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Building a Industrial Modern Style Desk From Wood and Steel

Building a Industrial Modern Style Desk From Wood and Steel

Changing it up a little this week with some steel work; building a modern industrial style desk from steel and wood. A little known fact.  One of my first jobs in the trades was in a steel fabrication shop for a bridge building company. We fabricated earthquake restraints and held a patent for portable logging bridge.  We built it in sections and all the logging company had to do was to crane it into place and bolt the sections together.

Some of the specialty tools I used in this build (affiliate links)
• Pro For Sho Hearing Protection 10% OFF Coupon Code: BENHAM84
• Lincol Mig welder 180 pro
• Portable Hand Held band saw
• Jet Parallel Clamps

Video Recap

Today I’m throwing some sparks, hoping not to burn the place down, while building this industrial desk with a cherry top.

So I had a lot of parts to cut that needed to be the same length, So I dug out the same jig I used when I made the wood storage rack and set it up the same way.  For each series of parts I clamped a walnut stop to the bench to make the cuts repeatable.

Now I primarily work in wood so there is a ton of sawdust and kindling laying around just waiting for a wayward spark, so before I started welding I took some time to hang some fire retardant fiberglass blankets up and did a general shop cleanup to get rid of most the sawdust piles.

Now I’m ready to start throwing some sparks and weld my parts up.  I’m going to use those scrap pieces of sheet metal to weld against to reduce the scorch marks on my assembly table.

I started out welding the legs to the apron, just to get the general frame structure assembled and squared up.

As I went along  I took the time to grind my welds  and clean them up.  Just because its an industrial style doesn’t mean it needs to be rustic or do sloppy work.

This leg was a little out of square so I just unwelded it by sucking the sparks back in and re-positioned it.

As I was welding the frame for the shelves the heat pulled it out of square so I used a bar camp to pull it back in and welded the bottom supports in place

When I welded in the shelf supports I cut a scrap of wood to use as a spacer block.  This way I would only have to measure once and be sure that all the shelves would line up to the same height

I just clamped it in place and push the steel support to it and welded it up

I used the same method to line the supports on the front

And then from their it was just a matter of welding up the rest of the frame and doing a little clean up with the grinder.

Once the frame was welded up I started working on making some tabs to screw the wood shelves to.

To drill the holes for the screws I used some hight tech H2o Coolant and my drill press.  I made the holes a little oversize to allow for wood movement.

Then back to my cutting jig with a stop to cut them all to about an 1inch long.

I have the desk upside down so I can weld the tabs for the shelves in place. I used a piece of scrap wood the same thickness as the shelves to help me line up the shelves flush with the top of the steel and position the tab in the correct spot to hold the shelf

Before I moved onto word working I took a few minutes to go over the entire frame with a flap disc to prep it for paint by knocking off all the mill scale and dingle berries from welding.

I cleaned up all the metal dust and sharp steel shards that where laying all over the place and got back to making sawdust.  Building the top and shelves where pretty standard woodworking, rough cut the lumber to length send it to the planner and glued it up.

Even though I took my time and used floating tenons to help align the boards, the top still had a few spots where the boards where slightly out of line. So I went over the whole thing with a hand plane to flatten it before sanding and finishing.

Now that everything has been painted and finished, it is time to install the shelves and top.

The shelves just drop in between the steel and rest on the tabs.  I cut the shelves about an 1/8” smaller to allow for wood movement between the steel frame

Then it was just a matter of screwing the shelves to the support tabs.  I tighten them down with an impact driver then used a screwdriver to hand loosen them by a ½ turn.  This would allow the wood to expand and contract during seasonal movement and not get bound up.

And there is out completed industrial modern desk with a black steel frame and a cherry wood top.

A special thanks to my patrons, if you would like to see more builds like this on my channel please join me on patreon. 

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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