Monday, November 30, 2015

Computer Desk and Side Table Revision

A while back I made this simple computer desk which has served me well.


You can see the original build here, but essentially it's made up of 2x4 wood studs, particleboard and some creative painting. I didn't use stain on the 2x4's, instead trying out some Danish oil. Several months later I moved the table below into my office for storage, which was made of plywood and pine wood, and stained a shade I really like called "Jacobean".


Next I improved upon a pine board bookshelf I made, also staining it Jacobean.


And most recently I built a plywood and pine drawing table, stained the same color.


My computer table no longer matches any of the newer furniture in my office. 


So for months I designed new, bigger computer desks in Google SketchUp.


I started off more-or-less simple.



But my designs gradually became more complex.




Unfortunately all that wood will cost a bunch of money, which I didn't have. Also, I kind of like my desk - it's simple and that's all I need right now. Then I thought that I should just add-on and improve upon my original desk. After all, I did the very same thing with my other, unused computer desk, where I turned this...


...into this - a nice writing desk in my guest room.


So instead of spending a lot of money on a lot of wood, I will simply rework my current desk. I remade my plans in sketchup.


The white pieces are parts of the existing table I plan on using. The color pieces will be new. And as you can see below, I do not require much. I also want to remake this desk much like I made the original - simple. No glues or adhesives or crazy router cuts. Just straight wood screwed together strongly.


I then cleaned off my old desk and moved it into my workshop. 


I love the marble surface that I made, but I want a wood table top to match everything else in my office. Unfortunately when I built this thing I screwed the table top to the frame from the top, and then covered up the holes. 


I wanted to remove the 'marble' but that will be tough without knowing where the screws are. So I figured I'd build on top of it. I started by trimming the edges off with my circular saw.


Unfortunately the top was not completely even and my saw blade began digging into the wood stud underneath.


I then thought of using my block plane to help remove the marble so I can find the screw holes. This worked perfectly.


I drilled out the filler from each hole, then unscrewed the screws that mounted the top to the frame.


And then I removed the top.


I unscrewed the front wood stud (that was sawed earlier) and flipped it around. Now I'll have a level surface to work off of.


Next I began sanding this whole thing to make sure everything is level and flat for the new editions.


Then I went out and bought the wood I needed.


The first order of business was to attach the new wood top.


I marked the spots and drilled holes with countersinks.


Then I screwed the top to the frame.


Top is on!


Next I cut the wood for the sides with my table saw.


These were also attached with screws.


And I'm liking how this is coming out.


But there is a good deal of space underneath the front edge of the desk top.


So I cut a few pieces of wood...


...and created some steps to fill in the space.


That's about it!


Now it's time to make the floating shelf for the desk top. I cut some more wood...


...to make the top and legs for the floating shelf.


Like everything else, the shelf was simply attached with screws.


Looking good! Now it's time for...


...wood filler.


I let the filler dry overnight before sanding the next day.


After sanding more filler was needed, especially around the edge of the side panels.


Then everything was sanded again. I used medium grit to take care of all the areas with filler, then I sanded the entire desk with fine sandpaper to make it smooth.


Then I gave the whole thing a good cleaning.


Next I applied the same Jacobean stain to match everything else in my office.



After leaving it to dry for about 8 hours it was time for polyurethane. I bought a can of spray-on polyurethane a couple months ago for a different project, but wound up never using it. I think for this project I'll try it out.


I sprayed this on the bottoms of the desk only. This will save the amount of polyurethane I use from the can.


The canned poly will be used on the top and sides...


...as well as the floating shelf.


Once each layer of polyurethane was dry I sanded with a fine sanding sponge. Then I cleaned it up and added another layer. After a few layers I let it dry overnight.


The next morning I decided I wanted to add a back to the table. This is poor timing on my part, especially since the polyurethane was applied. But it's a simple enough process. Like the sides, I simply drilled holes and screwed a thin sheet of plywood to the back.


I'm actually glad I did this. I like the back filled up.


Next I added stain.


While that dried I decided to start working on the small corner table that goes with my computer desk.


This small table is important because it holds my computer, my printer, modems, routers, CDs, etc. Like before, I remade my plans in SketchUp; showing colored pieces as the new add-ons. I've also decided to add another shelf to this table. This should hold everything nicely.


I emptied the table and brought it into the workshop.


Like the computer desk, I used my block plane to strip off the 'marble' texture.


This gives me access to where the screws were hidden. I then drilled out the filler, and unscrewed the screws inside.


Then the top comes off easily.


Next I centered and clamped the new wood top onto the frame. I drilled holes and screwed the top on.


Then I gave it a good sanding.


Next I used the old bottom shelf as a template for a new shelf.


I cut out the shape with my jigsaw.


Then sanded all the edges.


The new bottom shelf fits securely.


I repeated the process for the new middle shelf.


This one will go in between the bottom shelf and the top of the table.


To mount the new shelf to the frame, I drilled pocket holes into the shelf.


Then I used a 12x1 piece of wood and clamps as a measure to keep the shelf in the same place on all sides and I screwed in pocket screws.


Now the shelf is strongly in place.


Now it's time to work on the sides. This will be done the same way as I did for the computer desk. I cut thin plywood on the table saw...


...then drilled and screwed the panel to the table frame.


Only 2 sides will be covered. The 2 open sides will be the front and back of the table.  The back opening will be for wires.  The front will obviously be open to access the computer, printer and storage space.


Then I added wood filler to spots that needed...


...and sanded the whole thing once the filler dried.


Next stain was applied, then polyurethane.


While the polyurethane dried on the small table, I finished up the desk and brought it inside my office.


Then a few hours later the small table was sanded one last time and cleaned up before...


...also being brought into my office.


Then the difficult task of playing with wires, plugs and setting everything up correctly took place. I swear this was the hardest part of the whole build.  All those wires...


That extra shelf helps out enormously! Now I can fit the printer on top, the computer in the middle and all my routers, cable models and firewalls on the bottom.


There's plenty of room on the desk itself for all my stuff plus room to do work.


But the best part is now everything in my office matches!


Revising this desk and table wasn't difficult, and I went the simple and easy way by simply covering up the sides and back with screws. Perhaps one day I will actually build a new desk from scratch that holds all these things, but for right now I am quite satisfied with my new set up.

Thanks for reading!