RE: Roll Top Desk

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Watched an old NTW rerun of Norm making a roll top desk
The construction is pretty straight forward, but still would require a lot of man hours to build.
Piece looks good to my untrained eye, but it raises a question.
In this day and age of computers, how would you adapt what is basically a paper handling operation into an electronic manipulation station?
Lew
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The monitor is the biggest issue with a roll top. They tend to sit higher than the roll top rolls, so with a monitor on the desk, it won't close. If you accept a smaller monitor or a taller roll top, you might be able to make use of a roll top as a computer station.
Laptops are another option, but be forewarned that frequent opening and closing can cause the hinges to wear out faster. Technology isn't progressing as notably rapidly as it did in the old days, so old machines tend to hang around longer.
Solve the monitor issue, and the functionality of the pigeon hole system would still work. There's things like CDs and Flash Drives that ideal for small storage holes.
Puckdropper
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On Sat, 04 Jul 2009 08:40:28 +0000, Puckdropper wrote:

If you used one of the LCD monitors and left an appropriate size opening in the center of the pigeon holes, the monitor should fit back in far enough that it would not interfere with the top.
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It would still have to be designed a little bigger (higher) since most roll tops don't completely slide out of sight with some of the 'rolls' curved over the top.
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I have a roll top desk and can't wait to get away from it. The modern ones are junk. They are set up for a few things and a computer and CD's. How about drawers - I have a few but most are tiny.
I have a flat screen monitor that fits within and isn't very hot. Monitor is hot. Consider the depth for an arm reach screen to keep the eyes good. I have a TV to the right and it is at another depth - eyes re-focus and keep the muscles functional.
Make sure you want one before putting a lot of work into it. Can you replace what you have or will it hold what you have.
Martin
Puckdropper wrote:

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"Martin H. Eastburn" wrote:

I resemble that.<G>
I've been accused of building stuff like a brick out house, but never junk.
Any desk I'd build would have to have at least a hanging file drawer on one side with a drawer above.
But like others have pointed out, just can't see how a roll top desk and current computer hardware are compatible.
Lew
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So, once you've decided it is worth your trouble:
How about making the monitor that folds up. That is, you attach the monitor to a solid board, which makes up the worksurface when the monitor is folded down. The board is attached to two spring loaded hinges, and some air resistors (important!), and when you use the monitor, it folds up (and can end up being taller than the roll-up top)
Then, the front middle drawer would be nothing but a false front, which folds out of the way when you are using the computer. A height adjustable keyboard tray, and fold out mouse tray would be in there.
The CPU would be hidden in the drawer sides (make sure there's enough ventilation, so it doesn't overheat). The other side drawers should have a pull out scanner, and potentially a pull out printer...
Man, that would be one unique, and nice piece of furniture! (This is me wishing I had more time...)
John
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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote:

Maybe one could make the roll top part of the desk on the lowish side and hang an LCD monitor on the wall above and in back of it; or else place it artfully on top of the pigeonhole box. With some care in design, this may not look too terrible. It would work out nicely for tall persons, at least, where the usual monitor height on the desk surface is annoyingly low.

Some laptop designs have much sturdier hinges than others. On my (work-provided) Thinkpad, I suspect the interconnecting cable between the halves would fail long before the hinges themselves, which appear to be machined out of solid metal. Other bits on the machine are somewhat more fiddly.
In my opinion, it makes little if any sense to get a laptop if the only place you're going to use it is on a single desk. You pay a premium (in money and in other limitations, like keyboard and screen size) for portability that doesn't get used. With a laptop, I find the La-Z-Boy or equivalent makes my favorite "desk."

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Lew Hodgett wrote: ...

Unless the usage is simply visual interaction rather than actual work, my experience w/ constrained surfaces for computer work stations is "they suck" (professional, technical term :) ).
There's never enough space to lay out all the necessary paraphernalia associated w/ actual "work-work".
Additionally, the work surface may be too high for the keyboard and building in a keyboard drawer may entail much rearranging of the pedestals, etc., depending on the size of Nahm's desk.
IMO, it's one of those "sounds good but doesn't work so well in practice" kind of adaptations. OTOH, if the computer is just to surf the web or such and the idea is to hide it for the most part, it'll serve that purpose.
Anyway, a viewpoint.
imo, $0.02, ymmv, etc., etc., of course...
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You might stroll through some nicer furniture stores. I have seen several rolltops designed for computer use - some pretty slick design. Compared to the traditional desk with nooks and storage drawers, most are a compromise; but you might find some good ideas. Of course you should take a sketch pad and tape measure just to irritate the sales crew.
RonB
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No need to irritate them. You just say that you need to measure for fit (fit for internal components *and* placement of entire unit). Digital camera images taken for wife's approval.
It's all in the wording.
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Naaaah! You're missing all the fun of woodworking. That's where you modify as needed to fit your working requirements. My plan would be to design the desk with enough traditional layout for the work-work paper part of the equation and then add the integrated computer components. That means a slide out keyboard (could even slide out from the side of some slot), a slide out or swing out monitor and the rest of the system is hidden with relatively easy access to the case for cdrom/dvd use if necessary. Not much else in the way of access is needed except maybe a USB hub for plugging stuff in and an easy to reach power switch for turning it all on.
I've long dreamed about building an entire wall unit/desk unit/computer system integrated setup for myself. Closed up, it would like simple finely polished, panelled doors. Opened, it would look like the bridge of the most recent starship Enterprise. The only thing lacking right now is the space to build it all.
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Upscale wrote:

