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Crayon Desk

Crayons and epoxy resin top in a modern design kid's desk

The design

So I sat down with my trusted woodworking design software (Sketchup) and started throwing some angles that looked interesting. To be honest - this is just a matter of playing around until I see something I like. I ended up not only with a tapered leg, but it would sit at an angle, which meant I needed to support it. So I added braces at the top of the leg, mostly hidden from view.

Free design files

If you want a copy of the plan, you can download both the printed plan and the original sketchup, but you might want to read the rest of the article first, because I learned a few things along the way:

Finn Desk Plan Page
Download PDF • 37KB

Desk v1 - Sketchup
Download ZIP • 553KB

The build

I built the base (white part) from MDF. Don't ask me why but I also decided to make this modular so all the joints use cabinetry connectors (you know -those with a post and a cam?). What a stupid idea - it was too flimsy and I had to add way too many connectors for the build. I think this contributed to my biggest mistake - let's see if you can notice it in the following images:

Child Labor: my son paints the individual parts of the desk base

Major F-up captured in this photo, but I did not notice it at the time. Do you see it?

Molten Crayon Tabletop

The tabletop is made from black walnut: I glued together several panels of wood - I'll show this in other project builds. However, I forgot to photograph how I made the river and its quite simple: I asked my son to draw the river he wants using thick lines on the bookmatched black walnut tabletop. I then used a palm router to cut grooves about 1/4" deep. Then he placed crayons in the pattern he choose. He ended up wanting to have gradual color progressions/transitions - here's what it looked like:

Next, we used a heat gun to melt the crayons in place:

I found that I had to protect areas we alrady melted to prevent them from running again while we were heating up fresh crayon in other areas of the top. This proved a bit tricky:

You should also notice I placed stoppers at the edge of the top to prevent the melted crayon spilling out:

Next came a thin layer of resin. Again I messed up and did not film, but this is what I did: the crayon was about 1/16" below the tabletop surface. I filled the rest of the way with epoxy resin, and then sanded the spillage to level with the tabletop. After that I used shellac to pop the walnut and a varnish to protec the surface. The result:

Lessons learned

  1. If you look carefully at the photo above, notice the crayon delaminated from the walnut. You can see a thin black line between the crayon and the wood. I don't think there is an easy answer, perhaps creating a horizontal slit below the surface where the crayon can flow into before topping off with Epoxy? This prooved disasterous because a year later, the gap opened enough to allow the epoxy to delaminate from the crayon, and everything turnout out cloudy. As a result, in future iterations I went for epoxy, ditching the crayon. It is a nice and fun idea to do with your son, but not something I want my customers to discover, one year later.

  2. I did not check my work and the angle of the cuts for the legs resulted in a slightly sharper angle than planned. As a result the legs protrude beyond the outline of the tabletop and will therefor never be flush to the wall. You will see that I redesigned the table in the next iteration and went with a simpler straight design.

By the way, in case you haven't realized yet, I build all the furniture I sell to clients, and test it myself, usually for a year or more, before making it available in the B2H store.

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