Building a Desk

I want a large desk that fits the room. So, I decided to build one. This has been an interesting process. Drafting has not been involved. I think I may have lost my T-square in the move; I don’t remember packing it.

I decided on “corner” so that I can stick my feet out underneath it without kicking anything. Measuring my corner, eight feet worked, so an eight-foot length of MDF (with the two ends 45-degree cut) became to the top. So far, so good.

Eight feet of unsupported MDF bows – a lot. Gluing a 1×4 (or two) across the bottom seemed a logical solution. They had to be glued near the edge because I couldn’t find clamps that would reach “in” very far. Given my hatred of caulk, this may be a surprising choice. The difference: One cannot see the glue.

As a furniture maker, I’m a good electrician. I’ve seen a number of desks with pipe as supports and we’re going for a “farm” look in the office. The biggest problem working in an unfamiliar medium is what things are called. The pipes attached to the desk with those wide round ring things, which I also used for the feet. I chose 3/4 inch pipe via the Goldilocks method: 1/2 inch seemed too thin and 1 inch seemed too bulky.

The next step: Attach the legs. No problem. The wide round things have countersunk holes in them and I have 1x4s under the desk just begging to be useful. Set the desktop on the floor – up side down – and screw ’em in.

Maybe this should be a bulleted list… Flip the desk up side up and ugh! Wobbly, unstable, fragile, and all around “not going to work”. Cross bracing!

Flip the desk up side down and the glued on 1×4 creak, crack, and start to separate from the desktop due to the weight of the pipes. So much for Liquid Nails.

I found a box of woodscrews that are perfect (no idea why I bought a box of 100 wood screws of any type, but there they were). I even had a counter-sink drill bit lurking in the pile of drill miscellany. Some drilling and screwing later and the 1x4s are most definitely not detaching from the desktop. Screwing tip: Watch out for the screw going through the first layer then pushing that layer away, rather than cleanly entering the second layer. This will cause stripping in the first layer when you force the screw to turn into the second layer after it reaches full depth in the first. In other words: Stand on it while screwing it together.

For the cross bracing, I needed a “pipe turnbuckle”. If you are not aware, pipe – and its fittings – are all threaded the same direction. This means one builds pipe outward from the source to the destination so that it all screws together properly. I figured there was some sort of fitting that screwed on in both directions, but I had no idea what it is called. The Menard’s people were not helpful. It turns out that it is called a “union coupling” – and Menard’s has lots of them. They are the bulges in the cross bracing pipes.

And I have a sturdy desk. The bits hanging out to the sides are for shelves: The cut off chunks from making the desk fit in the corner.

Note the lack of baseboards and the old flooring. I’m still waiting for the millwork guy. We’re supposed to agree that, “yes, the stain matches” this week. I’m not looking forward to that. If he has to ask (he has a cabinet door from the kitchen), then it doesn’t match. Why does everything need to be so difficult?

We have a rug, but we want some sort of wood “framing” around the edges of it. It’s about a foot short of the wall all the way around. Once the baseboards are finally on the way, I’ll get that – even if I must limit my choices to what’s in stock.

The big box is a UPS. It’s currently just holding up the Starlink connection (the white cable goes to the WiFi part). The other one is downstairs holding up everything else. It will end up under that desk, too.

I’m going to put pipe-supported shelves in the corner, but I need to see how tall the monitor will be on the desk, first.

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