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Eric P.
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Hi Guys, I'm designing an "L" Desk that will accommodate both my wife and myself in our small office. The desk would be 8ftx7ft. The table top would be 30 inches deep, and the height would be somewhere around 28-30 inches high. The top will be made out of 1 inch thick (possibly 7/8") walnut, and the rest will be either pine or poplar. I plan to add a skirt (4") to help support the rigidity of the top, and I haven't decided on what to do for the legs (both the skirt and legs will be painted white to contrast with the Dark walnut top).

Here's where I need some help. I've drawn a diagram of what I'm looking at, but I'm trying to decide on a few things.
1. Should I use a built in drawer/cabinet as a support element and also adding storage at the same time. If so, where do you think those cabinets should go? I would like 4 feet of space for each seating area, so the end of each "L" leg will need to have the seating area toward the end to leave common space between the two and to prevent bumping of chairs.

2. How many legs should I need and where should I place them?

3. How much cross bracing, if any should I have, for the skirt?

4. The most confusing element is trying to merge to the two top portions together to make an "L". I could go about this in a few ways. One is to make an 8 ft section of the top, and a 5' section of the top, and merge the two with a 6" half lap joint. A more complicated version would be to half lap each board's end, which means each board would have to be the exact same dimensions, and make a staggered half lap. If there are other ideas I'm all ears. I need a lot of strength here due to it being the point at which most stress can be applied.(which this may come from leg positioning)
 

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Walnut is a fairly soft wood and will dent and mark fairly easily. You might consider a formica over mdf or other sheet goods to make the counter top more durable. You could make the top in 3 pieces, and connect them together with common counter top joining methods. You could make the corner portion of the top with edges at 45degrees mitered into the two rectangular tops. In any case these joints should be butt joints. If you were to use actual walnut top at 30" for the width and glued a second 30" top (long grain to short grain), the short grain would split due to wood movement because it would not provide wood movement needed for expansion/contraction.

Are you going to use under the top pull out keyboard drawers? If so, the pullout would require it to be 29" wide plus the drawer slides for keyboard and mouse pad. It would also require no skirt across the front of the desk to use it.

The legs could be made in the shape of an I, with the upright being offset toward the rear (similar to a trestle table), with a cross beam on the rear between the uprights. and a 3" skirt along the top rear edge (2 units required).
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. I'll adjust the drawer pull out to accommodate 29."

The Trestle table like legs are interesting. I like the idea! I could combine that idea with drawer supports in the middle! Thanks!

I had planned on using walnut, because I really like the grain and color, but I currently don't have enough to start the project. However, I have some reclaimed Oak boards that I can mill up to work well. I assume that would be a much better solution in terms of hardness. I'll do what I call the fingernail test and make a decision this weekend.

As for the connection.... I see what you mean about short grain on long grain. with your cabinet style idea, how would you make a flush gap between the 3 sections at the butt joints? Aslo, with wood movement how do you propose that that gap stays closed throughout the year? I guess I've really never had any good luck with mitered joints (basing this on my deck stair build where I had a perfectly closed gap one day, and the next I had a 1/8" gap between the mitered end of the stair tread)
 

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Why do you want to make the intersection of the two sections of the top a permanent joint. I am sitting at an "L" shaped computer desk. The two sections are joined by 3 bolts. (in this case there is one section about 4' long and an abutting section about 3' long. The 3' section only has legs on the left end. It also has the keyboard on a pullout in the middle.) Having the desk in two distinct sections makes it much easier to move from the building location to final use location. Also much easier when the day comes that it has to be moved again. In my case it has to be moved when the room it is in is refurbished. eg. painted, re-carpeted.



I also make use of the space underneath the 4' section for a storage cabinet and file drawer. This file drawer is very important to my. I would never make a desk one solid piece in the dimensions you are planning. I made this one somewhere around 20-25 years ago.



George
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #5
This is a very good point. Can you provide pictures so I can see what you are talking about. I guess I am just looking for a solid construction top where the seam is flush. I don't know how I would connect the sections to properly allow for wood movement, and to properly make the two pieces come together to be flush on the top.
 

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I have built 6 simple desks. 2x4 ladder frames which you can't see. Finished legs here and there.
The tops are all 5/8" furniture grade or G1S Douglas fir plywood, stained or painted in some way.
The tops are not attached to the frames. Gravity, computers and junk keep them from floating away.


I did need some cabinet work for two of the desks.

So I went to a cabinet shop and bought some perfectly good damaged junk drawer units from them.


Make a paper model. Make paper footprints for the computers/scanners/printers/whatevers that will live on the desk.
Upper shelves? In the middle of this 8' desk, I have a stack of 2 printers and a scanner. Not changed in years.



