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Last Updated: 7/02/2006



Computer Desk

Computer Desk
Computer Desk
(from Wood Magazine)

One day, I realized I was tired of my decrepit, 15-year-old particle-board computer desk, and after looking at the crappy and overpriced store-bought models, decided to build my own. This launched my new hobby of woodworking.

I found plans for a desk I liked on Wood Magazine's store site. It's a 3-piece corner desk, with two side tables and a third section that fits into the corner where the monitor and keyboard are located. With black plastic laminate work surfaces and oak legs, I really like the look, and the simple rectilinear styling. I believe this desk is supposed to contain elements from the Craftsman style of woodworking and architecture, which has many things in common with the Prairie and Arts & Crafts styles of the early 1900s in America.

Desk Legs
Desk Legs
Desk Legs with Finish
Desk Legs with Finish

I first built all four leg units, and the stretchers that join them. In addition, I modified the design so that most of the desk can be disassembled ("knocked down") easily, using special fasteners. The stretchers that join the legs, for instance, are normally joined with mortise-and-tenon joints, which are glued together. I modified this by omitting the glue, and adding antique brass bolts and threaded inserts.

Stretcher End with Knockdown Hardware
Stretcher End with Knockdown Hardware
Completed Short Table
Completed Short Table

For the tops, I cut pieces of plywood from a 4-by-8 sheet, and laminated them with Wilsonart plastic countertop laminate (similar to Formica). Then I cut oak banding pieces and attached them on each side using biscuits. (Here again, I deviated from the plans, which called for splines made from handboard. Biscuit joinery is much faster and easier, and stronger too, as long as you have a biscuit joiner.)

This desk was also made with red oak wood, rather than the typical quartersawn white oak that is normally used for furniture of this style, because of cost. I didn't want to use a more expensive wood for my first project, plus I decided that red oak looked good enough. Now that a couple of years has passed and I've looked at other furniture by other woodworkers, I've decided that while I like many elements of the Craftsman, Arts & Crafts, and Mission styles, I'm really not that drawn to the quartersawn white oak with its characteristic "flecks". I finished the oak using two coats of Minwax red mahogany stain, and three to four coats of Minwax high-gloss polyurethane.

So far, I've assembled the both table units and the center section, and have installed them in my office. My next step is to build the cabinet and drawers. I'm hoping those might help me reduce some of the clutter that's built up on the desk so quickly.

In retrospect, if I had to do this project over, here's some things I would do differently:

Completed Desk
Completed Desk