Design, Legs, & Joinery | Nicole’s Desk Pt. 1



– [Narrator] The Wood Whisperer is sponsored by Powermatic and Titebond. – Nicole and I are sharing an office again and unfortunately, she's
working on a folding table and I think we could do
one better than that, so that's what this is. It's Nicole's new desk. You might see a little
bit of mid-century modern influence in it, but I gotta tell you, most of the influence on this
piece comes from Star Trek. I've just been watching
tons of old Star Trek and sort of the angular designs that are featured in that show
and the various shows. It kind of made its way into this piece and I had this angle in my
mind for the legs and then translated that angle
throughout the entire piece. Thankfully, Nicole's not
too picky about the design. She said, just have fun with it.

As long as it's got a big top,
some shelves and a drawer, I'm happy, so fortunately, I had a lot of
experimentation on this piece. I took that angle throughout, including even in this
drawer with angled sides, so a lot of it's not
maybe the most practical and in some cases, maybe not the strongest
way to build something, but you know what, it's fun. It's fun to kind of just
break through the mold and do something cool and
just have a good time while you're doing it. This video is actually going
to be a little bit different than we've been doing lately. If you've seen me mention the guild, that's where we do
super detailed projects, and a lot of times people wonder how much more detail is in there. Well, that's what this video is like. Still a little bit shorter
than a guild project, but you get the idea of how
much detail goes into each one of these projects, showing
you every step of the process, and most importantly, where my head's at, why I made certain decisions
and then how I address issues as they came up.

It's gonna be a good one. Stick around. I think you're gonna like it. I'm gonna start the project with the legs. Of course, we have four
of those, so ideally, if we can get them all
onto the same board, that just means that the grain will match, the color will match, so
that's what I have here. It's a big piece of eight quarter. It looks like I can get four legs kind of all within the same area, so grain match should be pretty darn good. By the way, I get a lot
of questions about this, charcoal pencil. This is general brand,
and this is not an ad, you could find these on Amazon, this is what I use to mark
on dark woods like this. Doesn't always work. Sometimes if it's a smooth piece of wood, it won't work that well, but for rough layout, it's pretty good. I'll first cut the stock
down at the chop saw. I like to take multiple passes when working with rough material. This can help reduce the
chance of pinching the blade.

Each leg is rough ripped at the bandsaw. Now I can mill the legs
up nice and square. Each piece is ripped to
final width at the table saw. The final length is
established at the chop saw using a stop block. With the leg lengths milled up, we can now start to shape them. The legs are actually gonna be at, what did I make it, a
56 degree angle roughly, under the tabletop, so that introduces an angle
at the top and the bottom that allows it to tilt, but
we also have a taper, so it's not just this
sort of rectangular shape. It's actually going to
be slightly tapered. You can cut the taper first
or you can cut the ends at the appropriate angle first.

Personally, I think it's
gonna be easier to cut the taper first, then do the ends. I am going to measure out here, and while I have a degree associated with the tilt of the legs, I actually think it's a
lot easier to operate with as few angles as possible, so we don't have to worry
about mixing numbers up. Sometimes you measure an angle, but the number on the tool is
not the number that you have in your head because
you're on the other side, the other part that makes
up a 90 degree angle, so it tends to get confusing. Anyway, what we're gonna
do is measure the width of the leg at the bottom, which is about an inch and a quarter.

If you want something different,
pick something different. We're gonna go up from
there to the top of the leg at its widest point, which is just the end of the
blank, three and a half inches. Now we can head to the table
saw with a tapering jig. Always mark your waste, too. Any tapering jig will work, or you could use the bandsaw
and clean up the edge with a hand plane or jointer. This particular jig is
a collaboration project that I did with my buddy Andy Klein. Keep an eye out for plans
for this one pretty soon. When it's time to cut
your angles on the ends, it's not a bad idea to take an angle gauge and set it for the proper angle. In this case, we're going
for about 56 degrees. I've got a protractor
here, got that set up, and you lock this guy in because you might be able to
use this for tool setups moving forward.

