Although computers built into desks might not seem like a practical thing across the globe, the truth of the matter remains that it’s awesome.
You’ve got to admit that the idea of having a customized desk housing the components of a computer under a glass top is very enticing. On top of that include simple upgrades, expandability and the goodness of RGB lighting, and you’ll have the recipe of building and owning the ‘best gaming desk setup’ that your neighbors and friends have ever seen. I just believe you can certainly do it. However, the main question is,’ how can you build the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) desk pc?
Just like any other product, a computer that is built into the desk has its merits and demerits. Some of these merits and demerits include;
– People might think you’re a hacker
– Creates a lot of space for other activities
– Looks amazing
– Difficult to clean and upgrade
– Not easy to move them around
How to Build a Computer Desk from Scratch
If you’re skillful, you can try to create the DIY custom computer desk. This is how computer desks came into existence. There are several examples available, although most have common stuff. There’re 15 steps that one can follow when building a desk computer case. Let us go through all these steps so that you can know how to design and build a custom computer desk yourself. Those steps include;
- Designing your desired workstation
- Select the building material
- Calculating measurements
- Gathering your tools
- Checking an double checking the measurements
- Cutting out every piece for desk assembly
- Dry fitting the build so that everything is level and square
- Sand all the pieces so that they’re a stain or paint-ready
- Glue and the nail the latter build together
- Measure and order the glass
- Paint the PC desk shell
- Mount the computer hardware
- Route & manage the cables
- Add Light-emitting Diode (LED) lighting
- Apply and power up the glass
Designing your desired workstation
First and foremost, you don’t require special training or 3-Dimension modeling software to carry out this step. You’ll only have to make some decisions and then draw your plan on plain paper using a pencil. For instance, you can choose the general shape of your design to be a basic rectangle or include the knee cutout which provides improved legroom and comfortable workspace. However, this does not mean that you cannot use a 3-Dimensions modeling software if you have the skills of using them.
This is then followed by choosing the dimensions of your desk. The common size of the desk is approximately 60” wide, 30” tall and 30” deep. Although these dimensions are common guidelines, you should try to customize them in your preference.
Additionally, you will have to decide on the glass at the top of your desk. This might appear obvious since you might assume the glass top’s dimensions will be similar to the overall dimensions of the desk. However, you’ve to make the following considerations;
- If you want to include some unique in-built accessories such as a wireless hidden-phone charger or the flush mount echo from Amazon, then you’ll at least need a wooden surface as part of your desk.
- The cables coming from the graphics card and motherboard should be routed at the back. Also, if the components flush with your desk’s back, you’ll be unable to push your desk to a wall.
- If you want to mount the dual monitor corner desk, rather than having it sitting on top, it’s safer and easier to mount it to wood instead of glass.
You also have to make sure that the power button is in a reachable position. Finally, you’ve to determine the approach that you’ll use in the legs. For instance, you can choose to use a standing/ sitting adjustable height stand for the desk. Regardless of the method, you choose when approaching this, you’ve to select a solution to assist you when planning it in the build.
Select the building material
You can either choose to use wood or metal to build the computer desk case. We highly recommend the use of wood, unless you’re skilled in the use of metal. This is mainly because cutting and assembling wood is easy. However, if you have the tools and skills of a building using metal, don’t hesitate to use it.
Now, if you’re building the case using wood, you’ve to decide on the wood type that you’ll use. So, what wood should i use to build a deck? The answer is very simple! You can either choose plain plywood, MDF or furniture grade wood. MDF provides appeal since it’s straight and it’s surface pattern is consistent and smooth. On the other hand, plywood is easy to paint. Alternatively, you can apply the carbon fiber vinyl wrap inside your desk.
There are certain cautions you’ve to remember if you choose to work with MDF, like to work in an area that is well ventilated and that is free from moisture. It’s also worth noting that you do not have to strictly keep on using a single building material. You can build your side panels with furniture grade wood and bottom using MDF.
In this step, you’ve to calculate the measurements of all the materials that you’ll need apart from the PC hardware. For instance, you can use the following materials;
- 1 / 2 8×4 wood sheets of your preference.
- 3 / 4 inch trims that outline the PC desk-side panels. It hides unfinished wood sides and allows mounting of LED lights. You’ll possibly require 8 to 12ft of the material based on the building design.
- 1/2 inch screws to hold the brackets to the computer desk.
- Stain/ paint.
- Metallic corner brackets – they make sure that the build is sturdy and ensures the frame remains square during transportation. You’ll probably need about 12 brackets for your leg frames and the inside part of the desk.
- Sandpaper – You will need the 80grit that is rougher and some 220 grit that is fine.
- Two 8ft 2 by 2’s – used for building and bracing the legs as well as adding strength.
- Two 8ft 4 by 2’s – can be used for lining the bottom plate’s underside with them for strength as well as accommodating desk mounted PC as well as the PC desk’s sides.
- 8ft 4×1 furniture grade.
Although there are creative ways of designing the desk to only use one 8×4 wood sheet, we highly recommend that you avoid skimping on the design so that you can just meet that goal. For instance, if purchasing an extra MDF or plywood sheet when building the desk computer case will cost you an extra USD20- USD30, don’t use less material when designing your desk so that you can make such mere savings. You’re saving yourself a lot of money by building the PC desk yourself instead of purchasing a manufactured small computer desk case.
