Since many of the projects on this site have helped me in the past, I thought it was time to give back. This is my first instructable, so go easy on me. Unfortunately I don't have pictures of the individual steps or even "before" pictures. I didn't think to publish an instructable until after my project was completed. The pic tells the complete story. If you don't like it, modify it, make it better or check out another solution. I personally like the pegboard design I saw on Lifehacker a while back, but my solution cost $0 and it is moderately adjustable, so it works best for me.

The problem:
The mess of cables on and under my computer desk was out of control. I couldn't vacuum under the desk, I'd get my feet tangled in them, I couldn't unplug anything without yanking something else out and it just looked messy. The list goes on and on.

The goal:
To create a solution to the problem that can be had with little or no money and little expertise, while utilizing stuff around the house. Nothing elegant, just simple and utilitarian.

First, a bit of background on the desk. I like mine simple and clean. My computer desk consists of an old cubicle slab on adjustable legs. The legs are adjustable from Rockler and are $39.99 for the set of four, the slab I got from my employer for free, its very sturdy and heavy. That's it. Slab on legs.

Tools needed:
Drill bits (sized for your fasteners)
Bolt cutter (or hacksaw if you need to shorten the length of the shelf)
Tape measure

Materials needed:
Length of Closet Maid or similar wire shelving (I used a 3'-0" section)
Closet Maid or similar plastic end caps
(2) steel angles (2 per 3'-0" of shelving, I'd recommend one additional angle for every 1'-0" or so of shelving)
Wood screws (lengths based on your desk thickness)
Zip ties in assorted lengths (I used the permanent ones, you can use the reusable ones too)
Gardner Bender or similar cable management clips (I used the Gardner Bender SnapSHOT MultiCable Staple)
All your spaghetti of wires under the desk

All of the above materials can be found at your local big box home improvement store. I got lucky and had all of this stuff lying around the basement, so this only cost me some sweat and elbow grease.

Be sure to check out the pictures at the end of this instructable, they show important details.

Step 1: Planning and prep

First things first. Unplug and organize all your existing wires and cables, clear off and clean your desk. Think about how you want your desk laid out. What is comfortable for you? Where does the monitor go? Will the PC go on the floor or on the desk? Are you planning on adding to your gadget/wire/adapter collection in the future? A dual monitor setup with an old CRT I had prompted me to do this project. Maybe you have something you're thinking of doing in the future? Plan for it. Sketch it out on paper first. Make sure you have all the necessary cables and appropriate lengths/adapters, etc... Answer all these questions before moving on, you'll thank me later.

Once you have a home for everything, set it up where you want it. Most cables detach completely from the peripheral (i.e. PC, monitor, external drive, etc...). This makes it easy to set up the peripherals without the tangle of the cords. Lay out the cable on the shelf, figure out how you want things to run, you may want to attach other things besides cables to the shelf. Take a picture of the layout. I ran mine blind and had to make some adjustments because of it.
Great use of existing equipment. I'm looking to build something similar for my workspace. I prefer not to poke any holes on the wall and need something that is attached under the table.
Nice idea! My wife will love it. She is always complaining about the cables behind our computer desk.
I like this and think it's a very simple yet elegant solution...just out of curiosity -- why mount the unit to the wall so the "clutter" can still be seen rather than the underside of the table itself w/some lag-bolts and eye-hooks so you could even mount and unmount?  Just a thought.
Thanks for compliment. Lag bolts/hooks are a great idea! My goal was to create something that I had sitting around the house and to spend little or no money. The way my office is laid out, there would be no reason for me to remove the shelf so I decided on angles &amp; zip ties.<br />
&nbsp;i love this idea, specially &nbsp;the shelf &nbsp;:) i'll build one for mine.<br /> thanx buddy :)
Gr8 instructable! The pictures are very well done. I've seen too many blurry photos.<br />
i give you commended performance on this ible. it is very unique and well written. especially for your first ible. you sir, get 4.5 stars! <br />
&nbsp;Something else I like to do is to put my label maker to good use (and before it masking tape and a Sharpie) and label all the cords down there so that when you need to unplug something you can hopefully undo the right cable.<br />
I like this, and I will soon be using this idea of yours. I will of course make adjustments for myself, but I think it will work perfectly
i would have positioned the router so i can see the diagnostic lights. perhaps mount a mirror? you could probably use an old compact mirror (from wife or girlfriend)
This looks great. I am off to go buy my parts right now. I hope that it turns out as good as yours. Thanks for the advice and taking the time to make this guide.
Very good solution. An alternative will soon be available at www.cablox.com No more loose cables! The Cablox Brigade
This is a GREAT idea! I have an old wooden army desk with a pool of wires at the back that I can't clean around. This should take care of the problem. Thanks for taking the time to post. :)
Coils of wire with electricity going through will cause heat and magnetic fields, its unsafe and can cause fires,
J_Mi Thanks for pointing that out. While your point is very true, I think in this case any additional magnetic field or heat difference is negligible. We are not talking about 100's of feet of tightly wound, high current wire here. They are off the ground and will get better airflow instead of collecting dust and getting stepped on or tripped over while being on the floor.
looks professional
That's pretty good. I use the Velcro peel-off strips that come on a roll, but I like your ideas. One problem I had with mine was my speaker wire. When I coiled it up it became an antenna for the local AM radio station. I have to stretch it out to keep from hearing a buzz of country music all the time.
Thanks for the feedback. Never thought of the velcro strips. Good idea!
Two rolls of 50 were under $5 at Home Depot.
So you live probably very closely to the transmitter or your speaker is very badly designed/shielded. As you can't shut down the transmitter and most probably don't won't to buy new speakers, you might like to try to add some toroidal cores on your speaker wires. The bigger ones (often used in PCs and power supplies) open into two halves and can be mounted around a single speaker cable or even some coiled up speaker cables. If you have (or can find) a bigger toroidal core ferroid (not sure, if this is English ;-) ), wrap the end of the speaker line around it some time (6..10 times should do). This will block any high-frequency waves picked up from nearby transmitters. If it doesn't help ... well just let the cable drop down on the floor _ANTYTHING_ is better than country music.. (sorry c.m. lovers ot there..) :-)
Thanks. That's very helpful. For now I have that one wire stretched out and taped to the underside of the table. So far so good but I'll definitely remember your suggestion. I re-rig my wires occasionally.
Great, now I have a project for tonight when I get bored! Thank you very much!!! Faved and Rated -gamer

About This Instructable


151 favorites


More by 70melbatoast: Computer desk cable management on the cheap
Add instructable to: