Pedestal Writing - table - Double ditto - Desk Slopes - Register Writing-tables - Cylinder Fall-tables - Old Bureau - Dwarf Bookcases - Secretary Bookcase - Nests of Pigeon-holes.

Writing-tables or desks of various forms and bookcases are naturally the principal articles of library or office furniture.

In a writing-table the requirements are that it should have sufficient stability, and be provided with accommodation for papers, etc. The ordinary leg writing-table, with lined top and drawers in the frame, has already been sufficiently referred to. So far as convenience for writing on goes, nothing more could be wanted, but it is deficient in accommodation otherwise.

The pedestal writing-table, as shown in Fig. 207, is more useful for ordinary purposes. It is made in three parts, viz., the two pedestals, each containing three drawers of graduated depths, and the top containing three drawers. The plinths are fixed. The castors used are the iron-plate variety. Many very commonly made pedestal tables have the backs nailed or glued on, and are afterwards covered with knife-cut veneers. A better way is to frame and panel them. Instead of standing on plinths they may be made as suggested by Figs. 205 and 206 of pedestal washstand and toilet-table. A very ordinary size for these tables is 4 ft. by 2 ft. 3 ins. top, and 2 ft. 6 ins. high. Instead of drawers in both pedestals, one is often fitted as a cupboard with door. The top itself is made as for a leg writing-table, viz., principally of pine, with veneered banding. Double pedestal writing-tables are usually longer, and considerably wider in proportion to their length, in order to provide accommodation for two writers. In this case they are doublefronted, the usual arrangement being for each pedestal to have drawers opening to one front and a cupboard to the other, a partition separating the two. The cupboard, it made be said, is generally to the left hand of the sitter. On top of each pedestal are four square blocks which fit accurately in the corners of the top framing, which is laid loosely, i.e., without being fixed by nails or glue. Care must be taken not to have the blocks so high as to interfere with the free action of the drawers above them.

Fig. 207   Pedestal Writing table.

Fig. 207 - Pedestal Writing-table.

Fig. 208   Desk Slope.

Fig. 208 - Desk Slope.

On flat-top writing-tables desk slopes are often used. They are simple in construction, as will be seen from Fig. 208, which represents a single one. When made double the flat top is widened, and another slope added on the other side. The slope may either be made to lift up so as to form a receptacle for papers underneath, or be fixed to the ends. In the latter case it need not have any bottom. Occasionally, but very rarely, they are fastened to the table top.

Fig. 209   Pedestal Register Writing desk.

Fig. 209 - Pedestal Register Writing-desk.

The register writing-table is shown in Fig. 209. As will be seen, it is very like the last named, with the addition of two small cupboards or nests of drawers on top, with a sloping writing surface in the middle above the space between the pedestals. The standard size may be taken as 5 ft., the width being in proportion. The pedestals are made as before. The top is usually made to show as three drawers in front, but the centre is a sham one, the space under the slope being a deep well to the bottom of the top, and often fitted behind with small drawers or pigeon-holes. The well is made separately and let in through a hole in the top, to which it is afterwards fixed. The slope is made like a small top with clamped ends, and veneered banding for lining. On the flat top, which otherwise is made as before, the banding of veneer goes round each portion. Each set of drawers on top is secured by one lock and key fitted to a hanging pilaster hinged on to the outer edge of the casing. The other is fixed, necessitating comparatively wide runners. Behind the hanging pilasters the drawers go right to the ends, so that when it is locked, the lock plate being fixed to one of the drawer bearers, the drawers cannot be pulled out. To allow the pilaster to fit close to the fronts, the edges of the bearers behind it are cut down to their level. The rest of the construction speaks for itself.

Fig. 210.   Upper Portion of Half Register.

Fig. 210. - Upper Portion of Half Register.

A modified form for upper part of this writing-table is shown in Fig. 210, and is often known as the half register. Like the former it has a centre well, but the top fittings are of simpler character, as will be seen from the illustration.

Both these tables are sometimes made with legs instead of pedestals, and are then known as leg registers.

The cylinder-fall writing-table, of which the upper portion is shown in Fig. 211, has the advantage that by pushing back the writing or table part and pulling down the fall, papers, etc., can be instantly put away without disturbing them. On the other hand, there is the slight objection that it is a somewhat clumsy-looking and cumbersome piece of furniture. It is made in three parts, two pedestals and top. It is the construction of this latter which differs from that of other pedestal tables, and it may also be said that it is not one suitable for the novice, as the most accurate workmanship is essential. The front portions of the ends are the segment of a circle, the top or flat part in continuation being at least of such width as to admit of the cylinder-fall being pushed sufficiently back. The exact sizes can easily be got by full-sized setting out. The fall may be troublesome to those who have never seen one made. It is formed of pieces of board, say 3 in. to 4 in. wide, with their edges bevelled and joined together, after which it is further rounded off. Unless the pieces are unusually wide, the inside may be left as it is. The easiest way to get the curve rightly adjusted and the pieces properly fixed together is to make a light framework somewhat similar to that used by builders when constructing an arch. It can easily be made of any rough stuff, and, of course, the sweep on its edge must be exactly the same as that of the fall. With this frame as a guide, it is simply a matter of bevelling the edges of the boards to get the groundwork of the fall correct. After it has been smoothed and rounded it is veneered. The ends of the fall may work in grooves in the ends of the top, but a very much better plan is to hinge them. The hinges, if they can be called so, take many forms, and it will be better to say that the principle is as shown in Fig. 212 than to enumerate these, as the alterations are merely in detail. Almost any piece of hoop-iron may be used for the purpose, as the illustration will serve to show. The edge of the fall is there represented with the irons placed. These meet and are hinged by means of a screw, nail, or iron peg driven to the ends. Care must be taken that this pivot is exactly in the centre of the circle of which the fall forms part. The irons work behind thin inner ends, fixed, with a sufficient interval, inside the outer ends of the top. It must be noticed that the slightest irregularity in fixing the fall will cause it to work stiffly, if not to jamb entirely.