How to Make a Computer Desk
Free Woodworking Plans from Lee's Wood Projects
Posted by Lee Swindel
This beautiful computer desk is the perfect solution for maximum work surface area needed, as well as storage space for office supplies and reference materials. It features a large storage compartment below, a shelved compartment above, plus ample room on the desk top for a large sized monitor and work space. The pull-out keyboard and mouse tray includes side-mounted glides for easy access. The cabinet doors are fitted with European hinges for strength and the availability for quick adjustments if needed. It is constructed from solid hardwood to insure maximum durability and lasting beauty. This desk will last a lifetime and will provide for all your computer needs.
Technical Information for Making a Computer Desk
A. Materials List:
- Use a table saw and a radial arm saw to cut two mahogany boards to make the sides (A). One board should be 1" x 13 1/2" x 78" and the other board 1" x 9" x 32". Joint one edge of each board. Rip the longer board 13" wide and the shorter board 8 3/4" wide.
- Attach a dado blade on the table saw and adjust the blade 3/8" high. Adjust the fence 12 3/4"" from the blade and cut a rabbet joint the full length of each side (A) to accommodate the back (C).
- Join the two boards to make the bottom portion of the side (A) wider. To join the boards, place the bottom ends flush and the jointed edges together. Place marks across the adjacent edges 6", 16", & 28" from the bottom ends. Use a horizontal boring machine with a 3/8" drill bit to drill holes 1 1/16" deep at the marks on each board. A dowel jig and a hand drill with a 3/8" bit could be used to drill the holes if a boring machine is not available. Place wood glue on the jointed surfaces to be joined. Place glue on one half the length of three dowel pins (B/B) and pound them into the longer board. Position the shorter board and clamp it onto the longer board using three bar clamps. Clean off excess glue and allow the glue to dry over night.
- Use a radial arm saw to cut the end of each side so that the shorter boards are 30" long. Cut the top of each side so the longer boards are 76" long.
- Plane the sides 3/4" thick.
- Using 3/4" thick mahogany lumber, cut the top (B), fixed shelf (F) and the adjustable shelf (G) to their respective sizes.
- Select a board 1" x 11 1/2" x 12’. From that board cut four boards 36" long.
- Joint one edge of each board then glue and dowel the boards to make two boards 1" x 23" x 36". Three dowel pins (B/B) should be used for each.
- Rip one of the boards 22" wide for the counter top (D), and the other 21" wide for the bottom (E). Cut both boards 321/2" long.
- Use a band saw to cut a 3/4" x 13" notch out of each end of the counter top (D) on the back edges.
- Plane the counter top (D) 7/8" thick. Plane the other board for the bottom (E) 3/4" thick
- Use a router and a 3/4" ogee bit to shape the front edge of the counter top (D).
- Cut a 1" x 8" x 66" board into two lengths of 33" for the keyboard shelf (Q). Glue and dowel the boards edge to edge. Secure with bar clamps until the glue has dried. Cut the board 15 1/2" x 31 1/2" and then plane it 3/4" thick.
- Attach 1/2" wide dado blade on the table saw. Adjust the blade 1/4" high and the fence 15" from the blade. Cut a rabbet joint on one edge of the self (Q). Turn the shelf over to cut another rabbet joint on the opposite side.
- Rip a 66" long board 1 1/2" wide. Plane the board 3/4" thick. Cut one board 32 1/4" long for the keyboard shelf front (R). Cut the other board 1" x 31 1/4" for the keyboard shelf back (S).
- Cut a 1/4" x 1/2" groove in the face of the keyboard shelf front (R). The groove should be 1/4" from the top edge.
- Cut the rear moldings (H) to their proper dimensions. Use a router and a 3/4" ogee bit to route the bottom shape of each molding. 18. Use a power miter saw set at 45 degrees to cut the top front & side moldings (J) & (K), and the bottom front & side moldings (M) & (N) to their proper lengths.
- To make the top front (L), joint one edge of a 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 36" board. Set the table saw fence 4 3/16" from the blade and rip the board in two equal pieces. Place glue on the face of each board and glue them together. Use hand screw clamps to secure the boards. After the glue has dried, joint one edge and rip the board 4" wide and cut the length 32 1/2". Set up a dado head on the table saw and adjust width 3/4" and the height 1/4". Adjust the fence 3 1/4" from the blade and cut a rabbet joint on the front-bottom edge.
- The vertical and horizontal door frames (T) & (U) can be made from a 3/4" x 10" x 72" board. Use the table saw to rip the board into four 2 5/16" width strips. Joint both edges of all four strips. Clamp the strips to a work bench and use a hand router with a 3/4" mullion bit, shape outside edges Use a 1/2" Roman Ogee bit to shape the inside edges. Adjust a power miter saw to 45 degrees and cut the eight vertical frames & and eight horizontal frames to their proper length.
- Place a dado head on the table saw and adjust width 3/16" and the height 1/2". Adjust the fence 1/8" from the blade and cut grooves in the edges of the vertical & horizontal door frames ((T) & (U).
- Rip a 1/2" x 11" x 72" board 10 1/2" wide. Plane the board 3/16" thick. Cut four door panels (V) 16 1/2" long.
- Cut the door dust shields (W) to their proper dimensions and plane them 1/4" thick.
- From a 3/4" x 2" x 35" board, use a power miter saw to cut the horizontal frame (O) and the two triangular braces (P).
- From a 3/4" x 9 1/2" x 72" board cut the counter top side supports (E/E), counter top rear supports (F/F), bottom front & rear supports (G/G), bottom side supports (H/H), triangular corner brackets (I/I), top front & rear supports (J/J), and top side supports (K/K) to their respective dimensions.
- Use a hand router with a 1/2" rounding over bit to round the bottom outside corner fixed shelf side supports (I), and the counter top side supports (E/E).
- Cut the rear molding D/D) to size and route the top front edge with a 3/4" Roman Ogee bit.
- Cut the plywood back (C) to fit the cabinet. Also cut a 2 1/2" diameter hole, centered in the back, just below the keyboard shelf (Q) for the cords. NOTE: This procedure should be done after the assembly procedures have been completed to assure an accurate fit.
- To find the centers of the holes for the adjustable shelf supports (C/C), place the back edges of each side (A) together with the inside faces up. Measure 12" down from the top and draw a line across both sides. Measure down 2 1/2" from the previous line and draw another across the ends. Draw two more lines, each 2 1/2" from the previous line. Measure 4 1/2" in from the front edge of each side and draw a perpendicular line intersecting the other lines. Draw another perpendicular line 7 1/2" in from the previous line. Where the lines intersect are the centers for the adjustable shelf supports.
- Use a hand drill and a 1/4" drill bit to drill 1/2" deep holes at the line intersections on both sides (A). Eight holes should be drilled in each side.
- On the inside surface of the cabinets measure 3/4" in from the back edge and 3" from the top and bottom to find the centers for the holes needed for the European hidden hinges (Y). Use a drill press and a 1 1/4" Foerstner Bit to drill a 1/2" deep hole at each center.
C. Sanding Procedures:
- Rough sand all solid walnut parts with an orbital sander and 80 grit sandpaper.
- Rough sand all solid parts with an orbital sander and 80 grit sandpaper.
- Intermediate sand with an orbital sander and 120 grit sandpaper.
- Rough and intermediate, sanding should be completed before assembly procedure.
- Finish sand all parts with an orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper after the assembly procedure.
- Hand sand all edges, and details, with 220 grit sandpaper.
D. Assembly Procedures:
- Place wood glue on the ends of the top front (L) and position flush with the front edges of the sides (A). The bottom edge of the top front should be 5" below the top of the sides. Use a nail gun with 1 1/2" brads to nail it in place. Use a bar clamp to secure it until the glue dries...
- Position the top face of the bottom (C) 3 1/2" from the bottom of the sides (A). Position the bottom face of the top (B) 4 1/2" down from the top of the sides (A). Glue, nail and clamp them in place.
- Place glue on the end grain of counter top (D) and the top portion of the sides (A) and clamp the counter top in position. Be sure that the counter top is level from front to back.
- Glue and clamp the fixed shelf (F) in position.
- Glue and clamp the back (C) in the rabbet joints provided in the sides (A).
