New custom-built Wenge desk

Before I started my current position at Oracle, I took a short break from work and entered into one of my Dad’s hobbies: woodworking. Since he retired, he has assembled quite a workshop that has already produced many fine results enjoyed by family and friends. Instead of purchasing a new desk from a store, we decided to design and build my new desk ourselves. After looking over my Dad’s woodworking books on hardwood, I decided that the desk would be built out of the African hardwood Wenge.

The following pictures capture the process from sourcing the wood to realizing the finished desk. They are in chronological order.

MacBeath Hardwood
The Wenge hardwood for this project was sourced from MacBeath Hardwood‘s Berkeley location.
Wenge boards
The finished desk below began its life as a humble set of boards.
Prepare untapered leg
Some of the boards became legs.
Determine desktop grain
Other boards were selected for their grain pattern to form the desktop.
Learned a new power tool
I got to learn how to use a new power tool (i.e. a plate joiner) and apply biscuit joins.
Prepare center of desktop
At this point, my regular involvement in the project lessened quite a bit as I started my new job, but my Dad kept making steady progress.
Leg tapering jig
My Dad built a custom jig for the legs, which would become tapered along both sets of opposing sides.
Tapered legs in two dimensions
Model leg assembly
Each step involving the Wenge legs was preceded by a prototype in lesser wood.
Model leg assembly detail
Loose side assemblies
Loose bottom assembly
Before finally glueing pieces of the desk together, a dry assembly was made to confirm fit.
Securing side assembly to desktop
By now you can appreciate why my Dad insights that a woodworker can never have too many clamps (or too many gift cards to Rockler).
Unfinished grain pattern
The wood for the legs was selected to achieve a particular grain pattern, too.
Capture of 3D tampering
This shows the overall taper of the legs more clearly.
Sketching ideas for drawers and center shelf
At this point, it was clear that I needed to treat my Dad to a ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop visit in order to spark our creativity over a Ægir Natt Imperial Porter and an Upright Engelberg Pils.
Preparing desktop underside for shelf and drawers
Unfinished side drawers
Unfinished center shelf
At this point, my Dad worked on the desk’s undercarriage.
Sanded, unfinished desktop
Here is the desktop grain pattern detail after sanding and before finishing.
Desk before delivery for finishing
Desk before delivery for finishing
Here is how the desk appeared before it was delivered to be finished by Englund Studio in Oakland.
Finished desk
Here is how the desk appeared after it was finished.
Finished shelf and drawers
So as not to draw attention away from the Wenge, the center pull-out shelf and side drawers were painted in matte black.
Finished desk
Finished desk
Here you can see the detail that my Dad put into the front of the pull-out shelf, which is held magnetically at an angle matching that set by the legs of the desk.
Finished desktop
Here is the desktop grain pattern after finishing. It’s what I get to enjoy now every time I sit down to work at home.

Now I am the very proud owner of a custom-built Wenge desk, all the more special since my Dad was essentially its maker. He was kind enough to put his wood mark on the right leg facing me as I work; so, I can glance down at any time to be reminded of this project and all I learned working at his side.

Thanks, Dad!