Building desk under stairs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-06-2008, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Building desk under stairs

Hi - first time posting here. I am currently finishing my basement and have found this forum to be extremely helpful so i figured i would post about an issue i am trying to figure out.

So i had originally framed the area under the stairs to simply be a closet with the door directly underneath the door at the top of the stairs but then my wife saw this desk nook in a magazine so we decided to change the plans and now I have framed in the space to match it as best as i could.

I am hoping that i havent added on too much to the already sometimes overwhelming list of tasks i have ahead of me before this project is done.

So the question that i have is how do i create a nice wood desk top? I think a nice dark hardwood would look good but I am not sure how i should go about making that happen. Would i be better off looking for an old desk maybe at a yard sale or somehting like that and taking the desktop off and cutting it to fit the space or could I go to a lumber yard and buy a nice piece of lets say mahogany or something and then cut it to fit the space or would that option likely cost a lot of $$?

I would appreciate any thoughts or recommendations not just on the desktop itself but anything regarding this desk nook space....thanks!
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-07-2008, 07:25 AM
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I am no expert by any means but I was thinking of building a desk in the next few months/years. I was actually thinking that I would just glue up the wood that I plan to use. I think if you try to use a solid piece large enough for a desk that you had better have a thick wallet, plus you also gota think about the movement of the wood later on down the road. So, I would plane it to size glue it up really good, clamp the hello out of it and then sand it to the final thickness. I'm curious to what others have to say about this for my own future reference. Well, good luck with it and thats a great use of space by the way.. Jeremy

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post #3 of 21 Old 03-07-2008, 11:54 AM
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I think I'd go with typical cabinet construction for a drawer stack on one side only, then leave the other side for the knee space, and top it all off with a single piece of plywood. Top it with high-pressure laminate, trim it, edge it with hardwood or more laminate. This would make a hearty, durable little niche space for dozens of uses.

regards,
smitty
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-08-2008, 09:18 AM
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i agree with Smitty. i'd use ply for the top. you can get 'faced' or laminated ply so that it looks nice and matches whatever wood you use for the rest of the finish.
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-08-2008, 09:21 AM
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ditto with the other's recommendations. Spare yourself the labor and expense of gluing up a large hardwood panel. Cut the ply and apply a nice solid wood edge. I love those kinds of nooks, good idea.

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post #6 of 21 Old 03-12-2008, 12:57 PM
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Hey Kelrock,

Check your measurements. The magazine photo looks like there is more
room under the stair then in your case. Can you sit comfortably under your stair?
tvearch
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-13-2008, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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hey tvarch

yeah that was definitely a concern since i wasnt creating nearly as large of a space as that in the magazine picture. Reason being is that my son wants to have a ping pong table to the left of this space so i didnt want to come out really any further than the footprint of the stairs above.

having said that though I am confident that there will be a comfortable amount of space to sit. The right side is about 38" where it meets the underside of stair stringer so with the desktop itself being ~30" and the plan being for drawers under desk on that side I think i should be ok. I think.

just put in 14 recessed lights in the basement last weekend and will be having an my brother in law electrician hook them all up in the next week so i should be drywalling soon. I will keep you guys posted on how it turns out.

thanks
Kelrock
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-17-2008, 02:14 PM
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nothing better than a brother in law electrician, except maybe a brother in law plumber.

tvarch
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post #9 of 21 Old 03-19-2008, 07:21 PM
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Wow!! This looks like a great idea. My wife I were trying to thing of something to do under our new stairs and this may be it!! Can't wait to see it when its finished. You've gotta post some pics. Maybe even step by step.

Last edited by Zim157; 03-19-2008 at 07:29 PM. Reason: worded incorrectly
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post #10 of 21 Old 03-25-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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This is a very cool idea! With that said make sure you beef up those stair jacks. It may not look like the span is far however the vibration from use, over time, may crack your woodwork. That is also dependent on how the project is integrated into the staircase. It also wouldn't hurt if you lagged the stringers to the wall. Also when you attach the treads and risers glue (PL 400) and nail and/or screw them solid. Stairs are bridges and they will flex. The trick is to diminish the flex so you get years of quiet service out of them and not have them squeak. ROLe
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post #11 of 21 Old 05-12-2008, 11:03 PM
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The great thing about using pics is that they are great for ideas that can be customized to fit your needs. I think tvarch may be right about the demensions. I would consider losing the little display shelf to the left and add more useable space for the desk top and leg room and or more drawer space. it will still be a great looking feature and useable as well. Nothing worse than finishing a project and wishing it was more useable! Just my thought
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post #12 of 21 Old 05-14-2008, 08:07 PM
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Here is a picture of a rustic desk I built for my daughter.
The top is 1/4 inch oak ply glued to another piece of ply. I sliced the 1/4 ply up into 4" wide pieces so it looked like individual boards. It has held up well. I built it about five years ago.