1" (really 4/4) walnut ought to be durable enough.
I think that 2 desk units butted up to eachother, maybe fastened(?)

would put the dividing seam in a more practical place.
Common core equipment in the middle?
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #7
I have built 6 simple desks. 2x4 ladder frames which you can't see. Finished legs here and there.
The tops are all 5/8" furniture grade or G1S Douglas fir plywood, stained or painted in some way.
The tops are not attached to the frames. Gravity, computers and junk keep them from floating away.


I did need some cabinet work for two of the desks.

So I went to a cabinet shop and bought some perfectly good damaged junk drawer units from them.


Make a paper model. Make paper footprints for the computers/scanners/printers/whatevers that will live on the desk.
Upper shelves? In the middle of this 8' desk, I have a stack of 2 printers and a scanner. Not changed in years.



1" (really 4/4) walnut ought to be durable enough.
I think that 2 desk units butted up to eachother, maybe fastened(?)

would put the dividing seam in a more practical place.
Common core equipment in the middle?
If you were to fasten them, how would you fasten the two together? I know how I would fasten it to the frame, but I don't know how I would keep the seam tight. I imagine I would do a butt joint, so I would have an 8' section and but the 4'6" section to it.
 

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This is a very good point. Can you provide pictures so I can see what you are talking about. I guess I am just looking for a solid construction top where the seam is flush. I don't know how I would connect the sections to properly allow for wood movement, and to properly make the two pieces come together to be flush on the top.

Wood movement is not a concern at the joint because you are joining two separate pieces of furniture together. You take care of any wood movement problems in each separate piece. (I would recommend you make the top out of plywood.) I do not know how to tell you how to hold two pieces together so that they are flush. I guess you use your fingers and eyes to see that they are flush and then clamp at that state.


I am going out for the evening now and playing golf tomorrow morning. I will try to make a sketch for you tomorrow.


George
 

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Are you planning on working at the same time? That "L" shape may get crowded but if that's the only choice you have, it is what it is.
Enjoy the build.
 

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where's my table saw?
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I like 3 sections!

The corner section is separate from the wall sections. The top are securely held together with these which and not permanent:
https://www.rockler.com/tite-joint-fastener


You will need legs or panels on the ends for support, I like panels. The corner section will support that end and can have drawers and other storage. Put a diagonal across like this:



Other versions have goofy two sided fronts at a 90 degree angle.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/359232507751523830/


With a 1" thick walnut slab won't need a skirt for the sort lengths you have and because of the supports at either end AND it will look more contemporary. :vs_cool:
 
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This is a very good point. Can you provide pictures so I can see what you are talking about. I guess I am just looking for a solid construction top where the seam is flush. I don't know how I would connect the sections to properly allow for wood movement, and to properly make the two pieces come together to be flush on the top.
These connector bolts would allow movement for the joined counter tops. You bore a shallow hole using a fornster bit, and route a slot. I would use 3 for each joint, evenly spaced. https://www.woodcraft.com/products/joint-connector-small-2-1-2-to-3-1-4?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzqTsn5ro3wIVBYTICh0Q_Qu0EAQYBSABEgKeXfD_BwE

As far as the joint (seam), I might consider a very small bevel...to highlight the joint, instead of trying to hide the joint.
 

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Drawer Slides for the keyboard will allow you to make a platform for the keyboard that is 20" deep, and would provide enough room to add storage pockets behind the keyboard when you slide the keyboard all the way out, and would be deep enough to place a wrist pad in front of the keyboard also. https://www.ovisonline.com/20-Keyboard-slide-Height-Adjustable-Zinc-P1932.aspx?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2qOJn6Ho3wIVionICh16kA8pEAQYAiABEgKWdPD_BwE


Another consideration would be the height. If the top of your keyboard platform is at 26" from the floor...it puts the platform approximately even (level) with most office arm chairs. At this height, you have the most comfort. You should make sure the table top is high enough for the keyboard platform to end up at this height, because the platform slides hang under the counter.
 

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Here is my mockup about what I was referring to as far as a trestle type legs. I drew this up in sketchup and without realizing I drew the plan as left side 8' and the right side 6' in error...oops add the extra foot to the right side. This idea would work if the desk is into a corner in the room. The trestle between the legs is 3/4" plywood 12" tall to prevent racking. With legs and trestle layout like this gives plenty of leg room. The legs are 1-1/2" x 3" and a 1-1/2"x 8" upright (I recommend thru mortice and tenon). Anyway you get the idea.
 

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Eperry87, would you please go into your user control panel (User Cp), and add your name so all these kind people will know who you are? Not required but it makes it easier to direct remarks to a person that way.
 

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I would not fasten them together at all. That isolates (potentially) noisy vibrations.
Stack the common stuff in the corner ( printers, scanners, back up drives etc.).


