This post continues a series in which I’m building a butler’s desk of American black walnut. Where we left off the work surface had been completed. Now that the Butler’s desk is well on it’s way, it’s time to begin working out the small details which make the user’s experience all the more enjoyable. I feel that the details of a product should match its overall design and in my experience the details are often the most difficult part of cabinetry design, given that the ‘details’ are the user interface and are often make or break for the user.
Along with detailing the case, I have begun finishing the cabinet, for me the two processes seem to go hand in hand. The finish I’m using is super blonde shellac that I mix from flakes.
To finish the case exterior I first plane the outside surfaces by hand, then follow up by wiping on shellac. In the near ground you can see one of the important exterior details, a chamfered corner.
The chamfer was continued over the rounded edge, both to eliminate the sharp corner and for an uninterrupted appearance. The chamfer plane would not allow this, so it was continued with a chisel. The rounded over corners on the front and back of the case are also cut with a plane. Having only ever seen round overs created by a router and sanded, the beauty of them was lost on me until I began cutting them with a plane. The crisp transition and bright surface make all the difference to my eye.
Lining up the many chamfers and edges of the desk has been one of the more tedious processes, but it is very important in an otherwise simple appearing design. In this case I had to enlarge the chamfer at the bottom of the drawer to help conceal seasonal movement and to allow the door to swing down.
The chamfer continues around to the sides of the case making the transition between the case and the stand obvious. This will also help to conceal seasonal movement at the back of the case.
Many of you may have been wondering exactly what I had planned for drawer pulls and I’ve determined that rather than drawer pulls, I would use cutouts as I had done previously on the jewelry cabinet built last year. I begin the process by making cuts with my finest tooth crosscut saw. This saw leaves a nearly finished surface.
Followed by chiseling away the waste, all of which is done with a paring chisel. Then finally the corners are detailed with chamfers.
I’ve created a video of the process for those interested in seeing how it is done.
Next, I grooved the front edge of the desk drawer to accommodate the desk swing. Then I created a drawer stop (ball detent rather than a hard stop) followed by creating similar grooves in the drawer sides at that corresponding location.
Finally what I have been working toward is now able to be seen in its mostly completed stage. Some things are left to do; a lock and stay for the desk. I’ve begun finishing the remainder of the case and legs, the results of which can be seen here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading, please comment below.