furniture making

Writing Desk – Spindles

Making and installing the spindles that would tie together the shelf and the writing box was the last major complex fabrication step for the desk.  It was also perhaps the most stress inducing aspect of the whole project; it was not difficult per se, just a very fussy layout exercise with zero margin for error.

The turnings themselves were straightforward.  I made a measuring template and a sample to send to the client, and got to work after getting approval.  Turning premium vintage mahogany is a delight.  Some of the details of the spindles even provided the opportunity to make and modify some tools.  Since each spindle had several half-round elements of just under 1/8″ it was worth my time to take a no-account old turning chisel from the drawer and regrind the tip to the right profile to make it effortless to work.  I tried it out on a sample to make sure then proceeded apace.

I needed to make sure that the spindles were precisely sized, as their installation required sliding them up through the holes in the shelf and into the corresponding holes in the underside of the writing box.  I spent more time laying out, then checking and double checking before drilling the holes.  I was relieved that they all went in exactly as planned.

The fussiest part of the whole undertaking was fitting the two spindles on either side of the shelf.  These had to be drilled and fitted into the underside of not the writing box but rather the “ears” of the legs.  Careful layout and a steady hand served me well.