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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm designing a desk that I hope to build in the coming months, but I'm not sure what material would be best for longevity. I want this desk to be sturdy and last for many years without bowing.

This is my sketchup design for this desk:


Its 72" wide, 30" deep and 3/4" thick. It will sit on 5 IKEA legs. The box on the left side will have internal size of 21" x 24" and a computer will be built inside of it. The hole in the tabletop will be filled with a 1/4" thick glass pane. I am planning on painting the whole desk white.

The entire desk can be built from a single 4' x 8' sheet of sheet material so I'm looking to use that, but there are so many kinds and this is my first woodworking project.

Some people have suggested MDF but I hear that's prone to sagging and enormously heavy. I would really like to spend no more than $50 on the sheet material if possible. I would appreciate comments on the design of the desk as well.

Thanks for taking the time to help me out.
 

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Looks alot like a sink and countertop

Try searching some cabinet/kitchen cabinet shops for a "bargain" off fall or one that wasn't accepted by the customer. It will have a HPL or Formica type laminated top and it will be made of a thicker MDF for strength.
A single sheet of 3/4" plywood will sag and bend unless you reinforce it with a"skirt" around the perimeter, making it thicker.

Those legs look they may not make it very stable. The last thing you want is a wobbly desk.
 

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You really need a skirt between the legs on all sides. There isn't enough support for the top regardless of the type of material as drawn. You would have to screw angle iron to the underside to prevent it from sagging. The angle iron could then be hidden behind some trim but that still leaves an issue with the legs. Without some bracing the legs would wobble. This is where a skirt would come in handy. It would brace the legs and provide support for the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm not averse to adding a skirt to the design. What would you recommend as far as thickness and material? Are we talking a dimensional lumber frame run around the underside of the tabletop perhaps? Since I plan to have this up against the wall, what about attaching it to the wall?
 

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Actually attaching it to the wall is a game changer. You would/ could eliminate three of the legs and an entire length of skirt (both along the front) if you wish. Simply scab a ledger board across the wall with a few strategically placed anchors in studs and attach the table from underneath to hide the fasteners. Then you need but two legs for the rear of the table and three skirt boards to give it eye appeal and strength in the back. As someone has mentioned, a solid core door would be the ticket to a very robust table that would be unlikely to sag. However, a door would certainly be thicker than 3/4" (and I would still wrap a skirt board for aesthetic reasons).

Almost every table made has some type of skirting for stability (legs normally attach to the skirt boards in some fashion), and some skirts are wider than others. Your width would be whatever is pleasing to your eye, but I'd go not no less than 2 1/4" for a 3/4" top. Less would be O.K. if you use a solid door.

Cheers,
Mark
 

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Attaching the desk to the wall would help a lot. It could still use at least 2" skirt across the front to out of a hardwood to prevent the top from sagging however if it had a skirt on the front it would look nicer to have one on the left and right end as well. I think though if you run one on three sides you might as well run one all the way around. One in the back would give you something to put screws through into the wall. Since the table has a well in it on the left side I would make the skirt equal to the depth of the well in that area
 

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I would really like to spend no more than $50 on the sheet material if possible.
Prices may vary depending on where you live. Around here, anything other than "pine" plywood, like oak, birch, maple, probably costs more than $50 at Home Depot and Lowe's. Birch plywood is commonly used as a "painting" wood because it's very smooth.

The skirt would be 1x lumber. 1x6, maybe. You might also want to have rails near the floor to brace the legs .

Why the glass insert?
 

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Why the glass insert?
This is a good question ... and it brings to point another suggestion. Glass table top. Make all the support pieces look good, then jsut have a piece of glass cut to size. (Be sure to look for glass "made" for table tops ... not window glass)
 

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Steve Neul,
My thoughts exactly. I would be tempted to use a a solid core door. That is the only thing I could come up with that might work.

Marty
He might get by doubling two sheets of ply for the top which would be roughly 1 1/2". The bottom sheet need not be the same as the top because only the edge will show and they will most likely be covered with matching tape.
 

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Might consider ordering a commercial restaurant table top. You can order in any size you want, with t mold edging already installed with white laminate already on the surface.

I've been considering ordering one for my radial arm saw top that I need to replace.

A 24x45 top runs 51 bucks from reaturantfurniture4less.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all your helpful suggestions everyone. I wonder about using steel to support the top. I like the minimalist look so I'm trying to keep the table's profile as thin as possible. What do you think about a support structure like this?




its 3/4" Steel Angle 1/8" thick around the entire top with 4" steel gussets in the corners to attach the legs with 3" steel bar down the center to attach the back leg.
 

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With a steel frame like that, you won't need to worry about sagging. Back to my original suggestion. Quality 3/4" plywood.
 

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Thanks for all your helpful suggestions everyone. I wonder about using steel to support the top. I like the minimalist look so I'm trying to keep the table's profile as thin as possible. What do you think about a support structure like this?




its 3/4" Steel Angle 1/8" thick around the entire top with 4" steel gussets in the corners to attach the legs with 3" steel bar down the center to attach the back leg.
With that design the 3/4" plywood top would be alright. Attaching the table to the wall the only problem might be the legs. If you didn't pin them to the floor every time the leg was bumped the leg would move. I installed a vanity top for someone not long ago that much of the legs were made of glass. At the bottom of the legs it had like a 3/8" dowel built into the foot which I drilled a hole in the floor to set it in. This secured it to the floor to prevent the legs from getting broken.

As far as the grade of plywood, most of the box stores sell either oak, maple or birch plywood. These plywood's would work for the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for all the help. If I build it with the steel frame I won't be attaching it to the wall. I've never heard of a piece of furniture with glass legs.
 
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