Introduction: $60 Custom Corner Office Desk (USB & Prototyping Space)
OK the title is a bit of a mouthful - I'm happy to accept a code name in the comment!
I got to the point where my desk started to be creaky, and take more space in my tiny office than needed. I'm always on a budget, therefore I have been postponing this project forever. It was time to change things. Perhaps this will give you few pointers on how to use your office space better.
Bear in mind I have no woodwork experience :) but if I managed to do it, you should be able to do it too!
The total cost of the desk was less than $60, I reused a spare leg, mounting clamps from my old desk and a piece of board.
- Build in USB 3.0 ports (2)
- Build in USB self-powered hub (7 ports)
- Build in breadboard for prototyping - Connected to Raspberry Pi
- Build in graphical tablet integration
- Cable management slots
- 6 slot mains power outlet and 5 USB charging sockets
- Saved space in office, while increasing the workspace
You will need:
- MDF board (£30) 25mm thick - sized accordingly
- a pine beam 2m for support (£6)
- screws and nuts
- access to a jigsaw (table saw would be even better)
- access to a drill
- 2 clamps for woodworking
- Kitchen top clamps 4 or more depending on the design
- access to a router (recommended but not 100% needed)
- L shaped metal brackets (4-6)
- spare leg for support - 2 if you won't span your desk across the entire wall
- USB hubs if you wish to use it
- Sharp knife or chisel to get the straight corners
The desk was constructed within a single day, a skilled person with the right tools (table saw, router etc) could do this in half that time without a problem.
Interested? Let's have a look
Step 1: The Design
Before you start playing with any tools - measure your space, do a rough estimate at first to know what you are dealing with and start drawing shapes. This is the best part of the build! Get creative, over design, under design make mistakes. Making mistakes now on paper won't cost you anything.
Forgive the transistors, they are not the part of the design, I like to reuse my paper
The design should include:
- the shape,
- placement in the room,
- possible cable management scenarios
- USB ports if any.
- placement of the support beams and legs
When you have the right shape in mind, this is when you have to start getting the accurate measurements(the width is crucial). Make sure the accuracy is up to a 1mm. When ready go and buy some MDF boards (or the material of your choice).
Step 2: Shopping Time
I knew what my shape would be, and how I would arrange the boards. As MDF board was huge, I took advantage of the trimming service, and the staff of the local DIY trimmed the boards to the sizes I needed. This will save you tonnes of time and work. The bigger the pieces, the less work you will have trimming it. For the corner build, you will need 2 or 3 pieces.
Find some space and arrange the boards correctly. This is where the measurements have to be done well. - You have to make sure that the length and the weight are spot on before you will draw the lines to cut.
Seriously... Every mm counts at this stage, double check the dimensions. Don't be lazy - you will thank me later
Buy all the hubs, power sockets in advance. You want to have everything ready when it comes to cutting the board with the power tools.
- Phone USB-C stand (this model can hide the cable underneath)
- RPi GPIO Breakout Expansion Board + Ribbon Cable
- Extension lead with USB charging (UK plug)
- 7 port USB hub
I have included the list of Items I used for the build (yours may vary - they are not included in the price of the build)
Step 3: Getting Your Hands Dirty - Cutting the Boards
Power Tools - I assume you value your eyes and fingers. Keep it safe!
If you have a table saw - you will have less hassle than I have had! I have finished the build using a router and a jigsaw. It's possible. Few pointers:
- Make sure you are accurate
- NEVER run the jigsaw without a side support to keep it straight - no eyeballing!!!
- The blade has it's thickness adjust for this or your accurate measurements will go out of the window
There is no project files, no guides to follow, this is a custom made desk - you are on your own. You have made your design - you have to commit to it now. This is the best part - your desk and my desk will have different character!
I used the beam as the guide for the jigsaw, Clamped it with the clamps once aligned, and trimmed the boards accordingly.Support the bit you are cutting off, to avoid damage to the cut. When near the end of the cut, hold it up so the jigsaw would cut through. Don't let the gravity to break the last bit.
