I'm new to the forum and (almost completely) new to woodworking, having only some experience at rough log cutting in a boyscout company some year ago.
Why I'm here
Lately I've seen my registration studio desk, bought by IKEA and modded with a hand made shelf for added space, doesn't have quite the right proportions (I have a 24-pounds, 88-keys digital piano laying on the desk behind the PC keyboard, and having it too high and far from the shoulders makes it uncomfortable to play). Moreover, as my partner is thinking about moving abroad, I wouldn't mind having a desk that can be reassembled "indefinitely" so that it's easy to disassemble and move.
The proportions of the ideal desk would be similar to this one: https://zaorstudiofurniture.com/index.php?page=mizaz (image below)
It doesn't have to have a sliding sub-desk and I'm not particularly interested in the sleek design, but the drawer slot is a central piece of the design, as the 24-pounds piano would sit there, under the desk board, ready to slide out when necessary and at the right height for me to play it comfortably. On the desk board would sit my PC equipment, with mixers and speakers.
The main downsides to buying this desk are:
- I'm not sure whether this can be safely disassembled and reassembled, and if so I'm not sure how many times can I do this;
- 650€ is a bit steep a price for what I would be gaining by changing the desk;
- I'm not sure that the desk matches my proportions and how much can I modify it to suit my needs.
Considered all of this, and considered that I would probably enjoy learning woodworking and applying the techniques to something useful to me, I decided to investigate how to build my "dream desk" myself. Obviously I'll start low and tackle lesser project first, but this would be my grand goal.
Project dimensions and projected weights
The dimensionsI seem to be comfortable with are about the same as the "professional" desk above: the desk board should hover at roughly 32 inches from the ground, while the drawer under it should sit at 25.5 inches. The overall depth is supposed to be around 24 / 25 inches as well, while the drawer should be around 12 inches deep. Minimum width for the drawer is 53 inches, but could go up to 63 depending on considerations about future purchases.
The drawer is supposed to only support the piano and some additional weight from playing, so from 24 pounds up to probably 30 or so (I'm not even sure how to measure the additional weight from body pressure). The desk board should support at most the same weight of the drawer, as the items I would put there are considerably lighter than the piano itself.
I've seen wood-and-pipes projects on Pinterest (example below), but I'm not sure where (and whether) I can find the right pipe components and how much customizable they can be without buying additional equipment (like metal pipe cutters).
So, I'm leaning towards full-wood projects.
Joining the pieces
Building a desk is a relatively easy task, but I think the thing that makes it interesting is my requirement for ease of assembly. Having to be able to disassemble the desk, many joints that are designed to last are not usable in this project.
Because of this requirement, I almost completely ruled out glue. It could however be used to join lesser pieces as long as they are reasonably small and it makes sense to pack them together. As an example, if I think of a desk with separate legs on four angles instead of two wood slabs, the structure keeping together the legs on the shorter sides could be joined together with screws and glue. I have no problem in glueing or screwing pieces together as long as the complexive size is less than the largest piece (i.e. the desk board).
I talked with friends more "manually skilled" than me and confirmed that screws can, in the long run, ruin the wood. Therefore I would prefer not using screws, or at least use metal screw guides to be inserted in the wood so that the wood itself is not ruined by the screw and if the guide is ruined it can be safely and cheaply replaced. A friend of mine described this system, but I wouldn't know how to name these "guides" and my friend didn't remember the name as well.
I read a bit about wood joints in general. I'm inclined towards using mortise and tenon joints, maybe wedged M&T joints for added stability. I'm not sure about dovetail joints because of the usual requirement of disassembly and my inexperience in woodworking. For what I've seen, other joints all requre some degree of glueing or screwing so I didn't investigate them in depth.
Since I'm limited in budget, (free) time and (free) space I'm not planning in building a full-fledged workbench and purchasing all woodworking tools. This extends limits to which operation I can do on the wood, as specialized tools may be required (or highly recommended) for some techniques.
Seen my inexperience and the lack of specialized woodworking experts around me, I decided to come here and ask advice.
Am I thinking the right way? Am I missing something? Are there solution that I, in my inexperience, have overlooked? Do you see obvious flaws or errors in what I exposed?
Thank you for your time