Computer stand / desk for the shop

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Forum topic by tullochmurray posted 08-01-2013 02:46 AM 2277 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tullochmurray's profile


14 posts in 3128 days

08-01-2013 02:46 AM

Thinking about building something to house my computer and monitor. My goals are to protect the computer from dust, make it mobile and provide a surface for drawing and reading plans. The picture in my head is a box about 40” tall, 24” to 30” wide and 12” deep with some kind of flip-up writing surface that would lay flat against the side when not in use. Maybe a space to receive a keyboard drawer at a hieght comfortable to use while standing and the monitor would sit on top. For stability I thought I’d attach a couple of 18” or 24” 2×4s to the bottom along the 12” dimension and attach the wheels to them.

Has anyone seen or done anything like this? Any ideas about attaching the flip-up writing surface? I’d be interested in hearing any ideas on general construction or specific components.

Thanks all,

-- Tullochmurray

12 replies so far

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2867 days

#1 posted 08-01-2013 02:58 AM

I have seen a desk and plastic dust cover for a cnc router, but honestly, ultra fine dust will shorten the life of your computer, and probably your monitor as well.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View john111's profile


72 posts in 2497 days

#2 posted 08-01-2013 03:06 AM

I have been wanting to do the same. Like TCC says I think no matter what that it would kill the computer! I have decided to wait to get a throw away laptop. Maybe a used netbook so I do not have to worry about it. That way I could do all the cpu intensive work inside on the good computer then send it all to drop box. Maybe just take some dust off the fan every once in awhile. Lay some plastic over it when not in use. Good luck and let us know what you end up doing. I will be very interested. Thanks!

-- john111

View trotter's profile


33 posts in 3583 days

#3 posted 08-20-2013 11:03 AM

It may be an idea to copy one of those extractor (fume) cabinets you see in laboratories. You slide up the front glass screen and put your hands in underneath. You can look at the screen and keyboard through the glass front. The glass front drops down when not in use. If you have a tower, place that in its own container or house it separately from the dust.

-- I wish I could sell my experience for half the price it has cost me.

View jimmyb's profile


186 posts in 2404 days

#4 posted 08-20-2013 12:09 PM

I have my PC outside the shop, long VGA cable running to wall mounted flat screen monitor. I also ran a 1/8” stereo plug with the monitor cable for sound. I then use a wireless keyboard / mouse combo and do not have to worry about dust build up in the PC.

I service PCs on the side and you do NOT want to see the insides of PCs in a normal house situation … ughhh!

-- Jim, Tinley Park, IL

View wb8nbs's profile


164 posts in 3204 days

#5 posted 08-20-2013 01:54 PM

You can put the CPU some distance from the monitor and keyboard. I have a friend who encapsulated his keyboard in shrink wrap, said it worked well. If you need a mouse, use a touch pad.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

View DesertRatTom's profile


10 posts in 2554 days

#6 posted 08-20-2013 03:45 PM

I live in the high desert and winters are too cold for any computer, so I built a closed cabinet on casters and installed tightly fitted insulation inside. Added shelves inside and passed a power cord from the back into the box. Door also has foam insulation held on by carpet tape. Have a 25 watt light bulb inside with a thermostat switch controlling it. The switch is a 115v unit for temperature control in a greenhouse. I keep the inside temp set at 65 degrees so the light goes on to warm the box when its cold. I placed a metal shield around the bulb to both protect it and to capture and dissipate the heat. Painted the shield black to absorb more heat. During summer, temperature inside the box never exceeds the mid 80s. I keep a laptop in this box and pull it out for use, but you would have to arrange for air flow during use of a desktop. Of course if your winters don’t get too low, you might not need to go to this extreme. Remember that liquid crystal screens don’t take kindly to extreme cold either.

-- Use sharp blades; work slow.

View youngran's profile


2 posts in 3533 days

#7 posted 08-20-2013 08:21 PM


With regards to jimmyb’s comment, I’ve been in IT for over 30 years and his comment on separating your main PC from a dusty environment is spot on. Using a wireless keyboard/mouse combo (plus a cheap LCD display on an extended cable) is the best way to go; especially, if you need to use an existing desktop unit and don’t want to spend the money on an upgrade.