If you have the access to the router smooth out the edges, otherwise use the sand paper.
Each time I finished a piece - I would take it back and align again - to make sure I'm on the right track.
Step 4: 1st Try
Once you have your boards and the fit well together it's time to get this thing on the wall. My case involved mounting it to a plaster board. For this purpose, I cut the beams into reasonable pieces. These beams would be screwed into the wall using a plasterboard type fittings. I used 3 holes per piece.
The right side of my desk is affixed to a shelf if you have a wall just copy the left side and make another beam. To support the edge on the left, I used an old leg. It had the screws for mounting already, I cut it to size with an angle grinder. (get creative or shop for universal legs) - If you not mounting the right side to the shelf or a wall you may want to consider the second leg.
For the right side mount - I simply reused the mount from my old desk. I had to increase the thickness of the desk.
For the middle part, I used the side of the old desk, trimmed to size, but you should have enough scraps by this point to use them to support the middle (if needed). I measured the cut so it would never strike my eggs :) It does not bother me but you can replace this with side supports.
At this point, you will find out how even your walls are. Don't sweat it. make sure that the desk has a seamless fit between the boards. If you find a small gap between a board and the wall leave it.
Step 5: Show Me Your Bits
By this stage, you have your snug fit, and your extras ready. Hopefully you have an access to the router (ask neighbours). If router is used, you will see how nicely you can do your custom holes. I actually ended up buying a router, as I couldn't watch me try to get perfect cuts with a drill and a jigsaw.
Use a pencil to outlines all the gadgets you want to be mounted, think about the cable management.
I have placed the board on the table and the tape that I would use to connect the RPI to is and drew the outlines. This part was done with a router, you can see the nice cuts. The cable hole goes through the board, while the breadboard space has been routed to the depth of the board. This way the surface is nearly smooth when you glide your hand across.
In the same fashion as breadboard, made the outline, and cut a hole to accommodate the power cable. There is a small lip so I could remove the tablet easily. When not in used a mouse pad is placed on it. As the surface of the tablet is at the same level as the desk, it does not stop the mouse from gliding smoothly. The hole for the cable has to be as big as the smallest end of the USB cable.
I made the outline underneath the surface and used a drill to make few holes, then cut the shape out with a jigsaw. This is the point when I realise I need a router. The hub is secured with a hot glue and surface is smoothed out using a silicone. I was planning on using some wood filler later to make it even nicer looking.
Biggest regret of mine, as I had no router, and the holes were too small to do this with the jigsaw. I tried, I secured the female to male USB cables using the silicone, I will fill in the area later with a wood filler. Secure the sockets with a paper tape to prevent the glue/silicone getting inside
There are few holes for mouse, and keyboard, these are covered by the speaker. Rest of the cables go to the back where the shape of my design left plenty of space for the cables. all cables has been managed with pins. I made U shape brackets and nailed it down to the MDF. Then used the cable ties to keep the cables in place.
underneath the desk there is an extension lead for all my devices, and one spare socket. It has 5 USB sockets so I will never run out of USB charging options. I used the zip ties and screws to secure it.
Step 6: Last Step
Once you have added all the gadgets it's time to make sure there are no seams, and the desk stays in place.
The desk is mounted by the L-shaped brackets to the beams. I believe the picture says more than a thousand words. So have a look.
the kitchen worktop bolts are mounted as shown as well:
before you start carving the space to put the bolts in - don't make my mistake, I spaced them very close, and I was worried that the MDF will snap if I put too much pressure on it. You can see my mistake on the picture.Drill to about 60% of the depth of the board, thy to get the bolt inside of the board for an even pull. Leave enough space to tighten up the nut.
I'm happy to report that the desk is fine, and seams are almost invisible. There is a picture before and after the clamps were used.
The desk actually is bigger than my previous one while taking less space! WIN!
This instructable has been entered into a tables/desks contest. I'd have to say looking at the 1st price, that would be an ideal set of tools for this project. If you think the guide is worth it, hit the Vote? Maybe?
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