1. This desk needs to be built-in as opposed to some store bought unit that sits away from the wall because of baseboards. You know ... the desks that lure all of your objects to the back so they can fall between the space and onto the floor to be lost for several months.
2. I wanted the component box to hang or "float." Partly because my house is old so nothing is level, but also because I liked the idea.
3. I wanted cable management because I have some OCD issue.
4. Lastly, but most importantly, I wanted it to look like metal ... \m/
Step 1: The Basic Carcass
The top is two layers of MDF cut to 24" x 6', which I laminated together with glue and screws. You can see how OCD driven I am because I laid out a grid just for the screw positions.
The cleat is a 2"x4", which I half lapped in the corner for an interlocking fit. I tapered the bottom corners, painted it to match the wall, and secured it to the wall studs.
The component box uses rabbets for joinery with glue and screws. The dado in the middle is for a shelf. The holes are for cables and venting.
Step 2: The Rivet Holes
I laid out my lines and hole locations, set up a guide rail, and then used my plunge router to make the holes.
Step 3: The Rivets
The plugs were installed with glue and a mallet, then left to dry.
Step 4: Flush the Rivets
Step 5: The Paint Job
1. A generous coat of Zinsser Guardz, because I had some left over from a renovation project and I really wanted to seal the MDF well due to the formaldehyde. Primer will work fine.
2. A base coat of gray, which is a deck/porch paint I use in my basement.
3. A line of black spray paint to cover all of the dowels.
4. Shadow line of white spray paint, which covered half of each dowl. I just use a sheet of card stock to mask what I didn't want covered.
5. Some areas of red spray paint for future distressing.
6. Mask off and spray some panels silver.
7. Remask and spray the remaining panels aluminum.
After the paint cured, it was time to distress with hand sanding. Some areas I sanded lightly just to give the machined metal look, other areas I went deeper to leave scratches and let the red bleed through as if it were old rust, wear, or discoloration.
Step 6: Component Box Suspension
Before I installed this box, I I mounted a powerstip to the back to keep all the cords out of sight.
Step 7: Edging and Face Frame
The face frame was made from some scrap 3/4" poplar I had, but you could easily make it out of a 2"x4" as well. Same paint job and dowels used for visual as well as hiding screws.
Step 8: Installation and Finishing
The face frame was screwed onto the front of the box and then the box suspended on its mount. The 2"x4" edging was then screwed on and and dowels were used to plug all of the holes.
I used polyurethane as the top coat. The box was finished prior to installation, but the top was done in place because I had to install the edging first. I probably did around 5-6 coats on the top. If I could do it again, I'd use lacquer, but you learn as you go I guess.
Note: There is some room to slide the box foward to get to outlets, but it's a tight squeeze. If I ever need to disassemble this, I will be able to side the box off from the back.