Built from scratch computer desk help (woodworking)

Hey world, i was wondering if any carpentry buffs out there could give me a hand, i have a very simple project: a desk using only 4 pieces of straight board, one for the top surface, 2 for the sides/legs, and one for support. (if you're having trouble visualizing it, look at the pic below). what i need help with is what kind of wood to use, i was thinking some hard wood, but i dont know what would be most cost effective (not goin for beauty here, it'll all be painted in the end) I plan to make a bunch of cut outs in the surface so i can incorperate things like an ipod dock, slots for papers and holes for wires to be hidden. I dont know if that would help determine what kind of wood to use, but i assume every bit of info i can provide would help :) thanks in advance! ADRENIHOLIC

Picture of Built from scratch computer desk help (woodworking)
sort by: active | newest | oldest
caitlinsdad9 years ago
The easiest is to go with 3/4" thick plywood or MDF. MDF is already smooth and ready for priming and painting. Depending on the grade of plywood you get, mid-grade B-C, one of the faces may need extra sanding and wood filler to get a nice smooth surface. They do sell oriented strand board -OSB, which I guess is refered to as chip plates or waferboard. That has a pretty rough surface. Using MDF or OSB, you should use glue and special screws which hold better in particle-like boards. You can dress up the front edge with a piece of 1x2 or 1x3 to give the top an overall look of being thicker. It will also reinforce the edge to prevent it from sagging under weight. You can then round over the edge for comfort by using a router or just sandpaper. You can also get veneer edging to dress up the raw plywood edges. Build it so the tabletop rests on the tops of your side panels and screw down into the side panels. That center support under the table can also have a thinner piece glued to it as a flange creating an "I" beam for strength on the tabletop. Or even a small length of wood to make that a stubby "L" shaped shelf. Screw on your power strip there to make your wiring neater. Good luck.
Oh, if you were asking about hardwood, no sense in using oak, mahaogony or something like that since you will paint it. Poplar and pine are fine for staining and painting but you need to get preformed planks the depth of the desk you are making or join it up yourself. You can base your design and measurements by thumbing through an IKEA catalog.
Adrenaholic (author)  caitlinsdad9 years ago
thanks for the tips :D i actually got that picture from the ikea website :) The idea for the shelf is a good one, i hadnt thought of that, it could also be a good place for a battery back up (as long as it isnt too heavy) Thanks again :)
My local Ikea has this wonderful "Bargain Corner" which has all the parts that have fallen out of boxes that they can't find again. This means you can buy large pieces of wood for a couple of bucks, not to mention an entire bag of fixings for £1. I think veneered chipboard is the cheapest option and perfectly fine for furniture (as most is anyway). You'll need to prime it first but it should paint fine. Depending on the length of your desk, 18mm might be thick enough or use 22mm.
There's an ible somewhere that put a piece of pegboard under the desk so that you can tie-wrap and route your cables neatly underneath.
MDF seems like your best bet, 14MM would last a lifetime after painting, 9MM HDF might work aswell but weight would pile up quick, a few braces along the underside of the desk allow you to use thinner material for the top saving on the cost of one large sheet by being thinner. For the UPS (what you meant by battery backup?) if you're only making the shelf below for the lighter stuff then just add a couple of braces made from 1X2 or some such to bear the weight and use hardboard for the shelf making sure it's attached securely along the edges, combine with a little wood filler for the front and sand the whole thing smooth, paint and it'll look seamless aswell.
110100101109 years ago
if you use real wood i think anything is ok if you use MDF (its material thats kinda both like wood and plastic) i think anything is ok - just try to not crack it if you use chip plates (made of highly compressed wood chips glued together) or wafers (made of layers of 'fibers' with alterating direction) then avoid any screws and dont drill into the plate from its end to avoid cracking the support in the image seems little too short to me i have desktop exactly like your planned one (with support about 2 times taller than your) made of ~ 15mm thick chip plates and it used to take 2 computers + 2 CRT monitors (placed above the support) + me leaning on it without trouble