My Homemade (ultimate iMac) Desk

Discussion in 'Picture Gallery' started by fivepoint, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #1
    Intro
    Well, I've set out on a journey, and I thought I would take you guys along for the ride. I've decided to build my very own computer desk -- from scratch -- and although I don't have any experience, I've got good facilities to use, a good 'teacher' who will help me from time to time, and a (hopefully) good idea for a desk.


    The Motivation
    I got a new house last September, and a new 2.8 Core 2 Dou 24" iMac this February. I have an old desk I am using now, but it really doesn't do the iMac justice. Currently my setup is downstairs, hiding in the deep corner of the house... when it should be out in the open getting all the attention.

    Also, at night if I am down on the computer and my wife is in the kitchen or in the living room, we won't see eachother for hours on end. We'd like to have the computer upstairs so we 'see eachother' more at night time.


    The Idea
    My wife agreed to turn our current living room into a "den" and our current formal living room into the new "living room". This will make it easy for us to spend more time with eachother since the den, kitchen, and living room are all right next to eachother, and will also get the computer up front-and-center in the house for all to see!

    Anyway, as for the desk, my main goal was to show off the computer, putting it well within sight, and eliminating cord clutter as much as possible. I wanted to maintain a simple, elegant, modern design, with a dark stain that would match some of the other furniture in our house. Because of this, I designed a very simple 'writer's desk' type of design with three main drawers and one hidden drawer which would house all of my electronics such as hard drives, iPods, cameras, etc.

    The hidden drawer idea -- I think -- is very cool because the only cords you will see are the 4-5 cords coming from the computer, through a grommet, apparently to under the desk and then no where. The only think you will see coming out of the desk will be a single power cord plugged into the wall. The drawer will include a server-grade surge protector and every electronic I own! I think it should turn out pretty cool.

    I will continue to post photos and details as the project progresses.





    UPDATE: Here is a "teaser" image for you of the finished result.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #2
    nice idea - we need a bigger sketch though

    The price of desks at Ikea theough - you have to ask is it really worth it?
     
  3. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #3
    The Original Sketch

    This image doesn't really show much, but it give you an idea as to the scale and the general 'style' of the desk I am hoping to acheive. The stain will be a dark 'espresso' or 'java' type color.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #4
    I adjusted the photo, thanks.

    True, and it would probably be CHEAPER to get one at Ikea. I could certainly go out and buy a desk, and get one that would last me a few years... but for lots of reasons, I want to try it myself.

    1) The challenge. The learning. The experience.
    2) The quality of this homemade one, will be FAR SUPERIOR to the Ikea furniture. Instead of lasting 5-10 years, it will likely last 50-100. Hopefully it is something I can pass down to my kids if they want it.
    3) I have access to the facilities to build it.
    4) I have access to a teacher who is willing to spend time with me.
    5) I enjoy doing things with my hands from time to time. I am on computers all day and a good portion of most nights. Building things and doing physical labor makes me feel alive again and like I am doing something truly worth while. I don't know, you just have to do it to understand I guess.
    6) I can build it exactly as I want it. I looked at a few other furniture stores, including Ikea, but non had EXACTLY what I wanted. I could have lived with something else, but this will be neat because it will meet my needs perfectly.
    7) I can brag about it. I will love it when someone comes into my house and says "I like that desk." to which I can reply, "thanks, I built it myself!" The idea makes me smirk a little.

    None of these reasons individually would be enough, but together, combined with the fact that I have the extra time and the desire to learn in general and advance my knowledge on various fronts... I think it is worth it. I think it will be a great learning experience, and I look forward to it.
     
  5. UMHurricanes34 macrumors 65816

    UMHurricanes34

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #5
    I think its great that you're going to do this. The concept sounds fantastic as well, especially the cord management. Can't wait to see the progress
     
  6. Xfujinon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa City, Iowa
    #6
    I love the idea! All the power to you.

    Someday when I have a home (i.e., a workshop), I will begin the process of making furniture. Little things at first (small bookcases, shelving, etc.), but eventually I would like to get into some larger, heavier duty furniture like desks, barrister's cases, and the like.

