This is a continuation of Studio Desk – Part 4: Applying The Finish For me, all projects have a point where they start to fall apart. This is what happened here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with how the desk turned out but I also have a few things that I really want to change.
Attaching the Casters
I decided to go with 3″ polyurethane casters since this is going to sit on hardwood floors. This was my first mistake in that I grossly underestimated the weight of this desk when completed. More on this later.
1. Rough-positioning the casters
First I laid out where they would be placed on the underside of the bottom piece.
2. Fine-positioning the locking casters
I roughly centered the wheels on the sections that extend out the back by placing the casters 6-3/4″ from the outside edge…
…and 1″ from the rear edge. This will allow me to lock the casters when I don’t want the desk rolling around.
3. Attaching the locking casters
I secured the casters with 1-1/2″ button-head screws.
4. Fine-positioning and attaching the middle non-locking casters
The casters that are not at the rear of the desk are non-locking. I used my combination square to ensure that the middle casters are inline with the rear casters. These were attached with the same 1-1/2″ button-head philips screws.
5. Finishing up with the front non-locking casters
The casters at the front are more centered to better bear the heavy load of all of the desk gear.
Installing the Rack Hardware
Equipment racks are one of the most overpriced pieces of studio gear and it gives me great pleasure to be able to make my own for a small fraction of the cost. If you have a use for a studio rack, I highly recommend you try making your own.
1. Positioning the 4-space rack rails
The rack rails were installed so they were 1/8″ from the front of the rack body. I used two scrap pieces of laminate left over from my router enclosure build to shim between the top and bottom of the rack rails and the inside of the rack body, ensuring that they would be centered and consistent on both the front and back of the racks.
2. Attaching the 4-space rack rails
These rails were attached with screws as well.
3. Determining the location for the grommet
Each rack will have a number of cable pass-throughs. I wanted the pass-through to be placed towards the back and towards the top, which will make it easier to conceal the cables. I decided to have the computer pass-through located 2″ from the top of the rack and 5-1/4″ from the rear. This was a slight mistake, as you’ll see below.
4. Prepping the circle-cutter
5. Cutting the circle for the grommet
I used the pre-drilled pilot hole to start cutting
The circle cutter uses the pilot hole to keep it in the proper location.
6. My first major screw-up
This is where I screwed up. I forgot that the top and bottom of the racks have two layers of 3/4″ particle board rather than just one. I didn’t calculate that when I decided on a hole placement. This means that the top of the rack will interfere with the pass-through.
7. Fixing the screw-up
8. Installing the grommet
9. Taking it all in
This is how the rack will be positioned in the desk. You can see the pass-through grommet in the upper rear corner on the side of the rack.
10. Ensuring that the PC will fit in the rack
I set the rack on its back and dropped the computer in. I screwed it to the rack rails but right now there isn’t anything supporting the computer, which is very heavy.
11. Measuring the space under the PC
I set the rack upright again and went around the back. You can see that there is a gap between the computer and the inside floor of the rack.
I measured that to be 1-1/8″.
12. Making the PC supports
I cut two strips of MDF at that width and slightly tapered the end on a disc sander. These will go between the computer and the rack floor to help support the computer. The taper at the end will make it easier to insert the computer from the front.
This is where the wood supports will be placed.
13. Installing the 8-space rack rails
Installing the Leg Mounts
The leg mounting hardware needs to be mounted in a way that will allow each of the three racks to be installed in either location. This didn’t seem like it would be that big of a problem but it took some thinking before I could even get started. Each rack unit will have three legs; two on the sides towards the outside of the desk and one underneath towars the inside of the desk. I decided to start with the legs on the sides.
1. Steel-Tek hardware
2. Determining the position of the side flanges
I positioned the side flange on the side of the rack as far forward as I could. I positioned it 3-1/2″ down from the top. This doesn’t add anything in terms of stability, it just looked best and it ensured that the bolts I used to attach the bracket wouldn’t hit the screws for the rail hardware.
3. Attaching the side flanges
The side flanges were installed on both sides of one of the larger 8-space racks. I will install them on the other rack later.
4. Attaching the side flanges
5. Positioning the first floor flange
Then it got a bit squirrely. I took the PC rack off the larger 8-space rack. Then I turned the 8-space rack upside down and set the PC rack back on top and installed the temporary leg rails. I then used another temporary leg rail and two of the leg mounting brackets and one of the floor flanges, which will be installed on the underside of each of the 8-space racks.
6. Installing the legs
Attaching the Legs to the Base
New I get to take it all out of my shop and move it into the studio. I could almost sense my shop breathing a congested sigh of relief as I moved the components out. Don’t worry, little shop. I’ll fill you with tripping hazards again soon.
1. Positioning the right-side rack.
2. Dealing with another screw-up
3. Attaching the right-side flanges
4. Attaching the left-side flanges
I performed the same procedure for attaching the flanges on the left side. To test it out, I installed the PC rack. It went into place perfectly.
5. Attaching the center flanges
6. Attaching the side flanges for the second 8-space rack
7. Attaching the floor flange on the second 8-space rack
To install the central flange on the underside of the second rack, I set it upside-down on the floor and used the PC rack to position the flange just like I did with the other 8-space rack.
8. Installing the legs and upper flanges
Putting it All Together
The hard work is over and now it’s time to put it all together. I’m really getting tired of working on this, mainly because of how much space it is taking up in my shop so this is a very welcome moment.
1. Positioning the desk top
I placed the desk top loosely in place. It actually started to resemble a desk at this point.
2. Marking the hole locations
From underneath I could see where I needed to drill the holes for the lag bolts. This is where I almost screwed up. I realized that there was some play in the flanges and that would cause the legs to tip a bit. In order to ensure that everything was installed correctly and that the racks would be able to go on squarely, I reinstalled the racks and placed the desktop back on then marked the holes with a silver Sharpie, then rook the top and the racks back off, put the top back on and lined up the holes, then drilled the holes for the lag bolts and attached the flanges. These parts are very heavy and this was a LOT easier said than done. As a result, I was too flustered to take photos of that agonizing process.
3. Installing the racks
4. Attaching the desk top
After that I finally put the top back on and the desk assembly was complete.
This concludes part 5.
This was a pain in the butt. Each of these pieces weighs a ton and was very difficult to maneuver.
This is also where I ran into a major problem. The desk is too heavy for the casters. It’s so heavy that the casters get a flat spot on them if the desk sits in one spot for any length of time.
I don’t know why I missed this but I think it is a good representation of the dangers of keeping your focus on one little detail and not taking in the entire picture. I was so focused on getting polyurethane wheels that I totally missed the weight issue.
I might try doubling up on the casters.
The next step is to do the electrical.
If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. I’d love to see any desk builds you’ve done. Also, if you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my mailing list so you get e-mail notifications when I post new articles.