Material for a Child's Desk?

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Making a small desk for my daughter's 9th Birthday present.
Materials?
My inclination is pine as my mistakes will be cheaper, but I'm concerned about the writing surface holding up.
Glass is inappropriate as it's in a child's room.
Any thoughts?
Thanks
Charles
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snip

thick vinly desk blotter on top of it. That'll make it much easier to clean up the paints and markers she'll use on her "crafts" and the clear vinly will still let the grain show through. That is, until it's stained but then you can just get a new one.
Ed
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That sounds like a vinly theiled excuse to me <muffled guffaw>
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I made bedroom fyrniture for both our boys when they were smaller incl deshs. I used plywood for most of the construction and painted them. For the desk surface I used a sheet of thin inexpensive plexiglass screwed to the surface. They scratched it here and there but never broke it, plus anything they slid under it could easily be removed. Grandpa
U-CDK_CHARLES\Charles wrote:

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wrote:
I would use formica. You can get a wide range of colors. It is extremely durable. It is inexpensive. You can purchase it already bonded to a plywood base or do your own bonding.
Dick

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I have such a desk. It is many years old made with a plywood top, later covered with Formica. Been through a few kids and the top is still in good shape. May not be quite as elegant as a thick mahogany top, but it sure is practical. Ed
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I just built the childs desk for my 7 year old son from the New Yankee Workshop plans and it turned out great. It has formica top, sides and drawer fronts with oak trim. It is really sturdy and should hold up well for many years. I recommend it.
Mike
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U-CDK_CHARLES\Charles wrote:

I remember when I was in school the desks we used had plywood tops, probably hardwood of some sort (I didn't know to look for things like that then) but might have been fir, and those would hold up for decades. Later they were particleboard with Formica. A piece of 3/4" Baltic Birch or Appleply would probably be a considerable step up from those old school desks.

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--John
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Difficult to imagine a wood less suitable for a desk top than fir. Huge difference in hardness between early and latewood, splintery and though in a sliced versus rotary veneer, entirely unsuitable as a writing surface. Even the old oak arm surface desks required something under the paper to keep the pencil from jumping up or poking through.
Something like yellow birch much more likely and suitable, as is hard maple. Birch was the yellowish wood of the desks in my youth.

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George wrote:

And this would deter a school administrator for what reason? <grin>
Like I said, I paid no attention to the type of ply at the time. Would suspect something like Baltic Birch but the last time I looked at one was over 30 years ago and I can't see a school system that had to teach an "Americanism vs Communism" course consisting mostly of anti-Russian propaganda ("Russian politicians lie, American politicians tell the truth" for example) buying anything made from Commie plywood.
You can bet that whatever it was was the cheapest stuff they could get away with. A few years later they went to particleboard or with laminate and that was a step down--lean on one of those and either it broke in the middle or the screws pulled out. Last time I was in a school they were using some kind of molded plastic. From the number of busted desks I saw it doesn't seem to be any better than the particleboard.
Like I said, Baltic Birch or Appleply would probably be a big step up.

Personally I find that a blotter or some other kind of firm padding is very desirable on any hard surface. A Desco static mat (make sure you get the smooth one, not the one with the ribs) works very nicely, but that's neither here nor there.

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'Way back when', red oak was the usual material for durable 'utility' desk tops.
If glass is inappropriate, consider one of the plastics -- Plexiglas, or one of the acrylics.
A budget alternative for the writing surface is _tempered_ Masonite(tm). A couple of coats of quality _enamel_ paint, and you've got something that is nearly indestructible -- absent _deliberate_ malice, that is.
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Robert Bonomi wrote:

Incidentally, tempered glass might not be too bad a choice--it's surprisingly hard to break and doesn't produce sharp edges when it does.
As another poster pointed out, oak isn't all that good a choice--you want a _smooth_ surface to write on and unless you work hard on the finish the open grain structure in oak doesn't give you that. That said, for a kid most writing will probably be in a loose-leaf binder that provides its own writing surface so it may not be a problem.
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What do the schools use? They are the professionals in the choice for childrens desks. I don't see much oak. I don't see much glass.
In my childhood they were made of maple. That changed 50 years ago.
Dick
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Since the late 60's, it's been mostly plywood and high-pressure plastic laminates for surfaces. Metal for the 'structural' components.
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Robert Bonomi wrote:

I'm not questioning you, I'm curious--have they finally gotten smart and gone back to plywood? I remember any number of desktops going "flip" when I leaned on them, which, upon inspection, refealed that the screws had torn out of the particleboard or MDF or whatever they were using. And of course I got in trouble for abusing the desk every time. Maybe they should have just paddled every fat kid in the school on general principle because I wasan't the only one it happened to. The last ones I recall seeing had some kind of green plastic for the top with molded ridges underneath, and I saw the underneath because there were a bunch of them in a storeroom, with, you guessed it, the screw holes stripped out.
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You make some good points about screws pulling out of plywood. Recognizing that, it soesn't seem like a big problem to solve. On the underside, glue a 2" wide strip of oak (or maple or alder or etc) and put the screws into the wood. It still makes most sense to use a plastic laminate top that is free from grain and easily washed.
Dick

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wrote:

We used to remove the screws for the next student to use the room.
By the time I graduated HS, they'd moved to "tamper proof" screws, and we had to purchase the proper tool . . .
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Whether or not it is a 'good' choice, it *is* the USUAL material that was used in 'non-fine-furniture' desks manufactured up to at least the 1960s. After that, particle-board took over.
Historically, the smoothness of the wooden surface was a _non-issue_, given that such desks, in use, were almost universally equipped with a 'desk pad' -- frequently even including a 'blotter' (for those who used fountain pens) -- to provide the actual writing surface. Oddly enough, you can still buy desk pads in any quality office-supply store, today. They're _terribly_ expensive. circa $5-10. *grin*

Or, just "treat 'em like an adult", and put a desk pad on it -- "just like a real desk for adults". <grin>
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You forgot the inevitable carved pleasantries.

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