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Thread: A "plain but neat" walnut secretary

  1. #1

    A "plain but neat" walnut secretary

    Finally I have finished up this walnut secretary for my office. As it turns out, this project was interrupted a couple of times and so building it spanned many months…OK, more than a year.

    I had grown tired of the printer being on my desk, and was playing around with designs for various cabinets or credenzas to enclose the printer and some files. I just couldn’t come up with a design that looked like fine furniture rather than just another blocky office cabinet-cube. I’ve wanted to build a secretary since I saw one on the cover of Woodworker’s Journal in 1992, and so it occurred to me that with some careful changes I could have my printer and paper files housed in a secretary.

    I had been saving some nice walnut for about 15 years, and so this was where I would use it. I decided to do the full dovetail case construction, and so the top is joined with half-blind dovetails and the inner desk surface, dividers, and case bottom are joined with sliding dovetails. The dividers have floating mortise and tenon drawer runners to allow for seasonal changes in case depth. The drawers are dovetailed and have solid wood bottoms, and the case back is shiplap boards.

    This was quite an unexpected education in woodworking for me, and I used just about every tool I own and even bought a few that I found the need for. Since there were a couple boards with curl I found just how handy a scraper can be. I now realize how essential some good hand tools are in the woodshop.

    Thanks for looking.
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  2. #2
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    Looks great Paul. Really nice color. What was your finishing protocol?
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  3. #3
    Thanks Glenn, I have a lot to learn about finishing, but here is how I finished it.

    I prefer walnut to look like it does when freshly planed, and wanted to minimize any fade of that color. With that being my goal I applied a 50% strength coat of Behlen american walnut dye followed by a coat of BLO. After 3 days drying of the BLO, I wiped on 4 coats of clear varnish followed by a final coat of wiped on satin varnish. I sanded with 320 before the 3rd and 5th coat, and applied no more than 2 coats of varnish in any day.

    The inside drawer parts are finished with water-based acrylic (no BLO) hopefully to avoid any lingering smell.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    I like it!

    A secretary is on my short list of projects and I like yours. Where did you find the plans or did you draw up your own? That will be a useful piece for may years to come.

    Excellent!

    Scott

  5. #5
    Thanks Scott. I drew my own plans after looking at plans in FWW, PW, WJ, and one of Glen Huey’s books. All the plans are fairly similar, and so mine are really just working out modification details for the file drawers. Lots of folks will mention the value of doing your own plans, because many of the published plans are vague in areas, or have details omitted during editing. I did mine using AutoSketch on the computer, which I find easier than drawing with pencil and eraser.

  6. #6
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    Outstanding!

    It looks like a nice blend of shaker and modern styles.

    Change the drawer handles to knobs and you have classic shaker.

    Well done, and thanks for posting the pics.
    Martin, Granbury, TX
    Student of the Shaker style

  7. #7
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    Very nice piece! Very elegant.
    Of all the laws Brandolini's may be the most universally true.

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  8. #8
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    Nicely done!! Love that walnut look...
    Jerry

  9. #9
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    That is one piece of "Fine Furniture".......
    Army Veteran 1968 - 1970
    I Support the Second Amendment of the US Constitution

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Very nice.

    Nice work. You have to love the look of walnut. Your project makes me think I need to build something like that for my office. I will add it to the project list...... maybe in 2015 I will get to it. LOL>
    Randy Gazda
    Big Sky Country

  11. #11
    Finally got around to taking more pictures. Had to show off the 2 boards of curly walnut that I used for the lid and file drawers.
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  12. #12
    Tried undermount slides because of the demands of file drawers. Found they are fussy to install for correct depth, but once that is adjusted they look nice and are a pleasure to use.

    Well, I tried to upload a picture that was used in another post, but the forum software will not let me do that. It is here if anyone wants to see it:
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showpost...29&postcount=6
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  13. #13
    Second attempt to upload picture...this other picture will have to do.
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  14. #14
    That is your solution to needing a printer stand?

    Beautiful work!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    KC, MO
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    Very classy and excellent workmanship!

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