Plywood/2x4 desk plans for a neanderthal - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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Question Plywood/2x4 desk plans for a neanderthal

My wife needs a desk. Poor thing has been using a folding table.

After seeing the fine (har!) job I did on garage shelves and benches, she's asked me to make one for her. Keep in mind my "woodworking skills" are sort of like Soviet tanks: not too pretty, but it works.

She wants a 6' x 3' top and has no other real requirements. I will probably use 3/4" plywood for the surface on a frame of 2x4s. She won't have anything super heavy on it - a computer monitor and printer, paper stacks, etc.

So what is a good general design for the frame? I'm concerned about sag in the middle and general non-wobbliness.

Attached are some pics of what I came up with playing around in Google Sketchup. Where I'll nail should be obvious. The top I am thinking of attaching just with brackets underneath and glue, to avoid nailheads on the top. I might put a little 1/2" plywood in the front to cover the 2x4 ends (and possibly the sides) but that's just for show.

Our plan is so paint the top with a few coats of white paint, then give each of our three girls a different color to do hand prints, with a clear finish on top of that. Should be unique!
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 05:36 AM
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I would forgo using 2x4's and just make two boxes using 3/4" plywood for the pedestals. The inside edge of the top of the boxes can be framed (or corner gusseted) to attach a top by screwing from underneath.

Your boxes can be for drawers or shelves, and in between would be your kneehole. You can connect the two boxes on the front side with a modesty panel if you like. That could be a loose piece that gets installed when the desk gets set up where it will be positioned.








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post #3 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 09:23 AM
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Agree with above post

I've made many a work surface or desk by using 2 file cabinets spaced apart for the "knee hole" with a solid core door on top. This approach requires no assembly and the door can be cut to any length or left at 6'8". Of course boxes can be made from plywood if you want. They can be open shelves or closed in with a door. I'd use 2 layers of ply either stacked or separated with 1 X's and glued like a torsion box, if you don't want to use a door. A hollow core door can also be used, but you can't cut to length, 6 feet, without weakening it considerably. bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 09:42 AM
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A hollow core door can be used for a top and be cut to any length. Once cut, a filler piece of wood can be fitted to the cut end and just glued and clamped in place. For a standard interior hollow core door (1 3/8"), the filler piece of wood would be 1 1/8". If a piece of the interior structure is at the cut end, it can be cut/chiseled out to add in a solid section.

The surfaces can be left with the species as delivered (many are Luan Mahogany, or Birch), or veneered with a solid wood veneer, paper back veneer, 1/4" hardwood plywood, or a Formica type plastic laminate. The edges can likewise be trimmed with one of the mentioned materials.

A hollow core door would make a reasonable top, but would have that 'hollow" sound when tapped. So, my suggestion if you plan on using one...don't tap on it if you don't like the sound.

You may not need an impact resistance, as desk tops are rarely subject to heavy impact. Solid core doors have a core of particle board, and are very heavy.






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post #5 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 11:22 AM
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Thanks

The OP didn't sound like he was into a rather sophisticated operation...like cutting an insert to 1 1/8" as you suggested. So, I just didn't get into that. I have done exactly what you stated to steel exterior doors as well. I had to shorten one to an attic space about 10" and it worked great. Sawing the steel with a saber saw worked fine too. There was a lot of foam inside, but i dug it out with a chisel. The interior doors may have a honey comb or waffle made of paper fiber or foam. The length of the door is only 8" longer than the proposal, so it may be a moot point? bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo

Last edited by woodnthings; 09-24-2011 at 07:27 AM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The OP didn't sound like he was into a rather sophisticated operation...like cutting an insert to 1 1/8" as you suggested. So, I just didn't get into that.
Not offering a suggestion because we made an assumption denies the poster the options he has to decide on.








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post #7 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The OP didn't sound like he was into a rather sophisticated operation...
LOL! That is a very charitable and completely accurate way of describing the state of affairs

My wife has a huge 4-drawer file cabinet and does not need more cabinet space. The door idea is not bad, actually and I had such a desk myself for some years.

Part of my wood tinkering is learning, so I will probably do something all-wood rather than file cabinet/door. In other words, I like banging around in the garage

The plywood boxes are interesting...but as I do the math...

Sheet of 3/4" plywood: about $45 (Home Depot price)
2x4x8': $2.34

Using all the 2x4s I showed would be about 5 or 6 2x4x8', which I think would be cheaper than a second sheet of plywood.

