Scratch Build: The Ultimate Computer Desk

Discussion in 'Overclocking, Benching & Modding' started by ultimatedesk, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. steves6403

    steves6403 Active Member

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    how are you going to finish it ? paint it or stain
     
  2. [hobo]eclipse

    [hobo]eclipse ...just bummin 'round

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    what about a stick application of filler rather than a liquid based one? Like Tak said, something with more a wax consitancy. Should look kinda like large crayon. i believe you'd want to apply it before staining, and then wipe with a rag to remove excess. Does your shopmate have any tips?
     
  3. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    New Sponsor - Crucial!

    I'm planning on staining it a nice, dark cherry colour

    From what I understand and what I've been hearing, there are quite a few options available to me. I'm going to have to experiment honestly, there's no real other way. Everyone seems to have their preference. My shop-mate usually just does the glue and sawdust trick, but... he's not really an OCD perfectionist like me lol!

    Received a nice package in the mail a couple weeks ago that I've been meaning to show off...

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    What could it be?

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    Woohoo!!!

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    That's:
    4 x 2 GB of 1600Mhz CL7 Ballistix RAM from Crucial and
    2 x 2 GB of 1333Mhz ECC, Registered RDIMM RAM from Crucial!

    So it looks like for the main system I will have some options. Currently I'm thinking either a socket 1156 Core i5/i7 or a newer Sandy Bridge socket 1155. The only issue that may occur with the Sandy Bridge is that those Crucial Ballistix are rated for 1.65 Volts, which I understand is a bit over the recommended voltage for RAM for the 1155 boards. There is a possibility of looking at an AMD AM3 system as well with a Phenom x4 or x6 - I have not made up my mind entirely yet.

    For the server system, I am almost definetely going with a Xeon processor - which motherboard is still in the air.

    Aren't they so nice? ;)

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    Can't wait to open them up and test them out! It'll have to wait for now, however.

    So here's a distraction - my cat! She's going to have some kittens soon!

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    Big thanks go out to Crucial, who are officially the first sponsor for The Ultimate Computer Desk

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    Stay tuned, lots of updates in the pipeline!
     
  4. Takaharu

    Takaharu Unus offa, unus iuguolo

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    I'd say use it as a filler for when you've done the stain. Best to get a variety of opinions on this, of course.
     
  5. Tyrsonswood

    Tyrsonswood HH's curmudgeon

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    Ideally you fit pieces and don't use visible fasteners so no fillers are needed..... but then, I used to build guitars, not furniture, so what do I know. :lol:

    But, any wax based filler will keep stain from penetrating surrounding wood so they would be used AFTER stain or you are going to have a big mess.

    Look to see if you can find a lacquer stick that's close enough to the stained color (after you have stained the desk, or at least settled on the color and KNOW exactly what shade it's going to turn out) That would be your best option...... lacquer sticks are heated and melted into cracks and blemishes and then leveled once it's hard.

    Also, note that any stain will stain the plywood darker than those maple strips you used.... that may be a problem. Should have use Douglas Fir strips as that's what the plywood is generally unless you got a maple laminate, birch plywood..... It doesn't look like that's what you have.


    Edit: congrats on the kitty...... Cute!
     
  6. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Trimming the Desk Surface

    Nod, I'll have to give a few things a try and let everyone know how it goes afterwards.

    Hmm, thanks for the information there Tyrsonswood - I'll keep an eye out for those laquer sticks. Sounds like I'll be buying quite a bit of stuff just to "try" them all out, but I guess it won't really go to waste in the end. And just an fyi, the plywood is maple veneered on both sides, so I'm hoping the stain will show at least close to the same on the trim and ply.

    Thanks on the congrats - I can't wait to have little kittens running around, I think it'll be lots of fun for a few weeks / months / years.

    Last time I left off, with regards to the table surface, I had just finished gluing and screwing it together. I put it on the backburner for about a week to dry while I worked on the drawers, and now I'm going to take it down in preparation for putting the outer trim on it.

    Here it is:

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    All 4 sides were a bit off, with regards to the flushness. This was expected, as the initial sizing cuts were pretty rough, and it's better to have extra material than not enough.

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    Took out a straight-cut flush bit for the router, and some 60-grit sandpaper for the random orbital sander, and got to work. I did two passes with the router, because since the bit is not 1 1/2" tall, I couldn't trim the whole side of the table with just one pass.

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    And, after a bit of work, the final result:

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    The next step is to take a long strip of maple and turn it into trim for the table surface.
     
  7. isaak

    isaak Well-Known Member

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    Nice stuff man. How did you go about getting the sponsorships?
     
  8. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Thanks isaak,
    Getting sponsorship was a bit of hard work actually -

    1. Find a company you would like as a sponsor

    2. Attempt to find marketing / public relations contact (A lot of times, you have to go through a "general" e-mail or phone number. This can take quite a few attempts)

    3. Provide value proposition for your sponsor

    4. Cross your fingers

    5. Sometimes you're lucky!


    I think that in general, it's #3 that gets people - companies don't just give away stuff for free.