However, if you need an excuse to upgrade, this would be it. My recommendation would be one of the larger tablets that boast being waterproof/resistant. You can then leave out in the open and move it to wherever the work is.


-- Randy

View B0b's profile


105 posts in 3202 days

#8 posted 08-20-2013 08:29 PM

Will the computer be on all the time, or just some of the time? Will it be on while you are creating dust, or just while you are marking things, and planning, etc.

I like Jimmyb’s idea best, but if you are too far from coniditioned space to do that, my thought is to build an airtight box with an exhaust fan on one side and a filter at an intake on the other and put the PC inside. You just have to make sure that you work with the PC’s airflow to make sure you allow it to function as it should. There are several DIY PCs on the website They work to eliminate noise, but they have some great ideas on DIY boxes, and how to best work with airflow. Check them out here:

-- Time to get started

View macatlin1's profile


78 posts in 3455 days

#9 posted 08-21-2013 12:37 AM

Our shop had a computer cabinet for the CNC router. The monitor was behind a glass screen and the keyboard was attached to a hinged cover that closed the cabinet. When the cabinet was opened the cover hinged down to form a surface for the keyboard and mouse and the monitor was safely behind glass in the controlled environment. The CPU’s were in the lower part of the cabinet and that part of the cabinet was sealed by a gasketed door and grommets where the cables came through. A set of fans pulled air through a filter and the excess air was vented near the top behind the monitor. That vent had a rubber flap that closed the vent when the fans were not running. We never had problems with carbon fiber dust getting into the computer, monitor or mouse and shorting things out but we did lose a few keyboards.

When we lost a few desktop computers due to the carbon fiber dust we made cases to protect them with a similar arrangement but this time only the CPU was in the box with a fan pulling air through a filter. To seal the cables we made a pair of combs that interlocked and closed down the openings. There was a flap in the front that allowed access to the CD drive, USB and power switch. Adding a block along the top near the hinge line made the flap close when the fan wasn’t running. The filter was a replacement automotive air filter that was square, available and cheap. The cases were made from 3/4 MDF we had on hand. Nothing elegant but very functional.

I intend to do a similar thing in my shop with the monitor mounted to the side of the CPU case as a stand and sharing the filtered air. I intend to leave the CPU on all the time and after locking the computer from the keyboard the monitor will shut down in 5 minutes. To protect the keyboard I’ll just turn it over so that the keys face down protecting them from falling dust and chips.

I’ll provide photos when complete but it’s about number 12 on my to-do list.


View B0b's profile


105 posts in 3202 days

#10 posted 08-21-2013 01:21 AM

Funny thing I forgot to mention is that I have a mouse and monitor in my shop that I use with a laptop, and I used them because they were older and I didn’t care if they broke. Two years later, no problems on anything. I generally only have the laptop in there about 10%, and while my shop is dusty, and I am in there every week, I don’t generate the kind of dust of a professional woodworker.

Of course if I did care about them, you know they would be broken.

-- Time to get started

View tullochmurray's profile


14 posts in 3128 days

#11 posted 09-03-2013 05:27 PM

Thanks all for your suggestions! Sorry so long in responding. – I have three young boys and it can get a little crazy over the summer.

It’s an old computer and, while I’d hate to be without it, I probably won’t spend too much to protect it. And unfortunately, upgrading to a tablet is out. I had considered placing it in the adjacent interior room, just thought the monitor cable might be costly. It would have to be at least 15’.

I anticipated a fan but hadn’t solved for filtering the incoming air – I like the automotive filter idea. And the light bulb for the winter (I’m up by Boston and she can get a bit chilly). And the drop down cover for the keyboard and mouse.

I’ll be sure to post photos – hope to get it done before the snow flies…

-- Tullochmurray

View wolfsburg18's profile


8 posts in 2442 days

#12 posted 09-04-2013 08:36 PM

Not sure if you found a solution but I would recommend the following as a great case. I would suggest a concept similar to this case for filtering to protect your equipment. This could still be in the garage. I would also like to note that unless you are using water cooling nothing is too cold for a computer or circuit board but heat is your enemy. I personally have done some testing with liquid nitrogen, short of static shock or physical damage via the hammer repair method computers can take a beating.

The case and site noted are not mine.

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