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How to Build a Polished Concrete Desk

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This Instructable documents the construction of my new Modern desk with a polished concrete desktop!
 
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Step 1: Plans!

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Plan and layout the desk. Take measurements of the location you plan to place it. Nothing is worse than building something you wont be able to use. Make sure the concrete is broken up into manageable pieces both to prevent fractures, and to make sure that it is humanly possible to carry it to its final location! Also consider styling and other design elements. I decided to build a relatively minimal and modern corner desk.

Step 2: Buy Materials and Tools

I used:
about 30-35 board-feet of Lyptus wood,
a sheet of lyptus plywood,
some birch plywood,
2 sheets of 3/4" melamine,
2 94lb bags Portland cement,
6 50lb bags washed plaster sand,
glass fiber,
spray adhesive,
acrylic concrete fortifier,
tube of silicone caulking,
drawer slides,
drawer pulls,

Optional:
Crushed Glass,
Fiber optic cables,
other decorative elements.

Tools:
air powered or waterproof angle grinder,
polishing pad set (from Ebay),
concrete working tools,
woodworking tools


Step 3: Build the wood desk frame

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I am not going to describe in depth this part, partly because I did not take enough pictures and partly because my dad mostly did this part. My desk is constructed of lyptus, which i found out is a genetically modified combination of Eucalyptus and Mahogany. It has two shelf/drawer cabinets ant the ends supporting a center frame with a pencil drawer. The main structural parts of the desk are double thicknesses of solid wood. The cabinets are made of panels holding a piece of plywood to cut down on the amount of solid wood necessary for this project.

Step 4: Construct Concrete Form

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for the concrete portion of this project I followed doubleabattery's excellent concrete counter top Instructable here:http://www.instructables.com/id/Concrete-Countertops-for-the-Kitchen---Solid-Surfa/

