonally where previous pencil lines intersect at the corners. The remaining edges can then be shaped after cutting, without much fear of chipping a corner. Prepare it from the grid diagram on page 33, then regularly check it against the edge you’re working on for reference. Butt joints work well here because they’re easy to strengthen with biscuits, floating tenons or dowels. Clamp a single panel to the edge of your bench with an end-grain side sticking out over the edge. Stain the edge-grain panel edges before assembling to conceal any new wood that might become exposed as it shrinks over time. Next, chisel grooves along the centre of each petal, running from the centre to the outer edge of the circle. If you don’t have access to lumber that thick, laminate thinner pieces to achieve the required size. First, I marked a line 9″ up from the bottom of each leg to show the location of the top of the side skirts. With the holes drilled, you can glue and clamp the cleats in place on the inside faces and flush with the tops of the aprons and top supports. Prefinishing is far easier than finishing the nooks and crannies that appear after assembly. Whichever method you choose, stick with the tighter-grained hardwoods such as hard maple, cherry or even purpleheart.
For measuring the angles, I went digital with the Wixey digital angle gauge to set the critical saw blade angles. I then pulled the wood back from the blade and measured the width of the newly sawn face with my digital calipers, comparing that measurement to the width of the first angled cuts I had made previously on all of the boards. The low-angle, bevel-up blade slices the end-grain cleanly, and the heft of the plane helps plow through the wood.
To do this, I set out to fill the straw-like cells that make up end-grain as fully as possible with a curing finish. You could glue these strips into wider blanks, but the 12″ width is good because it fits through benchtop thickness planers. High quality plans for woodworking projects can usually be bought for a buck or two online, and you will have much better results in the end.
Prepare matching tenons on the ends of the skirts and bring them together with the legs for a trial fit.
Tilt the left-hand drawer bank side assembly upright, over the ends of the tenons on the front and rear skirts. Eventually, you’ll also need to add drawer guides extending from the front to the back drawer rails, but leave them off for now. Drive screws into oval shaped holes in the edging strips, to allow for movement of the desktop across its width.
To keep things simple and rustic, I used screws to join cubby parts, covered with square hardwood pegs. Drill holes in the desktop for securing the cubby, then mount the top assembly to the leg frame.


And you are keeping poorly built furniture from overwhelming the landfills; I hope to make this desk a family heirloom.
The four wider pieces are for the curved legs, and you’ll get best results if you cut them all at the same time. It’s essential that you drill these pockets on the correct face, so think before you make a move. Centre the top on the cabinet, back edge flush with the cabinet back, then secure the top with metal fasteners from inside. Cut the shelf now, then glue and clamp a solid pine edge strip on the front to cap the raw plywood edge. On the side panels, locate the centre point of each line, then draw the large diamond-shaped outline onto both panels. What you’re aiming for is a large, diamond-shaped applique at the centre of both side panels, flanked by four triangular pieces at the corners. My saw isn’t big, but it can still handle these cuts in a single pass using a sharp blade. Smooth the bevel face with a razor-sharp jack plane, working from one side of the panel to the other. Seal the whole finish with two coats of water-based urethane, sanding lightly between each.
Next, move the compass point to the top of the circle (don’t change the radius setting) and scribe an arc from one side of the circle to the other. Widen these grooves with vertical cuts down toward the centre of the petal using the gouge.
I used a combination of jig-cut through mortise-and-tenon and dowel joinery to make a strong, good-looking base. With the legs cut, plane 5?4 lumber to 1″ thick for the rest of the base components and cut them to size. These cleats allow you to attach the top later, and the oversize holes allow for the inevitable seasonal wood movement in the top. I used three coats of Deft spray lacquer on my base, but tung oil or polyurethane are good options as well. Cut all of the first edges in one session to avoid moving the fence and introducing inaccuracy. If there’s any difference in width between the first round of cuts and the second, adjust the fence and make another trial cut. Multiple wraps of the cord generate a tremendous amount of clamping force at just the right angles, pulling the assembly together. I then built the subsequent rows in the same way, clamping each row individually as I went, quickly moving on to the next row, nestling each piece into the row preceding it. If you are at all uncomfortable with this process, modify the design into a simpler checkerboard pattern. Sand these flat and smooth on their outside surfaces, then bring them together with the other legs and skirts.
