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I Turned One Desk into Two End Tables

I got this old desk for free. Once I got it home, I realized it was too big to fit anywhere in our house, so I left it under a tarp in my shop.

A year later, I was cleaning up my shop and found a giant desk under a tarp.  I decided to either get rid of it or cut it up and turn it into end tables, and my wife cast the tie-breaking vote for end tables.

I unscrewed the desktop and cut the base of the desk in half. Because there were only two legs on the rear of the desk, each end table needed a new leg on the back corner. I made the legs out of walnut:

Each leg has a quarter-inch mortise cut into two different sides to accept the panels from the back and side of the table.  They are also tapered, about 3/16″ over the bottom seven inches of each side of each leg (taper not yet cut in the picture above).

The bottom panel of the left section of the desk was in rough shape.

I replaced the rail in front by cutting a new one out of maple:

I also made a new tenon for the top stile out of red oak.

I cut up the desktop to fit each table, glued strips of red oak to the cut sides, and then sanded and restained them. I used a mix of Varethane’s Ebony and Kona stains (black and very dark brown), which worked especially well on the new legs, which match the color of the old legs almost exactly.  The oak didn’t stain match as well; I wish I had had some walnut long enough to make veneer out of, but I only had enough to make the legs.

The left section of the desk had a typewriter lift in it. It was neat, but we couldn’t find a reason to keep it.

I replaced it with just a static shelf cut out of the remaining portion of the desktop.  I can still re-attach the typewriter lift if we find a use for it.