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Old 14th Jan 2013, 20:56   #1
morgansk
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Twenty - Update 9th June

Hello everyone,

I've been planning a scratch build for some time, and the time I had off over Christmas was just what I needed to get the ball rolling. I've built PC's for the last 16 years or so, but they've always used off the shelf cases. This time I'm making one because I want something nice to look at - well, nice to me anyway.

I have a workshop that I bought nearly three years ago, and I'm all tooled up so it's time to make something a bit larger than I usually do. I've inherited a load of wood - my dad was going to build a boat but never got around to it, so I now have a load of wood waiting for me to do something with it and I've been trying to decide what to do for some time with a couple of the larger chunks (and I do mean large - 2" thick, 7' long by 2' wide). Here's the rough plan in Sketchup...



The rear of the desk opens as shown in the following image...



The space at the back of the desk is more than enough to get all sorts of stuff in - my main pre-requisites are that I can keep everything out of the way, minimise the number of cables and let the beauty of the wood show through.

This PC isn't being used for gaming by the way - it's actually my main "work" machine (I work as a computer contractor, sometimes from home), so the specs are fairly modest as I don't need to include watercooling. I also don't need vast amounts of disk storage as I have a server at home with several TB's free (that contains all my music collection too which is streamed around the house), so I've decided that this will be my first all SSD machine. As it's not used for gaming I'll just be using on-board graphics too.

That doesn't mean I don't want it to be cool - I'm planning a couple of nifty features, keep posted for those.

All of the desk is hardwood - the wood coloured parts in the images are from Iroko, the legs and braces are Meranti. I don't unfortunately have enough Iroko of the right dimensions to make the whole thing from it, and as Meranti is all I have for the legs I'm going to stain them to contrast with the Iroko, hopefully in a nice way!

There are a couple of other pre-requisites for the desk. My office at home is in the basement, so the desk must come to pieces as otherwise I'll never get it in there. It needs to be deep - I like my monitors to be at least at arms length, preferably a little further. The rough size of the top will be 1900mm * 800mm.

Anyhow, enough words, the next post will contain some real pictures.

Last edited by morgansk; 9th Jun 2014 at 08:28. Reason: Update title with progress
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Old 14th Jan 2013, 22:57   #2
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Some Photos

After my introductory post here are some images of the work so far. I'm starting work on the desktop as that takes my fancy at the moment. I have a big bench (about 7' long) and the desktop is just about as long as this - it will be cut down a little but I'll machine it as is before cutting bits off.

Here's what I'm getting myself into...



Luckily I have an electric planer - it's pretty old (another inherited tool) but it does a really good job, especially on this Iroko which is quite difficult to machine.



Another thing about Iroko is it's not great to inhale, so I've hooked the planer up to my portable dust extractor and I'm wearing a proper respirator dust mask. I've done a load of DIY over the years and typically only used disposable dust masks (or none usually!). Getting a decent dust mask when doing work like this is a worthy investment - I can work all afternoon with one on without it annoying me. And I can breathe when I take it off too!

After an hour or two this part of the top was sufficiently well planed for me to start sanding. There's some lovely figuring in the wood that will hopefully stand out when it's polished...



I don't yet know what finishing treatment I'll use on this - I'll probably plump for Danish Oil (which has a satin look), but any suggestions as to other options would be greatly appreciated. I've not used Iroko indoors yet, the only other piece of furniture I've made with Iroko was an Adirondack chair I made for the wife last year.

Here's a view from the other end...



Next up it's the legs. I bought a load of Meranti off eBay last summer, and it's been tucked away in the roofspace of my workshop since then. There's a company in Trafford Park that sells seconds/returns, and I picked up a load of 20' * 6" * 2" lengths. The only trouble is they do not permit you to pickup your purchases in a car, so I had to rent a van in order to get the wood. It was still a chuffload cheaper than buying new, I reckon I saved at least 80% and I have loads more for another project (a greenhouse actually!).