That said, we may as well
just draw in some lines so you could see what
we're trying to do here. Though, if you have your saw
set up to the right angle, you don't even need lines. Anyway, this is the square side and this is the tapered side. We're gonna continue measuring
from the squared side. At this end, we can draw
our angle in like so. Keep the angle gauge the
same way and draw that one. I'm gonna make my cuts at the miter saw. I find that easiest. You could certainly use a
table saw if you want to. If you just set yourself
here to the angle, the 56 degrees, right on the saw, you're gonna have the wrong angle. I know that sounds weird, but you have to think from
the saw's perspective, it's actually moving a smaller amount. The way you could double-check yourself is with a bevel gauge. We have this already set. If we set that to the angle, set the blade to the
angle of the bevel gauge, and you look at that number,
the number is actually 34.

Well, this is because you're looking at a 90 degree angle here
and 56 plus another 34 brings us to that 90, so
from the saw's perspective, it's only moving 34
degrees to make that cut, but the wood that's left
over is actually 56 degrees. With the stop block in place, I can make all of the foot cuts. Now we have to cut the top of the leg, and the less you have to mess
with this angle, the better, so I'm gonna keep the
all exactly where it is. Instead of going to the
other side of 90 here, I'm actually just gonna slide
my work piece over and just use the same angle, like this,
and I have to move my stop. The legs are looking pretty good, but you know, not totally happy
with it and unfortunately, this is something that can happen when you design in a 3D environment,
a digital environment, sometimes it's a little bit
difficult to appreciate the exact thickness of something or how a particular proportion will work out.

When you see it in
person in real material, that's when the flaws can
sometimes show themselves. The problem I'm having
is I feel like this foot needs to be a little bit thinner. I feel like there's just
not enough drama here, and I think when you're
doing a sort of mid-century modern inspired piece, one of the risks you run is
having clunky looking pieces. You could be too thick, you could stay a little bit
too thick down at a foot when you should really taper out
to something really fine, so that's kind of what
I'm afraid I've done here. Fortunately, I can take a
little bit more off of here fairly easily using a tapering sled. It's not that big of a deal, but I don't think this is a
decision I wanna make right now. It's at the end of my workday, I'm kind of brain tired at this point, so I'm better off sitting on this idea, maybe asking Nicole what she thinks, getting some other opinions, and then coming in here tomorrow
with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh cup of coffee and deciding if I wanna take that
additional material off.

I'll see you tomorrow. – [Narrator] Captain's
log, star date 98211.6. After meeting with my senior officers, I decided to leave the legs
as designed by the Federation. That's about as far as we're gonna take the legs at this point. We've got joinery to add, a
few more details to shape them, but we'll get to that in a little bit. Now we need to work on
some of the thinner stock that makes up the aprons,
the drawer compartment, all that stuff. I have a piece that was
cut off from the leg stock. A piece of this size, I mean, you might be able to use it for something, but a lot of times with this short length, there's not a whole lot
that I could do with it. It's great if you have a bandsaw because that allows you to re-saw this and get as much three
quarter inch material out of it as you can, so
that's what I'm gonna do.

I'm gonna recoup as much
material from here as possible and anything that I can't get from there, I'm just gonna get from
this piece of four quarter. With all these parts to
the appropriate thickness, they're still oversized
in width and length and we will strategically break
them down just in a way that makes sense and sort
of consolidates things, so if we have a bunch of bevel cuts, do all the bevels at the same time. If some things have to
be to the same width, cut those at the same time. We're gonna start out with
our three apron parts and our drawer back because all
of those are the same width. The aprons can also be cut to length now, adding the appropriate 56
degree miters to the ends. On the front aprons, the miters
go in the same direction.

We'll cut the drawer support
pieces to length now, too, and these get 90 degree ends. Don't cut the drawer sides yet. We keep those oversized in length for now. Before moving on, now's a real good time to just
double-check and make sure all of your angles offset one another. The aprons should drop in like this, leaving you with a line at the top that's parallel with the line at the foot, and that looks pretty good. Next up, we need to cut
bevels in some of our pieces, specifically the drawer sides, because our drawer is gonna sit
at this kind of weird angle, at least the sides will, and
the drawers support pieces, they also sit at that odd angle. In order for this to work and for them to sit inside the desk, we
need a bevel on each side. At the same time when
we're cutting this bevel, we'll cut it to its final width
and we will actually take it against some of our actual
pieces to make sure that we have the width that we need.

