Of Desks and Dad: Giving the Gift of Dovetail Joints
Lucas Thelosen is our Director of eCommerce Analytics here at Craftsy HQ. But after he walked in one day with his own homemade desk and explained what he wanted to get his dad for Christmas this year, we insisted he take some time out of his day directing and analyzing eCommerce, and write a guest blog post to tell his thoughts on his desk, his dad, and dovetail joints. Enjoy!
My dad has enjoyed doing handiwork around the house for decades. So, this Christmas I will give him Hand-Cut Dovetails (the dovetail-making class we offer on Sympoz.com) and a dovetail saw, introducing him to the beauty of creating furniture—pieces of art—by hand. Aside from those household fix-it projects, he—like me—spends countless hours typing away on computers for work. And while we both love our jobs, working on computers can be a funny thing because aside from printing a document or spreadsheet, there’s rarely anything tangible to show for our efforts. This is not a new realization. In fact, it had occurred to me years ago. But it was that notion that inspired me to pick up woodworking. I started with simple projects that didn’t require any fancy tools. And then, when I began working at Craftsy, I took the dovetail making class. How perfect, I thought: aside from the class, all I really needed was a saw, some sandpaper and maybe a chisel.
Not only was this my first time taking an online class, it was my first time taking any woodworking class. I was skeptical. I am a guy who likes to try things out and learn as I go. However, I would never have learned the fine art of dovetail making this way. Looking back, I realize I would have ruined hundreds of dollars worth of wood, and wasted weeks of my time if it weren’t for the instructor, Sam Norris, leading me through the steps and providing advice all along the way.
Still, that doesn’t mean I went about everything in the ideal way. I do have my impatient side, after all. So, I admit that I probably should have started with pieces of scrap wood to practice, but I went straight for a full-scale desk for the office. Craftsy is probably one of the few places where you don’t have to worry at all about bringing in your own, home-built desk. In my defense, though, at least I didn’t use a fancy wood. I simply used pine, a very soft and forgiving variety. And, anyway, I wasn’t sure I would like a standing desk and wanted to test out the height and the desk’s design before I built the desk out of a harder, more expensive (and less forgiving) wood.
I watched the class two-thirds of the way through until I decided I simply couldn’t wait any longer; I had to start cutting my first dovetails. Again, I should have started on scrap pieces (as Sam recommends) and finished the class before I started my real project. Consequently, you can clearly see which dovetails were my first. Despite the imperfect start, I really like my desk—the height and everything. I am proud that the whole desk is held together just by the strength and tightness of the joints. I didn’t need any glue or nails. I got many compliments and am excited to start working on a second desk with improved craftsmanship and made out of a finer wood; walnut or cherry perhaps. And should I decide to upgrade, many co-workers have already offered to take care of my current desk!
For now, though, what I am most looking forward to is seeing the wonderful furniture my father is sure to make as a result of what he learns in Hand-Cut Dovetails. Like the dovetail joints, what he learns and creates will be more things that keeps us bonded. And isn’t that what the holidays are really about?
If you’re looking for a woodworking gift idea for the aspiring crafter in your life, be sure to check out this class!