Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Look Inside the Old Oak Desk

My desk has many years of history behind it.  It is made of oak and my mother tells me that it once belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway, although I have no proof of that.  At some point in the past, it also belonged to a company called White Spruce Enterprises in Prince George, BC, for that is the address stamped numerous times on the inside of the front drawer along with "PAID" and "PAST DUE."

The top of the desk is variously ink-stained, scratched, and pitted.  There are many stories hidden in the top of this desk, if I could only learn how to read them.

I don't typically have much sitting on the top of the desk other than a lamp, my computer, and a notebook or two - in this case, my Quo Vadis Habana journal and a set of Pentel Slicci gel pens.

The desk has three drawers: the first is the long top drawer, while the other two are on the side.  Of these, the bottom drawer, which is the deepest of the drawers, is disguised to look like two drawers on the outside.  And what is in these drawers?

The top drawer hold some extra looseleaf paper, some pads of scrap paper for short notes and lists, a pad of Post-it notes, a dust cloth for my computer, a small ruler, a tube of extra 0.5mm pencil leads, a cleaning cloth for my glasses, and two pen boxes.  The pen box in the front is made of wood, while the one on the right side with the butterflies on it I made myself out of papier mache.

The top drawer on the side holds my two handmade pen rolls, a graphing calculator, on top of which are stacked several small notepads, a stack of extra bookmarks, a pile of squares of paper that I plan to use in a new collage project, a brass letter opener, two rolls of tape, two pairs of scissors, a wooden box to hold miscellaneous small items (binder clips, glue stick, USB flash drives, mini stapler, extra staples, erasers, etc.), one of those balls that you squeeze to relieve tension in your hand, another small notepad, and two small glass jars that hold elastic bands, paper clips, and push pins.

Finally, the bottom drawer is a bit more of a mess, and holds a fat pencil case stuffed with markers, watercolour pencils, drawing pens, and gel pens; a stack of decorative papers, magazine cutouts, and other collage items; two boxes of cards and envelopes (I made the gold box myself); a paper cutter; several rulers; a bottle of white glue; and a papier mache letter rack and papier mache pen cup, both of which I made, but which I don't really use anymore.

My favourite part of the desk is this thing that can be pulled out of the top of the side drawers:

I don't know what it's called or what it's original purpose was, but I find it very helpful for resting my elbow on while writing or using the computer.

I love my old oak desk.  The drawers hold all my essentials (as well as many items that are not so essential) and its top is large enough to be used for writing, making art, or using the computer.  And the top is already so scuffed and worn that I don't have to be too worried about damaging it.  And the desk looks great in my library!

So, what's your desk like, and what do you keep in it?


  1. Very interesting post... I think I might make a blog post about my desk, too. It's a desk that belonged to my dad, and I could mention what's in the drawers, etc. Thanks for the idea! That little pull-out addition is neat, I wonder if it's for setting down a phone?

  2. That thing on top of the side drawers is a slide-out writing surface. Back in the desk's heyday, that would be the only clear place on the desk to write on a sheet of paper.

    The clean spot on your desk right above the kneehole probably held a behemoth typewriter weighing in at around 40 pounds. It never moved from its spot. It sat on a rubber pad to keep it from migrating off the desk by repeated slamming of the carriage return. The rubber mat kept that part of the desk ink-free. The tiny bit of real estate left around the typewriter would hold a pencil cup, stapler, giant phone and maybe a behemoth adding machine. So, that little slide out was a lifesaver as a clear place to write or to lay open a file folder.

  3. Thanks for the information, Speck! I knew some one would know more about my mysterious slide-out. I wish I could have seen my desk being used as you describe it.

  4. The sliding thing may also be called a "return", which is how furniture companies still refer to a portion of a desk that turns away from the pedestal. My old desk had a pretty flimsy return, so, as ThirdeYe and Speck suggest, it was only good to hold a phone or to use as an alternate writing surface.

    Some metal office furniture makers, e. g. Steelcase and General Fireproofing, had returns built like tanks. Pivoting and spring-loaded things that easily held a manual or electric office typewriter, if memory serves. Jack/Youngstown

  5. Wow, LOVE love L O V E that desk!

  6. My goodness, is it always that neat?

  7. I'm afraid not, and I must admit that I did tidy it up quite a bit for the photos :)


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