The Sunriver Desk is a simple design with lots of room for personalization and a flexible setup.
As many of us embark in some form of kids-learning-from-home there is a need, for some place for them to learn from. As a former educator myself, I cannot recommend enough having a dedicated place for kids to learn. We are fortunate enough to have an office that can be largely repurposed to serve as a schoolroom, and of course for me that means building desks.
Because why not, right?
I wanted something simple and functional, but also fun and aesthetically just a little different. The desk is essentially a cabinet, to which is joined a top and one, continuous side. Because we live in a gorgeous place here in the pacific northwest I wanted it to be nature inspired. So I designed a sun motif for the door, and a lake/pond flowing down to a waterfall, and I called it the Sunriver Desk. My husband thinks it also resembles spilled paint, which is also pretty cool. So however you want to see it.
The sun design, as well as the lake and waterfall, were all created using my X-Carve CNC machine from Inventables. The files are available free on the Inventables website here. Thank you to Inventables for sponsoring this project. If you choose to use the carve files you can choose whether to do a one or a two stage stage. I was happy with how the carve looked after using the larger bit for the lake and waterfall, and did not bother with the detail carve, using a 60 degree bit. Doing so would smooth the carve, but is totally optional.
Here’s a look at the materials and tools necessary for building the Sunriver Desk
10 1/2 board feet of lumber (OR omit and just use one sheet of 3/4″ ply for the entire build)
3/4″ maple plywood
1000mm X-Carve CNC
epoxy capable of 1/2″ pour (or work in stages)
miter saw (or use table saw to cut miters)
*Note: I build this desk out of a combination of hardwood and plywood. It would also work to build the entire thing out of plywood, which requires only one sheet of 3/4″ sanded ply.
1 1/2 x 30″ (x2)
1 1/2 x 14″ (x2)
3 1/2×14″ (x2)
3 1/2″x15″ (x2)
Step 1: Glue up the wood panels for carving
Glue up wood panels for carving. The waterfall side panel should be 18″ wide by 28″ long, with the grain running vertically.
The top “lake” panel should be 18″ wide by 26″ long. The grain should run along the length. Bonus points if you run the grain continuously.
The sunburst door panel should be 14×23 1/2″.
TIP: Cut the panels oversize all around by just a bit to create a natural dam for the epoxy pour and to make sure the panels line up easily.
Again, plywood is also a suitable material for building this and requires significantly less preparation.
Step 2: Set the Carve
-The waterfall requires just under 2 hours to clear with a 5/8” bit, plus just over an hour for the detail 60 degree bit
-The lake takes about 4 1/2″ hours to clear with a 1” bit, and just under another hour to carve with the 60 degree detail bit
Note: If planning to fill with epoxy change the file to the second workpiece at the bottom of the Easel file. That carve will take about the same amount of time, only shaving off a few minutes.
Step 3: Build the Cabinet
Construct the cabinet for the sunriver desk while the files carve. The cabinet is formed from 2 side panels that are 30″ long and 17″ wide, and a top and bottom at 14″ long and 17″ wide. Mitered corners are best for hiding the plywood edges.
Step 4: Construct the face frame
The face frame pieces should be cut from hardwood and measure 1 1/2″ wide and 30″ long for the sides, and 1 1/2″ long and 14″ long for the top and bottom. This is for mitered corners. Adjust as necessary for butt joints. Glue the frame, reinforcing with pocket holes if desired, and then glue and clamp to the cabinet.
Step 5: Add a toe kick
Cut two plywood pieces at 3 1/2″ wide by 14″ long, and two at 3 1/2″ wide by 15″ long for the toe kick. Miter the corners together and glue to the bottom of the cab, insetting from the edges by 1 1/2″.
Step 6: Fill the carves with epoxy
With the carves finished, prepare to epoxy fill the pieces. This is optional, of course. The carve is designed so that if you pour the epoxy clear enough the steps will show. I didn’t practice enough before giving this a go for the first time, and made mine a bit too opaque.
I used just shy of a gallon of epoxy to fill enough to do two desks, so hypothetically one desk will use 2 quarts of epoxy, plus hardener.
If you left the pieces a bit oversize there will be no need to set up a dam. You can pour the epoxy right away with little set up.
Personally, I also decided to go ahead and fill the sunburst pattern with epoxy at this point, as well. My original intention was to leave it as was, but the design was a little different than what I originally envisioned, and the copper pigment was so pretty….so I went for it. I actually love how it looks with epoxy.
Step 7: Cut the panels to size and miter edges
After a good 24 hours of cure time cut the panels to size. Cut the top of the waterfall panel and the side of the lake panel at 45 degrees so they join up. Sand both boards, and the door panel with smoother grit sandpapers. Courser grits will scratch the epoxy. I sanded the maple I used up to 320.
Step 8: Join the panels and the panels to the cabinet
Glue the two mitered panels. Reinforce with a small piece of wood in the joint, if desired. I used the cut off triangular piece left from cutting the miters off in step 7.
Attach to the cabinet with a small cleat. At its most simple you can glue and screw a piece of wood to the cabinet at the height of the desk portion, then screw up through that cleat into the desk. The desk portion can be attached on either the right or left side of the cabinet.
And that’s it! My kids love their desks and I love that they love them. Don’t forget to check out the plans on the Inventables site here. My thanks to Inventables for helping make projects like this possible. If you build your own version of the sunriver desk be sure to share a photo!