Essentially my point.
_IF_ (the proverbial "big if") there's enough space to handle as large a workspace around the computer components there's no reason one can't make it into a rolltop (or anything else, either, for that matter).
I interpreted Lew's query in the roughly equivalent footprint of a standard rolltop desk which I think is totally inadequate for the purpose.
I built the workstation here using a 7-ft solid-core door as the starting point for the top (primarily to speed up the process; I was newly repositioned into being self-employed rather unexpectedly and hadn't much time to get going on "real" work). I wasn't thinking and by the time I had the two bases built w/ sufficient room for printer and set of file drawers in one, the 'puter unit and drawers in another, when set it up there wasn't but a foot or so between... :( So, 10 years later, the one base sets point to the end and the other forward...and I still haven't gotten the drawers built! But, it does have at least marginally sufficient working surface...
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"dpb" wrote:

For out right speed in completing the building task, it's tough to beat a 36" wide solid core door for a desk top and a couple of 2 high file drawers to rest it on.
Cheap and fast, if you buy the F/Ds from a used office furniture outfit.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote: ...

I had the door from a "couldn't resist" trip to the salvage freight store one time ($10 for unused exterior oak slab w/ no penetrations) and built furniture-looking pedestals. Used 3/4 ply instead of panels for the sides, but has shaped solid base and (nice enough, anyway if relatively simple) fronts so it does look like a piece of furniture (or would, anyway, if I had ever finished the drawers and built another narrow pedestal so both could face the front)... :)
Point I'd make is if you want a rolltop desk, I'd recommend building a rolltop desk for a desk and use something else as a computer workstation _unless_ the computer function is a sidelight not the focal point. I think it's doubtful you'll be completely satisfied w/ the functionality of the two together for either if it's to be a "real" workstation.
Then again, if there is essentially unlimited room to deepen and lengthen, sure...
Or, if you want simply the appearance when closed, dispense w/ much of the normal entrails (but what's the fun of a rolltop w/o all the cubbyholes, etc.?) as they'll end up getting blocked and not being all that useful anyway in a conventionally-sized desk.
Again, just some viewpoints/considerations, reject at will... :)
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"dpb" wrote:

Which is the basic reason I asked question with this thread.
A roll top desk would be, in the words of Norm, "a fun project", but after it was done, would probably go "wanting" for a job to do in this day and age.
Maybe a bit of immortality desire hidden in here someplace as in 2110, someone would say, "Great grandpa built that desk over a hundred years ago."
Lew
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"Lew Hodgett" wrote

the line workstation. When an inkpot and quill pen were in common use.
I always admired the big dictionary and dictionary stand at use in the libraries I visited as a youth. I used to run into my jr high library to look up words all the time. When I got older, I bought a big dictionary and planned to build a stand for it. I never had the space and then this thing called the internet came along.
Now if I need to look up a word, definition, etc, I just click onto www.dictionary.com .
It is a lot faster and getting out that old, monster sized dictionary. And if I should ever build a nice dictionary stand, for nostalgia's sake, it would still get little use. The online version is much faster and more convenient to use. Sice it most likely when I need to look up a word, I am working on the computer anyway.
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You snipped the rest of the conversation...
"Yeah, Great Grandpa was a great woodworker. Too bad we never use it now because wood is only found now in museums. Now, let's fly over to your place and finish our Zombie Shootout homework programming we were assigned. You can use the solar powered programming console and I'll use the mind controlled interface module."
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

A quick search finds the expected numbers of links -- here's a link to a compendium of some commercial attempts at solving the problem.
<http://www.bizrate.com/desks/products__keyword--roll+top+desks.html
All have (imo) the problems I outlined above of restricted working space and limited "neatness" of the features for which one admires the rolltop design in the beginning. I've no really better ideas on how to modify the idea to not end up w/ what I'd think would be a dissatisfying kludge that one would probably regret having invested the time into when done.
If I had the room, I'd love a huge old rolltop--we have the old office desk of wife's grandfather which isn't rolltop but does have lots of cubbies in one of the pedestals and a (semi-)hidden side-panel area. It takes up about the only available place and because of the connection, can't be replaced. A cousin and her husband, both research medical-professor types found an old barrister's double rolltop I covet greatly...
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Hah, got you beat speed wise and money wise there. My first unit was a hollow core door with two stacked on their side milk crates each end. The door was scrounged from a demo job and the milk crates were $2.29 each from a local dime store.
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