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17Jul/151

Bending & Gluing

About a year ago I bought a standing desk.  The desks are really nice but the options for surfaces are either very basic or expensive. I wanted to do something custom so I bought it without a top.  I had an old top (actually a door) to use in the meantime and started thinking about what I wanted.

Time has gone by and my big ideas kept getting pushed down the stack  - until recently.  A friend owed me a favor and volunteered to help me move the project ahead.  I had access to a some remnant strips of walnut and decided to make a "butcher block" surface by gluing them together.  After thinking it through, we decided to make the whole surface curved by bending the strips around a form.  The finished desk will be about seven feet wide and 24 inches deep.  The rough idea:

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First we made the form from a couple layers of plywood.  The arc has a 110" radius and was cut with a router attached to a board pivoting around a screw.  Sorry I didn't get any pics of that process.

Next we ripped and planed strips of walnut and maple.  The walnut is 5/8" thick and the maple is about 1/4".  There will be a strip of maple about ever three inches of walnut.

Then it's just a process of applying glue, clamping to the form and letting it dry over night.  Repeat.  I was hoping to be able to glue multiple strips at once, but in the end we could only do that with one strip of walnut and one strip of maple.

Heres a picture after about eleven strips.  The form is on the right side.

 

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About this time, we got smart and mounted the whole thing vertically.  This way, it's easier to keep the strips in alignment and we don't have to fight with the glue oozing out the back and gluing the desk to the table below.

 

 

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At one or two strips per day, it took over three weeks to build up the full width of 24"  Below, you can see the full piece wiith the form leaning against the wall.  A lot of time was spent cleaning up glue and planing the layers flat.

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We added one more strip to the front and back edges.  These strips are 1.5" thick to give a 'skirt'.  This makes the whole desk look thicker and helps hide the attachment to the frame. We started working out details for how to finish the ends.  We marked the ends as shown.

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And cut them even.  You can see the front and back skirt boards on the edge.

 

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To finish the ends, we cut larger blocks of walnut that will be mounted perpendicular to the arc.  They'll be attached with screws but otherwise not glued.  This will allow the strips to expand and contract with humidity without breaking glue joints.  We marked the curve to continue through the sides.

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And cut them off to match.

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Final planing and touch up (sides removed)

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Then sanding and finishing!

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After installing on the Uplift frame and mounting monitors.  I'm really thrilled with how the whole thing came out.  \

Big thanks to my friend Dan for all the help with this project.

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