Build Log: Constructing the Ultimate Computer Desk

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ultimatedesk

Baseband Member
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Ottawa, Ontario
Hey all,

I've been browsing these forums occasionally for a while now, but only recently became a member when I decided to build myself a custom computer desk.

Over the next couple months I hope to keep you all up to date with some pictures of the progress, and hopefully, some of you will chime in and offer up some constructive criticism and advice!

For the planning stage, I wanted the following criteria met:
- High Quality (Want it to last a long time)
- 2 Integrated Computers
- Capacity for 3 27" Monitors
- Dust Control
- Fan Control
- Noise Control
- Excellent Cable Management

So I decided that I would build the desk out of 3/4" plywood and stain it a nice, dark cherry red colour. I went to work with Google Sketchup and here is what I came up with for my plans:











In the sketches, the dark brown is solid wood trim, and the light brown are 1x1's used to screw together the cabinet from the inside.

Stay tuned for more build pictures!
 

ultimatedesk

Baseband Member
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58
Location
Ottawa, Ontario
Initial Cuts

Here is the shop I have access to:



And here's the wood I chose. I went with 3/4" 2-Sided Maple Veneered Plywood. There was a really good deal at the local hardware store so I picked up a few extra sheets. In total, I will require 4 sheets:





My good friend:





All of the initial lengthwise rips done:



And all of the initial cuts done and labeled:



A bit of the mess I created on my first day ;)

 

synergy

Fully Optimized
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Interesting idea. It will be cool to follow this build. I agree with Paton...you somehow need good exhaust and general air flow.
 

Trotter

Grandfather of Techist, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Completely editing my comment since I looked at the next pic.

Be sure to put a high volume fan directly behind the CPU. You can use lower volume/CFM fans in the front, but you will be choking the CPU and GPUs with heat if the rear fan can't pull it out fast enough.

Depending on the design of the GPUs you may want to consider dropping in an additional fan directly in front of or above them to push cool air into them.
 

ultimatedesk

Baseband Member
Messages
58
Location
Ottawa, Ontario
Thanks - First Desk Hole

Nice so far.
My only concern/question/whatever is heat. I see the 4 fans in, what about exhaust? Or did i miss it?
Welcome to TF
Thanks patonb, I did not put any exhaust fans in the initial plans. 1 - the heatsink will have an exhaust fan which will be in the correct place to vent outside of the cabinet. 2 - I plan on using 4 120mm x 38mm high powered fans as intakes, and really - there is nowhere for the air to go except out the back hole by the CPU, through the PCI slots by the video cards, as well as via exhaust fan provided by the PSU.

Interesting idea. It will be cool to follow this build. I agree with Paton...you somehow need good exhaust and general air flow.
Thank synergy, I will be sure to do some testing with the airflow before I get ready to overclock, but I don't actually foresee it as being too big an issue (we'll see though!)

Completely editing my comment since I looked at the next pic.

Be sure to put a high volume fan directly behind the CPU. You can use lower volume/CFM fans in the front, but you will be choking the CPU and GPUs with heat if the rear fan can't pull it out fast enough.

Depending on the design of the GPUs you may want to consider dropping in an additional fan directly in front of or above them to push cool air into them.
Thanks for the comments Trotter, I appreciate it! Hopefully I'll have time to draw a diagram of how I think the air will flow so that I understand where there might be issues.

That's a lot of hard drives on the right. :p

Can you make me one? :lol:
Hehe, thanks MindoverMaster - it is a lot of hard-drives, but it's just a drawing to see what its capacity will be - I will likely only have 3-5 hard-drives in the server system to start with. As for building you one - sure - just let me know how much shipping will be for this 8 foot long 250-300 pound beast ;) ;)

I can't see pics?

EDIT: I can see them now. Internet crapped out.


