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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Had anyone used India ink on table legs?

My wife wants a cherry desk with black legs, and I was thinking I would use India ink dye then finish with a flat shellac coat.
 

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The India ink would work fine to color the legs. Poplar isn't a very rigid wood though, if the legs are small it might wobble a little due to the wood bending. If you are using small legs you might consider using maple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is the photo she sent me. I was planning to make bridle joints on the corners to make the legs look like a continuous line with a bunch of 90 degrees.

I dont know how easy 6/4 poplar would be to get. If I can't, I'll laminate two pieces of 4/4.

I dont mind using maple, but I've had issues with it taking a dark stain. Poplar is also so simple to mill.


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As spindly as this legs are, it's the reason the mfg used steel. There isn't any wood that would hold up being that small. If I were asked to make that with a wood frame I would purchase the table and veneer over the steel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As spindly as this legs are, it's the reason the mfg used steel. There isn't any wood that would hold up being that small. If I were asked to make that with a wood frame I would purchase the table and veneer over the steel.
I agree. I don't want the legs quite that skinny. I was planning for 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" for the size. Connecting the bottom legs together will strengthen them considerably, and the side with the shelves will effectively be a box.

If it is weak, I will add a dovetailed brace on the back legs.
 

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I Googled Parsons desk, the thumb nail said $1,109 but not the size: https://www.roomandboard.com/catalog/office/desks/parsons-desks

For that much $ yeah I'd try making it myself lol. Gives you an idea what it looks like with thicker legs. I don't know finishes etc, surely there is a wood that will finish well that is stronger than poplar, even at 1 1/2" that's a very slender leg. Attach the top to the legs in a way that is easy to redo if you need to go to plan B in a few years.
 

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I agree. I don't want the legs quite that skinny. I was planning for 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" for the size. Connecting the bottom legs together will strengthen them considerably, and the side with the shelves will effectively be a box.

If it is weak, I will add a dovetailed brace on the back legs.
I helped my nephew build a similar desk a few months ago out of cherry. The legs were a bit over 1 1/2" after we milled them down and everything else was just under an inch. We connected everything with dominos and glue and it turned out to be very rigid. I think you'll be fine with your plans.

IMG_0333 (1).jpeg
 

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I agree. I don't want the legs quite that skinny. I was planning for 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" for the size. Connecting the bottom legs together will strengthen them considerably, and the side with the shelves will effectively be a box.

If it is weak, I will add a dovetailed brace on the back legs.
I think 1 1/2" would work alright but I think you would have trouble with poplar. Even though it's a hardwood, it's as soft as whitewood pine. I think you would have problems with the leg breaking off made out of poplar. I think hard maple would do a lot better. Using India ink to stain it black you aren't going to have the blotching problems normally associated with maple. You can't make light black spots and dark black spots.
 

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You can always buy the Walmart desk for $113.00, use the steel legs and make a new top and shelves from nicer Cherry wood. That keeps the thin black legs, and that may be important to her?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is the first time I've gotten woodworkers suggesting I buy something instead of making it...I wonder what that tells me about my skills🤔

My wife was not overly concerned with the exact design. She sent a few different pictures, and mostly she wanted some shelves on one side.

Cherry is also an inexpensive option near me, and I can get that around $2.70/bf. Maple is around $4. The prices are close enough I won't really care after the day I buy it. I like working with cherry and poplar, so ut will likely be one of those.

The finish intimidates me more than the joinery.

That's a good table. Im looking to make something similar
 

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I think the "buy" was if you wanted as thin as metal legs can be, but you've said 1 1/2" or so is ok, that can work with the right wood. Strong wood with straight grain.

The finish intimidates me more than the joinery.
Yep, that's part of why I leave my projects bare lol. The cats don't care and I like bare wood anyway.
 

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I agree. I don't want the legs quite that skinny. I was planning for 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" for the size. Connecting the bottom legs together will strengthen them considerably, and the side with the shelves will effectively be a box.

If it is weak, I will add a dovetailed brace on the back legs.
I would beef the legs a bit and use a good stable wood, like straight grain Honduran Mahogany. It will be stable enough, will finish beautifully dark, machines well, and will not twist on you. It will set you back a few bucks, but you do not need all that much. It was running around $10-12 bf, but in this market can't really say.
 

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For the finish it will get wouldn't straight grained ash work well? For a lot less $ depending on where you are. I've only used it a bit so far, I like working with it, maybe more than red oak, but I like the RO's color better when bare.
 
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