This desk top is 32" x 96" x 1/2" on a 2" X 4" ladder frame and legs. I have stood on it to change light bulbs!

2 computer work stations with a stack of printers & a scanner in the middle.
It is not big enough, even with a simple 3-shelf x 9" thick book case sitting on each end.
 

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Better late than never I guess. Sorry I did not get back to you yesterday.


Below is a very rough sketch of how I constructed my L shaped computer desk. The piece that I have on the left can be swapped and be the right piece. It does not matter. The idea is that it is just an "L" piece and not free standing. You can fasten the two together in many ways. The connector that Woodsnthings showed would work. I just used captive nuts in one side and ran3 bolts through. Makes a very solid piece of furniture. I do not have any idea why BrianT thinks there would be any noise/vibration. Never heard/seen any thing on any computer desk that would vibrate or make noise.


A picture of the front of my desk is also included. It is obviously smaller than what you plan. As it is around 25 years it has been beaten up some. The structure on the right is a cupboard for storing CD storage boxes on the top and whatever I just want to sit in there. The bottom is a file drawer on 100 lb. slides. Since it is 26" long and full it needs the heavy duty slides.


The door on top and drawer front on bottom are built of multiple pieces of oak, with a diamond shaped piece in the center.. I thought that since they were small there would be no wood movement problem. As you can see, on the top there is obviously a problem. I have long said that I would fix it, but still not done the job.


I highly recommend that you do not make the size piece of furniture that you are writing about in one piece.
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #17
These connector bolts would allow movement for the joined counter tops. You bore a shallow hole using a fornster bit, and route a slot. I would use 3 for each joint, evenly spaced. https://www.woodcraft.com/products/joint-connector-small-2-1-2-to-3-1-4?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzqTsn5ro3wIVBYTICh0Q_Qu0EAQYBSABEgKeXfD_BwE

As far as the joint (seam), I might consider a very small bevel...to highlight the joint, instead of trying to hide the joint.
Thanks for bringing these to my attention. That opens the door to possibilities!
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #18
Another consideration would be the height. If the top of your keyboard platform is at 26" from the floor...it puts the platform approximately even (level) with most office arm chairs. At this height, you have the most comfort. You should make sure the table top is high enough for the keyboard platform to end up at this height, because the platform slides hang under the counter.


Thanks for this info. I'll definitely use this in consideration of the keyboard drawer.

I think I'm going to utilize a sturdy drawer slide for the keyboard tray and use a folding front to the drawer (like some entertainment centers and my current desk) so that the desk will look tidy when not in use.

Thanks for your info!
 

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Eric P.
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Discussion Starter #19
Here is my mockup about what I was referring to as far as a trestle type legs. I drew this up in sketchup and without realizing I drew the plan as left side 8' and the right side 6' in error...oops add the extra foot to the right side. This idea would work if the desk is into a corner in the room. The trestle between the legs is 3/4" plywood 12" tall to prevent racking. With legs and trestle layout like this gives plenty of leg room. The legs are 1-1/2" x 3" and a 1-1/2"x 8" upright (I recommend thru mortice and tenon). Anyway you get the idea.
Oh man! I don't know why I couldn't think this up on my own. It seems so simple!

The leg idea is great! I could build this out separate and then just add some free standing plywood cabinets under so it can be customized their placement in the future.
 

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Eric P.
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Better late than never I guess. Sorry I did not get back to you yesterday.


Below is a very rough sketch of how I constructed my L shaped computer desk. The piece that I have on the left can be swapped and be the right piece. It does not matter. The idea is that it is just an "L" piece and not free standing. You can fasten the two together in many ways. The connector that Woodsnthings showed would work. I just used captive nuts in one side and ran3 bolts through. Makes a very solid piece of furniture. I do not have any idea why BrianT thinks there would be any noise/vibration. Never heard/seen any thing on any computer desk that would vibrate or make noise.


A picture of the front of my desk is also included. It is obviously smaller than what you plan. As it is around 25 years it has been beaten up some. The structure on the right is a cupboard for storing CD storage boxes on the top and whatever I just want to sit in there. The bottom is a file drawer on 100 lb. slides. Since it is 26" long and full it needs the heavy duty slides.


The door on top and drawer front on bottom are built of multiple pieces of oak, with a diamond shaped piece in the center.. I thought that since they were small there would be no wood movement problem. As you can see, on the top there is obviously a problem. I have long said that I would fix it, but still not done the job.


I highly recommend that you do not make the size piece of furniture that you are writing about in one piece.
Thanks for the info! I am definitely not going to make this all in one piece now that I know I can safely and easily do it in 2-3 pieces. Now which to do is the question! Thanks for the drawing and example! It is definitely helping me get a better picture on how I will accomplish this project.
 
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