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Cherry And Spalted Maple Executive Desk

author-gravatar Mr.Williams Nov 29, 2018

This was a fun and challenging project using locally sourced rough sawn cherry and spalted maple.

I didn't plan on documenting this project in detail, but I did take some photos along the way.  I wanted a new desk based and based the entire build off of the desk found here (

This project started with about 45 board feet of rough sawn cherry that I found on Craigslist.  The individual who sold it to me had the tree milled about 10 years ago prior to building his home on the same property.  It air dried in his garage and was never used.    

The first step I took in this project was to make the legs.  I mitered 4 long pieces of wood together in order to make all leg faces made out of face grain.  After the legs were glued, I added mortises to two sides for the stretchers/lower supports to hold the drawer boxes.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures of this.

I then used the jointer to make 8 tapers on each leg.

Making the long taper on a 6" no-name Taiwanese jointer.  You'll see the tapers on the final product.

The next step was to figure out the desk top.  All boards are sequential and bookmatched.

My original plan was to leave the gaps and "stitch" them with brass wire in the final product.  I'm still not sure if I want to do that.  I kind of like the openings in the final desk, but I can still do that at a later time if I decide to stitch them.

Grain direction was a main focus in this project.  One place where this was most apparent is the live edge I kept on the front of the desk where I will sit.  Here is the bark of that piece before removal.

After bark removal.

Desk top is glued up and black tinted epoxy was used to fill all knot holes.

I did use plywood for the drawer boxes.  Here they are all cut up and prefinished prior to glue up.

I used just about all of my clamps for this glue up.  The final box miters are 24" deep.

Miters clamped.

Here is my makeshift horizontal mortiser.  I attached a palm router to scrap at a 90 degree angle and fed the support piece (60-ish inches long) into it to make the mortise.

After the mortise was cut.

I used spalted maple as the complementary wood.  First I resawed several pieces on the bandsaw and cleaned them up to a final thickness of 1/16" in the drum sander.

All pieces bookmatched and glued up.  Ready to be glued to 3/4" MDF.

Here's the final product.  Lighting isn't perfect, but I love it!  I didn't have enough usable (wide enough) cherry after this build, so I had to buy some for the drawer fronts, which is why they're lighter than the rest of the cherry.

Side view.

Back book shelves.

Close up of the maple.

Top view. I finished the desk with "pure" Rubio Monocoat oil + 2C

Drawers. Also made out of spalted maple with brass pins.

Drawer pulls.  Found these on eBay.  They're the exact same ones that are on the desk that I based this build from.


Wow, beautiful desk! I love everything about it. From the species you chose to the awesome top. I like your horizontal mortiser too. Do you think you will use that more often? Is this the first time you've used it in a project?

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, Sean! The "horizontal mortiser" was just a quick jig that I threw together out of scraps. It worked surprisingly well.  I'll definitely use that technique in the future for longer pieces since a real one and a Domino aren't in the budget!

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