Introduction: Cheap and Easy Desktop Electric Outlet
I use an old corner unit computer desk as a workbench for computers and other things that people make me fix. I got tired of climbing under the desk to plug and unplug tools and other things that I was working on. I am also a neat-freak and didn't want a power-strip/surge-protector cluttering up my desktop. My solution was to actually install 2 electrical outlets near the rear of the work area and try not to start a fire.
I am not an electrician, so I headed to Home Depot with an idea and some questions. (Home Depot employees have all the answers.) The part-time employee assured me that my idea would work and not start a fire. I rejoiced, built two of them that worked like charms, and decided to share the process.
Here is a step-by-step of how to make easy and safe desktop outlets.
Step 1: Collect Your Materials.
There is a relatively short materials list for this project. All you need is:
1 - outlet
1 - face plate
1 - electrical cord with ground wire and plug.
1 - plastic outlet box (I am not sure what these are called. They have plastic tabs that fold out and can be tightened with screws to hold them to the wall, or in this case, the desk.)
You are also going to need a drill, a screwdriver, and a saw of some sort.
Step 2: Cut the Hole in the Desk.
I used a Sharpie to draw out where I would need to cut through the desk. I used the box as a template of sorts.
Then I used my Dremel tool to cut out the chunk of wood.
Step 3: Making More Holes in Things.
We have to drill a hole in the box for the electrical cord to go in. I made the hole large enough to accommodate the cord, but snug enough that the cord would not slide around.
Then I threaded the cord into the box.
Step 4: Wire Up the Outlet.
Strip the wires enough to work with. Then wire them to the electrical outlet. The outlet will have directions on which wire to hook up to where. There are screws on the outlet that you wrap the wires around then tighten down. Easy work.
Step 5: Test the Outlet.
Plug something into the newly wired outlet, then plug the business end of the wire into the wall. Switch on the thing you plugged in. If it turns on, then you have done well.
~Please be careful. While the back of the outlet is exposed, it is really easy to shock yourself and death may occur.~
IMMEDIATELY UNPLUG AFTER YOU TEST!
Step 6: Secure Cable in Box.
I attached a zip-tie to the cable about 4 inches down from the outlet. The zip-tie prevents the cable from pulling from the outside of the box and putting stress on the connections to the outlet.
(Side note - The uses of zip-ties are immeasurable.)
Step 7: Secure It All in the Hole and Cover.
Thread the plug end of the cord through the hole in the desk. Then place the box into the hole and secure it in place by tightening the screws attached to the tabs.
Screw the outlet into the box.
Screw the face-plate over the outlet.
Step 8: Plug in and Use.
Plug into the wall and you are ready to go. Remember not to overtax an outlet with a lot of items plugged into it. I have two of these outlets on my desk and they are both plugged into the same wall outlet. I do not split anymore off of that wall outlet, nor do I put any sort of splitters on the desk plugs.
I have had these for a few months now and they have spoiled me. The day after I did this project, I added a 3 port ethernet outlet onto my desk with a hidden switch underneath. I will make an instructable out of that as well.
All the best.