First, a little history:
One of the most precious historical relics of the United States is the lap desk or writing box upon which Jefferson wrote his draft of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This humble writing desk, meant to be both portable and to keep it’s contents secure, was literally the surface upon which Jefferson’s quill pen scratched out the very document that defined the audacious birth of these United States. Imagine King George III and his Parliament, upon reading the declaration, building with slow rage as it enumerated our many and varied grievances. Better yet, imagine the powdered wigs flailing as they read the last paragraph:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The paragraph above, well and truly, was a line in the sand. The ultimate break-up letter. Written by men who had simply had enough. Men who would bleed and die for the idea of it. Read the last sentence again: “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
These rough bastards actually meant it.
With all that said, I would like to introduce you to the Field Desk.
Our 90-second introduction video provides a quick summary:
Our Field Desk is a unique offering. It is a bit difficult to define.
Let’s begin by describing what it is not.
It is not conventional. It is not typical. It is not for everyone. Some people will simply not ‘get it’. That’s okay. After all, its inspiration was something that was state of the art a couple hundred years ago.
It is not a common Go Box, though it may be used as one. It certainly is not a laptop computer, but when paired with a tablet it sort of feels like one. It is not a briefcase, although it can serve as one. Considering it will comfortably hold food and a beverage, you might call it a lunchbox. The fact that it can jump your car, light your work space, power a HAM radio, charge your phone, or host movie night is pretty cool, but still does not really describe this machine.
In fact, calling it a machine seems off. It is crafted, not assembled. Our people that build them would strongly agree… it takes craft, and skill, and careful hands with a sharp eye to build this device.
Okay, calling it a device seems wrong also. It is not that sterile.
I guess it simply is the Field Desk.
The Field Desk might be called a hybrid, as it combines old-world materials and craftsmanship with modern day materials and technology. It is ruggedly elegant, being made primarily from US sourced American Red Cherry Hardwood and an exotic cousin, Curly Maple Hardwood.
The video below gives a thorough rundown of the Field Desk:
A personal note from Bill Harrison:
For the reader who really wants to know, there is a backstory. When I was in college, a couple centuries ago, my maternal Grandfather became terminally ill, and needed full time care. Our family did not want him in a ‘home’, and it was agreed that I was the least tied down and therefore the most able to help. I moved back to Northern Michigan and cared for my grandparents as best as I could as we dealt with ‘Bumpas’ progressive illness. Their home was on the shore of lake Huron, and one of the features of the remote property was a small woodworking shop that my Grandfather had built many years earlier. This was the same shop that I had spent countless hours in, with my Grandfather, learning woodworking and handcraft. Now I was back, and was able to both care for my loved ones and spend some time in the shop.
While with my Grandparents, I read an article about Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence on a small wooden desk of his own design. Jefferson’s desk was meant to be portable, both a work surface and a secure means of storage for writing instruments and important things. I was so enamored by the idea that I eventually found some pictures from the Smithsonian of his little ‘lap desk’. It was simple, useful, and compact. I sketched out my own variation on the concept, and built it in that little secluded shop over the course of a summer.
I used that wooden field desk for the next 15 years until it was lost to the ravages of multiple house moves and the tyranny of needful things gone missing. I used it in college, and later as a news reporter. It spent countless hours strapped to the rear rack of my motorcycle, and it was a great place for whatever small items and papers were the most important at a given time. It was not only intensely useful, it was also a genteel reminder of what my now deceased Grandfather had given me: the ability to build such a thing. It was always a conversation piece and a comforting example of the warmth, beauty, and durability of simple wood craftsmanship.
The Field Desk we are now building, 30 years later, is very closely based on the original design that served me so well. I will say, with mixed feelings, that what we build today is simply better than what I built then. 30 years ago I had a ShopSmith MK5, hand tools, and plenty of time. Now I have CNC machines, 3D printers, CAD systems, high technology energy systems, and a team of skilled bench technicians. When I compare what I built then and what we build now, I am confident my Grandfather would be pleased.
I hope that you appreciate the history and the personal connection to the new Field Desk. If you get it, you get it. We would love to build you one.
“The Lord should be proud of what you do with His trees.”
The Field Desk is made primarily from solid American Red Cherry and Curly Maple, although we do use a laminate hardwood on the bottom and rear for dimensional stability. Red Cherry and Curly Maple are considered exotic woods, with good reason. They are very expensive, very beautiful, and they are a delight to work with. The tight grain, strength, and workability are amazing. These woods are tough yet workable, yielding yet strong. When we apply the hand-rubbed Danish oil, the grain, character, and highlights just jump out. Our hardwoods are sourced from the Ocooch mountains of SW Wisconsin by a small family business, and their quality is superb. Each piece is hand selected, kiln dried, planed, and sanded for precise thickness and flatness. I have been working with wood for over forty years, and I am still excited and delighted when we get the next shipment in of these hardwoods. Pictures do not do justice to how beautiful they are.
Our Field Desk is meant to be an example of what can be achieved if you refuse to compromise in design, construction, or materials. Our goal, from concept to design to production, was to build something That had no equal. It was to look beautiful at rest and to be powerful at work.
The hardware used in the Field Desk is the best we can get. Cast brass eye straps, brass screws, Top grain American cowhide, vegetable tanned and hand-tooled. Hardware that you cannot see is stainless steel.
The latching mechanism is magnetically sprung, and secures the lid against accidental opening.
Even the corner guards for the Field Desk are unique… CNC machined from solid Curly Maple, hand-sanded and then attached after the Field Desk has been sanded, oiled, sanded, oiled, and then assembled and given a protective coat of polyurethane.
The amazing aspects of the Field Desk become apparent when you start to actually use it. Although it weighs just over 7 pounds, it has an internal LiFePo4 battery that contains 90 watt-hours of stored energy. This is a 7 amp hour cell with incredible shelf life, very low self-discharge, and a stunning lifespan of over 2,000 charge cycles. This battery will charge a cell phone dozens of times, run a HAM radio for many hours, power a tablet for dozens of hours, and still light your work space. The battery replacement, if it is ever necessary, is done with a screwdriver, by the owner, in a few minutes.
The internal charge controllers handle direct solar input and AC charging. The voltmeter shows real-time battery voltage. The USB chargers are each independent 3 amp power supplies. The Anderson PowerPole connections serve HAM radio and DC users. The built in speakers are each 3 watt, full range, and ideally suited for connection to a HAM radio.
There are two internal LED lights. These are designed to light your work space, whether you are using the Field Desk in a horizontal or vertical orientation. Both LED lights are dimmable, from a soft glow to a bright 1 watt. One LED is soft white, the other is red, to preserve night vision.
The Field Desk is simply beautiful to look at, and a little awesome to actually handle. It uses craftsmanship that has become very rare, and combines it with technology that is modern. There is simply nothing like it, at any price. We are honored to be the ones to bring it to market, and we promise you that each and every one is carefully constructed, by hand, as if it were to be our own.
Please allow at least two weeks for delivery of your Field Desk. These take some time to build.
This machine ships for free in the USA. Call the shop at (931) 207-0079 and we can determine the cost of international shipping.
Your purchase includes your call sign or name on heavy paper stock for the little metal frame in the Field Desk. We will also include an accessory or two that are useful to use with your new machine.
The Field Desk comes with our no compromises warranty. For two years after purchase, we will repair or replace to as-new condition failure caused by materials or craftsmanship.
Field Desk$1,150.00 Read more