I've got my blade here
tilted to our 56 degrees. Again, if you are looking at the saw, it's gonna be set to 34 degrees, or you can just use your angle gauge. Once you're there, then you wanna set your fence
a little bit wide of the cut. You don't wanna try to
hit it on the first shot. All we're gonna do is put a
bevel on one edge first and then see how we did with
the actual work pieces. To test this, I just
have my back apron here and one of the front apron pieces, nice and flush on both sides and they should be the same width, I just have it clamped in place.

This piece, the drawer support, we really wanna make sure that
it's up against this edge. We're gonna put our freshly
cut bevel facing down here and make sure that's flush as well. When we're in this
position, at this point, we should have some overhanging material. That's the other bevel, so you can take a pencil
and just kind of draw a line and what we're gonna do is
sneak up on it until we have flush surfaces on both the top and bottom.

pexels photo 168438

When we drop the piece in like this and you're flush on the
bottom, flush on the top, then you know you've got the right fit. We can go and cut the remaining parts. The one important thing I
forgot to mention is my fence. My regular fence actually has
just a little bit of a gap. It's got a rounded corner on it, so when I flip this guy
over to make the second cut, I've got the pointy part of my bevel down, so if I'm trying to register off of that, that could be bad news. It's not really gonna
give me good registration, so I have this extra
auxiliary fence that I use. It's my tall fence, not
using it for the height, but for the fact that it really
closes up that gap for me and makes this cut possible.

Now we can start to actually
put our pieces together with some joinery. To make things really
simple for myself here, I'm gonna use loose
mortise and tendon joints. These are specifically dominoes. This is the eight by 50, eight by 40 size. The idea is we need to find
out where the center of our dominoes are and we're gonna
plunge them into the center of the leg and the center of the aprons. When I bring one of my
front apron pieces up here, I'm gonna have it flush just
for the sake of making it easy to use a pencil and
you can see, these dominoes, I've kind of given them
a center line in width and a center line along its length. That allows me to just kind
of line them up across this joint and see how they're gonna lay out. You wanna be careful not to go
near one of the edges 'cause that won't look very good
if you punch through.

I'm gonna transfer their center line. Now, that little tick mark, I could just extend going
perpendicular to the joint. Now I'm gonna take another piece, make sure everything is flush at the top, as flush as it can be, and then I'm gonna
transfer our pencil lines to the other piece. We can pretty much repeat
the process if we wanted to or knowing that these should
all be kind of the same, we can take the side that's
gonna receive the joinery, butt that up against the
piece we already marked out, and we could take a little shortcut here by transferring those marks.

Check this out. Same thing with our legs. Make sure they are aligned at
the top, transfer the marks. Now you're gonna repeat this exact process on the rear set of legs
and the only difference is we actually have an
apron that's one piece, but we should be able to use
our two existing apron pieces to mark this guy up. Now just bring the rear legs in, make sure everything is oriented the way I think it should be, and then use my front legs
to do a mark transfer. I've set the domino to cut
at the dead center point, or at least, as close as I could get, and all I need to do is
line up with these two marks and make my mortises. If you're looking at me using
the domino and thinking, well, that must be nice
if you have a domino, but there are other more
classic ways to do this. It's just called slip mortise and tenon or loose mortise and tenon joinery and I actually have a video
out there showing you exactly how to make loose mortise and tenons on angled pieces like
this, miters, bevels, everything you could think of
and all you need is a router, a straight bit and an edge guide, so go check out that
video if you don't happen to have a domino or something like it.

For the leg mortises, I've gotta find the
center point of the leg and then I just change
the settings on the fence, on the domino. I'm just gonna do a little
bit of test assembly, make sure everything doing
what it's supposed to be doing. I'm looking for this
to be flush at the top. Also flush. These two together make up
the front with a gap in the middle for the drawers.

