Introduction: How to Mount a Power Strip (and Power Bricks) Under Your Desk

Picture of How to Mount a Power Strip (and Power Bricks) Under Your Desk

I was tired of looking at the nasty tangle of power cables and power strip under my desk. So after much deliberation I decided to mount as much as I could to the bottom of the desk. In a nutshell I found a regular wire basket, attached it to the bottom of my desk, and placed the powerstrip inside facing down so the outlets were still accessible along with all the power bricks I could get in there.

Below is a little before and after, I'm quite pleased with the results. Also, just for clarification, that big box under my desk is the subwoofer for my speakers.

DISCLAIMER: Use these instructions at your own risk. There is a risk of fire, electric shock, injury, and damage to your hardware. Be really careful.

Step 1: Shop for Parts

Picture of Shop for Parts

The parts you'll need are pretty modest.

1) A basket to contain all the power junk ($8-$12)
2) At least 4 mirror hangers or hooks ($2)
3) One screw for each hanger. ($1)

The Basket
- Make sure you get a basket that's big enough so that everything will fit with plenty of space on all sides. Make a list (with dimensions!) of all the stuff you want to get into the basket.
- Get a basket that's fairly open so that it's easy to pass wires through and it's easy to modify.
- I recommend a plastic basket that's sturdy but thin enough to cut with a sharp razor blade.
- I went with this little paper tray from The Container Store which was just the right size. However, I don't recommend using a metal basket. It's too easy for a plug to come into contact with the basket and risk an electric shock.

Mirror Hangers or Hooks
- Depending on the design of the basket mirror hangers or hooks should work really well for most people. Both make removing the basket pretty easy. With mirror hangers you can just rotate it out of the way, and hooks can be unhooked.
- 4 mirror hangers was enough for me, but if you go with a big basket, 6 or 8 might be better. The mirror hangers are really easy to install and make removing the basket really easy.
- Hooks are nice too because you can hang the basket easily. Also check out marcss method using hooks and chains to enable the basket to hinge open. Basket (Open), Basket (closed).

Step 2: Cut the Basket

Picture of Cut the Basket

Next arrange the surge protector, cables, and power bricks in the tray and make sure they all fit. Then mark on the basket where to cut so that all the outlets are fully exposed.

Again, I recommend using a plastic basket to reduce the chance of electric shock. You can measure on the surge protector the area to cut out. Then mark the area using a marker and carefully cut it with a razor blade.

If you're using a metal basket, just cut the wires with a pair of pliers or wire cutters. For extra credit you can file down any sharp edges.

Step 3: Mount It

Picture of Mount It

Now it's finally time to mount the basket to the bottom of your desk. I choose to mount it right in the center, and pushed toward the back. That way it's nearly impossible to see it, and no matter where outlets are in relation to my desk it will always be equally far away from them...

I drilled pilot holes and then just screwed the mirror hangers in. And voila! The basket was mounted!


When I marked where the hangers should go I didn't check to make sure there was actually an open spot in basket. As a result the hangers bumped right into part of the basket. So take this into account when you figure out where exactly to place the hangers.

Also, I'd recommend placing the hangers between wires of the basket, that will make it much harder for the basket to slide out if it were bumped.

Step 4: Place Everything Into the Basket

Picture of Place Everything Into the Basket

So now the fun part really begins, getting everything into the basket. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds. You'll have to unplug everything so that it's possible to easily pass the wires through. Also make sure that none of the plugs could become dislodged and come into contact with the metal basket. Be prepared to take some time arranging all the cables, frequently take a step back and make sure no cables are drooping into vision.If any cables do need to go to something on the floor (like my sub) hide them behind the legs of the desk.

Also, now that your power strip is off the floor, you might need an extension cord to get it to reach the nearest outlet.

At some part along the way, I realized that the cable between the power brick for my speakers and the subwoofer wasn't actually that long. As a result, the speaker power brick couldn't go in the basket. So I'd recommend measuring the cables just to make sure they'll reach.

Step 5: Enjoy! Any Questions?

Picture of Enjoy! Any Questions?

Enjoy your new streamlined workspace, marvel at how easy it is to sweep under your desk and how much less dust collects. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'd love to see images of your own version of the project.

