Fast & Functional(ish) Desk


I knew when I bought this place, there was a ton of work to do. But I swore I’d work methodically, tackling one big project at a time and not moving on to the next until the former was completely done. Further, I swore I wouldn’t make anything “just for now” – I’d wait until I had time to do it properly, and only once.

I’m typing this at the “just for now” desk (of sorts), that I pocket-screwed together in two hours after work tonight. The tiny vintage sewing table bordered by boxes just wasn’t working for me.

The model above shows a rough idea of what I’m supposed going to make, complete with a drop-down door that hides my computer and, more important, serves as a keyboard tray. Because of a doorway, the desktop can be only 14-1/2″ deep – that’s a little too narrow for a large iMac and keyboard…I feel like my mom’s going to yell at me any moment for sitting too close to the screen.

Mom would be right. I’m typing this with my computer and keyboard on a 14″-wide slab of semi-planed sugar pine, sitting as far back as possible from the screen, and it’s a strain (on my eyes and my arms).

However…I now have shelves on which to store more books. Empty boxes trump empty promises – particularly those made to myself. I was, at least, smart enough to build the base and plywood cases the correct size (or at least they will be once I remove the baseboards); all I have to do is slap a face frame on those in a few weeks months years.

It’ll do. For now.


In the meantime, it’s back to the Rail-less Staircase of Possible Death…right after I unpack four or five more boxes of books.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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12 Responses to Fast & Functional(ish) Desk

  1. tman02 says:

    I had a similar situation once and what I did was make a slide out piece under the top so I could be further away from the screen.

    A couple of drawer slides and some wood/plywood should not take too long for you to make.

  2. Kevin Thomas says:

    I’d be more worried about the condition of your back after sitting long times on the stool.

  3. Patrick says:

    Stick with me on this one. I have a 3 drawer dresser with a panel that slides in above the top drawer. I believe it was originally used as a changing table. It’s a neat design because you have complete access to the contents of the top drawer, but when needed as a changing table it is a simple matter of opening the drawer and sliding the panel out. The panel rests on top of the drawer for support, similar to a torsion box. The beauty of this design is that it also doubles as a desk top. My son now has his computer on the dresser top with the keyboard on top of the dresser ( much like your picture) but when he needs to do homework, all he has to do is slide out the drawer, slide out the panel and place the keyboard on the panel. The space under the extended drawer gives plenty of leg room when he pulls up a chair. The net result is an instant desk top. So, I could easily see a drawer / sliding panel in the middle section of your design. It should solve the problem, look nice and still be able to be utilized when the drop down door is closed. Just a thought and your eye sight is worth it.

    • fitz says:

      I do like that idea. I’d have to make new bases to have enough knee clearance for a drawer…but that’s easy. We’ll see…I’m not going to get around to revisiting this one for at least a month 🙂

  4. What is the origin of that stool? It looks like the one Dunbar did for the magazine a few years ago. +1 on ” good enough” and ” just for now.” Idealism will only get you so far.

  5. noelxmas says:

    I need to have “Empty boxes trump empty promises” written up on a poster above my desk. Feels like I live in the tension between those two.

  6. Brian Clites says:

    I don’t want to get you in trouble at work Meghan. But it needs to be said: Friends don’t let friends use pocket screws. 😀

  7. Robert Edmunds says:

    Megan, I am not sure where they found you, but please stay around, your the kind of wood worker the magazine has needed for years. Your writing about your house is never boring. In this month’s issue (November) you column is a must read, thank you for being real

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