- Glue and nail the rear moldings (H) onto the back (C) below the top (B) and the fixed shelf (F).
- Glue the fixed shelf side supports (I) onto the sides (A) and the bottom of the fixed shelf (F). Secure the supports with #8 x 1" wood screws. Use two screws into the side and two into the bottom of the fixed shelf on each side. Use a drill and a hand-mate counter bore to position the screws below the wood surface.
- Glue and clamp the top front molding (J) and the top side moldings (K) in place. Also, glue and clamp the bottom front molding (M) and the bottom side moldings (N) in place.
- Place glue on the ends of the horizontal frame (O) and clamp it in place.
- Glue triangular braces onto the sides (A) and the back edges of the horizontal frames. Secure the braces with #8 x 1" screws.
- Glue and clamp the keyboard shelf front (R), and the keyboard shelf back (S) onto the keyboard shelf (Q).
- Screw the drawer guides (X) onto the ends of the keyboard shelf and the sides (A). The keyboard should be positioned 1/4" above the horizontal frame (O).
- Place a small bead of glue in the grooves and mitered ends of two vertical & two horizontal door frames (T) & (U). Place a door panel (V) in the grooves and clamp the frames together to make a cabinet door. Repeat the process for the other three cabinet doors.
- Glue and nail a dust shield vertically onto the back-right edge of the upper cabinet door. The dust shield should be flush with the top and bottom of the cabinet door and protrude 1/2" beyond the right side. Repeat this process for the bottom right cabinet door.
- Drill 1/4" diameter holes through the cabinet doors for the cabinet door knobs. The holes should be drilled approximately 1 1/2" in from the inside edges of each top drawer and 10" down from the top. The holes should be drilled approximately 1 1/2" in from the inside edges of each bottom door and 7" down from the top.
- Glue and nail the rear molding (D/D) onto the back (C) and the sides (A). This molding should be placed on top of the counter top (D).
- Use glue and wood screws to secure the counter top side supports (E/E) onto the sides (A) and the bottom of the counter top (D).
- Glue the counter top rear support (F/F) onto the back (C) and the bottom of the counter top (D).
- The bottom front & rear supports (G/G) should be glued to the under side of the bottom (E) and the back (C) and bottom front molding (M). The bottom side supports should be glued to the under side of the bottom and the sides (A).
- The triangular corner braces (I/I) should be placed in the corners below the bottom (E) and in the corners above the top (B). Secure them with glue and wood screws.
- The top front and rear supports (J/J) and the top side supports should be placed above the top (B). Secure them with glue and wood screws.
- Attach the European hidden hinges (Y) to the inside of the cabinet doors and the inside of the sides (A) with the wood screws provided. First place the hinge plate in the hole provided and attach with wood screws. Next, with hinge portion attached to the plate, attach the hinge to the inside surface of the side (A). Repeat the process for the other seven hinges. Make adjustments to the hinges as necessary for proper alignment.
- Attach the door knobs (Z) with the machine screws provided.
- Attach the cabinet door catches (A/A) onto the top-inside of the bottom cabinet doors and the bottom of the horizontal frame (O) with the wood screws provided.
- Attach adhesive felt pads (L/L) on the top and bottom inside face of each cabinet door to eliminate noise.
E: Finish Procedures:
- Use plastic wood dough to fill all nail holes, cracks and imperfections.
- Use an orbital hand sander and 220 grit sandpaper to finish sand the entire project.
- Hand sand all edges with 220 grit sandpaper.
- If stain is desired, apply with a brush and allow to penetrate for 5-10 minutes, and then remove with a clean rag.
- Allow stain to dry 6 hours and then repeat with a second coat.
- Apply a clear finish coat such as Varathane, Polyurethane, lacquer, etc. using a pure-bristle brush. Allow to dry 12 hours.
- Lightly hand sand finish with 220 grit sandpaper.
- Apply second coat of clear finish.
- If additional finish coats are desired, repeat steps #6 & 7.
- Allow to dry 24 hours for the finish to dry.
Notes: 1. Be sure to match the color of the wood dough to the stain color. 2. Use a tack rag after each sanding procedure to remove the dust.
*Congratulations, your computer desk is finished and ready to use!