    For myself, #3 involved making a dedicated web page (Which will be released when the project is finished), posting on several forums to get exposure, and basically, putting together the numbers to say "Hey, company x, it looks like I'm on my way to get xxx number of hits, so that's potentially xxx number of people that will see your product associated with this way cool project that I'm working on.

    #4 is literally, cross your fingers. Even if you do have a good value proposal, there are a lot of companies that simply don't have a budget put aside to do things like sponsor small to medium projects. I've had companies reply to me and say things along the lines of "So... this desk... it's just for yourself? Like, you're not auctioning it off for charity or anything, or it's not a prize at some big LAN party?" - so right away, they were quite... disinclined ;) ;)

    Anyways, hope that helps. It was seriously a lot of work getting even just getting one sponsor, but I think there is value in it for everyone - myself, my sponsor, the enthusiasts that are enjoying watching the project unfold, and the industry in general.
     
    Jason English likes this.
  9. isaak

    isaak Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I was thinking the process would be along those lines. Congrats on getting your first sponsor then :p
     
  10. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Adding Trim to the Desk Surface

    Thanks isaak - it has indeed been quite a bit of work, but it has totally been worth it.

    The last time I left off, I had just finished flushing the sides of the table in preparation to add some trim. I found a nice piece of long maple that was just a little over 8 feet long, a little wider than 1.5 inches, and thick enough to cut some 1/4 inch strips from.

    I layed it out, setup the table saw and cut myself a test piece.

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    Looks good!

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    Here's a pic of the cutting process. I'm afraid I had some difficulty with this. Actually, let me rephrase - the saw had some difficulty with this. I was still using the same blade I've been using the whole project - which needs replacement pretty badly. Asking it to cut through 1.5 inches of maple, for a length of 8 feet was asking a lot of it.

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    I made it through eventually, but the whole process left quite a few burn marks on the wood.

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    I glued and nailed the trim around the perimeter of the desk, which was a pretty straightforward process.

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    And then took out a hand plane to get rid of most of the excess material and bring the trim down flush with the desk surface. Some neat pictures here.

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    After some sanding with some 60-grit on the random orbit sander to get everything smooth, I went nuts with the wood filler.

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    At that point I stood the surface up in the back of the shop and called it a night.

    Next update in the loop, I setup some dado blades in the table saw, mmm mmmm, that was fun!

    Have a good weekend everyone!
     
  11. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    progress mmm...
     
  12. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Dado Cutting

    Speaking of which... UPDATE!!!

    It's been a while since the last update, but basically, I got around to installing the dado blade on the table saw to make some important cuts for the two cabinets, and was able to do a bit of test fitting.

    For those of you not really in the know, a dado blade has two regular saw blades (One for the left, one for the right) and some irregular shaped blades of varying thickness that you put in between, until you get the right width. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

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    The beauty of using dado blades in the table saw (At least I think) is that you can set it up at the right height and width, and then set the fence to the proper width and do all 3 of your supporting boards one after another so they will be lined up perfectly when it comes time for assembly.

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    I put 3 cuts in each of the 3 supporting walls of the left-hand cabinet. There was a bit of chipping, I should have probably put down some masking tape, but it's nothing major and will be on the inside anyways.

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    I threw on a bit of wood filler to patch up the chipped parts, and then let these 3 dry while I worked on the right-hand cabinet cuts.

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    I then had some time to put together a quick test fitting! Not bad! Some of the wood was just a bit crooked, so I'll have to spend some time with the sander to loosen up some of the dado joints.

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    This pretty much completes the first phase of the project - I won't have any use for any of the big, messy tools anymore.

    All that's really left are a few small detail cuts, some holes need to be cut out, the whole thing needs to be sanded to pre-stain state, and then assembly and staining!

    I'll be bringing all of the materials back to my place where I'll be doing just that.
     
  13. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Basement Move

    And, through the miracle of internet technology, I'm bringing you the next update right away!

    There wasn't much work done in this update - just thought I'd show everyone where the progress is going to be taking place from now on. The spooky basement in my building!

    It's a really old house, at least over a hundred years old, in fact, there's a 12" x 12" solid beam of wood running as the main support member along the entire length of the house, it must be at least 30 feet long. Can't get those any more!!!

    My main complaint with the basement is that I am constantly bashing my head on the low ceiling beams, and it's quite cold! Getting motivated to go work down there is not nearly as easy as working in the nice, heated wood shop.

    Time to let the pictures do the talking:

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    I purchased a new shop vac at Canadian Tire along with a bunch of other stuff during the Boxing Week sales after Christmas. Sweet.

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    I also setup a plastic wall to help prevent sawdust from going all over the basement, as well as to help keep any breezes contained when it comes time to stain.

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    Some of my personal tools:

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    And there we have it! Until next time, have a good weekend!
     
