I was tired of looking at the nasty tangle of power cables and power strip under my desk. So after much deliberation I decided to mount as much as I could to the bottom of the desk. In a nutshell I found a regular wire basket, attached it to the bottom of my desk, and placed the powerstrip inside facing down so the outlets were still accessible along with all the power bricks I could get in there.
Below is a little before and after, I'm quite pleased with the results. Also, just for clarification, that big box under my desk is the subwoofer for my speakers.
DISCLAIMER: Use these instructions at your own risk. There is a risk of fire, electric shock, injury, and damage to your hardware. Be really careful.
Step 1: Shop for Parts
The parts you'll need are pretty modest.
1) A basket to contain all the power junk ($8-$12)
2) At least 4 mirror hangers or hooks ($2)
3) One screw for each hanger. ($1)
- Make sure you get a basket that's big enough so that everything will fit with plenty of space on all sides. Make a list (with dimensions!) of all the stuff you want to get into the basket.
- Get a basket that's fairly open so that it's easy to pass wires through and it's easy to modify.
- I recommend a plastic basket that's sturdy but thin enough to cut with a sharp razor blade.
- I went with this little paper tray from The Container Store which was just the right size. However, I don't recommend using a metal basket. It's too easy for a plug to come into contact with the basket and risk an electric shock.
Mirror Hangers or Hooks
- Depending on the design of the basket mirror hangers or hooks should work really well for most people. Both make removing the basket pretty easy. With mirror hangers you can just rotate it out of the way, and hooks can be unhooked.
- 4 mirror hangers was enough for me, but if you go with a big basket, 6 or 8 might be better. The mirror hangers are really easy to install and make removing the basket really easy.
- Hooks are nice too because you can hang the basket easily. Also check out marcss method using hooks and chains to enable the basket to hinge open. Basket (Open), Basket (closed).
Step 2: Cut the Basket
Next arrange the surge protector, cables, and power bricks in the tray and make sure they all fit. Then mark on the basket where to cut so that all the outlets are fully exposed.
Again, I recommend using a plastic basket to reduce the chance of electric shock. You can measure on the surge protector the area to cut out. Then mark the area using a marker and carefully cut it with a razor blade.
If you're using a metal basket, just cut the wires with a pair of pliers or wire cutters. For extra credit you can file down any sharp edges.
Step 3: Mount It
Now it's finally time to mount the basket to the bottom of your desk. I choose to mount it right in the center, and pushed toward the back. That way it's nearly impossible to see it, and no matter where outlets are in relation to my desk it will always be equally far away from them...
I drilled pilot holes and then just screwed the mirror hangers in. And voila! The basket was mounted!
When I marked where the hangers should go I didn't check to make sure there was actually an open spot in basket. As a result the hangers bumped right into part of the basket. So take this into account when you figure out where exactly to place the hangers.
Also, I'd recommend placing the hangers between wires of the basket, that will make it much harder for the basket to slide out if it were bumped.
Step 4: Place Everything Into the Basket
So now the fun part really begins, getting everything into the basket. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds. You'll have to unplug everything so that it's possible to easily pass the wires through. Also make sure that none of the plugs could become dislodged and come into contact with the metal basket. Be prepared to take some time arranging all the cables, frequently take a step back and make sure no cables are drooping into vision.If any cables do need to go to something on the floor (like my sub) hide them behind the legs of the desk.
Also, now that your power strip is off the floor, you might need an extension cord to get it to reach the nearest outlet.
At some part along the way, I realized that the cable between the power brick for my speakers and the subwoofer wasn't actually that long. As a result, the speaker power brick couldn't go in the basket. So I'd recommend measuring the cables just to make sure they'll reach.
Step 5: Enjoy! Any Questions?
Enjoy your new streamlined workspace, marvel at how easy it is to sweep under your desk and how much less dust collects. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'd love to see images of your own version of the project.
Here are some questions I've already gotten a lot:
Don't you bump your knees on the basket?
Nope, it's far enough back and high enough that I'd never bump it. This should be the case for most people. The arms from my chair don't touch it either.
Is it harder to plug stuff in?
Yeah, a little. But not much. If you frequently plug stuff in and out, this might not be the best thing for you. I have an extra AC adapter for my laptop that stays in my bag so pretty much everything stays plugged in.
What are those two cables that are still visible?
One is the power cable to the surge protector, the other one (right in the middle) is the speaker cable. I plan on replacing that with a bluetooth audio gateway in the near future.
How could you put holes into that beautiful Aalto table?
Yeah, yeah I know. I figured for me it was worth it. Besides it totally makes the table look nicer without all those cables.
Could this possibly be a fire hazard or damage my hardware?
It is possible. Use this information at your own risk. If any part you plan to place in the basket runs extremely hot (like too hot to touch) or is damaged in any way, do not attempt this project. I'm not an electrician nor am I an expert in the thermal requirements and behavior of power transformers. I was willing to attempt this because nothing I was going to place in the basket gets hot at all, and all the parts are in very good condition.