I'm lucky enough to have most woodworking tools, so I was able to convert the timber into legs using a planer and table saw...



This did make a *boatload* of sawdust mind you...



With the four legs cut to length I then cut the joints...



At this point I must make a confession. I got so into the woodwork that I didn't take any photos whilst cutting the Mortice and Tenon joints which join the bottom rail to the legs. The top rail (Iroko) is slotted in, it'll be glued later on as I have more work to do on these top rails...



The floor in my office is slightly uneven, so rather than compensate with longer legs, or alternatively put up with a wonky desk, I bought some adjustable feet from Axminster which I can adjust with a spanner when the desk is in-situ.

I did however manage to buy feet that were, shall we say, a little on the large size...



The DVD drive is there just to show some scale.

OK folks, that's all for now. I'll post more later...
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 11:58   #3
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Looking good so far, it's about time us Brits had a good go at desk modding.

Wish I had your workshop lol.
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 16:07   #4
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Looks like it's shaping up quite nicely so far. I love the mix of woodworking and computers. I've done a few myself, and wanted to do a desk a while ago, but just never did. I'll be excited watching this come along.

Nice shop, by the way. Looks like a great place to work.
Is that a Narex chisel?
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 16:11   #5
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Wow that's a really nice bit of wood! looks like your doing it all the justice it deserves to
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 20:03   #6
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m4ttyc8 - I had my eye on this place for a couple of years, it went up for sale once but I couldn't afford it, then a year or so later it went up for auction and luckily I spotted it & the deed was done. It took me many years to save up enough (and most of those making stuff outside) but now I have it. Yes!

Mosquito - well spotted, yes it's a Narex (2011's Christmas Pressie from the wife). If you want to see more of my workshop and the stuff I make please pop over to this site.

Editor22 - thanks, it is indeed a lovely chunk of wood. It was actually 22' long but in order to get it from Cornwall to Manchester I had to chop it up - I thought long and hard about it but realised that I'd never want to make anything much longer than 7' so that's roughly the lengths I cut it into to get it back up here.
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 20:05   #7
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Hello again - this time I'll be showing an update to the top of the legs. The eagle eyed amongst you might have spotted an 'anomaly' on the right side leg when I posted my first Sketchup image. That was because the leg isn't solid, it's partially hollow in order to get something into it...



The top rails are approximately 20mm thick, so I've a bit of room to slide something inside the leg. The cables from this gadget need to feed back to the motherboard, hence the long horizontal slot.

I then cut a piece of Iroko to cover the slot...



This was glued in place with Cascamite - it's a high performance wood glue that comes in powder form and is mixed with water. Once set it's virtually unbreakable - the wood tends to rupture long before the glue. It's overkill for this part (as it's not holding any weight), but I was glueing up the legs at the same time so it made sense to do the lot.





Before I glued up the right hand leg I had a little more work to do. This rather gives the game away...





Yep, it's a slot loading DVD built into the leg of the desk. I had originally thought I might put this into the top of the desk, but was worried that with the wood I'd have to rout out I'd weaken the top (I do tend to sit on desks sometimes!) so rather than compromise the top I decided the leg was the place to put this. It does weaken the joint between the top and leg a little, however once the desk is in place the majority of force will be bearing down on the leg rather than horizontally across the legs, so I suspect this will be fine.

Here's the DVD in place...



The drive is a friction fit, and there will be a removable door over it when it's completed. My reasoning here is that I don't really want to have to scrap one half of the desk if the drive should malfunction, so being able to remove it would be a sensible precaution. Plus, I don't want to add an extra hole on the front for a paperclip, should a disk get stuck. In this instance I can unscrew the door, unhook the cables and extract the drive to work on it. And lastly I may want to pop in a Blu-Ray drive sometime - having a way to upgrade the components in the 'case' is also one thing I want to ensure I can do.

Next time - leg colour.

