Last year my son needed a computer table. Anything found in shops could be divided into a) particle-board crap that would fall apart in few months or b) just plain inconveniet or c) outrageously expensive. So I decided to do build one myself. It was a success. This year my second son is going to school and now I did not even waste my time on looking for commercial offers, we just built it. This time documenting it in the process.
Result is simple, sturdy and convenient. It does not take much skills or special tools to make it. Pros would probably point out some cosmetical errors or use different construction solutions. For me and my boys these tables work fine.
What you need to do this table.
Skillwise - you should be able to saw straight, drill straight, have enough patience to get your measurements right and that's pretty much it. I am not a cabinetmaker, not even a carpenter, but humble translator. That says all about required skills ;)
Toolwise - I used two different handsaws (big and small teeth), electric jigsaw, electric drill (6 & 10 mm bits) for dowel holes, dowel markers, electric sander (60&100 grit papers, alternatively you need LOTS of patience), electric screwdriver, hammer, square rule, rule, tape-measure, pencil, glue. That's it.
Materials - laminated timber: one pcs of 2500x600x28 (for the tabletop), 3 pcs of 2500x200x18 for racks and edges, some 50x50 for edge supports and legs, some fiberboard for rackbacks (plywood would be better, but I had the fiberboard handy).
All the measurements are in mm. That's a sweet revenge to all you inch-loving anglosaxons for those long hours spent converting your stuff.
Step 1: Design Considerations
I will not give you any drawings. That's because I do not have any.
Tabletop main side is the same width as was original plate - 600. Length is 1500. Left side was simply cut from the end of the plate - so it is 600x450.
Leg- and rack height is 700, making total height of the table 728 (or a bit more if some felt gets glued underneath).
Kid and wife wanted wider racks, but I argued that it leaves too little legroom behind the table. Right-side rack is 550 wide.
Few words about the shape. I love this shape. I used to have it once and I find it most convenient, especially if you have a chair with missing or lousy hand support. Friends already asked if the radius of the circular cut is not too small. No, it is not for a kid.
In general you can determine the radius by assuming the best possible working position and putting your hands on a keyboard. Then it becomes immediatly visible, where the table should be to offer the best possible support for your hands. The radius will be surprisingly small if you do it for kids. I will not give specific measurements just because it will be best if you measure it yourself. And remember, if you pick too small a radius, you can always increase it later. The opposite would be difficult :)
Skirts and 50x50 under the tabletop are for structural rigidity. I left 20mm free edge, then comes 18mm skirt and finally 50mm support. With no drawings I messed up detail lengths number of times :) So think it through really well, before you start sawing. Most errors are fixable, fortunately :)
Step 2: Tabletop
I used 3 10mm dowels and glue to join the tabletop details. Then I fixed 50x50 and small metal plate to the underside to avoid the dowels breaking under weight. These also help to fix minor errors in dowel markings (if you do it the first time, 1mm error is probably unavoidable). If the details are still not on a perfect level, just take out your sander and fix it ;)
Step 3: Racks
Racks also double as legs. I used only 6mm dowels and glue for joining them, 2 dowels per joint. Drilling straight holes for dowels is not an easy task. Use assistance, or even better, some jig if you can find one. Use depth limiter. For marking the holes use dowel markers, they are reallyindispensable for this kind of a job. Minor errors will be OK. Fibreboard or plywood back will help to guarantee that racks come out square if you did more or less correct work.
Step 4: Putting It All Together
Before you start putting it together it would be wise to give all the details the paintjob (I used lacquer). For various reasons I decided to do the final finishing after the assembly.
First, legs. I only put two long screws into supporting 50x50ies. Screws must be on a bit different height, so they do not meet inside the leg :) I considered putting 10mm dowel into the tabletop as well but then decided it was an overkill.
Next, I put racks to place with some dowels and glue.
Next, side skirts were joined with 2 dowels to a rack and with screws to a supporting 50x50 and a leg. Main purpose of these skirts is to give some extra rigidity to the structure. Again, when you screw the skirts to the leg, check for screws underneath. Dowels help you to align skirts properly with rack walls.
And that'spretty much it.