The Jenga Desk

Jenga Desk Main
When the design for this desk first started taking shape, the game Jenga was not what I had in mind. After hearing from every single person who has seen this piece that that is precisely what the legs remind them of, however, I’ve given up fighting it and named the piece accordingly.

Oddly enough, the primary inspiration for this desk was not the unique design of the legs. In fact, that element came to me at the tail end of the process. The idea for this piece hit me while I was a my favorite sawyer’s mill one day, nosing through his stash of wonderful lumber. It was a rainy day, so I was in the barn trying to keep dry when I spotted a few small pieces leaning against his saw outside.

I immediately wandered out to get a closer look and discovered that they were the first two slices off of a giant Maple burl he had begun to mill. The rain had soaked them and brought out their wonderful figure, so without a second thought I told him I wanted them, no matter what the cost. Almost a year later, after they had been kiln dried, they were lying in my shop just begging to be used. I couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing them again, so I decided to use them for a piece in my own home.

I knew the piece would be a desk, and I knew I was going to leave the live edges on the boards since they were so spectacular. What I didn’t know was what kind of legs I would use. I finally settled on the idea of using a very architectural, almost geometric design in order to be in stark contrast with the organic nature of the tops.

The legs are each made of four separate pieces of 1 1/4″ square Black Walnut. Each of those pieces was then dadoed on two sides to receive the horizontal pieces of Lyptus which would tie them together. For those who are counting, that’s 16 dadoes per piece, 64 dadoes per leg, and 256 dadoes total. Each of the lyptus pieces were then screwed in from the back and plugged so as to be totally concealed. If you’re tempted to ask how long that process took…please don’t.

The tops already had two fabulous live edges each, but the opposing ends had been cut square by the sawyer. I felt this would not suffice, so with chisel and mallet in hand, I carved out “false” live edges on the ends which are kind of reminiscent of those on a piece of driftwood.

The desk itself sits at bar top height (42″) with a raised shelf to house a computer monitor. I also outfitted the unit with a large drawer which extends all the way to the back of the desk. The support stretchers underneath are fastened to the legs by the use of an exposed bridle joint, kind of like those found in timber framed houses.

All in all, the project was a great success. The only problem is, occasionally when I need to get work done I find myself distractedly staring at the breathtaking grain of the tops.  I suppose that’s a good problem to have.

Find more work like this: Black Walnut, Lyptus, Maple, Table. 179

179 Responses to “The Jenga Desk”

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