Later on, the cubby top fastens to the top with screws driven from underneath, while the top is secured with screws driven up through holes in the anchor blocks. Taper the pegs’ tips, then tap them into the countersunk screw holes along with a little glue. The glass fits into a rabbet groove in the back of the door frames, held in place with wooden strips glued lightly. As you approach this final thickness, check the slats for a snug fit into the grooves in the tray. Stack them as a group (keep the sawn edges flush), then temporarily tack them together using a light coat of spray adhesive.
Keep the top edges of the top stretchers approximately 1?16″ below the top ends of the legs. With your completed stand ready, all you need is a few guests and a great meal to serve in style. Next, add the opposite side frame to the front and inner frames, and, finally, add the back frame to the side back edges and the inner frames. The pressure of the screwdriver shaft closes any small unsightly gaps that would otherwise stand out on the finished cabinet. Secure this with glue and clamps, then after the glue has dried, plunge slots for #20 biscuits across the bottom faces of the joints.
Move the point of the compass again, this time to one of the intersection points around the outer circle, and draw another arc. Alternate back and forth between the parting tool and the gouge, continually deepening and widening each petal until they are nearly as deep as they are wide. But you can choose to use just one or the other style of joinery; just be sure to take into account the differences in the part lengths required for alternative joints and adjust your stock size accordingly. The FMT (Frame Mortise and Tenon) jig uses a set of guide plates to cut matching mortises and tenons precisely in your workpieces. These instruments allow you to achieve a high level of precision, and help to make sure everything goes together at glue-up time. Repeat this procedure until the width of each face of the strip is identical, then proceed to rip all of the required strips.
Wipe the board off, set it aside to dry, then repeat the process on the other side of the board. The front and back legs on that side are connected with the drawer bank panel that you’ll add later. Finally, to fit the side and rear leg braces, measure the space between the legs that the braces will span, then prepare shoulders with the required distance between them. As you do this, don’t forget to install the rear leg brace; it has to go in at the same time. Drawer work I love handcut dovetails, but the traditional orientation of pins and tails makes them harder to admire than they should be. Mark the centre on one short piece of wood, and lay out the desired shape of your handle on the board with a pencil. Check to make sure that the final slats and the inside edges of the handle pieces maintain the same spacing, and trim or re-adjust as required. Wipe away any glue squeeze-out from the sealed surface and attach the back panel using only finishing nails only. It’s a trial-and-error technique, so stop every few strokes and test-fit a stile or rail over the panel edge. Secure the top to the cabinet with more biscuits or dowels before adding the top cove moulding. Complete the triangles in a similar way, then sand the area around the carving to remove stray layout lines. Continue in this manner until all the blocks and half pieces are in place, then remove your clamps and wrap a band clamp around the entire top. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Also, notice how the two inner legs interlock with the front and rear skirts using half-lap joints. That’s why I reoriented the dovetails on these drawers to show the trademark dovetail triangles front and centre.
Once you’ve dry-fit all of the pieces and are satisfied with the spacing, glue the slats into place.
I created two tenons on each end of the inner top supports and corresponding mortises in the aprons.
Tighten the clamp as much as you can, and adjust the pieces to get the top as gap-free as possible. If you take a more conventional corner-joinery route, remember that you may need to adjust the lengths of the sides, front and back if you go with rabbeted corners, biscuits or butt joints. In keeping with the traditional theme, I set each drawer on a single hardwood runner with a dado groove cut in the centre. These runners slide over a hardwood drawer guide fastened to the bottom of each drawer opening. Next, make matching pairs of drawer runners and guides that slide well across each other, then fasten the runners to the underside of the drawers. Wooden drawer runners will take some time to make, but the all-wood construction is worth it.
Anchor the drawer guides into the desk opening if you’re using the wood-on-wood approach, which can be tricky.
The position of the guides determines where each drawer sits in the opening, so location is key.
Cut the drawer guides to length so they fit between the rails, then slide one drawer and its guide into position.
Arrange the drawer so it has clearance on all sides, then drive one screw into each end of the drawer guide to lock it in place. You may need to sand the drawer guides and runners and apply more wax for the drawer to slide well.



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