What To Look For In a Handmade Desk

A handmade desk adds both a function and a unique aesthetic to any space in your home or workplace. Craftsmen who specialize in studio furniture, or one-of-a-kind or limited production furniture, are skilled at choosing the wood for each project to highlight both the character of the wood and the function and style of the piece of furniture.

Whether a craftsman is building a traditional cherry or walnut secretary or a modern mahogany stand up writing desk, he will often use a combination of traditional joinery and modern furniture making techniques in its creation.

First and foremost, a fine quality desk is both beautiful and ergonomic in its design.  Not only should the desk be pleasing to the eye, but the design should also reflect the intention for its use. For example, a secretary tends to be ornate in design, has many drawers and cubbyholes to store desk items, but might make a poor computer desk. A more modern flattop desk is more likely to comfortably hold either a desktop computer or a laptop.

The design should therefore reflect a consideration of its use.  A flattop desk should be spacious enough to comfortably fit a computer of various sizes without crowding the rest of the space. The height of the desk should also be comfortable for most people’s height to sit and work at for long periods of time.

If there are mounted bookshelves on top of the flattop desk, they shelves should reasonably be able to house a books of a few different sizes. For any style desk, it should be built with skill so that you want to use it for its intended purpose. A high quality desk is functional for your use, and elegant to look at.

Beyond the functionality of the desk, an experienced craftsman will skillfully highlight the natural elegance and simplicity of the wood he is working with. When a desk is expertly made, even a person without any knowledge about furniture will appreciate the grain of the wood, the texture of the surface, and the quality of the color of the natural wood.

Regardless of the style of desk, a finely made handcrafted desk should start from the best materials. Mahogany is a favorite among craftsmen for its versatility and density, which allows artisans to easily match up the grain of each piece of wood. Maple, cherry and walnut woods are also excellent choices to work with, as hand rubbed natural oils easily accentuate the natural beauty and character of the wood.

When you are considering what kind of handmade desk to purchase, you should ask yourself if you value the design over function, or the function over design. A traditional secretary desk, for example, is extremely elegant in design, but once opened reveals the organizational qualities that gave its reputation as a “secretary.”  A shaker flat top desk, on the other hand, offers a functional space to spread out on while celebrating its simplicity of design.  Depending on what you are looking for, a skilled craftsman can help you create a design that will work well for your specific needs.

Studio furniture-makers differ from factory-made furniture because the craftsman typically focuses on one piece of furniture at a time. The craftsman starts by hand-selecting the wood with a specific piece of furniture in mind. He will then treat the wood, work with high-grade veneers and carefully prepare the pieces of wood according to the pattern. In doing so, the craftsman will work to bring out the beauty in the specific pieces of wood so that the final product looks unique, even if it is a common style.

Because of the level of detail that studio furniture-makers go into, it is rare that you will find a “cookie cutter” piece of high quality handmade wood furniture. Finely crafted furniture is an investment for the home, but a craftsman should feel comfortable guaranteeing their handiwork to make sure your fine, handmade desk becomes a family heirloom in years to come.

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