Many of you know that I occasionally work as a portrait or costumed model since moving to the Phoenix area. For me, it’s a great experience — I get out of the solitary life in my shop, meet different artists and get to talk with them and learn about their techniques; it’s just interesting all around. Recently I worked at Divinity Tattoo for a 6 hour session where the artists captured my likeness in pencil, pen, charcoal, and oil — amazing what they came up with! During the breaks I like to circulate among the artists and see how they see me. While talking with one of the artists my woodworking came up. One thing led to another and now I have a commission from her to build a custom drawing table. She mentioned how being hunched over a table was murder on her back so we decided to see what could be done to solve that problem — here’s what I came up with.
The majority of my own work is designed at my stand up drafting table/desk. This is an early picture of it but the space below holds my reference books. When used for drafting I clip a vinyl drafting cover on it. For me, drawing my projects out helps me visualize the construction process before the actual build begins. Projects are drawn to scale and then joinery work is sketched out full size graph paper. At right is the drawing and the beginnings of the project.
There’s quite a bit of hardware involved for this project. There will be an adjustable system that will allow her to secure drawing paper of any size. The over-all top dimensions are 18″ x 24″ and is made of clear coat Baltic Birch plywood for stability. It’ll be hinged to a lower section made of Walnut and dovetailed together. Adjustable drafting table hardware from Rockler is combined with a piano hinge to allow adjustments from 0°-50°. The A -B notations on the wood are there to keep the grain flowing around the corners, that piece with the cathedral grain is the front of the desk and cut so the peak is centered. Matching grain is one of those things we, as custom furniture builders can do that mass production can’t.
At this point, the dovetails for the bottom section are done, this is the process I use for doing them; I’m a “tails first” kind of guy!
The next phase will be fitting the bottom which fits into dadoed sides and is 3/4″ Birch plywood. Next will be cutting and installing the various bits and pieces needed for the paper hold down system. My client is excited about this project, as am I. She expressed an appreciation of “old world” woodworking so combining the dovetailed construction and natural finish on some beautiful Black Walnut with a more contemporary combination of natural Baltic Birch and aluminum I think we’ll come up with a winner!