building a better workstation
The quest to build a better desk started with a small issue. “I was helping SPLICE test out larger 4k computer monitors to use in our remote workflow. I had three existing monitors set up on a small desk in a spare bedroom – and three larger monitors wouldn’t fit”
For Brian – a hobbyist woodworker – the solution was obvious. “I need to build a bigger desk!”
Brian took the opportunity to reconstruct his office layout as well as his mindset. “When work-from-home started at the beginning of the pandemic, I cobbled together a home office in a spare bedroom with whatever furniture I could scrounge for free. In my mind a return to Downtown Minneapolis was always right around the corner. It was a temporary setup.”
“It’s been two and a half years and WFH has now become a permanent option. It was time to make a more permanent home office.”
The desk was mocked up and assembled digitally before a single piece of wood was cut. “I really enjoy designing woodworking projects in Sketchup. I can iterate through designs much faster and test out different layouts, different styles of joints, connection methods. I spend about as much time designing as I do building.” Also (and perhaps more importantly) “There’s no ‘undo’ button with a chop saw.”
One added bonus of designing in Sketchup is its ability to send files to a VR headset. “It’s a little ridiculous – I recreated my entire office in Sketchup, then brought it into a Quest VR headset. I was able to virtually sit in front of the desk and test it out – check all the aesthetics – Were the monitors too far away? Was the desk tall enough? Was I able to reach everything I wanted? It’s the next best thing to having a physical mock-up”.
Once the designs were finalized, it was time to assemble. “I hadn’t worked with African Mahogany yet and decided to try it out. It’s a decent wood to work with – it’s relatively stable, not a lot of tension in the wood that would cause warping. It’s also lightweight and cheaper than a lot of domestic hardwoods. The only downside is it scratches easily – so you have to be really careful before the final finish is applied.”
Long lengths of 1” thick board were cut and edge-glued to create the top surface. Shorter pieces were milled to ½” to construct the monitor stand. Channels were routed out on the underside to accept legs and a metal frame. “The garage was a flurry of sawdust for a few weeks”.
Now that the desk is done, it’s time to start designing the next piece of furniture to fill out the office – “A coffee-caddy with a built-in electric kettle – so I don’t have to go downstairs to the kitchen when I run out of coffee”.