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Forum topic by Travis posted 02-26-2019 05:10 AM 525 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


02-26-2019 05:10 AM

Hi all,

I recently moved into a new home and there is a small 5’x5’ closet that I want to turn into a small home office to put my computer and related equipment in. In my haste, I put some 3/4 red oak plywood up on some cheap big box store brackets. I’m not loving this setup, in part because it required minimal planning and effort on my part (read: no fun), and the brackets underneath obstruct the foot space and limit what can be placed there, and I just don’t think it’s all that aesthetically pleasing.

So, now with a little more time and perspective, I would love to do a nicer job. I was planning on making a hickory panel that would serve as the desk top and float it on some runners around the perimeter. I created a SketchUp mockup to illustrate my plan. The panel would be made out of 4/4 hickory, span 5’ across and be 20” deep. I thought I would get 8/4 hickory for the runners and face glue them so my runners are approximately 3.5” deep (read: support 3.5” of table top). I would cut rabbets in the back runner where cross braces for the top would fit. I would attach the top to the side runners with figure 8 clips to allow for wood movement in the table top.

A couple of questions:
If my runners came from the same board, MC should be the same and I won’t run into issues of differential expansion if I face glue them together, right?
Will those 16/4 runners be strong enough to support the table top? I don’t expect heavy loads—just a keyboard, computer monitor, a few other light things like that.
Sagulator suggested my 4/4 hickory would have unacceptable sag going across the 5’ span, but that didn’t take into account my cross braces and back runner. I think the panel should stay flat….right?
I’m very new to design, are there things I haven’t thought of or any other ideas you have that would improve this?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.


20 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12907 posts in 2889 days


#1 posted 02-26-2019 06:25 AM

Parallel grain can be glued, crossgrain can be connected with screws (wallowout the holes to allow movement).

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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SMP

1392 posts in 414 days


#2 posted 02-26-2019 06:39 AM

If it were me I’d probably just get it all 8/4, or at least 6/4 and the floating metal brackets(i’d proba Make them) Then you won’t have flex when you lean on it etc. You may even spend less or similar on 6/4 than all the pieces you have there.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

586 posts in 1128 days


#3 posted 02-26-2019 02:10 PM

I don’t think you are buying much support with the doubled up end supports. Have you considered a 1-2” apron attached to the front of the work surface? I’d also not bother with the runners on the bottom of the work surface. Good glue-up of work surface makes those unnecessary.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#4 posted 02-26-2019 02:40 PM



Parallel grain can be glued, crossgrain can be connected with screws (wallowout the holes to allow movement).

- Woodknack

Thanks! I’ll go parallel grain if I do this.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#5 posted 02-26-2019 02:42 PM



If it were me I’d probably just get it all 8/4, or at least 6/4 and the floating metal brackets(i’d proba Make them) Then you won’t have flex when you lean on it etc. You may even spend less or similar on 6/4 than all the pieces you have there.

- SMP

Thanks SMP. My local supplier only has 4/4 and 8/4 hickory. I thought the 8/4 would be a bit chunkier than I wanted, but I am willing to go that thick if necessary for the structure. Sadly, I have NO metalworking skills so if metal brackets were needed, I’ll have to buy them. I was hoping to avoid brackets (like I have currently). What [brackets] do you think would be necessary?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#6 posted 02-26-2019 02:44 PM



I don t think you are buying much support with the doubled up end supports. Have you considered a 1-2” apron attached to the front of the work surface? I d also not bother with the runners on the bottom of the work surface. Good glue-up of work surface makes those unnecessary.

- LittleShaver

Very good to know! I liked that the runners on the bottom of the panel would help secure the panel in place without mechanical fasteners, but I also like being able to save wood where not needed. I had thought about an apron on the front, but thought the runner in the back would accomplish the same thing. Would an apron on front provide more support than the runner on back?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3963 posts in 1896 days


#7 posted 02-26-2019 02:54 PM

I don’t think the supports on the bottom are going to help much so are unnecessary, plus they are kind of ugly IMO. An apron or edge strip across the front about 2-3 times the width of the top thickness will provide more support to prevent sagging and will look much better.

Edit: Also, You can probably get away with thinner boards along the wall. If you drive screws into each stud, a 3/4” thick board that is about the same width as the apron or edge strip will be plenty strong and won’t be visible from the front.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#8 posted 02-26-2019 02:59 PM



I don t think the supports on the bottom are going to help much so are unnecessary, plus they are kind of ugly IMO. An apron or edge strip across the front about 2-3 times the width of the top thickness will provide more support to prevent sagging and will look much better.

- Lazyman

K, I’ll revise the plan accordingly. Is there a functional difference between an edge strip (flush with the top edge) and an apron (top overhangs the support strip), or just aesthetic?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

586 posts in 1128 days


#9 posted 02-26-2019 03:08 PM


I don t think you are buying much support with the doubled up end supports. Have you considered a 1-2” apron attached to the front of the work surface? I d also not bother with the runners on the bottom of the work surface. Good glue-up of work surface makes those unnecessary.

- LittleShaver

Very good to know! I liked that the runners on the bottom of the panel would help secure the panel in place without mechanical fasteners, but I also like being able to save wood where not needed. I had thought about an apron on the front, but thought the runner in the back would accomplish the same thing. Would an apron on front provide more support than the runner on back?

