Recently, I undertook the challenge of building a "studio" style computer desk, and while building it had a few goals in mind:
- Use re-claimed pallet wood, industrial piping/flanges, and reclaimed desk hardware (legs were pulled from an old desk)
- Obtaining the rustic, mismatched look of pallet wood while still maintaining a useable work surface
- Adding a second-tier shelf for LCD monitor and studio monitor speakers.
- Creating ambiance by adding Smart Pixel/Neo Pixel LEDs with an Arduino, and applying them to the rear desk edges closest to the back wall.
Step 1: Necessary Parts/Hardware
For this build, I recycled quite a bit of it. The most expensive part of this build was the resin, which in total ended up using about two gallons to cover both the top tier and bottom desk surface. Per gallon was almost $70 - two part resin epoxy can get expensive! Purchased locally from Lowe's - this is the specific product I used. Especially in large quantities.. The second most expensive part was the 1" metal pipes and flanges. I ended up choosing two 10" length pipes and mated it to some pipe flanges before screwing to either the shelf or the main part of the desk. Piping and flanges ran right about $20.
The LED strip lights came from Ellumiglow.com. I purchased their Smart Pixel LED strip lighting - which is actually a WS2814 type LED strip (RGBW instead of traditional RGB, like on the WS2812). An Arduino was used to run a custom code that gave the LED's a "lava lamp" type appearance.
Step 2: Reclaim That Wood!
Using a prybar and a hammer, the wood was stripped from the pallets. I intentionally left the nails in the desk because they look cool.
Step 3: Measure and Cut the Base for the Main Desk Surface
I wanted the desk to be 48" wide by 32" depth, so I measured and cut a 4' x 8' piece of wood to the appropriate dimensions for the primary desk area. Afterwards, a shallower-depth piece was cut for the top shelf portion of the desk.
Step 4: Cutting and Attaching Edge Pieces
Since we will later be pouring resin/epoxy into the main desk surface, it's important to maintain a "lip" around the edge of the entire desk so the resin has a place to be contained. A complex miter saw was used to cut the 45 degree angle cuts. Measure three times, cut once!
Step 5: Build Up and Attach Remaining Edge Pieces, Sealing Edge for Gaps
After nailing and screwing in the first longer edge piece, continue to attach the remaining three edge pieces along the perimeter of the desk. I made the height of the tallest edge just slightly taller than my thickest piece of pallet wood, since I would be relying on the resin to fill in the difference.
Step 6: Installing Wood Slats!
Using the mitre saw mentioned earlier, I started off by cutting one of the widest pieces of pallet wood, and laying it into the desk surface, I continued to do this with the pallet wood, intentionally choosing pieces of pallet wood that were different in color and texture to make the wood choice random, cutting one piece based off the length of another, until the entire surface was full of planks.
After laying in the slats, I secured the slats from the underside of the desk to accommodate for bending and bowing of the reclaimed wood that seems so common with using pallet wood.
Step 7: Securing and Sanding!
I wanted to remove the unsightly dark screw heads that were originally holding in the edge pieces to the main supporting board, so some carpenter finishing nails were used to secure the end pieces before removing the screws. The edges were sanded down a bit before prepping for pouring the resin onto the table.
Step 8: Pour the Resin Epoxy!
Now to the fun and exciting stuff. After mixing the two-part resin epoxy per the instructions, I poured it onto the table surface and used a paint mixing stick to spread the resin evenly over the entire table surface.
Step 9: Assembly!
After the resin was left alone for a week or so to set properly, the two desk halves were connected together by the 1" piping and flanges mentioned earlier.
Step 10: Add Some LED Lights!
Final step of this project after assembly of the desk was to add some Smart Pixel LEDs to the rear of the desk - which would provide a neat, glowing effect off the back wall! Any LED's could technically be used in this case - but using these particular LEDs with an Arduino can really get us some neat effects using much-available example codes available on the internet. the FastLED library was used in this case.
Step 11: Finished!
Last step is admiring all the hard work you've just done to make a desk that'll last you years before needing a new one. And still much cheaper than buying a desk of a similar build quality!
Some of this tutorial was left very ambiguous - since many of the basic ideas here can be used to build whatever kind of desk to suit your needs.