Bloomington, Indiana is a college town with a rich & varied community. It’s been a good place for Nancy Hiller to establish a custom woodworking business. Nancy began her woodworking career in England, where she was exposed to traditional hand tool techniques and different furniture styles. When I asked her about a project to feature in Woodcraft magazine, she pitched the Knockout Knock-down Desk you see here. We just completed all the how-to photos in Nancy’s workshop. The project will be featured in our Oct.-Nov. issue.
I was immediately taken by the design of this desk, which Nancy describes as distinctly “Mid-Century Modern.” Fans of Mad Men will be familiar with this furniture style, which favors straight lines and spare, functional design. Mid-Century Modern was big in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, in architecture as well as furniture-making.
Nancy’s desk has a lightweight base that goes together with lap joints; no fasteners are necessary. Particularly impressive in the construction process was Nancy’s hand-tool technique for creating dovetail lap joints in the desk’s bottom stretcher. Don’t worry; we’ll show how to duplicate this joinery, along with other key construction techniques.
We made a laminate-covered desktop, but you could also fabricate one from solid wood. I really like the simple, elegant design, as well as the workmanship that Nancy demonstrated. Joey, the shop dog, kept us company during a long day of construction & photography. Nice job, Nancy.