- Travis

I’d keep the support at the back and add the apron or wider edge strip across the front. This should give you the support you need without buying 8/4 wood. I wouldn’t concern myself too much about attaching the work surface to the cleats or runners. The surface is captured by walls on three sides. Maybe one figure 8 at the back to prevent the surface from being pulled away from the wall. A desk in a closet shouldn’t get too much abuse.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#10 posted 02-26-2019 03:14 PM



I d keep the support at the back and add the apron or wider edge strip across the front. This should give you the support you need without buying 8/4 wood. I wouldn t concern myself too much about attaching the work surface to the cleats or runners. The surface is captured by walls on three sides. Maybe one figure 8 at the back to prevent the surface from being pulled away from the wall. A desk in a closet shouldn t get too much abuse.

- LittleShaver

You think 4/4 runners on sides and back, and 4/4 apron or edge strip up front will suffice? Then I can do without the bottom braces. I agree, it shouldn’t get too much abuse and it will be nestled in on 3 sides so limited mechanical fasteners is probably fine.

To SMP’s point, is 4/4 with an apron/edge strip sufficient for a 5’ x 20” panel, or should I go up to 8/4 for the panel?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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LittleShaver

586 posts in 1128 days


#11 posted 02-26-2019 03:27 PM

I’d go with the widest front edge strip you think you can tolerate. If I were building, it would probably be 2 1/2 – 3” wide.

I ran the sagulator with shagbark hickory and a 30 lb uniform load. Unless you’re into large stacks of paper, this is a high estimate for loading a desktop. I’m looking around my desk here and I don’t think I could come up with 30 lb total spread over 18’ of work surface.

As always, YMMV.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#12 posted 02-26-2019 04:06 PM


I d go with the widest front edge strip you think you can tolerate. If I were building, it would probably be 2 1/2 – 3” wide.

- LittleShaver

I can totally tolerate a 2.5-3” wide strip. Does the wood type matter? I could make it hickory, but I thought cherry for the strip might also provide a nice visual contrast with the hickory panel. But cherry is not as strong as hickory. Would the reinforcing benefits be lost with the strength mismatch?

Edit: I can run sagulator on that. I was just being lazy…

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View RobS888's profile

RobS888

2608 posts in 2353 days


#13 posted 02-26-2019 04:22 PM


I d keep the support at the back and add the apron or wider edge strip across the front. This should give you the support you need without buying 8/4 wood. I wouldn t concern myself too much about attaching the work surface to the cleats or runners. The surface is captured by walls on three sides. Maybe one figure 8 at the back to prevent the surface from being pulled away from the wall. A desk in a closet shouldn t get too much abuse.

- LittleShaver

You think 4/4 runners on sides and back, and 4/4 apron or edge strip up front will suffice? Then I can do without the bottom braces. I agree, it shouldn t get too much abuse and it will be nestled in on 3 sides so limited mechanical fasteners is probably fine.

To SMP s point, is 4/4 with an apron/edge strip sufficient for a 5 x 20” panel, or should I go up to 8/4 for the panel?

- Travis

About 12 years back, I made a desk for my wife across the back of a small bedroom, it was 9’6” wide so I used 3 12 inch by 10’ oak boards from HD. They were tongue and grooved to 30 inches deep and put on a 3/4 by 2 1/2” cleat that ran all way around 3 sides (actually cut off from the desk top). my wife had a lot of computer equipment on it and said it bounced in the middles when she typed, so I added a black iron pipe that was 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide 3 inches back from the front edge.

2 years back she moved her office to the attic, so we took the desk down. The cleats, to my surprise, were still solidly attached to the wall.

I think you will be fine with a 5 foot width. You could use a slightly bowed apron, so that any weight only flattened the apron.

-- I always knew gun nuts where afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View SMP's profile

SMP

1392 posts in 414 days


#14 posted 02-26-2019 04:27 PM

Thanks SMP. My local supplier only has 4/4 and 8/4 hickory. I thought the 8/4 would be a bit chunkier than I wanted, but I am willing to go that thick if necessary for the structure. Sadly, I have NO metalworking skills so if metal brackets were needed, I ll have to buy them. I was hoping to avoid brackets (like I have currently). What [brackets] do you think would be necessary?

- Travis

If you don’t want the chunkiness of the 8/4 in front, you can chamfer the bottom like in traditional tables to make the edge thinner than the rest. Sure 4/4 will work, especially with a front board glued/nailed on. If its for my own use though, I definitely feel and appreciate the difference of thicker wood, especially for the extra $30 or whatever for something that small. I usually make brackets similar to floating shelf brackets. Basically steel tube welded to steel bar with some holes drilled. Then you drill holes in the back of the wood to slide over the steel.
Something like this: https://www.etsy.com/listing/498783340/heavy-duty-floating-shelf-bracket-fits?ref=related-2
They actually make “floating desk” brackets but they require access to the studs(is no drywall) and I am usually too lazy to patch drywall unless its part of the plan. I would also find something to pin the front to wall studs, either hidden or decrative depending on the look I want.

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Travis

302 posts in 275 days


#15 posted 02-26-2019 09:02 PM



About 12 years back, I made a desk for my wife across the back of a small bedroom, it was 9 6” wide so I used 3 12 inch by 10 oak boards from HD. They were tongue and grooved to 30 inches deep and put on a 3/4 by 2 1/2” cleat that ran all way around 3 sides (actually cut off from the desk top). my wife had a lot of computer equipment on it and said it bounced in the middles when she typed, so I added a black iron pipe that was 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide 3 inches back from the front edge.

2 years back she moved her office to the attic, so we took the desk down. The cleats, to my surprise, were still solidly attached to the wall.

I think you will be fine with a 5 foot width. You could use a slightly bowed apron, so that any weight only flattened the apron.

- RobS888

That’s a great idea. I wonder if I could cut a little housing out of the side cleats near the front that I could lay a 5’ iron pipe in which would essentially act as a front cleat.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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