    I echo your sentiments exactly; I could buy all of these things, but then they have no deeper connection, and no sense of uniqueness. I enjoy the challenge of making things with my hands also, it keeps me nimble and allows me to exercise my problem-solving as I play with designs.

    I look forward to hearing more about this project as it develops!


    Best wishes!
     
  7. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #7

    Thank you for the support! Xfujinon, I liked your comment about the problem-solving aspect, and I think you're right... there are going to be some solutions to be found and it should be a worthwhile challenge if it all goes the way I expect.
     
  8. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #8
    My OLD Setup

    Here is a photo of the setup I am trying to replace.

    The desk is downstairs, basically all alone in a room. The computer in this photo is my old 17" iMac which I replaced with the 24" aluminum version in February. The desk is very "Ikeaesque", and made from a basic MDF particle board composite material which has held up pretty good outside of the wear and tear on the thin veneer under my wrists and of the cheap silver edgebanding around the outside of the table.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #9
    Hidden Drawer Sketch

    This is just a little sketch of what the backside of the desk might look like and/or how the "hidden drawer" would function. You'll have to forgive the speed at which I did this, and the apparent lack of care about things like porportion and scale... Just think of it as an 'abstract drawing' and then it will seem like I did it perfectly.

    On a related note, something I didn't mention earlier, but which is pretty important to the design... this desk will not be put up against the wall. It will actually sit in the center of the room, as the focal point. It will be kind of like a business office desk, where all there is is a set of bookshelves and a desk. This idea wouldn't work very well if I were short on space and needed to push the desk up against the wall.

    [​IMG]



    If you guys have any questions, suggestions, or comments along the way... please be sure and pass them on. I will be very interseted to see what you guys think or answer any questions you have as the project progresses.
     
  10. Hls811 macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #10
    I have that desk!!!! :) Go OfficeMax!

    And good luck w/ the new desk!! It should be a neat project!
     
  11. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #11
    Off and Running

    Well, I'm off to a good start. Last night We got a lot done...

    1) Cut plywood top to size. (66"x36" minus edgebanding size of 2" on each side) so 62"x 32". This went pretty easily. The table saw is kind of 'daunting' at first, but once you get a feel for the forces involved, it is really quite easy, and amazingly accurate!

    2) Cut edgebanding to size. The edgebanding is made from 3/4" cherry material (the whole project is going to be cherry wood), and had to be run through the wide-belt sander a few times to get it down to the same thickness as the ply. The wide belt sander is really cool. Think of it as a giant rotary sander that sits on the floor and accepts a piece of sandpaper about 4 ft. wide and about 6 ft. in diameter.

    3) Used a router to create a "v-groove". Note, this is not the 'router' you're used to in the computing world. Click the link to see what I'm talking about. :) When we go to join the edgebanding and plywood, usually people just attach them, sand it, and that is it. However, my 'teacher' showed me that the 'v-groove' approach -- which basically just involves adding a small groove between the two on the top side of the table -- makes the change in grain seem intentional, almost like you are framing around the ply instead of trying to hide it as much as possible. Anyway, just look between the ply and edgebanding to see the "v-groove".

    4) Used a Kreg Jig (this woodshop swears by them) to attach the panel and egebanding together. This was very slick. Because we were using this tool, I guess there is no gluing involved, and no clamping necessary because the little screws hold the joint together really strongly. This was fun to use.

    5) Sanded the joint. Once the edgebanding was on, it was almost perfect, but I was told that it still wouldn't hurt to sand that joint to make sure that it is perfect. Small variances like that really show up once there is stain and lacquer on the project.

    Anyway, here are a few photos from the first night of work!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020

    BillyBobBongo

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    #12
    IKEA is all well and good....but as soon as 'moving parts' get involved it all usually goes belly up after a few months.

    Besides....how cool will it be when you have guests over and they ask where you got that fabulous desk from....and you can say 'I made it!'. :D

    -------

    Looking cool 'fivepoint'....joinery is always a pain, but I'm sure it'll work out!
     
  13. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #13
    Hidden Drawer Innards

    Here is another sketch I had done which basically lays out the inside of the hidden drawer as I see it currently. I've got two HDs to take care of (one for Time Machine, and one for everythign else), a analog/DV switch, various iPods, an iPhone (which I am leaning towards leaving on top of the desk in the dock), etc.

