To get to that state, I had to start with planing. A lot of it. The glue squeeze out left a lot of dried glue beads, and because none of the strips of wood were at a uniform thickness, the whole top needed to be planed down.
(Above: Taking off the roughness with a block plane)
(Above: Marking out the high spots/high edges)
(Above: Making good progress)
(Above: You make a lot of waste fairly quick when planing)
Now that the desktop was reasonably flat (not perfectly square, but at least flat) - I could attack it with a belt sander to try to even it out some more. I hit it with a fairly aggressive belt (50 grit if I recall correctly) - and it got the top fairly level.
(Above: This old Makita belt sander is a beast.)
Once the belt sanding was finished, I took to the random orbit palm sander, and 80 grit to start - to remove the scratching from the belt sander. Then up to 100 grit, followed with 120 grit, and lastly 150 grit. Sure, I could have skipped some of the grits in between, but it was a nice day out and I had lots of time to spend on sanding. Plus it was relaxing.
(Above: Pretty nice result - but not finish-quality yet.)
The strips/boards had a fair amount of imperfections in them from the start. Nail holes, decayed knots, some cracks, the works. But all those imperfections lend a sort of charm. But if this is to be a desktop then those would need to be fixed somehow. Nothing worse than writing on paper and your pen finds a knothole and you have a nice big hole in your paper as a result.
My solution? Epoxy.
Epoxy makes for a great way to fill holes (or at least, from what I've seen in the sites I've read up on). And I had a tube of Gorilla Epoxy on hand and some blue painters tape, so why not, right?
Well I learned that not all epoxy is created equal. This epoxy was very soft. 5 minutes to dry, no way. 24 hours to set/cure? More like a week. There is also a critical step missing in most of the write-ups about using epoxy - if you are going to use tape around the fill-spot -- how long before you take the tape off? Or do you leave the tape on until the epoxy cures/hardens? Then how do you get it off?
(Above: Prepare your fill-holes and your epoxy *before* you start)
(Above: The painters tape allows you to be a bit sloppy.)
Well, I left the tape on for the entirety of the curing. And when I went to pull it off, it ripped. So I took a hobby knife and cut into the epoxy. That worked. Then I took a small hand plane and carefully flush-trimmed the epoxy flat.
(Above: That's one filled knot hole. Just need to trim the excess.)
And here is the desk top as it currently stands... It still maintains a fairly 'rustic' charm to it, but I'm far from done.
The next steps in this build will be: adding the edging around the outside of the desk, flush trimming the edging, another visit with the sanders to get the desk nice and smooth and ready for finish, running my 1/4 radius round-over router bit around the topside edges, a bit of hand-sanding to smooth that round-over, and then lastly some finish!
Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading!