MAKER MOVEMENT PROJECTS

My New Computer Desk – One More Thing You Can Make With A CNC Router

Written By: Bill Griggs - Nov• 12•11

My New Computer Desk

 

I wanted to have a new computer desk for my lair but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. I decided to make my new computer desk because it is one more thing you can make with a cnc router. I wanted a desk that was more functional than the $39 computer cart I had been using.  I looked around at all sorts of desks to find one that met my needs. Since I had two computers that I wanted to work on and have access to at the same time, I knew needed a large desk.  I needed a desk with space for three monitors, a laser printer, a scanner, a 3D printer as well as a microphone and an Ipad. I also wanted some room for shelves, with storage and to make it upgradable as my needs changed.

I designed the extension table in Alibre Design 3D Cad sotfware

It seemed like allot to expect from an inexpensive off the shelf computer desk and in fact it was too much to expect. Well, during my search for a suitable desk I found one company that  has a designed desks which are functional and beautiful. Their product are flat pack furniture made from sustainable woods like bamboo and designed to assemble without the need for tools. I watched several of their Youtube videos about their products and I really liked their work. I just couldn’t afford $1000 to purchase all the parts I would need to make my dream desk. So what’s a maker to do? Why Make of course.

My CNC Router under construction.

I decides to reverse engineer the project and come up with a similar desk to meet my desires. I took my handy CAD package and drew up a desk that is similar to the  great stuff they made. I had to figure out how their sliding tab joints worked and roughly how large the desk I wanted was going to be. I checked out what they had to offer and realized that an extension table would also be needed to fit all my stuff. They made tables that were long enough but they didn’t appeal to me. But I did like the look of their Peninsula tables with the big round curves.  So I decide that instead of just copying what already existed I would create an extension table that fit my exact needs. So I drew up a straight desk with a Peninsula bump on one end and then a gradual curve to mate up with the corner desk. This increased the length of the table from 31″ to 46″ which was a good size and would just fit in the area I had available.

 

So next I took the 2D drawings I created and turned them all onto 3D parts so that I could check the fit of each part in the assembly. I used Alibre Design to do that and it is a good thing I did because some of the parts needed adjustments. Alibre generated new 2D drawings based on the corrections I made. I then took the corrected drawing intoVectric Aspire CAM software ( I could have used the much less expensive Cut2D also from Vectric to do the same job but I already had Aspire). In Aspire, I generated all the tool paths for the project and produced the G-code needed to drive my CNC router table.

Side extension table test fit after being cut out on a CNC router Table.

I began looking around to find some bamboo plywood and discovered that it was extremely expensive compared to conventional plywood and way out of my budget at $200 a sheet. I decided instead to use Luan plywood because I liked the grain pattern. The Luan ply was about $50 a sheet from a wholesale cabinet place, expect to pay more in discount centers. The choice of plywood is really up to the Maker.

I cut the parts out on my home made CNC Router table over the course of two evenings but could have done it much quicker if I wanted to.  I spent the first night double checking the fit of the parts and rounding the edges of the parts to make all the tabs and slots fit together nicely. I used tricks that I learned that first night to speed up the process on the second night.

I waited a few months to finish the project because I got side tracked and because the weather wasn’t suitable for applying the finish to the desks. I used Cabot Polystain, a water based Polyurethane and Stain all in one. The application is simple and fast. You may have trouble finding the Cabot stain because it is not a popular product. Because the stain and Poly are all being applied at the same time it is hard to darken a project once the first coat goes on. Anyway, I liked the results I got.

Stained desk

I finished the desk with Cabot Poly Stain – Golden Oak

I realize not everyone will have their own CNC router table at home to make a project like this but I figured folks might be interested in what you can accomplish if you do have the proper equipment. I will not be sharing the files I used to create this a desk, so don’t ask. I will not be creating these desk commercially either. I simply liked the companies design and so I made something similar for my own use and still keep within my budget.

My desks aren’t perfect and there are a few details I got wrong. But I had fun making the desks and I really like working at a desk with plenty of room. I also didn’t bust my budget because I spent around $200 and built 3 desks Two for me and one for my son. Having a CNC router table give me the freedom to Make whatever I can think of. I have made signs, fixtures, toys, stage props, dog dishes and clamps so far. My new computer desk is just one more thing I can make with a CNC Router. What will you make?

 

 

 

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