Wooton Terrestrial Globe Desk
The story of the Wooton desk started with a visit to a local Rotary Club second hand book sale. Having no great interest in anything on display, I was browsing, when another customer, a lady, asked what I was interested in. Wood work seemed to be the only answer. Wanting to help, she picked up a couple of old magazines. There in the second one was a picture of the King of Desks - a Wooton Desk, to be precise - the Terrestrial Globe Desk. In that moment I knew it was what I had been looking for all along, something different, something with great charm and character and no small amount of challenge.
A substantial amount of work would be required if I were to achieve my goal to take on the task of replicating it. The first process, and most difficult, would be working out all the measurements. This was made more difficult due there being very little information available to me on this particular desk. By looking at other Wooton desks on the internet, I was able to work out roughly the overall dimensions but the majority, including all the carvings and mouldings, had to be scaled from the picture. This was very time consuming. The picture from the magazine could only be enlarged to about A4 size before it lost definition and pixilation occurred. The A4 copy, and the picture from the magazine that I had cut out, were pinned above my work bench for the duration.
The timber chosen was Australian Red Cedar, mostly for its beautiful colour and grain but also it carves very well. The Wooton desk is an iconic piece of furniture and it was fitting to make it out of an equally iconic Australian timber. The main frame, back, front and the two doors are mortise and tenon while the drawers are dovetailed. All of the curved components were cut out of solid timber on a bandsaw and the carvings were done by hand using a small assortment of chisels and a small homemade wooden hammer. The smaller mouldings were also handmade, the larger ones on a router table. The inside of the writing flap has a black leather lining with gold leaf edging giving it a classic touch.
The metal fittings were another issue altogether. The hinges were easy enough to find but the other components were more difficult, we didn't know if they were even available anymore. After years of searching for anything that could do the job, finally a company in America was found that cast the parts from Wooton desk moulds. It was a great relief that when the parts arrived they proved my scaling to be accurate as very little adjustment was required to fit them.
This project was undertaken over a period of some five years, worked intermittently with other projects. There were a few progress photos taken, some appear here, but no other record was kept. Building this desk has been very challenging on a number of levels. I enjoyed it immensely and it has given me a great deal of satisfaction.