dream computer desk - looking for ideas


I want to make a computer desk that fits my unique needs -- I have a habit of living from one apartment to the next, and I'm tired of wobbly throw-away WalMart computer desks. I'd like more of a utility desk, but stylish, something I can build out and change up from time to time. My idea is to use plywood -- but instead of screwing the legs directly on, use metal fasteners and machine screws so I can disassemble it easily, or add on a side shelf module, or a leaf on the side to lengthen it later.
Must haves - Must be modifiable as much as possible -- adjustable, modular, etc. - Must be able to reassemble infinitely -- machine screws, not nails etc. - Must be durable, can support 300lbs, no wobbling, shifting - Must be comfortable - chair with arms can slide underneath, foot rest under desk - Must be simple design - no drawers, doors
Would be nice - Lightweight, so moving day is not a problem - Raise and lower easily (in seconds), with a lever maybe?
-Max
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Max wrote:
see below.

You might get some ideas here.
http://woodwork.pmccl.com/Business/productsbusiness/productsfurniture.html
Check lee valley for monitor arms and keyboard tray hardware if you need that.
This group is into woodworking so don't expect help on the electrical power aspects.
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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what's your budget?
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Under $500, since I need to keep it simple, no drawers. I guess think of Ikea and how it all bolts together. But as much metal hardware as possible for strength and easy re-assembly, and no particle board. lol!
What to use for the table top -- some sort of high durability laminate? Top should be water proof.

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Max wrote:

Desk on my site is plywood, rotary oak veneer, Oak trim (banding). Steamed some oak for the curved cutouts on the side panels. Easier than I thought
It is under your budget. There are no formal plans -- just had a description of what was wanted -- should be easy to copy from the pictures. I did a simple sketch and built it. It is very simple to build.
The drawer slides and handles were under $100 - so say $300 for the drawer set and corner piece -- if I had replaced the computer desk too -- it might have reached $500 in materials - don't think so though. Maybe if I had done a hutch with bookshelves I could have spent $500 or a bit more.
Being made of plywood it is light, strong and easy to move. And it looks like "real" wood all the way through.
And that was in Canukistani Pesos - American $$ should be under $400 to do something that big - or smaller.
Whatever you do - have fun.
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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Check these guys out.
http://www.anthro.com /
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 (webpage)
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There's a neat one that Norm built on the NYW show. Check the site out for the plan. It looks like an ordinary desk which has everything hidden in a drawer.
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Actually the one Norm built is what got me interested in making one. Putting the computer in a closed drawer was amusing, but his tiny computer would do ok in there. You'd want to look at venting and building fans into desk for larger computers.
Maybe I can try something similar to the anthro.com but in wood....
-Max
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I am going to built his computer desk in the near future. I have a Gateway tower that's about 22" tall, 20" deep, and 8" wide. I would adjust each pedestal to exact size evenly, to make them fit for the tower, scanner, and printer. I was thinking about leaving the back of the pedestal open, or with 1" holes evenly space on the 1/4" plywood back panel for the tower ventilation. The front door of the tower drawer would be opened during use. I was thinking of using a 3/4" oak plywood with bread board edging for the desk top. I checked the website below and also accessed the sites of those who made this desk. http://www.newyankee.com/getproduct3.cgi?1206
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habit
throw-away
That would depend on what sort of monitor you plan to use. A CRT will require a much heavier table than an LCD panel. Given that an LCD can be bought for $250 now it is probably worth moving to one if you want to be able to adjust the monitor position at all.
You could pretty easily set up a counterbalance type arm scheme for an LCD panel. I would also go for a wireless keyboard and mouse so that there are no wires anywhere.
Given the design constraints I would look to create something more like a draftsman's table than a 'desk'. With the monitor supported separately you have the whole area to spread out papers.
I would build a separate wheely thing for the tower and printer.
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A few comments that may or may not be helpful--
First, if you're not using an LCD monitor, get one. You'll be glad you did. *Much* easier to move than a CRT, and the desk doesn't have to support as much weight. Make sure it's at least 1280x1024. You can use a normal VGA card. BTW most LCDs have threaded bushings in the back for mounting screws, so you could mount it to anything, it doesn't have to sit on the desktop.
Make *everything* adjustable. You'll be glad later. I tend to use nuts & bolts (because I don't care what it looks like, and I don't have any oddball hardware to keep track of when I disassemble it), but there are other options.
For the desktop, use thin plywood with stiffeners rather than heavy plywood. Years ago I made a desktop out of 3/4" plywood, it's really heavy (PITA to move) and not all that stiff. Later I made a bunch of tables out of 7/16" ply with 1x2 stiffeners, they're much lighter and actually stiffer. If you're more ambitious, you could build a torsion box.
Remember that you'll want the keyboard below normal desktop height. I just made the whole desk lower, but that may not be what you want. You can buy a keyboard drawer, so you wouldn't have to build one.
I would make it a "box" structure, with 2 sides rather than 4 legs. This will make the whole thing stiffer. Diagonal brace across the back. If you make the sides higher in the back, you can have shelves above.
Consider making something to hold just the keyboard and LCD (CPU tower goes on the floor), with a separate table for your papers & stuff. This would only have to be about 20" wide (similar to an old fashioned typewriter table, if you remember those). This also gives you the option of having the keyboard perpendicular to the desk (or anywhere else you want to put it).
Build a "rough draft" using the cheapest possible wood, play with it for a few months, then throw it out and build a better one. If your first version is "for keeps", you won't experiment enough.
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Go to Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, etc. and check out what's available. Sit at them and see if any feels "right." Measure up the piece on a scratch pad. If the salesman asks if you need help, just ask if it's alright if you can take some measurements. Not sure why you need to support 300 pounds (computers, peripherals, and media are getting more lightweight and smaller). Perhaps you need a separate bookcase? I've used computers for over 20 years and my space needs have greatly decreased (I used to have various levels, cubby holes, file cabinet, large noisy printer, large heavy monitor, etc.) Making an ergonomic custom computer chair would be a challenge.

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Dear Max,
    I have been designing low-stress computer furniture on the Web since 1995 (URL below). Please look over the 50 or so plans we now have and get back to me on your exact needs.
    Thanks,
    Tom Riley snipped-for-privacy@charm.net
    Woodware Designs     http://www.charm.net/~jriley/woodware.html
My new book is out!!!
"Look the Future Straight in the Eye" http://www.charm.net/~jriley/book.html

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WOW! Very impressive Tom! And shuttle bay payloads too...
-Max
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