Here are some questions I've already gotten a lot:

Don't you bump your knees on the basket?
Nope, it's far enough back and high enough that I'd never bump it. This should be the case for most people. The arms from my chair don't touch it either.

Is it harder to plug stuff in?
Yeah, a little. But not much. If you frequently plug stuff in and out, this might not be the best thing for you. I have an extra AC adapter for my laptop that stays in my bag so pretty much everything stays plugged in.

What are those two cables that are still visible?
One is the power cable to the surge protector, the other one (right in the middle) is the speaker cable. I plan on replacing that with a bluetooth audio gateway in the near future.

How could you put holes into that beautiful Aalto table?
Yeah, yeah I know. I figured for me it was worth it. Besides it totally makes the table look nicer without all those cables.

Could this possibly be a fire hazard or damage my hardware?
It is possible. Use this information at your own risk. If any part you plan to place in the basket runs extremely hot (like too hot to touch) or is damaged in any way, do not attempt this project. I'm not an electrician nor am I an expert in the thermal requirements and behavior of power transformers. I was willing to attempt this because nothing I was going to place in the basket gets hot at all, and all the parts are in very good condition.


richie.lau.7 (author)2015-01-21

You can mount those surge protectors straight to a wooden table. There's no need for a cumbersome basket.

burton.kent (author)richie.lau.72016-08-23

Not necessarily. Surge protector holes for mounting depend on gravity - take a look and you'll see what I mean. Even if it really was that easy, a basket is nice for storing cords.

bellyr68 (author)2013-11-27

Rather impressive article with some good points! I think all these information are very helpful also. Geek!

chr (author)2007-11-15

You can also buy a power strip with mounting holes on it. Nice instructable though :)

pfred2 (author)chr2012-05-09

I've never seen a power strip without some provisions for mounting it. I must own about a dozen different ones too. They usually have slot holes in the back of them.

getgreg (author)chr2007-11-15

I responded to pretty much the same comment before (from "Flea" below). Just mounting the power strip to your desk doesn't give you a place to stash the power bricks or cables.

EnergyHandyman (author)2012-05-09

I did it, but i had some wire shelving fasteners and just screwed them directly to the bottom of my 1" thick plywood desk. I tried my best to make the layout so i could easily switch the power brick of to save energy. according to my watts-up-meter switching it off for the whole year would save me only $20 bucks, so i think i will only switch it off when i am on vacation.

jeremyreger (author)2007-12-24

I've gotta glass desk... have a solution for that?? :D I'm freekin' impressed.

SUGRU the basket to the bottom of the desk, you'll need to prop the basket for about 20 hours before romoving the prop and weighting it with all your cords and what not.

marcss (author)2007-11-19

I was inspired by this article, but I made a couple modifications: I opted for a larger basket and placed the power strip facing up. Second, I did not use mirror hangers for mounting the basket. In truth, I couldn't find the right kind right away, so I gave up and went with hooks. This gave me the idea to use some chains on the one side to allow the basket to swing open for access. I'm very happy with how it turned out. Images linked: Basket (Open)
Basket (Closed)

getgreg (author)marcss2007-11-19

Nicely done! Those hook and chains are really a fantastic idea! That makes it so much easier to arrange all the pieces inside. Also, I love that you were able to get your broadband modem (or is that a router?) in there. Great job all around!

marcss (author)getgreg2007-11-19

Thank you! That is my broadband modem. My wireless router is strapped to the bottom. Also, I forgot to mention that the basket I'm using is a dish rack I picked up at a local store.

Thanks again for a great article!

Tiggler (author)marcss2010-01-19

Brilliant both of you...  thank you!!

Hycro (author)2009-01-15

All my cords are behind my printer, computer, monitor, tuner, and amp for my mid-high range speakers, but they are a big mess behind my monitor, where they all connect to the power bar.

clemmonsm (author)2008-09-18
samssf (author)2008-09-05

Hi getgreg, would you mind sharing which desk you have and where you bought it? I've been searching my entire city for anything that's similar to yours... Mostly I just want a solid, 1"+ thick, light colored tabletop that I can use with some legs from Ikea. I know they have some decent desks, but I don't have an Ikea around here and shipping is too costly. Plus, most of their desks only have 3/4" tops I believe.