I guess my main question is what sort of 2x4 frame design is sturdy and won't wobble.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 05:37 PM
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neanderthal ...rocks...sticks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by raindog308 View Post
LOL! That is a very charitable and completely accurate way of describing the state of affairs

My wife has a huge 4-drawer file cabinet and does not need more cabinet space. The door idea is not bad, actually and I had such a desk myself for some years.

Part of my wood tinkering is learning, so I will probably do something all-wood rather than file cabinet/door. In other words, I like banging around in the garage

The plywood boxes are interesting...but as I do the math...

Sheet of 3/4" plywood: about $45 (Home Depot price)
2x4x8': $2.34

Using all the 2x4s I showed would be about 5 or 6 2x4x8', which I think would be cheaper than a second sheet of plywood.

I guess my main question is what sort of 2x4 frame design is sturdy and won't wobble.

Rectangles wobble, triangles don't, skinned rectangles don't either. So make your 2 x 4 frame and cover it on the back and sides with plywood, 3/8" is fine. Or cover both the interior and exterior with 1/4" and it will look like expensive imported furniture... LOL. Just don't use pockect screws..it offends some of the WWT Gods... Neanderthal or otherwise.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-21-2011, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raindog308 View Post

The plywood boxes are interesting...but as I do the math...

Sheet of 3/4" plywood: about $45 (Home Depot price)
2x4x8': $2.34

Using all the 2x4s I showed would be about 5 or 6 2x4x8', which I think would be cheaper than a second sheet of plywood.

I guess my main question is what sort of 2x4 frame design is sturdy and won't wobble.
I don't build cabinets with 2x4's, but if you do you'll still likely clad the outside (and maybe the inside) with plywood, so you're still going to have the cost of sheet goods. Using 3/4" ply from the start can be made into a rack free enclosure.

If you use 2x4's you can half lap the joints, and gusset the corners to prevent twisting.








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post #10 of 13 Old 09-24-2011, 01:34 AM
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A couple of suggestions:

First, even high grade plywood might not be a great writing surface. You could add a thin layer of MDF and make it a lot smoother. Or you could put some kind of laminate, if you are not stuck on a wood surface.

Second, you won't like because of the price...Grizzly sells some really nice workbench/table tops, but one that size will cost you about $200...just putting it out there in case someone is interested.

I am a newbie, so excuse me if anyone is offended, please just tell me what I said!!
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post #11 of 13 Old 09-24-2011, 04:56 AM
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My main problem with 2x4's dosen't have much to do with OP....so will keep it to myself.

BUT.....if they're on the "menu"...you'd do well to study "Cargo Furniture".As was sold back in the 70's-80's.IMO,they took the whole 2X4 thing about as far as it could be taken.And is easy enough that very low skilled labour was employed in its construction(which in engineering terms can be seen a good thing).

Not that I like the stuff,but its worth study in a....even a college Frat house can't tear it up sense.BW

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post #12 of 13 Old 09-27-2011, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raindog308 View Post
Using all the 2x4s I showed would be about 5 or 6 2x4x8', which I think would be cheaper than a second sheet of plywood.

I guess my main question is what sort of 2x4 frame design is sturdy and won't wobble.
Make your frame from the 2x4's if that's what you're comfortable with. Use 5/8" MDF on the top, $18 for a 4x8' sheet, and some #2 Pine/Spruce 1x6"s, $5 a board, to face the front and side edges and a sheet of 1/4" Lauan plywood for the modesty panel, $10 a 4x8' sheet.

You could save a little by ripping the 2x4's into 2x2's for the frame, and use 1x4"s to face the front and side edges. $3 a board for the 1x4"s.

Let the top overhang the frame by and inch on the front and sides, 1/2" on the back, to account for the boards and plywood thickness. Don't worry about wiggling/wobbling as long as you keep things square and level. The 1/4" Lauan plywood modesty panel, and some Titebond III, will take care of that.

For about $65, including tax you can build a sturdy, decent looking box/desk.


Yes. I've been there.

Last edited by Larry Sockwell; 09-27-2011 at 09:50 AM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 10-19-2011, 05:03 PM
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It's been a month - what did you do?

I made myself a skinny, scant desk and I've been using it for years as a computer desk - it was cut to fit in a tight corner area. It's made with one 2x4 sheet of birch plywood for the top and 3 lengths of plywood for the legs - one for a backing support (just under the top) these are cut about 10" wide - and two short lengths of 1x1 (which are sold as deck-rail slats) for footings.

It's stable - hasn't warped . . . I'd make another one if I needed it. And all the materials I used can fit into a car. . .cost was under $50.00

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