Laptop Desk: Episode 5

Laptop Desk EP5 Keyframe

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The shaping of the back rail is the final step before gluing up the leg frames. The next section to prepare is the desk top. While the glue dries, Paul makes a start to the front apron piece which is curved on the front edge. Once shaped, the side rails can be dovetailed into the ends.

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  1. bytesplice on 26 July 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Great episode.
    I’m in awe at how close to the line Paul starts the coping saw and still manages to stay clear of the line. I’ve always struggled turning a coping saw without hitting or crossing the baseline. My blade is configured to cut on the forward stroke, and I’m turning the saw on the forward stroke, using blades that Paul recommends. The only difference I am aware of is I tend to cut my tails at 1:6, not 1:7 – I don’t think the difference is enough to matter. Any suggestions?

    Also, I’d like to suggest adding captions when Paul changes tools during accelerated sequences such as shaping the front. I wasn’t sure if he was using a scrub plane or a regular no 5.

    • foz68 on 27 July 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Frank, i am no expert by any means, but i have just finished watching Joiners Tool Box episode 3 and at the end Paul shows dovetail cutting with a coping saw. I noted that he angles the blade in the coping saw slight off vertical, presumably to enable a horizontal cut without the top of the coping saw hitting the wood once turned. Perhaps this might help?

      A look at this episode might be worth watching for further guidance?

      Cheers, Andy

    • Philip Adams on 28 July 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Hello Frank, I think that all I can recommend is practice.
      Thank you for the suggestion for captions. If it was a No 5 it would not be a scrub plane, as Paul’s scrub is a converted No 4.

  2. joeleonetti on 27 July 2017 at 2:24 am

    Thanks Paul. I very much look forward to these videos on Wed evenings. For dovetailing, it’s rare to see you use a coping saw to remove the bulk of the waste in your videos. Why did you decide to do so here? Is there a general guidance you can give us for when you prefer to chop out the waste vs use a coping saw to remove the bulk of the waste?

    • fudoka on 29 July 2017 at 7:06 am

      I suspect that this is just Paul showing yet another method for cutting dovetails. I’ve seen a video of him on Youtube demonstrating this method as a fast way of making dovetails. In normal life where Paul is making furniture to sell and feed his family I guess he uses the quickest method but, as the coping saw is an extra tool, beyond the basic set of hand tools, he probably sticks to the chisel for most of his teaching.
      Pick whichever method pleases you – you are free!

    • Philip Adams on 10 August 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Joe,
      It is indeed included as an alternative method, but it does require the chopping on the knife wall for the final finish. We tend not to use the coping saw method for the majority of fine woodwork and furniture making, as it is not as precise and it takes quite a bit of practice to get as accurate as Paul is at it. There is also risk of tear-out. However, it can be quicker and is a viable method to have in hand when the need arises.

      • ted clawton on 5 August 2019 at 7:33 am

        2 year BUMP 🙂
        I asked somewhere else whether Paul ever uses a coping saw on dovetails, and the response from Izzy (I think, who is always great and responsive, btw) was something like “… no, rarely…” which I believe in my copious views of Mr. Sellers’ videos is fair and accurate. IIRC I saw him use a coping saw in one of his earliest YT videos. But when I saw it here I almost jumped out of my three-legged bench stool in delight. I’ve been using a coping saw exclusively — mostly out of impatience — as I’ve progressed through WWMC projects and have always wondered what is the benefit of using the slower, chisel-only method at removing the bulk of the waste. I suppose it has something to do with knifewall, especially for beginners? But, as a beginner, and I speak only for myself, I find my dovetail pin-recess knifewalls cleaner with the coping saw + chisel method rather than the chisel-only method. In any event, I am forever grateful for the existence of WWMC and Paul’s YT and blog.

        • Izzy Berger on 6 August 2019 at 12:27 pm

          Hi Ted,

          Thank you for your comment, I passed your question on to Paul he he replied with the following:

          I find the exact opposite to you, I think the coping saw can be contrary. If you cut below the knifewall line then you’ve spoiled the meeting surface, and if you cut too far from the knifewall line, there’s a tendency for the end grain in the recesses to tear and pull out because of the extra leverage. I think my method is the best and I have used both coping saw and chisel method for over 50 years.

          Kind Regards,

  3. Derek Bailey on 15 February 2020 at 5:13 pm

    I noticed the plans didn’t mention the length of the side apron dovetails. In the video Paul used 15 mm (9/16″). This leaves about 5 mm (3/16″) on the front apron.

  4. Matthew Thompson on 16 June 2020 at 7:45 am

    42:50 … the moment I laughed out loud with that sort of general astonishment anyone has at a fast-paced (yet info-rich) PS segment

  5. sohare on 21 April 2021 at 8:18 am

    Hi, could one of the team please check the dims of the front apron – the length seems short – I left mine longer than your cut list states by about 3cm and I still do not have quite enough length to allow for a 20mm side apron? Can you confirm the correct length of the front apron please and make any changes, if required, to the cut list for others users? Thanks.

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