getgreg (author)samssf2008-09-06

Hi Samssf, My desk is actually an Aalto desk made by Artek. They're not so easy to find, and I don't think you can buy the top without the legs. You might look at a home improvement store (home depot, lowes) and just by a simple door. That works really well and they're plenty thick. Searching for "door desk" on google gave me lots of instructions and info.

alt_bob (author)2008-06-01

In "Make your own remote power switches by iwilltry on Aug 12, 2007in home & tech" it appears to be great way to get control of my printer, my zip drive, my etc. devices on a power strip up under desk separate from my battery - backup power supply that mostly just take power 20 plus hours per day. With the on/off light can hide the power strip and all the transformers and wires in basket as described in article "How to mount a power strip (and power bricks) under your desk by getgregon Nov 13, 2007in home."

Not fond of concept of taking control of individual outlets on a strip and agree with some of comments on settings, etc. for some units. But is a small step to be politically correct "green" and help get by until you youngster's out there start electing real representatives to take care of the country and not to just get re-elected and say things that make you feel good. Running the country takes hard decision that most likely will make at least half the people angry at first. But, you are the tide, I have to wait for the next ebb tide.

maowenjie (author)2008-04-06

power cordi thik is cool.

coronate (author)2008-03-04

This is only unsafe if you're completely careless (and soaking wet), which is true with EVERYTHING you handle that uses electricity.

glitteringsky (author)2008-02-06

This is a great simple instructable. I'm going to do this! Thanks getgreg!

evvo (author)2008-01-28

Regarding Glass Desks: I have seen kitchen organizer racks that, instead of sitting on a shelf or screwing onto a cabinet, slip over a shelf and provide hooks or storage below the shelf. A side view of the rack is a very uneven S shape. The top is deep but only about 3/4" tall so it fits snugly around a shelf. The bottom part of the S is the 'new' storage space. Regarding the Last Cable Visible in the picture: 3M makes some very nice cord clips in their "Command" product line that would do the job.

Crashmaxx (author)2007-11-26

This is a really nice idea and would be perfect for my desk right now. But it isn't my desk so I can't just drill holes in it, but the back has cork board and my monitor is so big if this was behind it you wouldn't see it. I have no idea how to attach this much weight to cork board though. So does anyone have any ideas how to attach this without wrecking the cork board?

krapnek (author)2007-11-19

I get your point of putting the bottom of the bricks against the desk, but since they're upside down, and hot air rises up, the heat has no natural way to dissipate.

getgreg (author)krapnek2007-11-19

Good point. I'll make some changes to the instructable.

ddschmitt (author)2007-11-18

it occurred to me when looking at your before and after that you should have gotten a bigger basket and put the sub-woofer in there too. but seriously - a much better solution. I hate the tangle of cords under my desk. it's a nightmare. I tried using sticky velcro to attach power strips to the underside of my desk and it worked for a while - then the tape started to let go. and every so often, they'd crash down and pull a peripheral with them. not a good solution. sigh. perhaps I'll try this?

MasamuneX (author)2007-11-15

Simple and clean. Nice. My problem is I have a couple of huge power bricks.

getgreg (author)MasamuneX2007-11-17

How huge? There's a link on step 1 to elfa baskets which come in lots of sizes.

MasamuneX (author)getgreg2007-11-17

Actually what I meant is that I have the AC adapters that plug straight into the wall. So I guess I would have to get a small extension cord so I can place it on the side like you did yours. Your setup made a world of a difference. It looks great.

Mr.Cire (author)2007-11-16

I have those speakers!

DeadlyDad (author)2007-11-16

I've seen versions using perf board, but I like the elegance of yours. I don't have any wire baskets, but I do have an old oven rack, some long cable ties, and cable tie mounts. Hmmmmm.....

chefmichel (author)2007-11-15

Great idea ! But who said "a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"

getgreg (author)chefmichel2007-11-16

I don't know, but I bet whoever it was had a ridiculously clean desk. :)

luisrobles (author)2007-11-16

Very nice pal. Great work, and cheap too.

omnibot (author)2007-11-16

Amazing .. I have a tray like that sitting right next to me from my old fridge, was gonna throw it out. If I could only find a desk ..

jtcatchenco (author)2007-11-16


Mosselman (author)2007-11-15

Great instructable, very clear and the idea just speaks for itself basically. Although I think you didn't have a problem speaking for it either.

scottredd (author)2007-11-15

Very elegant. Nice work.