The form was constructed out of 3/4" melamine sheet, with sides 2" high to ensure the concrete is strong enough. measure your desk frame and make the mold accordingly. make sure to test fit your desk before casting the concrete! It is easier to make changes now than later when it is literally set in stone. Use silicone in the corners to radius the edge of the concrete when it comes out of the mold.
sarliaee4 years ago
Windows 7 was my idea. Concrete Desk was yours. Congratulations. Beautiful job!
 So you're to blame for Windows 7.  Widows 7 convinced me to give up and switch to Mac. LOL
aharned1 will194711 months ago
i love you. :) ha ha
And Mac convinced me to quit and switch to Vista Ultimate.
I just switched to Linux on my own. lol
then that convinced me to switch to linux since that broke. I post a video sometime. remind me. basically, going to the grub menu, then choosing windows, it says "Loading Windows Vista" along with a progress bar, then when it finishes, the screen turns black and it sits there. I've let it sit for an hour before.
archion hintss2 years ago
And the combination of frustrations from Linux, MAC, and Vista have convinced me to be very thankful for the stability of Windows 7 :)
This is probably my final windows operating system though, I refuse to operate off of a cloud. (Win 8 is cloud based)
It amuses me that 18 months on suddenly people are commenting on a lighthearted comment I made about Windows referring to their TV ad. It did end in LOL which I assumed everyone knows the meaning of. I still posses a laptop running 7 (I don't like the Mac version of MS office) and it crashes quite often.
hintss archion2 years ago
switch to linux soon?
altomic archion2 years ago
aside from instructables i use pen and paper.
*LIKE BUTTON*
agiledesign3 years ago
Just wondering if you poured it on a piece of glass if it would have saved some time polishing it? I've considered doing my kitchen counters in a similar manner. Great looking result. Nice write-up and pics too.
hivoltage (author)  agiledesign3 years ago
Yeah that probably would create a perfectly smooth and shiny surface right out of the mold, if you can manage to shake all the bubbles out of the concrete. I definitely did not anticipate how many bubbles there would be or how difficult they were to get out of the poured concrete. Also, I wanted my embedded glass shards to show in the finished slab, and they were covered by a thin layer of the concrete when I unmolded it. The only way to expose them was a quick grind with the 50 grit polishing wheel. I saw on one of those shows on hgtv they poured some countertops but used a sheet of thin, hard plastic in the bottom of the mold and the countertop came out of the mold ready to go.
I've seen a thick Mylar (brand name) plastic used for glossy slick surface molding. Mylar is the stuff used for model airplane wings and body skins.
hivoltage, where did you buy your glass shards from? Or do you have any recommendations where I might find them? Thanks for your help.
hivoltage (author)  shelycel263 years ago
I don't remember the name of the site, but google doesn't turn up anything familiar, so they may have gone out of business since I published this instructable. I found one site but the minimum order per color is five pounds at 3 dollars a pound
http://www.recycled-rocks.com/Glass-Gravel-p/gravel.htm
I believe I bought five pounds of earth tone mix and a pound each of extra green and teal for my desk.
there is a special sheet of plastic! is shiny and mostly used for columns that can give you a similar finish! also is easier to vibrate with a rubber mallet just hit the form with the mallet several times, this will ensure that all the cement goes down preventing air bubbles so the final product is even and shiny!!
Shiny? I could guess someone could use Polyethylene/Polypropylene sheet since almost NOTHING sticks to it- http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=23655&catid=705. It's also sold at retail hardware/home improvement centers as plastic drop cloth 4 mil. but this can wrinkle and I've never actually done it this way since it would probably not be very shiny.
pgiambat1 year ago
That is one GREAT looking desk, great job! I so want to try this too. I'm thinking I might start with a workbench top.
nitsuj10981 year ago
Still waiting for the light box instructable and lit up and night pictures...
;-)
Great desk, I will be doing a countertop similar to this. How long did you leave the concrete before you started grinding/polishing?
abadfart2 years ago
where did you get the fiber optic cable im not finding any that isn't worth its wait in gold around here. i really like the idea of the idea of having stars in my counter top
hivoltage (author)  abadfart2 years ago
its eg12 endglow cable from fiberopticproducts.com
thanks ill start on this when i get in to my new house
CoolKoon2 years ago
This project sounds like an interesting idea if one wants to have a desk with a polished stone-like appearance. I've seen this project a long time ago (about 1-2 years back) as well, but a question has popped into my mind only now: how much hammering would such concrete board/desk take? And would adding a thicker mesh improve its durability? What do you think?
hivoltage (author)  CoolKoon2 years ago
Do you mean literal hammering? I have not done anything like that on this desk since I built it, but it seems very tough. Thicker mesh might improve the strength but I have not needed it just for use as a computer desk. I think too much impact would probably crack it but I am not really sure. There are other additives like polypropylene fibers and such that are supposed to really increase the strength and plasticity of concrete but was not able to find any locally when I built this desk.
Yeah, I meant its usage for hammering stuff like you usually do in a workshop. Thanks for the tips though ;)
I have really REALLY been wanting to make a concrete counter for my vanity, and even though this is a desk, I think I could use a lot of your great info here to build me one! Thanks for sharing!
SDDPhoto2 years ago
The desk is wonderful. Could you please give us your supplier for the Lyptus. Thanks.
hivoltage (author)  SDDPhoto2 years ago
Thank you! I bought the Lyptus at Peterman Lumber in Fontana, CA. One of the employees there incorrectly told me that it was a hybrid of eucalyptus and mahogany, but I have come to find out that it is really a hybrid of two different eucalyptus species. It is environmentally sustainable because it grows extremely quickly in Brazil and is not harvested from old growth forests like many of the other exotics. I mostly purchased it at the time because it is an attractive wood and the price was very reasonable.
Nice instructable but the support mesh should be on the bottom of the finished piece witch means the top on the frame, not in the bottom of the frame (top of the finished piece). And of course with enough space to be covered by the concrete.
I recommend to start filling the frame without the mesh up to 2/3 of the total height then place the mesh and finish pouring the last 1/3 of the concrete...

:)
That is a very cool project. I was looking for concrete polishing for floors when I found this. I have a client who handles big concrete floor polishing jobs, so I became interested in other applications. This is my client. http://www.concretereflections.com/
notingkool2 years ago
which compressor did you use to run that pneumatic grinder?
hivoltage (author)  notingkool2 years ago
a big 60 gallon compressor. Had to run the air hose from the garage through the house into the backyard. A smaller compressor would probably work as long as it can supply the amount of air the grinder calls for.
i only have a small 2hp, 5 gal compressor, even if a conect a second tank of 20 gal, i don't have enough air to run any pneumatic tool, exept the spraygun
bahi2 years ago
This is incredibly weird, someone makes an instructable about a nice forniture. And most of the comments are related with computers, OS,...!
Hivoltage, did you expect this?
hivoltage (author)  bahi2 years ago
I didn't, but I probably should have. On a related note, windows 7 professional runs great on the water cooled i7 quad core machine that now sits on this desk. Plus it was free through MSDNAA.
bahi3 years ago
Superb, better than those silestone surfaces. But I'd prefer debian or ubuntu instead of win7
userhck bahi3 years ago
Actually in this situation you'd probably be better off with a triple boot consisting of Windows CE (compact embedded), Windows ME (Millenium Edition), and Windows NT (named for the new Intel processor, "N-Ten"). This would, if my calculations are correct, create Windows CE-ME-NT. Maybe later you could upgrade to Windows CON-CR-ETE.
bahi userhck3 years ago
CE-ME-NET, HAHAHAHA now I understand why microsft says that their OS are solid.
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