    [​IMG]





    Also, here is the surge protector that I've ordered. It's a server-grade surge protector, meant to be put in a 19" server rack. It has 12 ports, so that should be MORE than enough! It's going to be about 5 inches narrower than the 'hidden drawer' so I'll have to cut some spacers I make it sentered in the drawer. One thing I am concerned about... when the cords go in and out of the grommet on the top side of the desk, and the power cord from the surge protector goes out of the drawer, that will be fine... but when I am sliding the drawer in and out, I'll have to make sure I have enough cord length to compensate for the movement. I am not 100% sure how this will be done... so if you have any ideas, please feel free to share them!

    [​IMG]
     
  14. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #14
    Are confident enough not to have a UPS??
     
  15. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #15
    UPS? No. Fed-Ex has always been fine with me...

    Haha, but seriously, what is UPS? Did I not order the correct surge protector hardware?



    UPDATE:
    Ahhhh... UPS: Uninterruptible Power Supply
    To be honest, I had never thought about it. I can't think of a real good reason why I would need this since I do not work from home. Maybe I am missing something? If the power goes out and my computer shuts down, that's no big deal, I just don't want a power surge to ruin any of my equipment... and I hope I got a surge protector capable of protecting against that.
     
  16. EarthDawn macrumors 6502a

    EarthDawn

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Location:
    Long-eye Land, NY
    #16
    good luck ... i am looking forward to the updates on this....


    very cool project and some really good and well thought out ideas
     
  17. bluedoggiant macrumors 68030

    bluedoggiant

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    MD & ATL,GA
  18. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #18
    I like the idea of the hidden drawer for the HD's and such, but just out of curiosity are you providing good airflow for those HD's. Being in a confined space such as a drawer and having two HD's going at the same time could cause some heat issues.

    Just a thought.

    Peace:cool:

    P.S. Tripp Lite surge protectors are a really good protector. We use them in the Audio Visual industry to protect all of our very, very expensive gear.
     
  19. saltyzoo macrumors 65816

    saltyzoo

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    #19
    If you don't mind losing the work you currently have open, and possibly corrupting a system file preventing you from booting, then you don't need a UPS.

    A hard power down with no warning isn't a great idea. It's always better to have a UPS so you can shut down the system before power is disconnected.
     
  20. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #20
    Valid point, however, It's not necessarily a huge deal if it happens just once. And you would need to know the maximum power consumption of ALL your devices to be able to get the right UPS. and they can get mighty expensive.
     
  21. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #21
    Good thought about the heat issue. I had been running that through my head a little bit... basically I can see it two ways.
    There will be a 2 inch gap (or so) between the top of the drawer and the bottom of the table-top when the drawer is closed. By definition, there isn't much I can do to change or improve upon this. However, one idea would be to put breather holes on either side of the drawer which would increase the horizontal air movement, if that can be obtained.

    My only question is whether or not these holes on the left and right sides of the drawers would actually help anything. It would certainly look better with no holes, so if they aren't going to benefit me... I would rather skip that step.

    I think this is something I am going to wait and figure out once I get the desk setup and hard drives fired up to test the heat. Once I have more data, I can make a more educated decision on the right course of action. If I had to guess, I would bet that the gap a the top of the drawer will be sufficient to release enough of the heat from the enclosed space.

    But, we'll see.




    I see your point, but I think that this may be overkill in my case. I have been living here for about a year so far, and so far not experienced a single power outage. If they were a regular occurance, it would seem not to be a healthy thing for the computer in the long run and I would consider that as an option.

    Also, I think the necessary UPS would be too darn big for the minimalist/fully enclosed/modern design I am trying to acheive. I don't think they would fit in my 'hidden drawer'.
     
  22. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #22
    Sure, it's always better. However, I've been using computers for over 20 years, never had a UPS, had dozens of power outages, and there's never been a problem other than losing whatever work I hadn't saved at the time. Based on my anecdotal experience, it's quite unlikely that major damage will occur if the computer isn't being used for mission-critical work.

    BTW, love the desk! One suggestion: Put a USB hub in the drawer to minimize the number of cables coming out of the computer.
     
  23. saltyzoo macrumors 65816

    saltyzoo

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    #23
    It's never a big deal until it's a big deal. ;)

    It's rarely an issue, not a huge risk. But it's a risk.
     
  24. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #24
    Why go to work, when you can 'woodwork'?

    Well, I took a little personal time off of work today, and got some serious progress made on the desk. I am very happy with where it is going!

    This morning we started working on the desk's legs. Often times with legs, you'd exptect that they're made out of one solid piece of wood. However, most of the time they are actually made from 2 to 4 laminated pieces of 3/4" wood. Laminated, meaning glued together and clamped until the glue sticks, and then sanded down to look like one piece. I was a bit skeptical at first, but was amazed (once the sanding was done) at how good it looked! You would think there would be definite lines down two edges of the leg, but since we took the etra time matching up wood grain and making sure to have a quality fit... I wwould guess that 90% of you wouldn't be able to tell unless you had your nose in it. (sorry I didn't get any photos of this)

    After the legs were 'laminated' together and sanded down to size, we had to 'bevel' the legs. Basically, the way I had designed the legs, they were about 3" square at the top, and about 1-3/4" square at the bottom. Because of this, we had to create a bevel on two sides (the inside faces of the leg) which would pull off the look I was trying to acheive. However, because of the 'aprins' that we would be putting on the next step, the top 6-7 inches needed to be perfectly straight. So, to do this we had to create a "table saw beveling jig" which would allow us to cut the bevel just like a regular straight cut on the table saw.

    Needless to say, it was a pretty 'advanced process' and although it took a bit of time, I hope the look is worth it. On any future projects (if I survive this one) I may choose to do just a simple straight leg.

    After the legs were cut to size, beveled on two sides, and sanded, they were ready to be attached to the underside of the table-top along with the 'aprins'. The aprins are just the straight pieces which go between the 4 legs to add strength to the legs and to hide the underside of the table. Again, we did this using "pocket holes" which we made with the Kreg Jig that I linked to earlier. By the way, I've got to tell you... the more I use this tool, the more I am impressed with it. It really makes joining the individual workpieces far faster and easier than it would take with dowels, biscuits, or mortise and tenon. And boy are the joints strong! Anyway, enough of the commercial. Below are some photos of the legs and side aprins attached to the the table top. And for the first time, the table stands on its own 4 feet!





    Here you can see the pocket holes which hold the edgebanding and plywood together. I used more than I probably needed, but like they say... "better safe than sorry".
    [​IMG]



    Here you can see it at a slightly different angle. At the top-center of the photo, you can see how the legs were attached. Each leg is about 1-1/2" from each edge of the table top. I also used glue just to avoid squeaking in the long-term.
    [​IMG]



    Here is an up-close photo of a leg/table-top joint. Based on other things I've done in the past, I would say one of the most important things to be sure of when doing something like this, is to get each cut 100% accurate. 1/32" here and 1/32" inch there add up quickly, and before you know it, the table isn't square, and wobbles!
    [​IMG]



    Dropping a screw in the Pocket Hole
    [​IMG]



    Using Kreg machine to put pocket holes in side aprin.
    [​IMG]



    Decorative v-groove in side aprin.
    [​IMG]



    Ta-Da! The desk stands up! I can not believe how sturdy this thing is. It seems like it is made out of solid steel or something! It is already quite heavy, and the drawers aren't even in yet.
    [​IMG]



    Here is a photo with a junkie desk chair next to the desk. As you can see from the photo, the next thing to add to the desk is the front/back aprins and/or 'face-frames' which will serve to hold the drawers in place and support the long length of the table.
    [​IMG]





    I have to say, this thing has been so fun to build so far. And so educational. I had no idea that so much work went into something like this... every time you think it is going to take 10 minutes to do something, it takes 1 hour. (If you do it right that is) Every time I try and go to fast, I catch myself about to make a mistake. It is worth it to work at a steady pace and be deliberate with everything you do. I'm probably about half done, and I am already glad that I started this project... how rewarding!
     
  25. DJAKO macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    Michigan
    #25
    Neat project, I look forward to seeing your progress.
     

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