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The Search for the Perfect Desk—Redesigning

By Will Smith

Will's quest for a new desk continues with a heavily modified design from last week's outing.

Last week, I told you about my plans to build a custom desk for myself and asked for your feedback. Boy did you have feedback.I thought about the design most of the week and sat down last night to work on an updated design before deciding to simply start over from scratch. I kept the desk's top itself basically the same, but I removed the monitor stand because several people suggested that attaching articulated VESA mount arms to the wall is cheaper and less wobbly than desk mounts. I was bummed to lose an excuse to learn to weld, but c'est la vie. I also ditched the solid wooden sides--while they looked cool in a render, I don't think they'd be as awesome in real life, and they'd make the entire desk crazy heavy. I talked about routing holes out of the wood with a couple of people, but that didn't particularly appeal to me, it seemed like it would be difficult to duplicate on two sides, and it would waste a ton of material. Even if I wasn't using some fairly expensive plywood for the desk, a design that wasted a third of my material doesn't appeal to me.

Eventually I realized the answer to my leg problem included welding, and I was much happier. I realized that I could make the desk's frame out of either 1-inch (as sketched up now) or maybe 3/4-inch (if 1-inch is crazy overkill instead of just overkill) square steel tube. And best of all, because it's my desk, I could make the legs exactly the right height for me--they don't need to be adjustable.

With that figured out, I was able to move forward quickly. I designed the desktop to rest atop the steel tube frame, held in the appropriate place by a couple of notches. I also built a sliding tray with a rigid fold-down door that mimics the one on my wife's desk, which I've long admired. I currently have the keyboard tray mounted to the square steel tubes, but I may actually attach it to the wooden desk top itself. It will require a little tweaking and may be slightly more difficult to make, but I'd be able to convert the entire desk into a flat work bench just by lifting the top off. Without a monitor resting on the top surface, my thought is that this should probably be easier than it sounds.

As before, I'd love feedback. I still need to add a couple of shelves and figure out cable management. I'm planning on adding at least two shelves--one hanging shelf designed to fit a decent-sized mid-tower PC case plus a wide but shallow shelf sized to fit a power strip, network switches, USB hubs, consoles. Since I'm mounting my monitors on the wall, I'll likely run the cables needed for them through the wall itself, but that will require the addition of a HDMI switcher and a few other tricks. Even with the additional hardware, mounting two monitors on the wall will be cheaper than a single articulated arm designed to be mounted on a desk. What do you guys think? I'm planning on starting construction next week, so my next step will be planning materials, sketching my cuts on a piece of 4x8 plywood, and, you know, learning to weld.