  14. Takaharu

    Takaharu Unus offa, unus iuguolo

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    Were you kicked out of the workshop?
     
  15. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Quick Test Fitting

    Lol, well, there are two parts to that.

    1. Yes, in a way. Mike actually started to put his truck in the workshop so that it wouldn't get covered in snow, so whenever I wanted to use it, he would have to start up the truck, move all the cars, etc...

    2. I actually don't need anything in the wood shop any more. All that's left is some sanding, drilling a few holes, assembly, staining, and.. that's it! All of that is easier to do in my basement, since I have easier access, and I can leave everything out day after day.

    ;)

    So, I did a bit of work in the basement the other night, and since the next part of the project is going to be assembly, I decided to give it another shot at test fitting, since the last time I tried it was just loosely put together.

    Time to get out the sander with some 80 grit. The hose on my shop vac is a little over 2", and I didn't have an adapter to attach it to the DeWalt ROB Sander unfortunately, so a little tape had to do the job.

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    I took each piece one by one and sanded down the edges where they slide into the dado cuts. I had to do a surprising amount of sanding, as the fit was incredibly tight.

    I also took the time to label each piece (Top, Middle, Bottom, and which side faces the front) so that it could be easily repeatable when it comes time for final assembly.

    Almost there. So tight! I needed a rubber mallet to set some of them, and then remove them afterwards.

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    This shelf was just ~slightly~ warped, and needed a lot of sanding so that one end was nice and snug, and this end actually a bit of free space (Hello wood filler!)

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    A couple more progress shots:

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    And, all tightly assembled. I could probably jump on this box...

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    I spent about an hour and a half doing that, and honestly, it was freezing cold down there and that's about all I could stand for that evening. Until next time!
     
  16. isaak

    isaak Well-Known Member

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    Nice to see it starting to come together.. can't wait for the hardware pics :p
     
  17. brainless_beginner

    brainless_beginner is so brainless..

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    Very, very impressive! Keep posting.
     
  18. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    First Staining Attempt

    Thanks - I can't wait for the hardware too lol. Or for that matter, I can't wait to have a decent desk upstairs!!

    Thanks!


    So - it's been some time since my last update (What has it been.. 2 weeks? Geez!) but I haven't been idle at home, it's just that I was really busy (There are kittens running around now!) and I've been working with some staining techniques, which has been a long, learning process.

    I did a bit of research and came across a good video over here: Link and I opted to give it a shot, because there apparently, is a tendency for maple to come out a little blotchy due to the tight grain, or something or other like that.

    So I picked up some supplies:

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    Made up a test board - some wood filler, some real maple trim, and one side sanded to 120 and the other sanded to 220:

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    And, apparently, I was supposed to cut the shellac with some denatured alcohol. Something I was not able to find, and subsequently, I found out that it is actually quite difficult to obtain here in Ottawa. I did not realize at the time, that I could have cut it with methyl hydrate, which is something quite commonly available at the local Canadian Tire.

    And, this is where things start to go wrong. Here is the shellac applied:

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    Ok, not bad. Full strength. Ended up closing the grain structure completely, most likely. Here is the gel stain I chose:

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    And, onto the wood:

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    Wait 5 minutes, wipe off...

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    Gross. Seriously? This is why you test on samples first. Look at that colour - it's practically pink!

    How about a second coat.

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    And why the heck not, we'll stain the back as well, where it hasn't been shellac'd.

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    Huh...

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    Now really. That was not quite what I was expecting. Time to get a new sample piece - no shellac, but sanded properly to 120.

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    What's going on here? This is not really the expected "richness" of a dark gel stain like this, is it? Hmm..

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    Doh! Looks like keeping the gel stain in the basement, where it is freezing, separated the contents. There is a visible layer of clear liquid on top of the stain - that shouldn't be there.

    Staining attempt number 1? Failure.

    1. If you're using shellac to seal, to avoid streaking and blotching - you MUST cut it
    2. If you're going to use a gel stain, don't keep it in a cold environment before you're about to use it.

    Well, time to put the stain upstairs for a little while, and maybe another trip to the hardware store... And just an fyi, this took me about a week just to do the 2 samples, since it's so cold, I can only do 1 coat per day, as it takes a long time to dry.

    And here's a little something else:

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    Cute, no? A litter of 5 - the first one was stillborn, so we've got 4 kittens, pretty exciting stuff. ;)
     
    Tyrsonswood likes this.
  19. isaak

    isaak Well-Known Member

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    Hmm sucks about the staining... Just how cold is it down there??

    Those kittens are very cute :)
     
  20. Tyrsonswood

    Tyrsonswood HH's curmudgeon

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    Maple is very hard to stain and get a dark color out of it...... It's a very closed pore wood. Try a powder pigment stain, usually mixed with alcohol but seeing as you have a hard time finding that...... There are water based versions. These will do the job, but realize they are not a finish. You will need to apply a clear finish over the top after the color is achieved.
     

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