View Full Version : Design feedback on office credenza

Paul Heagen
02-08-2004, 11:20 AM
I am fairly new to this forum but looking forward to learning more about design. I'm OK on my woodworking skills but not sure I have the right "eye" sometimes in the design basics.

I would help to ask first and build second, but I would welcome some design critique on a credenza I just built for my office. It shadows the design of an Art & Craft-style desk I built, but I was not looking to match them exactly.

My thoughts/concerns now that I look at the complete piece:

The top should have been longer to create more of an overhang look, ala Frank Lloyd Wright Pioneer.

I wish now that I had chamfered the underside edge of the top so it had a lighter look.

The whole piece seems busy to me -- too much curly cherry where it doesn't belong and perhaps too many slats going on with the shelves. I wish it had a quieter, lighter more elegant look about it.

You may not be able to see from this these pics, but there is a bark scar on the top left front edge that my wife convinced me to leave as something of a design signature. I actually like it now that I did it, but I almost wish it was larger so it is more obvious that I was trying to do it. My wife also convinced me to leave the sap streaks in the top rather than use a clear piece of curly cherry.

I have also attached a pic of the desk so you can see what I did with that piece -- which I like better than the credenza design.

Anyway. I would welcome some critique in the interests of doing it better the next time on another piece.


Paul Heagen
02-08-2004, 11:24 AM
Sorry, it didn't attach to the first post

Paul Heagen
02-08-2004, 11:34 AM
Here is a better pic of the bark scar on the left front edge and another pic of the front that shows what now looks to me like too busy of a look with all the curly cherry

Lars Thomas
02-08-2004, 11:41 AM
Guess I'll go first . . .I agree with you on the chamfer on the bottom of the top. I would also recommend a slight chamfer on the bottom of each leg (not too late for that). The shelves appear a bit heavy - maybe could have gotten away with 5/8 solid shelf (with a center or rear cleat). I think that would go along way toward resolving the 'busy' look you are concerned about.

I also agree with you about the bark inclusion. I would have gone with either bigger or none.

On the front rail, you see how the grain has a semi-circular appearance? I think (not sure) that I would have flipped it 180 degrees so the circle appeared to hold up the top rather than balance on it.

Please accept this 'critism' in the spirit it is intended - constructive.

Overall, I think it looks good and is a nice compliment to the desk. It should provide years of enjoyment and use. Looks like some nice cherry stock, where did you get it? Lars

Paul Heagen
02-08-2004, 12:12 PM
I may still do the chamfer. I was a bit concenred that it might aggravate the already too small bark inclusion on the left. I like the look on the desk that I built but was wary of carrying over too many design cues to the credenza and then having non-woodworkers think I had not done a good job matching the design.

I was concerned about the shelves boweing under weight (36" span) but I only use it for a few books and some papers, modems, etc. so you're right, I could have gone with something lighter.

I never thought about turning the front piece the other way. That makes sense. I was always trained to turn circular grain inside so it doesn't appear to be flying off the piece, but with the top it would have looked better if if appeared to be suspending the top rather than looking like a fulcrum.

Great ideas. Thanks.

To your question about wood sources, I buy most of my domestic hardwoods at a little family-owned mill near Evansville IN. Wilhelm Lumber. I probably bought the curly cherry for about $4/bd. ft.

Paul Heagen
02-08-2004, 12:56 PM

To your point, here is probably a better example of where the leaving the bark scar on makes sense -- it is larger and more obviously part of the design.

P.S. -- I am aware of the whitish splotch on the side edge. I have to fix that one of these days.

Jamie Buxton
02-08-2004, 1:56 PM
Paul ---
This are fine pieces, so don't let any critiques worry you. That said, here are some thoughts...

* At first glance, the piece does look a little chunky, but A&C stuff often was. Some detail changes might help a little. For instance, if the top overhung the base more in front, the apron would not be quite so in-your-face. I'd also make that apron smaller -- that is, not as tall.
* The legs, I'm afraid, look like they were made from 2x4s. Yes, they're gorgeous cherry, but those dimensions just shout "2x4". I would have made them with square cross-section.
* Perhaps you're right about slatting the shelves. Also, maybe they don't have to be as thick as they are, or again you could chamfer the bottom of the front edge. (However, the vertical slats are okay. Vertical square spindles are a Wright signature element, and they look good on his pieces.)

It is interesting to see that things which work on the base of the desk don't work as well on the sideboard. The desk is wider, longer, and shorter. Using the same sizes of legs and stretchers on the sideboard leaves them looking too big.

Also, A&C furniture often had visible joinery elements -- through mortises, and pegged tenons. To my eye they as visual interest. You might consider them in future designs.