Continuing The Craftsman Desk Repair

Broken tenons are a problem that's fairly common when bringing a beaten up piece of furniture back to life. The best option I've found in my time has been to create a floating tenon, but first you have to clean up the end grain nubs hanging out from the damage. A block plane works great for this

I cut mortises a number of different ways, depending on my morning tarot reading and the position of the spots on the sun relative to the phase of the moon. This time I fired up the drill press and hogged out the waste.

Then I cleaned up the mortise with a little chisel work. Because of the size of the pieces I decided it would be a good idea to downsize the mortise on the rail and leave a little more meat around the floating tenon, I had already cut the leg mortise bigger when I made this decision. This meant I had to do a little more work making a floating tenon to fit both sides.

With the structural repairs done I had another big decision. Try and fix the existing finish that was on the losing end of a twelve round prize fight or just take things back to bare and start from as close to scratch as possible.

I went back to square one with some sanding, some planing, and some scraping. The oak under the finish, beautiful.

Then I reassembled the leg section. The difference sitting next to the surviving leg was pretty striking.

Of course I had to take apart the other leg section and clean the crap off it as well.

Then I scrubbed the crap off the repaired table top and off the apron section and reassembled the desk.

The desk looked very different from were it started.

There was still some work to do. I had a drawer to repair and refit and I had to make the only major part that was missing when we found this. The bottom stretcher between the leg sections.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. I'd never have thought to do a "stepped" loose tenomn like that. It's a great size for a desk and really worth saving. Great blog!

  2. That's looking really good Derek. I wish I could find good old stuff around here. People always place their stuff outside and it bakes in the sun for a year before they get rid of it.

    Can't wait to see it finished. It will look great.


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