2009 Corner Desk Build

I’ve made a new desk, and man was it a lot of work (2-3 weeks). I want to point out some things…

  1. The monitors raise and lower both manually and through a motorized system. My dad was a big help with the motor system.
  2. I wanted it to be easily portable, so everything is “pinned” together with 1/4″ stainless rods (including the compartments).
  3. The shelves are adjustable.
  4. Four 40mm fans run along the right compartment for cooling the electronics. Also, a 120mm fan cools the PS3 from the back.
  5. The keyboard tray can go up and down, swivel left and right, tilt up and down, and move in and out.
  6. The black paint finish isn’t quite complete. Eventually I will need to sand it, wax it, and buff it up to a mirror finish.
  7. Everything is made of 3/4″ and 1/2″ mdf, and the trim is solid oak. The front curve was a crap load of work for a noob like me (see worklog).


I’ve been wanting to build a new computer desk for over a year now, and I’ve finally begun construction. I want it to be portable with making it too small. I also want it to look fricken awesome. My current desk, which I made in the early months of 2007, is nice, but also a MAJOR pain to move to Edmonton and back.

I drew up about 20 corner desk-top shapes; some of them were crazy, some were boring. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that the shape below was my first drawing. The “layouts” in the below image are mainly for the dual-monitor location (the monitors are built into the desk, it will become clear later). The blue square was intended to be a custom built-in-desk computer but I scrapped that idea. After a little too much contemplation, I wen’t with layout 2 because it increased useful desk space and allowed for a larger keyboard tray.

The curve for the corner of the desk was a pretty big deal (for someone not professional like me) because I had to bend oak. I wanted to recreate the exact curve seen in the above image, so I blew it up to actual size and printed it out onto 7 sheets of construction paper. I then glued the template to an adequately sized piece of 1″ plywood and cut the shape out. The plywood will be the “mold” that I bend the trim around.

Template for curve 7-8.5x11 sheets

In order to bend the oak trim without snapping it, I either had to steam the oak or use thin strips and glue them together while bending them to their final shape. I decided to use the thin strips idea.

1/8th inch strips of oak

Below is a sideways picture of the “mold” or rig that I made. The blocks that run along the edge are part of the clamps that will keep the oak strips tight while gluing them (since I didn’t have enough real clamps).

Rig for curve - Blocks with screws are clamps

I almost screwed up the gluing process – I rolled on what seemed like a good amount of glue to every strip, but when I clamped them together onto the mold, barely any glue squished out. Fortunately, I guess I had enough because it’s still holding together strong.

Rig with everyone glued up and clamped

Jumping to something else, I started working on the monitor part. Just for a challenge and the awesome factor, I wanted the monitors to raise and lower in and out of the desk. I had to make sure my measurements and cuts were perfect here (and holy crap there were a lot of them…).

Part of the monitor encasing (inside piece)
Part of the monitor encasing (inside piece) -further along
Part of the monitor encasing (inside piece)

I neglected to take any pictures of the “outside” piece that the inside piece (pictured above) would rest inside of.

I'm using parts of this long clamp for the lift system

I made this handle with a button (to release) for manually lifting and lowering the monitors.

The monitor lift system, fully down. (this part sits under the table)

This is a rudimentary image of the way the lift system works. The motor is geared so it doesn't unwind itself under pressure, and micro-switches on the top and bottom stop the monitors from "over shooting" their destination.

Yea I kinda got lazy at this point and didn’t take any more pictures.

10 thoughts on “2009 Corner Desk Build”

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