Overview and Access
The tools and parts used in this guide are common, what I use is not necessarily the best. If you do not own these power-tools, ask a neighbor, relative, employer, or friend to borrow theirs; the DeWalt angle grinder used in this guide is a borrow. Many work benches are stocked with sad, unused equipment, with owners that would be glad to see them put to use. Making this desk at a reasonable cost requires resourcefulness. Power Tools
- Jigsaw w/ 12-16 TPI Blades - Used to cut the plates. To properly cut aluminum, you should be using a plasma cutter. As I do not have access to one, this will have to do. Blades are $8 per 5-pack at Lowes, I used three blades during this project. Don't use tungsten carbide or wood-blades.
- Power Drill - Drills the holes that connect pipe-flanges to the plate. Two bits were used, a 1/4" and 9/16".
- Angle Grinder w/ Steel Wire Brush - Cleans and polishes aluminum. Since scrap-aluminum comes with scratches, creating brush-patterns makes it look new, reduces the visibility of wear-and-tear, and is quite beautiful.
- Mitre Saw w/ Steel Grinding Disc- Cuts the pipes used for the frame. A hacksaw will work, but is exhausting.
- Four-foot Level - Measures everything.
- Sharpie - Marks everything.
- Hammer - For making bolts flush.
- Crescent Wrench - Tightens hex nuts.
- 1/4" Hex-Key - Tightens Kee Klamps.
- Cutting Fluid - Makes your jigsaw cut much faster, vibrate less, reduces heat, and keeps your blades from wearing out.
- Acetone - Cleans up pen marks, dirts, and oils.
- Bar-Clamps - Hold the plates to a stable surface.
- Saw-Horses or Cinder-Blocks - You need the plate elevated to cut it properly.
Fabricating effectively requires safety, if you're hurt, the project can take longer or be canceled. A wood speck in your eye will eventually go away, an aluminum speck can dig in and require a trip to the hospital. I take safety very seriously, so I can continue making fun projects.
- Wrap-Around Eye Protection - I use sunglasses, and keep my head as far back from the jigsaw as possible. Available for cheap at any hardware store.
- Leather Gloves - Leather over synthetic, the metal is going to become extremely hot, especially when polishing with the wire brush. Your tools will become very hot after hours of use, not to mention sharp edges. Mine were $6 at the local hardware store.
- Earplugs - Your hearing only degrades with time, take care of it.
- Dust Mask (Optional) - During polishing a lot of aluminum dust fills the air, breathing it for awhile makes your nose and lungs stuffy.
1/4" Aluminum Plates - The most difficult to obtain material for cheap. A new 4' x 8' x 1/4" plate costs about $400. All of the plates came from my city's scrapyard. Every purchase situation will be different, everything can be done with one large plate; Two plates were purchased due to projects not relating to the desk.
LEDs Tools and Parts
- A 4' x 8' x 1/4" plate ($107). A full desk can be made with just one of these.
- A 38" x 66"' x 3/16" plate ($31). I do not like anything lower than 1/4", this is what was available, being thinner requires more bracing.
- 1" Overhead Canopy Pipe - Schedule 40 (Structural) pipe is available, but not necessary for this project. Electrical conduit piping, if it fits the flanges, can also be used.
- 1/4" Diameter 1" Long Carriage Bolts and Nuts (1/4" #20)
- Carriage-bolts are smooth on top, I do not recommend hex-bolts. Also acceptable are elevator bolts. List of Bolt Types.
- Kee-Klamps - The joints that connect everything together, they use a hex screw to tighten onto a pipe and are easy to attach or remove. The difference between vendors is brand name and finish (chrome vs. galvanized), they all work equally well. The price difference for a 90 Degree Two Socket Tee is $12 at Simplified Design (Not recommended) vs $3 at Lab Safety Supply -- it adds up.
- Two Recommended Suppliers
- Lab Safety Supply - The cheapest supplier I could find. They sell galvanized, good selection. Extremely fast shipping. All connectors were purchased here.
- DrillSpot - Great prices, absolutely amazing customer service. They sell both brand-name Kee Klamps and generic galvanized. I bought my 1" Flanges from them, but about 25% of my flanges have a hex nut that won't thread due to defects.
- 14x 90 Degree Two Socket Tee 1"
- 4x Single Socket Tee 1"
- 18x Railing Flange 1"
For ambient lighting / underglow. This step is moderately costly, but it adds greatly to the value of the desk.
- 3W Luxeon LED Stars; 4x Red and 6x Blue.
- 5W 3.3 Ohm Cement Resistors
- Three were needed, pack of 10 from cn-resource on eBay.
- 65W 12v Laptop Power Supply.
- 15 W Soldering Iron, Solder, Wire - Instructable on How to Solder by noahw.
- Artic Alumina Ceramic Thermal-Epoxy - Glues the LEDs and transfers heat to the underside of the plate.