Last edited by morgansk; 28th Jan 2013 at 21:32.
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 20:39   #8
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That's not a plank. It's nearly half a tree. You really put the 'log' in project log.
Fantastic way to start too.
I'd make sure to be able to fit the most obnoxious sized hardware possible. Future-proofing on something like this is important. It's not like you can/(or should) just toss the table out if new hardware doesn't fit.

I agree on having a good respirator. The last thing you want to do is sneeze and spray blood all over your unfinished work, (which I have done. Thank god I use plastics mostly.)
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 22:00   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheapskate View Post
That's not a plank. It's nearly half a tree. You really put the 'log' in project log.
Fantastic way to start too.
I'd make sure to be able to fit the most obnoxious sized hardware possible. Future-proofing on something like this is important. It's not like you can/(or should) just toss the table out if new hardware doesn't fit.

I agree on having a good respirator. The last thing you want to do is sneeze and spray blood all over your unfinished work, (which I have done. Thank god I use plastics mostly.)
Thanks Cheapskate - love the "log" comment. And yes, it is nearly half a tree! I'll have arms like Popeye by the time I've finished this one as it's on & off the bench regularly.

The rough area I have to play with in the rear section is about 1840mm * 300mm at 160mm deep (or 6' * 1' * 6" in old money), so it's more than enough to fit any sized motherboard, and although height is a bit limited for what I intend to put in there it'll be plenty.

In addition to the mobo I've got 2 SSD's to pop in - these are Samsung 840 PRO's, having just read the article on Bit-Tech I'm so glad I plumped for these.

I also have a Scythe Kama Bay amp to place inside somewhere (not sure what I'm going to do with the volume knob or on/off switch, but I'll come up with something). And that's about it really.

By the way, if anyone on here has suggestions for some good resources on speaker building I'd be happy to hear them - I intend to build a pair for the desk using the same wood so it'll match nicely. I'm looking around for some 'sexy' drivers at the moment - I have a hankering after a pair of mylar cone woofers as I love the look of these. Any audiophile would wince at me going on about the look rather than the performance, but I'm not an audiophile and the wife wouldn't let me play anything over about level 2 anyway.
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Old 16th Jan 2013, 20:26   #10
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Ah, your 2nd update ninja'd me by 30 minutes. Sorry If it seemed like I was preachy.
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Old 16th Jan 2013, 21:47   #11
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I was thinking about getting a set of Narex chisels, I've got the mortising chisels, and have bene pleased thus far. Looks like a pretty nice shop set up, from what I could tell. (I'll stop the off topic there )

Nice work on the DVD drive in the leg. It looks like it went well. Very clean
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Old 16th Jan 2013, 22:25   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheapskate View Post
Ah, your 2nd update ninja'd me by 30 minutes. Sorry If it seemed like I was preachy.
No not at all - keep 'em coming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
I was thinking about getting a set of Narex chisels, I've got the mortising chisels, and have bene pleased thus far. Looks like a pretty nice shop set up, from what I could tell. (I'll stop the off topic there )

Nice work on the DVD drive in the leg. It looks like it went well. Very clean
I have to say these chisels are the business. I was given a set of 6 in 2011 for Christmas, and I purchased some 3M lapping film (from www.workshopheaven.com) and I lap my chisels on a piece of float glass. This works brilliantly, they end up razor sharp.

Anyhow, thanks for the comments - and there's another picture heavy post coming up!
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Old 16th Jan 2013, 22:27   #13
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Last time I got the legs all glued up and slots routed (and hand cut in the case of the slot for the DVD). I made a trip to Axminster in Warrington at the weekend to buy some supplies, the main one I was after was some stain for the legs.

I don't like the colour of the Meranti (it looks cheap to me), so after some deliberation I decided on black legs which should complement the Iroko nicely.

There's only one image today - and I must apologise for the quality (or rather lack of)...



I must remember to take my SLR over to the workshop for the next set of photos, as these seem to be getting worse as I progress.

