The Best Computer Desk Ever?

I’ve been through what seems like a dozen computer desk situations over the past couple years. The change from one to the other was mostly due to wanting a better ergonomic situation. And while most of the time I did get a slightly better ergonomic situation I also encountered a problem or flaw (sometimes due to me) that made me make another change or even go back to my last setup. But today I think I can call my current desk the best computer desk ever…..for me anyway.

I was scheduled to have a nose surgery late in 2016. The surgery was going to keep me out of the shop for a bit and I also knew that I was going to be sitting around for a few days while recovering. Because of that I thought I would throw together a quick table that would allow me to bring my computer into the living room to a comfortable location. Then I remembered a cart design that I previously saw on woodgears.ca. It’s a cantilevered design with casters that allows you to bring the computer to a known comfortable location instead of the traditional situation of trying to be comfortable at a computer station. You can find out more about the original design by clicking here.

What I like about the design:

  • Easy to build. I milled the lumber, cut everything, assembled, and applied 3 coats of shellac in one day. Materials on hand to completed project in a day. That doesn’t happen often.
  • It’s height adjustable. It’s not adjustable in the sense that you can have it loaded up and switch between sit down and stand up easily but it does allow you to dial in the height for whatever chair you will be using it for. If for whatever reason I don’t use this desk for a computer in the future then I can change the height as needed and make it work for something else like my couch.
  • It doesn’t take a lot of material to make. It’s a strong design based upon good joinery.
  • I think the size of the top is perfect. Good balance between not too big and not too small.

What I don’t like about it:

  • There isn’t anything that I don’t like about it.
  • My wife says the casters that I chose are ugly. hahahahahahaha. Next time I’ll get them from Bed Bath & Beyond or Pottery Barn ;)

It isn’t build 100% to the original design and dimensions though. I had some extra hickory that I wanted to use up so I chose to use it for this. Because hickory is a nice dense hardwood I was able to decrease some of the dimensions due to my material constraints while still achieving a structurally solid result.

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18 Comments

  1. JOHN MORRISON

    I WOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT 2 THINGS,
    #1 IT SEEMS AS IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE TOP HEAVY (MAYBE THE EQUIPMENT IS LIGHTER THAN IT LOOKS),
    #2 THE SUPPLY CORD MAY BE A TRIP HAZARD (TO ME THAT IS ,I HAVE BEEN NOTED TO BE A LITTLE CLUMSY, @80 I AM NOT AS SURE FOOTED AS I ONCE WAS ).
    OTHER THAN THAT I THINK IT WOULD BE MORE SUITED FOR A LAPTOP !
    A NICE BUILD ANY WAY !
    KEEP THEM COMING ANYWAY ! WE ALWAYS ENJOY THEM !

    1. Jay Bates

      Hey John. It’s not really top heavy. The wide base and casters prevent it from wanting to tip over during normal use. If I really push it and it runs into my rug it just stops. No signs of it wanting to tip. There is enough friction on the rubber feet of the tower to prevent movement there as well. In use, the power cord is in a non traffic area.

    2. Chris Johnson

      In Matthias’ build video, he gives a good running jump and lands on the tabletop and it just wheels away rather than tipping over. That’s as good an endorsement of it’s stability as any.

  2. John Chamberlain

    Wireless keyboard and mouse would help with cable management. Is the PC tied down to the top?

    1. Jay Bates

      Cable management isn’t to much of a concern. What I have now is working fine and I don’t have to buy another keyboard. The PC is not tied down to the top. It has a good amount of friction with the rubber feet. Due to the casters and wide base it would take quite a bit of effort to make this thing fall. At which point I would probably damage everything else on top.

  3. Doug

    Very cool and comfy looking setup, but it’s an ergonomic nightmare ;-)

    Back should be straight, elbows parallel to keyboard, etc. Google ergonomic computer setup and you’ll see what I mean.

    Big fan by the way :)

    1. Jay Bates

      Hey Doug. I’ve dot a lot of googling on the subject already :) My back is straight when I sit in the chair. The chair back has a slight angle to it. I’ve tried all kinds of different keyboard heights and elbow angles with different setups. This setup keeps my elbows at 90 degrees, my palms resting on the palm support of the keyboard, and my fingers are able to work with a more natural hand curve.

      1. Doug

        You’re right. And I know your penchant for quality research. Lesson learned: never question the master ;-)

  4. Bruce

    I’ve been looking for months for a design that will work for me and this looks perfect! I’m just using a laptop but it looks like I could easily play with the dimensions to fit my needs and be more comfortable than trying to balance the thing on my lap. I might even alter the top and put a drawer in it to hold some pens, pads, etc.

    Thanks for posting!

  5. Rick Gatewood

    Very nice build! You definitely did trial and error research!

    Having everything on the top would make me nervous and I would be tempted to mount the cpu on the base in back. That being said I may be clumsier than you!

    Nice wood! I just made a new desk for myself out of locally cut white pine. I decided to use pine since I had it and if I like the design I will consider hardwood later. I downsized from 4 cpus under a 7 ft desk to two cpus under a 5 ft desk (one is media recorder).

    1. Todd G

      I totally agree. I would definitely put the CPU on the back of the desk. There would be less risk of it falling over and killing the computer, plus it’s rather unsightly sitting up on the top of the desk like that.

  6. Hans Hartung

    You may want to try one of these computer screen stands. I own one and I absolutely love it. It helps unclutter my computer desk. My desk happens to be a small child’s desk that is adjustable up and down, which I bought at a store called Kaufhalle, in Ansbach, Germany back in 1976. I bought one of these monitor stands. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81a0FlOEL1L._SL1500_.jpg.
    I bought mine off Amazon, here’s the site: https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Monitor-Adjustable-Screens-STAND-V002/dp/B009S750LA/ref=sr_1_7?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1485792514&sr=1-7&keywords=monitor+stands. This way you can attach 2 27″ monitors if you like, plus this is sturdy.

  7. Brian Harding

    Hi Jay,

    Bought your work bench plans and will start building in 2 -3 weeks…..
    My 9 year old granddaughter plays girls atom hockey, and her team has won gold in 3 out of 3 tournaments this past fall and again just last weekend. She is starting to amass several trophies and she has asked me if I can build her a display case…..can’t say no to my granddaughter right?. I am retired and have workshop skills and all the tools and machinery with lots of time , so you guessed it…. I get to make it. Do you have any plans for sale that I could purchase to make her a display case ? If not, maybe you could point me to a place where I can get them.

    I watch your videos every week and really enjoy your pod casts…keep up the great work

    Thanks Jay

    Brian Harding
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Canada

  8. Matus

    I’m considering to create Mattias’s desk but need compact/smart solution for all stuff on it, as it looks ugly with tower case and laptop is not for this.

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