Introduction: Computer Bureau

For a couple of years I have had a desk in the family room that has been used as a computer work area, but as time has passed it has become more of a dumping ground for the kids and their toys than a dedicated workspace. I wanted to create a piece of furniture more fitting than a large table, that would house my computer. Not only that I wanted to be able to hide it away when it isn't in use. By conducting some research online I found an image that looked like it would solve some of my problems, however it would require a bit of modification to work as I would like it. Rather than this piece of furniture being a traditional writing bureau it would be a computer bureau with a 28" screen and built in speakers.


1No. 8x4ft 18mm Pine Laminated Board

2No. 4.2m x 44mm x 44mm Pine Baton

2No. 4.2m x 12mm Pine Tongue and Groove lengths

2No. 4.2m Picture Framing

1No. 12mm x 800mm x 900mm Birch Plywood

4No. Barrell Hinges

2No. Small Euro Hinges

2No. Knob Handles

2No. Half Moon Handles

1No. D Handle

Kreg Screws

Wood Glue

Pin Nails

1 Litre Sadolin Superdec Paint

Step 1: Initial Design

With an idea of what i wanted in mind, I decided to sketch down a few variations with a rough estimate of sizes. At first i had thought of creating a number of drawers on the lower section to store a lot of the various clutter than had polluted my desk previously. As the designs progressed I decided I would rather get rid of the clutter storage drawers and create a large cabinet area to hold my computer and PS4, as well as the necessary controllers and keyboards etc. As well as the cupboard area I want to create a 'fake' drawer which will house the speakers I plan to build into this bureau.

After i had worked out the dimensions and the design requirements, I drew a quick CAD model on Fusion 360. I had never used this software before but I found it easy to navigate and helped work out some of the intricate details which I hadn't considered previously.

Step 2: Building the Sides

I cut the side profile from laminated pine and framed the perimeter in pine batons. These were affixed using Kreg pocket screws and glued using wood glue. Everything was clamped together and left to set for 24 hours using Irwin Quick-Grip clamps. The bottom of the batons were tapered and the edges were rounded using a handheld router.

Step 3: Routering the Channel

Rather than using a fold down door I want to use a scrolling panel. I will show how this was created in the next step. Here though, I wanted to create a channel in each side to act as a guide for the panel. I created a template 100mm smaller than the outer edge and stuck it to the inner side, using double sided tape. Using a circle cutting jig attached to the router I could run it along the guide and cut the needed profile, 10mm deep on each side. This cutting was completed in several passes, removing approximately 2-3mm of depth each time. The width of the cut was 10mm.

Step 4: Cutting the Scrolling Panel

I will paint the unit when it has been completed but I wanted to leave the scrolling panel and the drawer front natural. The reason I want to leave it natural is because i wanted to be able to see the natural wood grain in the panel. In order to maintain a consistent grain pattern, I couldnt use a traditional table saw to create the cuts. If I were to do this, I would be removing 4mm of material every 20mm due to the kerf of the saw blade. To avoid this happening I needed to create a cut in the wood with as small a kerf as possible. Luckily I was able to have access to a waterjet cutter that I could use to cut the wood. This would mean I could create the needed cuts with just a .7mm kerf. When this was complete the grain pattern would be consistent and wouldn't have noticable breaks or gaps. The material I used was 12mm Birch Plywood.

Following the cuts I numbered each of the segments 1 - 27 in case they became mixed up when they were cut out. Following this I routered the ends down to 6mm, so they would fit into the 10mm channel I had routered previously. By leaving a 4mm gap I would be able to slide this around the radii of the top curves without fear of binding.

When the pieces were routered to the desired thickness at the ends, I then cut the final width of the parts required - 720mm. After this I placed the pieces face down on a flat table and attached nylon webbing (seatbelt material) to hold each of the parts together. These parts were attached using staples.

Step 5: Creating Components

Cross members on this piece are all made from 44mm x 44mm pine batons. On the front lower edge, I wanted to create a cut away profile to make the base a little more interesting as I had seen in the online image. The was done using the router, cutting away 20mm of the lower cross member. I also used this time to work out how the speakers would be placed in the bureau, and how they could work with the scrolling panel placement. The speakers i used were Dayton Audio 4" woofers. I also mounted them for fitment and to check everything lined up as I hoped.

I realised at this point I need an additional shelf inside the bureau to hold the screen at the necessary height. When all this had been resolved, I began assembly. As before the parts were held together with Kreg pocket screws and wood glue.

Step 6: Installing the Sliding Panel

As the parts were being assembled, the scrolling panel was installed and was tested to see if it would work. Thankfully it worked as I had hoped! At this stage the plywood material was sliding directy on the channel cut into the pine batons, and as a result there was considerable friction. In order to reduce this friction as much as possbile I installed Ezyglide Tape which made the panel run very smoothly on the routered channel.

Step 7: Adding Doors and Speaker Panel

Using the same square pine batons as I had used previously, I created the doors on the front of the bureau. These were just simple frames with an 18mm laminated pine panel inset. These were built using Kreg pocket screws and wood glue, as before. The speakers were also installed at this stage and a shelf for the monitor to sit on. Framing was added on the sides of the bureau and on the inside profile of the doors. Due to the thickness of the doors, the edges were cut at an angle to avoid interference when opening and closing.

Step 8: Hinge Installation

When the doors were finished, they were mounted using barrel hinges on either side. I used the router to cut out an inset for the hinges on both the bureau and the doors. The fake drawer front was also hinged along the bottom edge using small euro hinges. When the computer is in use, this will open to expose the speakers that are placed behind.

*During this step i made an error in measurement and made the doors too narrow. To compensate for this I added 4mm Playwood strips to the inside of the opening which helped fill the gap. As well as adding them on the lower section where the doors were located I also added it to the alcove where the speakers were mounted. It can be seen in the images as the darker strips. When this is painted it will not be seen. It was a quick solution which meant i didnt have to rebuild the doors!

Step 9: Paint and Hardware

All parts were disassembled and set out for painting. I decided to use Sadolin Superdec Cull Grey Fence Paint. The paint I used is highly durable, water based and guaranteed for 10 years - ideal for keeping furniture fresh when it needs to withstand the abuse of 2 young children. Three layers were applied and then finished with a matt laquer to finish.

Half moon handles with matching knobs were used for the drawer front and cupboard doors. A D-handle from the same hardware family will be added later to lift and lower the sliding panel.

Step 10: Finished Bureau

When the bureau was finished it was moved into position, in place of the large table that occupied the space previously. The PC and PS4 were attached to the 28" screen using HDMI cables. The audio was taken from the output on the screen and into a Monocor Amp which powers the 2x 6ohm speakers.

After the cabinet was used for some time I realised there was quite a bit of heat build up when the doors were closed so to help with this, I added a silent computer fan at the back of the bureau to remove the warm air created by the computer and the amp. This is powered via USB on the PS4 which comes on when the PS4 is in use, helping to keep the cabinet cool.

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