Our new front desk

I don’t even know where this desk concept started. The idea existed before I started here more then a year ago. Like many designs the execution resembled a game of telephone where the result only loosely resembled the original idea.  I think Sean started the concept, then it went to Amy, then they dropped it on me to organize the build.

The completed desk! Come by and see it! Check out the journey below.

The design called for rustic reclaimed beams which formed the front facade. Luckily Sean knows a source who has supplied reclaimed wood for other projects (such as our beautiful stair treads). Csaba @ Northwest Reclaimed (instagram). Sean and I went out to to woodlot and it was a total dream. So much incredible wood with character to look through. We could have spent hours but we have families to return to so we had to feign some level of urgency. We selected some beams from an old barn which had hand hewn marks and old mortise and tenons.  Csaba was kind enough to prep and rip and trim them for us. Without his tools and expertise it would have been very time consuming and challenging. There’s no substitute for a bandsaw mill when you need one.

Csaba wielding the stihl like a scalpel. See more of his work @  Northwest Reclaimed

Csaba wielding the stihl like a scalpel. See more of his work @ Northwest Reclaimed

Behold the awesome power of the wood mizer. I want to have a reason to have one of these.

Behold the awesome power of the wood mizer. I want to have a reason to have one of these.

Rustic beams feeling at home at my place in the county. About to apply some stain

Rustic beams feeling at home at my place in the county. About to apply some stain

I took them and sanded and stained and worked them to get them to a completed state. They needed somewhere to off-gas and chill while we worked on the rest of the project.  I left them in my barn on my old tractor. They seemed so at home there.

The beams needed somewhere to rest in purgatory waiting for their next life in Haven’s office. My barn with the tractor for company seemed fitting given their history.

The beams needed somewhere to rest in purgatory waiting for their next life in Haven’s office. My barn with the tractor for company seemed fitting given their history.

We were hung up for a while looking for someone to build the cabinet portion, it’s hard to find someone willing to do a weird size one-off single cabinet. After searching a bit we were glad that Nick at Blue Ridge Building was willing to work with us on our project.  We ended up having some of the other major components made by him as well. The bonus for me was getting to go by his shop and nerding out over all his nice equipment. I appreciated how communicative and helpful he was throughout the process.

The cabinet and major pieces were made by Nick @  Blue Ridge Building . Excellent craftsmanship Nick!

The cabinet and major pieces were made by Nick @ Blue Ridge Building. Excellent craftsmanship Nick!

All this captioned stuff made by Nick. I wish I had snapped a picture before we put all the stuff on it.

All this captioned stuff made by Nick. I wish I had snapped a picture before we put all the stuff on it.

Fridays I have kids so we went to the hardware store to get fasteners and spacers and glue etc.  I gave them tape measures to try to keep everyone’s hands to themselves.

Distracted by tape measures before we fight with each other and make a scene

Distracted by tape measures before we fight with each other and make a scene

Sean looks so safe! The beams need only a a little trimming. But somehow it took so long! Was it my measuring or his cutting?   Is it just an example of why we work so well together?

Sean looks so safe! The beams need only a a little trimming. But somehow it took so long! Was it my measuring or his cutting? Is it just an example of why we work so well together?

We took two separate work sessions to assemble this.  One Sunday Sean and I got together to do the main beams/cabinet assembly.  There was a lot of measure twice cut thrice and then measure a couple more times with a couple more cuts.  Remember when your mom cut your bangs and just kept leveling things back and forth while your bangs got shorter and shorter?  Did this only happen to me? At any rate we were trying to get the beams to sit perfectly on the front facade. Luckily we had plenty of beam length to work with so the only casualty was time.  

The official Haven shop. We do all our best work here. When you pay to put in the sidewalk you can do whatever you want.

The official Haven shop. We do all our best work here. When you pay to put in the sidewalk you can do whatever you want.

To my delight we once again were required to do some creative cutting and thinking as battery power began to run low. Quote from Sean “Fine carpenters would not like us doing this right now”. I think we could apply that quote to almost every part of this build.  Except for Nick’s work that he did alone. And Csaba’s chainsaw and milling work that I helped with by watching.

A precision cut without a tablesaw. Sean “carpenters would not like us doing this”.

A precision cut without a tablesaw. Sean “carpenters would not like us doing this”.

The waterfall ADA height counter and top trim is 3/16 natural cold rolled steel from Carlson Steel.

I emailed them the required sizes for the pieces and they made it easy, same day pick up, cut to size within tolerance.  Since natural steel is poised waiting to rust at the slightest touch, we quickly applied a couple polyurethane coats as soon as possible.  Not saying it won’t eventually get some more wear and character from use, but this will help.

Setting up the steel with contact cement. ugh. The smell inside was sickening. Fans and windows and everything was open.

Setting up the steel with contact cement. ugh. The smell inside was sickening. Fans and windows and everything was open.

We took another evening to glue and fasten the steel.  It was surprisingly time consuming. Also the contact cement was toxic and left little room for error. Once you press it together you’re done.  Hopefully it was where you wanted it. We had all the fans going but still I couldn’t escape the strong smell and feeling that we were losing brain cells. We had one last wood piece to glue at the end of the night and found some tube adhesive. Looks like our brains were still sharp, look at this great hammer-handle caulking gun!

Somehow we don’t have a caulking gun at the office? How can anyone take us seriously if we don’t have one in our office toolbox? At any rate this hammer works great except the glue comes out wrong..

Somehow we don’t have a caulking gun at the office? How can anyone take us seriously if we don’t have one in our office toolbox? At any rate this hammer works great except the glue comes out wrong..

never enough clamps. Holding this while adhesive cures. please nobody try to walk around the desk or anything

never enough clamps. Holding this while adhesive cures. please nobody try to walk around the desk or anything

So beautiful! We added a couple coats of polyurethane to the steel so everyone didn’t leave little rust fingerprints everywhere.

So beautiful! We added a couple coats of polyurethane to the steel so everyone didn’t leave little rust fingerprints everywhere.

The rustic beams bring such a history into our modern space.

The rustic beams bring such a history into our modern space.