I like the idea but like everyone else I'm worried about exhaust.
Hey Abstract Hero, thanks for the comments. I think I covered the air flow thing above. I really think that because both systems are enclosed areas except for the (large) intake area and openings at the PCI slots, CPU, and PSU, air will literally be forced out those small areas, venting any kind of stagnant air because the 4 intake fans are going to be quite powerful. We will see though :)

Had time to cut that last 8' sheet into the 28" sections, and cut a hole in the surface portion of the desk. The surface portion, fyi, will be composed of two 8' pieces of 3/4" plywood, so its total thickness will be 1.5" thick.

The upper plywood will have a hole that is .5" wider all around than the board beneath it.

Only had time to do one hole tonight - the lower portion, thankfully, because I made a few small mistakes!

Sorry about the photos folks, I had already uploaded these to imageshack and forgot to resize them, so here are the thumbnails since I don't have the original stock photos on me right now. From now on, they'll be properly sized at 800x600, which I feel is a fair compromise for detail and bandwidth.





I started off with a carpenters angle, measured off my lines with a pencil and then made a rough cut with a jigsaw. I then clamped a straight-edge lined up with the edges (measured) and ran a router across it to create the smooth finish.

I messed up a bit, going a bit too far with the router on one end, and then not far enough on the other end - I'll have to sand and file to square it off.

Sorry I didn't take too many pictures - the next hole will have more!







Thankfully the shop is heated, here's one of the heaters - it went down to -8*C that evening!



Here's the mess for the night!





And, the hero of the night! Mastercraft Plunge Router!!

 

ultimatedesk

Baseband Member
Messages
58
Location
Ottawa, Ontario
Drawer Work

I was able to spend some time in the shop this weekend, and didn't get as much done as I would have liked to.

One of the main things holding me back right now is the fact that I have not selected the motherboard tray, and template for the motherboard input and outputs, as well as PCI slots. This prevents me from cutting the holes accurately in the back of both of the modules, which prevents me from assembling the actual modules.

I have some "spare" desktop chassis lying around, and will be working to find a solution to that soon.

In the meantime, I started working on the drawers for the right-hand module.

I first took them through the table saw again, trimming off the last 16th or two from some of the boards.

Then went to work sanding all of the pieces down with 150 grit. I will likely go up to a 180 grit before the final stain goes on. I clamped a straight-edge on to the table saw so that it was easier to sand with the grain (Thanks Mike)

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Slowly, but surely, I went through all the pieces for the drawers, except for the faces. Yes, bad things happen when I don't have my sketchup drawings. I start drawing with markers.

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Mike was doing some work in the shop at the same time as me that day, so there was quite the mess.

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I put together my tools of the trade

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And here are the gluing steps I went through

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A few somewhat artistic clamp shots:

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Everything looks pretty straight

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Glued and clamped together the largest of the drawers, will likely put some hanging folders in there.

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Then I screwed everything together with #8 1.5" screws, all holes pre-drilled and countersunk. Most of the holes will be covered by the actual drawer sliding mechanisms, but the exposed ones will get some wood putty.

It's funny being in someone else's wood shop - I couldn't find the countersink bit anywhere - I tried looking through all the drill bit boxes (There were several) and nothing, so I had been using a small bit, then switching to the big bit to countersink, and then switching to the screw bit to screw in the holes.

Mike walks in half-way through the holes and you could tell he was rather amused - he goes to the back of the shop, pulls out a box, pulls out a box from the box, and then a small medicine container out from the box in a box - "Geez, didn't I tell ya to just look around? Oh. Wait. I guess this one was sorta hard to find eh?".

At that point, he also points out that there are several drills in the shop - silly me. So one drill with the countersink bit, one drill with the screw bit. It's been very interesting working in a shop dedicated to this type of work - very, very different from working in the basement with just basic hand tools.

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I haven't attached the faces of the drawers yet as I haven't determined how I would like to attach them. I would also like to attach the trim to the outer edges of the faces before attaching them to the drawers, since it'll be much easier to clamp all the faces together at once.

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And that's it for todays update - a bit short, yes, a lot of pictures of clamps, sorry, I got carried away ;)

I'm spending some time in the shop tonight, so hopefully I'll have another update for all of you tomorrow or the day after!

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