I've now put two coats of stain on both sets of legs, and will let that dry thoroughly before doing the next part. Prior to applying the stain the legs were sanded with 60, 80, 120, 180 and 240 grit sandpaper, which takes a while but is worth the effort. Once stained the grain is raised a little, so I'll use wire wool to ensure it's smooth before waxing the legs.

Bye for now!
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Old 16th Jan 2013, 23:07   #14
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Hello again everyone - it's been a cracking night over at the workshop, I've a few updates for you.

I've now stained both sets of legs and used wire-wool to smooth them down, the following shows what the look like now, and if you click on the image you should get a high-res image too - I took my DSLR over to take some images tonight.



The DVD slot is looking pretty good now it's been stained - I stained inside as well as out so that there will be no traces of the original wood colour visible when you look into the drive slot. You'll see the drive of course, I can't hide that (although a mate suggested I insert some a brush to keep the drive clean and obscure the slot further). I'll have to see what I can find online, I like this idea.



The screw holes on the drive door unfortunately had to be offset, as the cables and SATA connector obscure the bottom part and I didn't want to drill through these. I would rather have evenly spaced the holes but sadly I cannot.

As I was on a roll I decided I had to slot everything together so far...



I also took a panorama and stitched it together using ICE - it's done a decent job at the top but as you can see the bottom rail looks somewhat wrong. I'll have to try more than 3 images next time...



After this I dismantled it all and put the first coat of stain on the bottom rail. It's chuffin cold here at the moment - my workshop often feels like it's colder inside than out. Luckily I have a small space heater that uses propane so that was on tonight - however I'm running out of gas so will have to make a trip to the shop for a fill up soon, otherwise it'll be too cold to work!

Bye for now...
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Old 18th Jan 2013, 00:47   #15
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Nice.
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Old 19th Jan 2013, 18:14   #16
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Nice.
Thanks - but compared to your efforts I am such an amateur. Looking forward to your next update on Lean & Green, and I must say the Spindicator is a work of genius!
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Old 19th Jan 2013, 20:18   #17
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Very nice. I have to confess that I didn't like the stain on the legs when I first saw that. But you are right, it does go really well with the Iroko. Certainly goes together much better than unstained, I think.

This is coming together quite quickly. I'm not sure how I feel about that... Frequent updates and fun seeing progress, but that means it'll be over sooner!

-
Random aside, I used "scary sharp" for a little bit, but I've turned into a bit of a handplane and hand tool nut (ok... more than a little, and there's a few more not in this shot). I use DMT diamond stones and finish with a waterstone. I'd be eating through the 3M film like crazy with how much I sharpen.
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Old 20th Jan 2013, 08:12   #18
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Quote:
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Very nice. I have to confess that I didn't like the stain on the legs when I first saw that. But you are right, it does go really well with the Iroko. Certainly goes together much better than unstained, I think.

This is coming together quite quickly. I'm not sure how I feel about that... Frequent updates and fun seeing progress, but that means it'll be over sooner! ...
I know what you mean about the stain - it is a bit '80's but I think it is an improvement over the raw Meranti. As for speed, there's a lot to slow me down yet - I have some custom electronics planned for the top of the desk which will definitely take me some time, a pair of matched speakers to build, some metalwork (which I am a complete novice at) to do for both the legs and PC, a box to build beneath the desktop to house all of the electronics, not to mention a mahussive top to complete.

And thanks for the link, your set of planes dwarves mine and the adjustable plane holder is superb!
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Old 21st Jan 2013, 12:02   #19
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I tend to lurk and not post but I have to say this desk is almost exactly the same as whats been in my head for about a year now. I'm a huge fan of wood working and think its under utilized in many case mods. The stain is a beautifully dark shade and the contrast of the legs to the connecting pieces is great. The only difference in my head is I'd stain the top surface, but with Iroko it'd be tough to justify.

Keep up the good work.
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Old 21st Jan 2013, 12:54   #20
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Nice job man! I like the stained legs, although I usually hate "painted" wood. Nice idea with the disk slot. This whole project reminds me of my very first idea for a skratch build. Never got there though.
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