A hundred years ago (or maybe 40 …), I agreed to build a desk for a friend of mine. He had a brand-new Macintosh computer and needed a desk with a slot in the top to allow the fan-feed computer paper to flow through it. (We were really on the bleeding edge back then!)
He had $400 and wanted an oak veneered plywood desk with one drawer. So I got busy. I assembled the carcass and then moved on to the top. I had never made breadboard ends before. My shop had just purchased about 5,000 board feet of red oak lumber at about .50/foot, so I decided to slap a couple ends on the desktop. Then I thought, it would look a lot better if I added a shelf above the desktop at the rear of the desk … which, what the heck, I made from some of that cheap oak lumber and added breadboard ends to that shelf. I am guessing you can see how this continued. I was just having fun building things like extra drawers and sliding dividers.
The day my buddy showed up to get his “$400 plywood desk” was a bit embarrassing. He took one look at is and said, “I can’t afford that!” To which I answered it was still just $400. Both of us found it a bit awkward.
The cows came home when a mutual friend of ours called me up a week later and said “Hey, build me a desk just like the one you made for Dave!”
Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal
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