For too long I didn't have a devoted office space at home. I used to crouch over the coffee table to look at my computer for hours on end.
Anyone who spends as much time on the computer as I do needs to have a ergonomic work area. But I also live in an apartment and I've moved 3 times in the last 4 years, so I'm not willing to buy a large heavy desk.
I needed a happy medium between a card table and a heavy wooden desk, so I designed this folding wood desk. I've also included the 3D model files too so you can adjust the design if needed. (I use Cubify Design so this is the only format I can export.)
Step 1: BOM & TOOLING
* 2" x 3" premium studs, either (4) 8' long or (5) 6' long.
*(1) 1/4 x 2' x 4' sanded plywood (a nice looking sheet)
*(1) 3/8" x 2' x 4' cheap plywood
*(2) Cans of spray on clear coat
*(1) Mini tin of wood stain
*(2) 3/8" X 6"L CARRIAGE BOLT
*(4) 3/8" X 3.5"L CARRIAGE BOLT
*(4) 3/8" NYLOCK NUTS
*(2) 3/8" BUTTERFLY NUTS
*(6) 3/8" SPLIT WASHERS
*Box of 1.5" wood screws
*(optional) Bed Casters
*Sander & wood staining rag
*(Optional) Nail Gun
Step 2: CUT ALL WOOD TO LENGTH
As you will see, we have a lot of 2"x3" studs to cut. What we want to do is figure out the most efficient way of cutting the wood to minimize the amount of lumber required and waste produced. Doing this is actually more difficult than it first seems, but I just so happen to have this awesome free resource for doing cut length calculations! Refer to the attached pdf files named "Cut List" for best way to cut the studs.
(By the way, if you like that resource then check out my list of the best resources on the internet.)
Refer to the drawing PDFs in the BOM step for board lengths and hole positions. Go ahead and cut all the wood to length, but don't drill any holes to their final size yet! The easiest way to make sure that the holes are aligned is to drill them straight though everything during assembly.
Step 3: SCREW THE BASE TO THE CHEAP PLYWOOD
Attach the 4 base boards to each other and center them on the cheap plywood.
Notice that I used two layers to make the top. The purpose is to make hard screwed through connections between the base boards and the cheap plywood. The nice looking top can be attached as the very last step.
I mention it now because an alternative to the two layers would be to use one 3/4" sanded plywood sheet instead. To do this you'll have to get the exact right length screws (~2.5") to attach the plywood from the bottom and you risk screwing too far and having the screw point come out the top of the desk, or not having a strong connection at all. You could also use some 90 deg metal brackets, but I wanted to avoid that. The big thing here is that not all hardware stores will have nice 3/4" sanded plywood in a 2'x4' size, and I wasn't willing to buy a 4' x 8' sheet.
Step 4: MOUNT THE LEGS
Make sure the legs will have room to articulate and notice how one set is positioned on the INSIDE of the base and the other straddles the OUTSIDE of the base. Also notice how one end of each leg has to be sanded round to make clearance for rotating.
Each leg should attach using one carriage bolt, one clock washer, and one nylock nut. Tighten the nut enough to engage the lock washer so nothing is loose, but don't over tighten the nut or the legs wont fold!
Wait to mount the connecting board on the leg pairs until after the legs are mounted to the table. I positioned the stop so that the legs are perfectly vertical (if not open slightly more than 90 deg) before screwing them together.
Step 5: MOUNT TOP AND DRILL LOCKING HOLES
As mentioned earlier, I used a lot of wood glue and a tiny nailgun to mount the nice 1/4" sanded plywood top.
Now that everything else is together open the table up all the way and drill a 3/8" holes through the whole thing. This will allow you to run a long carriage bolt through the table surface and through the connecting beam on the legs, locking everything together.
Step 6: SAND, STAIN, CLEAR COAT
You won't need to go crazy on the sanding preparation, just a light rub with some 120 grit to get all the splinters out. If you used the nice sanded plywood and Then use an old rag to apply a nice colored stain to You could paint the desk instead but I thought the stained finish was better for this project. A desk should classy.
After staining I used a spray on clear coat to make sure that the finished surface wasn't sticky and stayed water resistant.
Step 7: MOUNT CASTERS
Bed casters are made for holding heavy loads so they have a low profile and a smooth surface so they can slide if they are unable to roll. They also don't wiggle so they are perfect for this application.
Be aware that these casters will add 2.5" to your desk height so you may want to cut your legs down by that amount. To mount just drill a 1/2" pilot hole and force the caster into place.
Step 8: MAKE YOUR WORK AREA ERGONOMIC
The point of all this was to have a nice looking comfortable desk so I don't have to crouch over the coffee table anymore. Now that its done I've set it up with the ergonomic office essentials. An adjustable height office chair with a thick butt pad. A window and a lamp close at hand to get the lighting right. And a little tray for my laptop to get the height right. Now I'm ready to stare at the computer for hours on end! Yay!
Step 9: STANDING DESK OPTION
The folding table is great for home, but I still needed something to ease the pain of sitting for 8 hours at my day job. I found that the stand I used for a garden barrel project happened to make for a perfect standing desk! I only use it for a few hours each day until my legs get tired but it has had a significant impact on how I feel about having such a sedentary job!
That's all I've got for now, hopefully this instructable will help make your time spent working more enjoyable!
Runner Up in the