Introduction: Cable Management Shelf
I was looking for a nice cable management shelf for my desk, but I could only find either plastic trays or wire shelving online. There were some other DIY solutions that were cheaper, but I also wanted a more elegant look, since this it would be highly visible when walking into the room. So I decided to make a wooden cable management shelf that attaches to my desk to hold the power supplies and keep the cables off the floor.
There is an overhang on my desk that could easily accommodate a shelf, with a few inches to spare to access the power strips and chargers that typically sit on the shelf.
I don't access the power strips all that often so it wasn't important to me to be able to access them frequently. However, by having the ends open, I would be able to access the power strips and power bricks if needed.
I chose Poplar wood because there were readily available "project" boards at the supply store. You could use other types of wood, though.
(1) 4 ft., 3/8 in thick, 6 in wide Poplar project board
(1) 4 ft., 3/8 in thick, 3 in wide Poplar project board
(1) 4 ft., 3/8 in thick, 2 in wide Poplar project board
220 grit sandpaper
Paint brushes, rags
1 small can pre-stain wood conditioner
1 small can oil stain. I used Varathane Red Oak oil-based stain.
1 small can water-based polyurethane. I used Varathane water-based polyurethane.
(2) 2 in Corner Braces
Step 1: Assemble the Shelf
I went with a simple "L" shape where the power strips would sit on a ledge, with a lip to prevent the power supplies from falling off. I used 4 screws to fasten the 6'' back board to the 3'' bottom board. Then used another 4 screws to fasten the 2'' front board to the bottom board.
Step 2: Add Holes for Cables
I wanted to provide 3 holes for the cables to pass through. I measured out 3 holes about 16'' apart and drilled out a semi-circle using a 2'' hole saw drill bit.
Step 3: Sand & Prep the Boards for Staining
I used 220 grit sandpaper to get a nice smooth surface. I then prepped the wood for staining with wood conditioner so that the stain would appear even across the surface. At least, that is what the staining guides recommended to do!
Step 4: Stain the Shelf
I wanted to match the cherry color of my desk, and I found that the Red Oak stain seemed to match the color. I applied the stain using a bristle brush, using a rag a few times to wipe off any excess. I stained it outside during a nice warm spell. The stain dried pretty quickly and took about a day to fully dry. After staining, the grain had raised up a bit and was rough.
I applied 3 coats total of polyurethane on all sides of the shelf. Luckily, there were more warm days and I was able to apply the coats outside. After the first coat, I sanded the shelf to smooth out the surface. Now it felt good!
I applied two more coats and let each one dry for a few days. The finished shelf felt smooth and protected.
Step 5: Install the Shelf
I knew that I wouldn't have much room to screw in the shelf so I had to plan out my attack. I would use the corner brace bracket to mount the shelf and install the bracket on the desk first, then screw the shelf into the bracket horizontally, saving my arm muscles a bit.
I measured out about 6'' away from the end of the desk, then marked off the two spots for the bracket. Using 2 brackets should be enough to hold the power supplies. I drilled the holes and mounted the brackets.
I measured the distance between the brackets and drilled holes for the bracket on the shelf. I then supported the shelf by some boxes and wedged my arm in-between the desk and the shelf to mount the shelf to the brackets.
After adding the power strips and laptop bricks on the shelf and snaking out the cables, I marveled at how seamless the shelf looks.
It has enough holes for direct cable access and also provides access through the sides. The power strip cable comes directly from the wall onto the shelf, providing a clean look. Best of all, the power strips, power bricks and wires are away from my feet and hidden!
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