That looks exactly as it
should and see what we can do here for the rear side. It's looking like it should. It's nice and centered on the leg, everything comes together, so now we can move on to
making some more mortises. Even though we are using the domino here, it's by no means simple or on easy mode. There are some things we
really have to be careful with. If we look at our front leg,
at least one of our legs, and our little partial apron here, this assembly will come
together and then we're gonna have the drawer compartment start here, so the pieces that we cut
with the bevels on them, those are going to join up
to the back of this apron, so that joint right there is
one that we have to align for and cut the mortises for.

I'm gonna take this piece out, remove the leg to make it easier, and it will just work
with these two pieces, but also be doing the mirror image, same thing on the other side. I'm gonna go like this and
that should just make it a little bit easier for
me to draw my lines. This one, I'm just gonna do by eye.

We've got plenty of room to play here. If I could use a set
of adjustable squares, set one up for each one of those marks, it'd make it a little bit
easier to share these marks with the other pieces, that includes the back
of the support piece, and we can even use
them on the other side. Once again, I'm gonna set
up for a cut that's halfway through the thickness,
and I almost screwed up. This is definitely a
concern with the domino. These pieces are coming
together like this, so you have to be careful. If you put something
that goes equal distance depth into both pieces, you end up possibly pushing
through this front apron piece, so we're gonna have to offset this one and depending on the settings
on a domino, either way, we have to equal 40 millimeters. I could just go, let's say 25, 25 this way, 15 that way, we'll be offset and that
should be safe enough. Now for these guys,
we've gotta go vertical. Set up for that shallow cut. Now for the real test. Got some dominoes. These guys come together. Hopefully are flush at the top and also, you wanna be nice and
smooth in here because a drawer is gonna go in and out of there.

We're gonna have a drawer slide attached to that inside surface, so there's one. It's not exactly balanced,
but you get the idea. That in conjunction with
our legs on the outsides pretty much takes care of
that drawer compartment with the exception of
what happens at the rear because we have a back piece
that goes in place here, a back apron, and well, we have to figure out a way to
transfer these marks to that, so I'm gonna think about it for a minute. I did give it some thought
and I think I have an idea. I've got a leg in place here, you can kind of see how
this is gonna be arranged in a final desk, and what we're looking to
figure out is where to put the domino, what is the reference surface? We know that this outside
face of the apron here, or the face of the drawer compartment, that is where we were measuring from, but how do I know exactly where that is? I could certainly measure
with a tape measure, put a line there, try
to line up the domino, but that's not gonna be nearly as accurate as I want it to be.

Fortunately, we have
other parts to our project that kind of can be
stand-ins to let us know where we need to place this tool. I have my other partial apron here. The point where this
intersects with the back apron, it's gonna be the same in the
front as it is in the back, so if I take this guy, make
that flush on the end grain, right about there where this lines up, under here is where we're gonna
have to place our dominoes. How do I translate that
reference surface, you know, to something else that I can actually use with the domino tool? Well, if we have this
held in place like that, all I need to do is make sure I'm really perfectly flush out there.

Then I could take a
piece of scrap material, line that right up against
that workpiece, butt it up, clamp it down. When I remove this, I'm now referencing off
of that outside surface, that's my reference line, and then the domino
tool can come in like so to make our mortises. That's pretty much the strategy. Now I just have to transfer the two lines off of the workpiece and
then we'll be good to go. I can kind of mark these
out at the same time. I've got the right one on the right side, the left one on the left side, and my marks that I previously
used to align the joinery. I could use those now once
I'm flush here on the outside. If you're unsure about if
you actually are flushed, just grab one of your other workpieces, bring that up against the
apron and go like that.

Then I'll transfer my marks. After this step, I'm gonna
put something else here, so I need to be able to see
these marks and then extend them a little bit, try to find that same angle. As long as we're close, it should be fine. The clamping on this is
gonna get a little messy, but you just do what you can. Keep everything where it needs to be and use a hold fast for that. Second piece comes in. You're gonna need something to support that second piece on its
long end, and really, the most important thing
about this piece is that it's square right here. Push it right up against there. One additional clamp. Now I could just reference off the bottom. Pop that in there. Are we lined up? Yes we are. I've got the front cobbled together again.

This is the real test is to
see if everything lines up with these parts in place. I'll do this test on both sides, but only gonna show you once. It's a little wonky here, but I think it's because
of the way my angle is set on my leg. That's much better. Success. It's looking pretty good..

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