Recently we added the Laguna EX 150watt Laser to our Makerspace and I wanted to tackle a project that would really max out what this machines in capable of. Today I am making some Laser Cut Desks.
I spent some time on the computer bouncing between the box-o-matic app and Adobe Illustrator until I felt I had the SVG file for my design perfect. I was planning on doing this out of Walnut Plywood for the final piece, but walnut is a bit pricey. It seemed wise to cut a “practice desk” out of birch plywood.
After I confirmed that I was happy with my design and that the box joints all fit together I repeated the cuts on the walnut plywood.
Laser cutting leaves a charred edge on material. I think it can add an interesting look. However, it also can leave smudges so it is important to wipe off the excess. I am using a bit of paint thinner on a rag. I wiped down each edge until no more excess black smudged off.
After cleaning the wood pieces’ edges, I set the wood pieces out and assemble them, using wood glue on each angle of the box joints that would be slipping into another piece. I am starting with the two towers on either side of the desk. After assembling them, I cleaned any glue that squeezed out and let this rest overnight to dry.
24 hours later I proceeded to join the two towers together, using cross support as a second glue-up to sit for another day and harden.
Also, because my first “prototype” in the birch plywood ended up being just fine, I went ahead and assembled that one as well. Both of these desk frames could easily be finished off with a rectangle of plywood as their desktops… but I wanted to get a bit fancier with it.
I picked out some slabs to coordinate with each desk: walnut for the walnut desk, and maple to go with the light wood of the birch desek. I cut these down into their appropriate dimensions, keeping in mind how wide I wanted the resin rivers down the center of each.
From there I could prepare the molds for the resin pours. For this, I used chipboards coerced in Tyvek tape. I also covered some cheap pine boards in Tyvek tape to serve as the dams for either side of the resin river that aren’t directly against the edge of each slab.
I placed the chipboard pieces below where the rivers will be poured, and then secured the piece boards into place as well. I am using hot glue to keep this all together.
After ensuring that all seams and edges are resin proof, the first resin pour was done. For this pour I used Total Boat 2:1 High Performance Epoxy to seal the edges. The purpose of this first pour is to test the mold with a relatively small and thin test pour; this will identify any leaks with only a relatively small volume of resin. If there are any gaps, the resin will seep in, harden in place, and effectively fill them before this is ready for the much larger resin pour.
The bulk of this pour is going to be Total Boat Thickset because it can handle up to a 2 inch pour without bubbling. This is the main pour so I also added colors. I colored the walnut pour with just a bit of charcoal powder and a touch of silver micah for some shimmer and dimension. The river between the maple slabs will be bright blue. I just used a blue micah to do this.
I poured in the Thickset and let these solidify completely over the course of a couple of days and then pulled off the pine boards and chip board.
These needed to be planed down, which we handled using a handheld power planer. This took care of some of the high points, and had the desktops ready for the drum sander. We drum sanded both sides until they were totally flat.
Next these needed to be squared off to their final dimensions on the table saw. I measured these based on the dimensions of the top of the desks, with some overhang. to finish off the edge we went with a chamfer on the router table.
These are being sanded up to a 220 grit with a random orbital sander. I wiped this down with paint thinner to clean off the excess dust from sanding to prep the desk tops for their final finish. We used a few coats of osmo on these for a soft, but durable finish.
The next step is to make and install the drawers. I had already made basic open boxes out of plywood back when I cut my pieces on the laser cutter. These were glued together as the drawer interiors.
The drawer fronts were all going to be made from maple slabs that I resawed down the middle. I drum sanded these, and then cut them down to the proper size to fit each drawer opening. I finished the edge off with a chamfer on the router table, and these also were sanded to a 220 and finished with Osmo. I went ahead an applied finish at this point to the desk bases as well. I am using the Kreg Drawer Slide jig to make installation of the drawers as easy as possible. Installing drawers can be a pain in the neck, but this jig makes it as easy as you could ask for. I really like the drawer slides I used on these desks, the link to those is under the materials section of this post.
Next I needed to position the drawer fronts. I used ⅛ boards as spacers to get these positioned evenly, and then tacked them onto each drawer using a brad nailer. The brad nailer won’t hold it very securely, but it tacked it in place well enough that I could install each drawer handle securely to hold everything together.
For the drawer installation I am using the Kreg Drawer Handle Jig. This jig is great, but not necessarily something that couldn’t be done pretty easily with a piece of paper and a pencil. I do use it often, however.
And then, the laser cut desks were finished!