I edged it with solid oak. Wanted to share for ideas on the top.

Last edited by KJWoodworking; 05-14-2008 at 08:10 PM.
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post #13 of 21 Old 05-14-2008, 08:31 PM
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KJ:

i am tad bit curious as to why you used 2 pieces of oak on the front edging as opposed to one

~Jake Mendez
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post #14 of 21 Old 05-15-2008, 10:46 AM
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Kelrock,

Great idea for space usage. I dated a girl a few years back who had done this rather simply by placing a small "student desk" under her open stairs and it worked beautifully. I would caution against a dark wood, simply because of lighting, but that's a personal preference thing. In a "cubby" space like that it's really good to have light colors because the corners eat light pretty drastically.

As for building it, I'd go with the other suggestions of a ply base with maybe a 1/8 inch ply or veneer top. You can get some beautiful wood veneers and 1/8 inch plywoods that would look fantastic in a small space like this. Sapele has great grain patterns and is easily obtained in a thin ply or veneer (thus matching your mahogany coloring option).

Looks like a fun little project. I'm hoping to start framing out my basement in the very near future and this is one idea I had for it, or just making a closet. Guess the wife will have to make the final decision.

FrankP
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post #15 of 21 Old 07-01-2008, 07:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJWoodworking View Post
Here is a picture of a rustic desk I built for my daughter.
The top is 1/4 inch oak ply glued to another piece of ply. I sliced the 1/4 ply up into 4" wide pieces so it looked like individual boards. It has held up well. I built it about five years ago.

I edged it with solid oak. Wanted to share for ideas on the top.
KJ, the desk looks AMAZING! Could you post or email me some more pics. I LOVE the idea of cutting the oad ply into strips to make it look like planks. Would love to see more pics of. Thanks

(Sorry for hijacking your thread)
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post #16 of 21 Old 07-01-2008, 11:56 AM
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Near the back wall and to the left you have a good space for shelving or pigeon hole storage... letters bills etc.

Never... I mean always... never mind Rick
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post #17 of 21 Old 07-02-2008, 07:44 AM
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Hi

Here are two links to projects I have use 1/4 ply on on.

Desk http://kjwoodworking.com/index.php/woodworking/oakdesk.html


The headboard is also made with oak ply cut into strips, glued, brad nailed, stained and top coated with polyurethane.

I used the back side of the ply that had knots (actually the same knot over and over) and used a dremel tool to dig out the knot and other places a little to make it look like a thicker solid board. http://kjwoodworking.com/index.php/woodworking/headboard.html


Hope this helps. If you need another pic from another angle let me know.

Kirk

Last edited by KJWoodworking; 07-02-2008 at 07:49 AM.
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post #18 of 21 Old 07-02-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJWoodworking View Post
Hi

Here are two links to projects I have use 1/4 ply on on.

Desk http://kjwoodworking.com/index.php/woodworking/oakdesk.html


The headboard is also made with oak ply cut into strips, glued, brad nailed, stained and top coated with polyurethane.

I used the back side of the ply that had knots (actually the same knot over and over) and used a dremel tool to dig out the knot and other places a little to make it look like a thicker solid board. http://kjwoodworking.com/index.php/woodworking/headboard.html


Hope this helps. If you need another pic from another angle let me know.

Kirk
Kirk, I think these pieces look AMAZING! And the fact that you made it out of pallets and scraps is EVEN MORE of a testamet of your skills. I LOVE the knots, stains, and imperfections! IMO it gives it charter. The ONLY thing I would have like to seen different is for you to use more of the knotty wood on the drawer fronts. I am sure your daughter will be proud to haul that off to college, or her own place or wherever for YEARS to come.

Thank You for Sharing!
WONDERFUL!
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post #19 of 21 Old 07-03-2008, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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That is a great looking desk KJ.

Just wanted to jump back in here and give you guys a quick update on this project. Its part of a much larger finishing basement project so I am finally getting back to this sub-project. As you can see its not quite complete but close. The built in shelves i used 1x10 pine and then hit the front with some finish trim. For the desk drawers i have to admit i bought them at an unfinished furniture store.

The desktop itself though I ran some 2x3 around the inside perimeter and nailed that in as a cleat and then attached some 1/2" ply and secured that to the cleat with some screws. Then I put a nice piece of 3/4" red oak ply on that and secured it with screws from the underside. Then i ran some 1/4 round trim around it where it hits the wall. Got a few more coats of sanding and poly on desktop to go and I have to finish the trim above and to the right of the desk but you get the idea.
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post #20 of 21 Old 07-04-2008, 08:44 AM
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I like it. Looks great so far.

Keep us updated.
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