Darkshot (author)2007-11-15

does this hit your leg when you put your legs under the desk? cuz i dont like that sorta stuff..

willyjoeshow (author)2007-11-15

Great Idea, I think I am going to try it since I have the worlds largest ball of spaghetti under my desk. Thanks

Doctor What (author)2007-11-15

Thanx for a great way to get rid of that tangled web. I'm gonna make one of these for my computer and my tv.

binary (author)2007-11-15

so simple, yet so effective. i think that i might actually put this instructable to use. thanks.

mattone (author)2007-11-14

you did such a great job hiding all the other cords. is there a way to attach the last remaining cord around the rear left table leg to get it out of sight? congrats! v. col. matt

shooby (author)2007-11-14

Someone posted a comment earlier about putting holes in that table. I looked up the price, and cringed as they did. You're right, it does look way better, plus efficiency is allowed to conquer aesthetics. I think however, that I would have used Velcro adhesive tape instead. Line the four edges of the top of the basket, and a square rectangle of equal size under the desk. That's just me though, no criticism, just a suggestion for those who don't have the C.O. Jones.

getgreg (author)shooby2007-11-14

Honestly, it wasn't an easy decision. I've had the desk for like 4 years now and this has always bugged me. Also, if it makes you feel any better I actually only paid about 1/3 the retail cost. The retailer cut me a deal because it had been slightly damaged in storage. I seriously considered Velcro, but I eventually decided that I'd rather have 4 little holes than big velcro strips on the bottom of my desk. Also, I wasn't totally sure that velcro would be strong enough (some of those power bricks are pretty heavy). But if you or anyone gets this to work with velcro, please let me know.

shooby (author)getgreg2007-11-14

Fair enough, I think in your case I would do the same. I'm currently using a drafting desk, and have power strips attached to the diagonal legs with velcro straps. Maybe I'll use the velcro tape I have laying around to do this. One problem I can foresee however, a problem your basket addresses, is that any power bricks which hang from the power strip might be heavy enough to unplug the appliance from the strip. I'll come up with a solution and post photos.

ironsmiter (author)2007-11-14

one thing to kep an eye on is the tempature of those power bricks. all stuffed in like that, with little to no airflow can kill them quick(even start fires). PROBABLY won't be a problem, as it looks like you have plenty of cross ventilation, and even a goodly space above the equipment. Why flip everything upsidedown and cut te basket? looks like you could feed all the cables inside the tray, through the larger central space between bars. Just curious... grab one last ziptie, and secure the sub woofer cable near the top of the back desk leg! It's almost sacrilege to have a cable setup that neat! :-) way to go!

getgreg (author)ironsmiter2007-11-14

I was worried about heat too. Fortunately none of my power bricks get that hot. There is a good amount of space on all sides of each power brick, actually more than when they were on the floor. So I think it's ok. Still, if you have power bricks that get *really* hot, this might not be for you. And if you have a lot of power bricks you'll probably want to get a basket that's big enough so that you can space them out

I flipped the surge protector upside down so that the outlets were still easily accessible. There isn't quite enough space above the basket to get the surge protector in right-side-up with stuff plugged in. I actually think I might swap out my current surge protector for this one from belkin, with outlets that can be rotated. That should enable me to keep more of the the plugs an and cables inside the basket.

As for that last speaker cable, I would have done exactly what you said, but it's not long enough. I could get an extension cable, but I think I'll just get a bluetooth audio gateway in the near future.

Lftndbt (author)2007-11-13

Neat.... Very neat... nice work! Looks like that board shoved behinf my printer, is going under the desk now! Thanks for the inspiration! ;)

Flea (author)2007-11-13

Powerstrips (including yours) have holes in the bottom for mounting them to a variety of surfaces. You can use a sheet of paper and poke holes through it where the mounting holes are and use it as a pattern. Place the paper on whatever surface you plan on mounting the powerstrip to and pencil in the holes. Drill some screws in and mount the powerstrip. Use a third screw to keep the powerstrip from sliding out.

About This Instructable




More by getgreg:Setup iPhone to Fetch Gmail and Push Google CalendarAutomatically remove unwanted songs from your iPodHow to mount a power strip (and power bricks) under your desk
Add instructable to: