“Desk Revisited” or “The Final Installment… Hopefully”


AssembledOkay so I MIGHT be a little obsessive… this is the third straight 10-hour day working on it. I’ve actually done three complete, whole-cloth rebuilds of this desk since I uploaded the last article about it… and solved some inherent defects in the design. This one is much more robust, though I fear it might be a little more claustrophobic. The whole thing is 5′ (~1524mm) long by 5′ (~1524mm) wide, slots into a corner, 6′ (~1828.8mm) tall and the desktop surface is about 2′ (~609.6mm) from the edge to the back. It will take 10 sheets of 1/2″ (~12.5mm) plywood, and remarkably ONLY requires that 1/2″ ply, glue and hardware like hinges, drawer slides and screws, to speak nothing of the electronics. Let’s dive-in, shall we?

Tower BoxIn summary, the computer has a removable drawer above the monitors where the computer hardware is stored. This drawer, seen with the lid lifted, has the motherboard with expansion cards, power supply, stack of 7 hard drives (see previous article for proposed hardware list). There are four fans in this “tower/drawer”, and the whole space in which the drawer slides is designed to meet two purposes; one is a torsion box to stiffen the upper printer and peripheral shelf on the top deck, as well as provide a very effective Monitor Cleat and Computer Casewind-tunnel to push the hot air away from the tower electronics. In the space behind the tower drawer box will be the extra-long cables bundled up together to run down the spine of the tower into the various locations where the keyboard, trackball, monitors and USB peripherals will be kept. The next photo does double-duty as the cut diagram for both the above (minus the one-piece top and bottom) and the mounting kit for the triple-monitors. The wings contain large shelves easily accommodating 11″ x 17″ ledger-sized paper, various books or other necessities that aren’t inconvenient being stored above eye-level.

Assembled - CloseupThis close-up shows the three monitors in action, with the silver boxes above being generic 5.1 speakers. These monitors are attached to the computer desk via a set of french cleats and swivels for the portrait-style side panes. The french cleats, like the desk upper computer shelf, the two side cupboards and the drawers, are all modular and can be removed with a little effort. This allows me Monitor Mountto build the whole contraption one phase at a time and keep relative integrity and avoid the whole thing collapsing like a house of cards.

The center cleats for the main (40″ 4k) monitor have stops on each side to assist in centering, the cleats on 45 degree angles are for the side monitors, which allow some lateral movement for future-proofing, and each of those have attached swivels. The three screens mount Monitor Rearindependently and can be removed independently.

The swivels are seen here in brown. The monitors mount into the french cleats for a stable connection, doubled-up to ensure greater contact. These can be removed with relative ease and the cleat systems don’t interfere with the VESA Standard mounting bolts. Should a monitor not be VESA standard, or should it be of a different sizing Cupboardthan shown, screwed holes with countersunk heads ought to be enough to fit virtually any size configuration. When the monitors are hung, there is no stand and the space beneath the screens is completely empty, freeing-up much needed desktop real estate.

Next, the side-mounted cupboards and cubbies. The double-cupboards feature six levels, each with holes designed for effective cable management. Each hole is in the back-plane so the cables can run behind the desk, as well as between each shelf, and from each shelf into the cubbySide Cabinets cubical on the end-cap. Two drawers open away from the corner, providing safer user experience and de-cluttering the sitting area. The cut-diagram is shown here, for each piece as necessary for these two units.

Next we have the back of the desk, the upper level where the holes from the cupboards are clearly visible, as are the 120mm (~5″) DC-powered computer fan ports to help exhaust waste heat from the computer. There are also cable management ports for easier and Backsidecleaner wire-control. On the bottom of the desk back you’ll see the main panels that create part of the drawer carcass. The set-back spine panel is designed to give better access to the power distribution cupboard in the underside of the desk. In this area, a reverse-wired duplex power box will connect a custom-wired double-female heavy cable from the desk to the wall. Inside this hidden cupboard will exist the UPS backup and power filtration system to avoid surge while under use. All power cables can run through hidden holes in that recessed panel, and to their desired Undersidelocations. The isolated power distribution center will also help reduce the heat load on the tower in the upper portion of the desk. The printer shelf is clearly visible here, on the very top of the desk, where it can sit undisturbed.

DrawersNext we have the lower-front image, covering the drawers. The lower-most drawer will serve as a filing cabinet, capable of holding Ledger (11″x17″ pages) or smaller, the upper two desk drawers on either side are the same footprint size but significantly shallower, as the image illustrates.

Lower Desk CarcassThis cut-diagram page is meant to cover the whole bottom carcass of the desk, and the following (next-to-last) includes the desktop, the top and bottom of the upper Computer Tower and Printer assembly, as well as the spine and two rear walls of the desk top.

This last image is the cut-diagram for the entire project, for the purposes of contrast. It is entirely possible to do this whole project with ten sheets of 1/2″ (~12.5mm) plywood, though you’d have to be VERY careful with which cuts you make and when, also to be wary of saw kerf. What wastage there is hovers around 10-15%, which comforts me greatly. Tops and WallsIt’s not often that I’ve seen furniture make so little waste, and be as sturdy as this desk which is ENTIRELY made of 1/2″ (~12.5mm) ply.

Cut LayoutThe individual cubbies in the cupboards are ideal for gadget storage, and the deep, wide shelves in the upper portion (Where the computer electronics drawer is located, above which the printer shelf rests) would be ideal places for cellphone chargers, coffee coasters or a USB hub with flash drives poking out of it. The shelves would be better suited to larger external storage devises like SSD’s, HDD’s or NAS. All the computer fans can be attached to a potentiometer and wired directly into the main distribution system, if you wanted to fiddle with inverting the current, or run them all through your computer if you wished to play with jumpers and wire it that way. The 8 fans, each 120mm (~5″) ought to be handled easily by any new mother board, and should you set them low enough, the sound ought to be virtually inaudible; especially since this whole desk could/should be glued and screwed together, possibly even using dadoes and/or dowels.

I would recommend dry-fits first, then a dis-assembly and 2-3 coats of heavy paint after a good multi-grit sanding. Anything worth doing is worth doing well (or in this case, is worth OVER-doing) and a desk like this should last two lifetimes. It’s possible to build the parts separately, the monitor mounts, the upper PC cabinet, the side cabinets and the upper rear wall for individual assembly prior to moving the furniture. It can then be brought to any room and re-assembled.

I’m rather happy with this one and am honestly not sure if there’s anything else I’d change. IF anything at all, it’d be to play with the air flow in the PC drawer and upper shelf assembly… there are some void spaces where the air would get stagnant and lose velocity. We want to suck the chips off the board with the cooling in that thing, which ought to keep your computer vibrant and youthful until it’s planned obsolescence. Five or six years in the future, depending how thoroughly you future-proof.

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