Gathering your tools
After acquiring all the necessary materials, you’ll need to gather all the necessary tools so that you can start working. Some of the tools that you’ll need to build the PC desk include; electric screwdriver, skill saw, safety goggles, wood glue, speed square/ framing square, tape measure, and jigsaw. Other tools that will speed up the process of building the desk include; miter saw, clamps, electric sander, table saw, drill press and finish nailer.
However, one can still be able to build the desk computer case without all the suggested tools stated above, although the process will take more time. Therefore, the lack of all these tools does not mean that you cannot build a desk case yourself.
Checking an double checking the measurements
For your build to be successful, you need to measure accurately and cut precisely. Let us begin with the PC desk bottom, which is our largest part of the build. Start by measuring from the desk’s wide sides heading towards the center, then mark its depth. Repeat that step on the board opposite end and repeat at the center. With the marked areas, take something that has an aligned edge and line up the edge with those marks. Firmly hold that straight edge in place, then draw a straight line to have a cut line.
Repeat this process for all the other desk sides, as you measure from 1 side edge for determining the width then mark it. This should be done for any cut you’ll be making, including the front and back panels. You can customize the desk inner height where you’ll install the PC components to your preference, but you’ve to ensure that the tallest build part will be accommodated by the desk.
Be patient when tracing out the cut lines of all pieces of your build. We recommend that you double check all the measurements to avoid any errors. Additionally, when it comes to the legs, consider the specific design that you’ll choose. Regardless of the selected design shape, you’ve to trace it out through an approach similar to the one we’ve highlighted above unless you’ve ordered pre-built legs.
Cutting out every piece for desk assembly
You should be very focused during this cutting process. Also, this process should be done in an orderly manner. We recommend that you start from the bottom plate, and then move to the back, sides and ultimately the desk front panels. You can use any of the cutting tools that we highlighted on the tools process to carry out this process.
Dry fitting the build so that everything is level and square
After you’ve cut out the sides and bottom, you need to quickly dry fit all pieces (except the desk legs), to ensure that there are no errors in the cuts. Dry fitting simply means that we aren’t securing sides to the desk’s bottom using finish nails or glue. You can simply keep them intact using the stuff that is around to ensure that your build is level and square.
Sand all the pieces so that they’re a stain or paint ready
Although sanding can easily be done by hand, we highly recommend using tools since they make the task easier. Although sanding is not fun, it’s very essential in preparing the desk parts before painting. Take time and carefully go over all pieces, starting with the sandpaper with heavier grain and finish off with the fine grit such as 220.
Glue and the nail the latter build together
After ensuring that your build is level and square, you need to put it together using the finishing nails and glue. We recommend that you begin with the front and side panels. Use the framing square and speed square again when gluing to ensure that your panels stand at 90°.
Some builders only use glue for securing the desk side panels, although we recommend the use of finish nailers to keep them intact. These finish nailers leave small holes that are almost unnoticeable which can be sanded and filled easily and quickly.
Regardless of the method, you choose to secure the desk side panels, consider using metallic corner brackets in any top corner that the desk side panels are meeting. These brackets hold your build solid and tightly pull its corners. The brackets are secured using the ½” screws. Additionally, they’ll be barely noticeable after applying a ¾” trim near the desk top edge unless you search form them by leaning down.
Measure and order the glass
After assembling the desk, measure for the last time to ensure that it’s level and square. If you’re satisfied by the dimensions, obtain the measurements of the glass and order it from a shop that specializes in repairing windows or any other source. You can either choose to use non tempered or tempered glass of your desired thickness depending on your preference.
Paint the PC desk shell
As the process of cutting glass is going on, you can get into painting your build. There are many available options that you can choose to paint your build. You only need to remember that it will take more than two coats of paint especially if you used wood as the building material since it soaks the paint up. It is at this step that you’ll start observing the desk’s beauty.
Mount the computer hardware
After you’ve completely painted the desk, the next process will be to convert it into a functioning computer. If the build has been planned well, the mounting process will go smoothly, especially since that process of joining various computer components is the same. You can simply search the details of this entire process on the internet to ensure that you do it correctly.
Route & manage the cables
You need to be very patient in this step since cable management is an indication of good system design. You’ll need to group and run your cables directly from the system based on how you’ll choose to route them. You can use Velcro straps to manage cables in your system. These straps keep the cables together.
Add Light-emitting Diode (LED) lighting
As you route the cables, you can add a Light-emitting Diode strip under the ¾” trip that goes around the case. You can either use super glue or hot glue to stick the LED strips to wood. Alternatively, you can use the 2- sided tape commonly used by students for hanging pictures in the walls of their rooms.
Apply and power up the glass
We recommend that you power up and then test the system before you add a glass top to ensure that everything is functioning and connected as intended. After pressing your power button, you’ll be thrilled by the beauty of the PC that you’ve personally created and conceptualized. If everything is functioning properly, place the glass and you can now enjoy your DIY computer desk.
Purchasing a computer desk that is already built
Apart from building a computer desk yourself, you can buy a computer desk that has already been built. This is simply a desk that has been constructed with the sole purpose of mounting your computer. You can search for this ‘pc built into desk for sale’ online and you’ll certainly find it in various sites like B&H and NewEgg.
Hybrid Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions
This is also referred to as ‘Lazy DIY’. It usually involves an already assembled or built-in computer desk plans. You’ll, therefore, have to do some task yourself, although not all. This concept may be applied in all desks that have drawers.
You may spend a lot of money and time on a genuinely unique custom computer desk case. On the other hand, you can either spend little time and a moderate money amount for a ready solution or spend moderate duration and little money amount for a Do-It-Yourself hybrid solution.