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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am building an L shaped desk for my new office and am trying to decide how, or if, to join the two pieces. I will be in the office for one to five years before going back to headquarters. I am building the desk instead of letting the company buy one just to do it as part of my woodworking initiation (still pretty new to all this).

My quandary comes to whether I should join the two pieces to make one desk or build two desks so if/when I go back to headquarters I can easily repurpose them for something else. HQ has built in desks so I would not be able to use my custom desks there. If I join them then I may have a hard time fitting it in somewhere else or selling it. If I keep them as two pieces then I could use one at the house for something and sell the other, or sell both.

Only I can give a final answer to join them or not, so I pose the following to you guys:

If I decide to not glue join them, is there an easy way to do a temporary join? Maybe dowels or tenons for alignment with a latch on the bottom to pull them together? Have a shared leg where they touch so the inside corner leg from a separate table does not get in the way? Suck it up and glue it and repurpose later? Have two totally separate desks rather than an L (Parallel)?
 

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CharleyL
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I would build them as separate cabinets and join them after placing them in the office. Use long screws or whatever will work best. If you permanently join them, how would you move them? An L shaped cabinet/desk would be very difficult to move through doorways, elevators, etc., but two straight pieces can be moved easily through most doorways and even survive an elevator trip, if not too long. If you can think of how they might need to go together in the future location, maybe you can plan the two so they could be used end to end, or in a reversed L or something, so they can be used in either location. Consider making a drawer assembly that can face either way for example, or doors that can be moved to allow swapping position with the drawer assembly. Look at modular kitchen cabinets sold at the box box stores for ideas on how to make your desk modular. They give away catalogs that show the dimensions and construction of these modules, so you might even be able to design your desk out of modules the same size as some of these and not need to come up with all of the dimensions from scratch. I know that you want to build the desk yourself, but getting dimensions from ready made cabinet modules would simplify your design stage. There would be less to change and therefore less chance of making design mistakes. Several smaller modules can be moved easier and attached together in different ways at the second location too. Make the top detachable, but in two pieces so it can be moved easier too.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input Charley and Frank. I may have to look into the Lee Valley connecting bolts as they may provide what I need. The desks will be mid century inspired, possibly a simple slab top with tapered and angled legs. It will not be a cabinet style, I know that much. The design will lend itself to separate desks, but I might change it a bit to use the connecting bolts.
 

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I have an old L-shaped "tanker desk" made of steel. The L side has a thin upside-down square "U" shaped bracket that drapes on top of a top drawer. It is anchored by the two screws that would normally hold the drawer pull. It can be configured for either left or right side use. In the L mode, you sacrifice a top drawer. The L is called a "secretary return" and was originally intended for a typewriter.

To separate the parts, lift the L side and use it to pull the drawer out enough to remove the nuts for the screws that go through the drawer pull holes. Remove the screws. Lift the bracket off the drawer and you're done.

If I were building my own L-shaped desk from wood, I would think about a similar design. Maybe build two drawer faces that could attach to the one "special" drawer using screws through the drawer pull holes, without glue. One would be attached to the L, the other would be the standalone drawer face that has a real pull, held in place by the drawer pull and its screws.

Hopefully this will stimulate additional design ideas.

Edit: After reading @woodnthings post below, I want to add that I have to remove the legs from my desk to fit it through doors. The legs are about 6 inches long and have flat plates that attach to the bottom of the desk with screws.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Do not glue.....

If you are NOT making cabinet style desks, allow for the legs to be removable. There are simple ways for this using metal braces in the corners or wood. This way the front legs at the intersection can both be removed for better access and for future applications. That's what I would do. You can attach the 2 units together with machine bolts an T nuts or nutserts that create thread in wood. Simple wood deck screws will also work, use the square head type. :vs_cool:
 
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If the two ends are not attached, it will be uneven at the seam. I would use screws through a flat aluminum plate to connect the seam. Easily unscrewed to disassemble.
 

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I wouldn't use connector bolts, they will require machining that will be obvious when they are apart.

I would use connector plates under the tops.

The plates could be metal, wood, ply, many options.

????? If the two pieces are apart, there is a lot more than the bolts that will look very odd. What I care about is what they look like/function when together.


George
 

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Smart and Cool
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????? If the two pieces are apart, there is a lot more than the bolts that will look very odd. What I care about is what they look like/function when together.


George
From his original post:

"when I go back to headquarters I can easily repurpose them for something else."

The through machining on the edge will be very obvious, and hard to fix. Using a nearly full length 3/4" ply scab underneath will function quite well, be easy to remove, and leave no visible evidence if he decides to repurpose the 2 tops into 2 separate pieces.

Proper support obviously for either solution is needed.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Good point!

So, don't drill any holes in the aprons! A 1 X screwed to the edges underneath both aprons "should" work but it may prove to be not rigid enough... trial and error?

3 "C" clamps of moderate size should also work. A problem will be any overhang on the desk tops won't allow the two units to be snugged up flush without a suitable thickness hardwood spacer between them, ..... if there is an overhang.


:vs_cool:
 

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Any design style can be made modular, with enough thinking. Even tops with profiled edges can be joined so they are flush. Just make a reverse profile. If there is an overhang the reverse profile could be attached to a plywood cleat that is screwed to the bottoms. The ends of the filler profile would be shaped to match the tops. Be sure to take into account how the drawers will pull out so they don't interfere or hit the pulls. A full scale drawing on cardboard might help. Leveler feet seem like a good idea since few floors are truly level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Shoot Summ has a going point re a through connection being visible when/if I separate them. I think I will go with a scab type connection on the bottom to connect them. I will need to leave on leg off of the return desk so it is not in the way. The scab should give it enough support.

I was able to flatten, plane and edge joint the top today and flatten and plane what will become the legs for one desk this weeend. I need to join the two top pieces and cut the legs this week, then determine how I am going to attach the legs to the top (permanent as I had planned or bolted as recommended by woodnthings). The second desk will be next weeks project.

Thanks for the input.
 

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My wife has a L desk that she used for her sewing machines and crafty things. The two are merely joined by a piece of sheet metal that is drilled with three screws in each side of the desk. Nothing complicated. Let me know if you would like a photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I realized I never posted pictures of my finished desks. I have been using them for a couple of months now, I like them. They are not perfect but pretty good for my first serious builds. I bought rough wood and milled them with a router flattening sled, then planned, then joined. The legs were made from offcuts of the slabs and sized on my tablesaw with a tapering jig. Joiner was with a Festool domino.

I need to do some arranging to make it more comfy and need to build some shelves or a cabinet to store stuff in.
 

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Ancient Termite
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Let me add a couple of pennies here.

What ever you do, make sure that you can get the finished product through a 30 inch wide door. Most bedroom and den doors are about 30 inches.
 

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Ancient Termite
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I learned that the hard way lol
Yes! I think that most of us did.
In high school I helped deliver furniture. I can not remember how many doors we had to remove in base housing to get furniture into rooms. We then discovered that it was easier to remove the sliding aluminum windows and we were able to push some of the furniture through.
 
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