Sunday, April 24, 2016

Civil War Campaign Desk Replica

The Desk

A friend of mine has been doing Civil War re-enactments for many years now. I'm guessing it must be close to twenty years since we did this project ten years ago. At the time he was a Sergeant and wanted to be able to have a field desk he could write reports at in camp. Since he knew I had a wood shop he asked me to help him build his desk.

So, this isn't really one of my woodworking projects, I provided advice and technical guidance but my friend - we'll call him Scott to preserve his anonymity - did most all the work.

I unfortunately don't have any pictures of it during construction.

I don't remember where Scott got the plans from. I do know he had to use pictures and some induction to get dimensions. If I remember correctly the short shelves in the middle are removable.

One place Scott didn't follow my recommendations was in the fame and panel construction of the door/front. I'd recommended a gap between the sides of the frame and the panel but he wanted the writing part of the desk to be perfectly flat. I warned him - quite strenuously I should add - that the panel would grow and shrink with the weather and humidity and would blow the frame apart.

I haven't seen the desk lately but last I knew the door was holding together fine. The back on the other hand had cracked. Scott, against my advice had glued the back in place rather than just nailing it.

I'm glad the door didn't explode; however, I am disappointed that my prediction didn't come true. It was summer when we built it, perhaps it was already at it's maximum size.

All in all, it came out looking very nice. The wood is Red Oak with a polyurethane finish. I'd didn't think Polyurethane was very authentic; however, he wanted maximum protection since it was going to be out in the weather.

He also build a folding stand to place it on.

Yup that's a lock in the top. He had to cut a shallow mortise for it in the door.

Since he built it out of Red Oak it is very solid. The only downside is that it is also very heavy. I think he may have added handles to the side after we took these pictures. Regardless I am pretty sure he just assigns a couple of his privates to carry it for him.

He decided to make dovetail joints on the box carcass so I 'had to' buy the Leigh Dovetail Jig. It worked out pretty good and the joints look really nice.

Even though Scott's project occupied every horizontal surface in my workshop for months it was a fun project to help out on