Home Office Desk/Workspace v2.0

So as it has been a year since I got my command cen.. err, office up and running, I thought I would give an update on how things are progressing in the new digs. I was never quite satisfied with the desk or the office. It takes some time to be in an environment to figure out what you like and what works the best. The desk was my first attempt at a classy piece of furniture and I jumped into it with great enthusiasm and ambition. Unfortunately, I also made the dive with little experience in what techniques are going to provide the best result. Therefore, I resolved to give it another go in the future.

That time arrived and, over the past year, I have been making a list of what needed to change, what needed to go, and additions to be made to the office as a whole. The goal has always been to have a bookshelf of some sort in there, but I hadn’t figured out where or how until now. So I started looking for inspiration for what I wanted to build because I had a good idea of the size and general appearance that I was looking for, and sometimes it just takes one image for inspiration.

I give you my inspiration, and what sparked the last 3 weeks of building thanks to Jordan Waraksa.

jordan-waraksa-4

With an idea in my mind, I turned to my old profession of drafting and opened AutoCAD to start drawing.



I also was not satisfied with how the whiteboard turned out. It was practical and looked nice, but it turned out to be more than I needed and without proper framing, the 1/8″ plexi would not stay flat against the wall. So moving the whiteboard got added to the design on the wall with the shelf.

With the design finished, I sourced my materials. My Uncle has a trailer-able WoodMizer saw mill that he uses to cut his own boards (he builds furniture as a hobby). He has stock piled wood in empty silos at the old farm for years and gave me a bunch of heat cured 1×12 nominal white oak boards. I planed the boards and got them relatively smooth, but perfect was not the look I was going for, and for a bookshelf wasn’t necessary.


I did want a darker look to the wood then the light oak color. I went down to the local Sherwin-Williams to find a nice water-based stain that would give the wood the essence of an old timey cigar room.

Perfect!


I just went with one coat of stain, applied with an old sock, and no protecting coat of any kind. I wanted the finish to remain as it was and wax would not have worked on such rough wood. As the stain dried in, I started on the piping. I figured all the connectors I needed, plus extra for creative changes, and 30 ft of 1/2″ black pipe. I also purchased a pipe threader and 1/2″ die from the local Menards. This turned out to be a $100 piece of junk. I couldn’t get the die to even start.

So, I had all this pipe to cut and no way to thread it to the dimensions I needed. Enter Craigslist. Sourced a whole set, ratcheting pipe thread and 5 piece die, Chinese brand Swordfish for $40. Met up with the guy who acquired it through a trade and never used it. It turned out to be a really quality set, and I’d value it at over $300 easily! The project continues…


It was slow going and took me 3 entire days of constant measuring, re-measuring, cutting, threading, testing, and fitting, to finish.


The results, however, cannot be argued with. This turned out better than I could have hoped for! During this time, I also sourced some old 1×4 nominal boards from my shed, planed, sanded, cut, and stained them to match the shelf boards. These are shown from the side in the previous image of the wood leaning against the wall in the garage and would become the framing for the relocated plexi.

All of this work would require the desk to move which was planned as well. The wall that the desk would move to required a different orientation of the ‘L’ arm on the desk. That would require a new desk top. All part of the plan. As I stated previously, I was never satisfied with the desk top I built. For one thing, making it out of 2x’s made it incredibly heavy! I also did not properly join the individual boards together, so it was not holding up to the test of time.

I thought to source some more white oak boards from my Uncle, but since the I did not want to plane that many boards to the perfect surface needed for a desk top, I opted to get some from the local Menards. I first put the design into AutoCAD again, since this time I wanted wider boards, which would change my previous dimensions and measurements. I went with 1×10’s and 1×6’s to bring the dimensions to what I wanted.

I also purchased a Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig system so that I could properly join the boards. I can’t say enough good things about Kreg’s product. It really is amazing and such a time saver! The first thing was to cut the boards and lay out the design.


After that, I drilled the pocket holes and connected the individual boards to create two pieces that I would attach to the desk frame.


Sanding was next on the list after all the boards were joined to remove any protruding edges. Then a coat of the same stain used on the shelf. This was followed by a coat of wax, buffed to a dull sheen to protect the desk surface, but not take away from the look of the boards.


While staining, I had time to think about how I wanted to mount the desk top. The last time I just drilled wood screws in where ever there was a connection point. I wanted this to be easily removable if necessary and I wanted to try and match the hardware on the desk frame itself to make it look nice. I ran down to the local hardware store to pick up some threaded wood inserts and black allen headed hardware that identically matched the frame bits. I routed holes the right depth and radius into the underside at the measured connection points and installed the hardware.


This was the last step before installing the finished desk top. I also used the router to put a groove in the underside of the whiteboard framing to hold the plexi flush to the wall. Here is the bookshelf populated, the new whiteboard framed and in use, and the desk top installed.


Finally, another aspect of weight on the desk was that I had attached almost every electronic device to it. All this weight really put strain on the electric motor, and I would hear it every time I raised the desk. I decided that I didn’t want everything on the desk, just the laptops, monitors and phone. This meant I had to find another solution for my wireless access point, security firewall, modem, and Cisco VPN router.

Again, back to the internet for inspiration. I stumbled across a couple builds for various wooden file cabinets. My initial thought was to incorporate a server-like rack into the top of a two drawer file cabinet. However, at this point I was on the third weekend working on this and about burned out for woodworking. So I looked to repurpose my old wal-mart file cabinet from college. It was pretty beaten up, stickers all over it, plastic hardware, and sticking drawers. Here is a shot of it from the first move in (the black box in the corner).


The top was dented in and one of the top drawers was banged up and scratched. There were also no feet on it so if it wasn’t picked up completely, the metal edges would scratch the floor if moved. So I got to work.

1. Remove college stickers.
2. Add hidden casters attached to wooden blocks.
3. Build and attach classy, stained wooden top to cover dent and scratches and increase usable surface area.
4. Remove damaged drawer.
5. Replace cheap plastic handles
6. Paint opening and attach wooden 1×2 to cover drawer slides.
7. Grease other drawer slides.
8. Mount network gear inside and outside. (Security firewall & Cisco VPN router inside drawer bay, Modem on the side, wireless access point on the back)
9. Wire.


With the network gear finished, and a new file cabinet/server rack, it was time to put everything else back together. I ran all the wiring correctly this time and with less to wire, the job was much simpler. I used zip ties and leftover wiring harness wrap to clean everything up. I also replaced my largest monitor with a slightly smaller and much lighter one that could properly be attached to the monitor arms.


Without further ado, I give you my office… version 2.0!


That’s all…for now!

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