Studio production desk

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Forum topic by tremblayj posted 08-22-2015 03:25 PM 1269 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1243 days

08-22-2015 03:25 PM

I am in the planing stages of building a production desk and was looking to get some feedback on my current plan. Its intended to be a desk that is comfortable to just sit at and play but also function as a normal desk.
I have attached a screenshot of the sketchup.
The idea is to have a desk that has a place to hide all of the wires and a solid slide out keyboard for a 61 key controller. There is a brace placed right behind the controller which will act as support for the top as well as create a cavity in the back to hide the wires (from the one year old who loves wires). I also do not want the desk to be too wide which is why I have the keyboard tray overlapping the two side cabinets. I find this leaves plenty of room but also adds some stability as I can add drawer slides on the bottom if ever I upgraded to a heavier keyboard.
I plan to build the top out of a yet to be determined solid wood so as to avoid any chance of sag and the sides out of a cabinet grade ply. My ideal would also be to have the ability to remove the top and separate the sides for easy transport for future moves. I have seen cleat systems that should work for this as well as allow the top to expand.
I am heading to the lumber yard to pick out the wood for the top on Monday. The top criteria…is going to be price but i realize I will have to spend a little more to get a top that I am happy with but will also last a long time. Questions still to be answered – top thickness? Wood species?
The overall question for the forum is whether anyone can see any points for improvement before i go ahead with the build? I am also still unsure as to what type of joinery to use for the two base cabinets. The drawing shows no joinery for this reason.
My skill level is still at a beginner level but I do have friends with much higher skill levels that could help with any difficult aspects of the build. I am also a quick learner willing to spend a lot of time studying each stage of the build.
thanks for any and all input.

11 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


4041 posts in 2002 days

#1 posted 08-22-2015 04:30 PM

3/4” all the way around should give you plenty of support. Use YouTube (cabinet making) for assembly process. Or checkout/ask “A furniture maker forum”. Plenty of pictures there to guide you.


View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2696 days

#2 posted 08-22-2015 04:54 PM

the keyboard portion has sag written all over it. You might consider a torsion box design for the top and key board parts, but that gets into the ability to do veneer. But the box would give you the rigidity you need with the lightness that would be ideal for hardware.

For the box joinery, if you are using ply, why not dowels? I’d say biscuits or dominos but that gets into needing machinery.

Honestly, Id do a full size mockup/ first run out of poplar. This will help you get a feel for the desk hands on, get a feeling for appropriate dimensions and thicknesses, and help you identify design flaws before you start tearing into some beautiful Ash, Oak or Maple.

View tremblayj's profile


5 posts in 1243 days

#3 posted 08-22-2015 07:14 PM

I was thinking the keyboard tray would need to be a solid piece as well. I will add that the keyboard/controller is only about ten pounds. I am going to research the torsion box design a little more.

I am leaning more towards a housing/dado joint for the ply. My only reason being that I could easily make a jig that would allow me to control my cuts and end up with a clean joint. I have thought about the biscuits as well and might ask around to see if any friends have the required tools.

The mock-up probably would be the best idea and honestly that is probably what I will do in the future. The first task is to just get a nice top glued up and build the desk out of plywood so that I can put everything to use now while my son is young and the wires are a problem. I am willing to spend the extra few bucks on the plywood now in order to have the workstation setup and usable. With the desk functioning and a removable top, it will allow for what you are suggesting. I think I will produce a better result if I am not rushing it.

Mrjinx007 – I will no doubt be watching many a youtube video… When you mention “A furniture maker forum”, are you referring to one in particular or just one of the many out there? I am have been following this forum for a while and have not ventured into any other forums. Suggestions?

View AZWoody's profile


1419 posts in 1458 days

#4 posted 08-22-2015 08:14 PM

I don’t know if a torsion box would be practical as I am a musician and if you account for the thickness of the tray for the keyboard, then the thickness for the top, you’ll either have to have your keyboard tray too low, which will not fit over your knees, or your top will be sitting too high.

For the keyboard tray, you may want to use plywood and use a piece of angle aluminum on the front and back to offer rigidity and also, you could paint it as a contrasting decorative trim.

View tremblayj's profile


5 posts in 1243 days

#5 posted 08-25-2015 12:25 AM

Went to the lumber yard today and found some wood for the top. I was thinking maple but was convinced to try roasted poplar. The lighter image is with nothing and the darker is with some conditioner.

I am going with 6/4 and they only have 8/4 and 4/4 so I am waiting. I wanted the darker mahogany look without the price and this stuff seems to fit the bill.

The other option would be maple but I have never applied a dark stain to maple and would be afraid of ruining it.

Anyone ever worked with this roaster poplar before? The guy at the yard said they have only had it a couple of years but have received positive feedback from everyone that works with it.

Oh and its looking like I will just use a solid piece for the Keyboard tray. I will add some pieces to the ends so that the drawer slides have something to bite into.

View tremblayj's profile


5 posts in 1243 days

#6 posted 11-28-2015 11:38 PM

Well the last couple of months have seen a steep learning curve but the build has come along quite well. Below are some pictures of the process. Turns out you can spend just as much time building jigs as you do on the actual project! I am sure the next project will be that much easier with the jigs already done. I am definitely now sold on woodworking as a lifelong goal and my wife is thrilled…

I am now at the point where it is getting too cold to work outside so I have decided to bring the project in. Work essentially stops for the winter as I have no power tools or space to build the face framing and drawers with.

Would it be okay to set the desk up so that I can get some use out of it and do the finish work next year? I keep the humidity at around 55% all winter. I know its best to seal it but it still needs a good amount of work before it gets to that point. Any input?

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2765 days

#7 posted 11-29-2015 07:57 AM

The only real using it before it is finished is denting or.chipping pieces. Some times, that sort of damage can be sanded out, sometimes not. Of course, that kind of damage will.happen after it is finished, too, but the riak in having it happen prior to finishing is that an uneven surface may show uneven staining when you get around to applying color.

As far as moisture changes go, no issues there. Either the piece is built to allow.for wood movement or if isn’t, and no amount of finish changes that.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View ChefHDAN's profile


1227 posts in 3084 days

#8 posted 11-29-2015 06:19 PM

As you mention a 1yr old, if it’s in he house unfinished, there is no telling what may get spilled on it rubbed on it etc, and you may only find it once you hit the finishing step DAMHIKT

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View mahdee's profile


4041 posts in 2002 days

#9 posted 11-29-2015 06:24 PM

Sorry for the late reply. Looking good.
here is the forum.


View tremblayj's profile


5 posts in 1243 days

#10 posted 11-29-2015 10:03 PM

I am fully aware that the little guy could cause some issue but I am hoping, with the help of my wife, that we can keep him away. The top still requires a good bit of work before its ready for finish which will likely include taking off a good layer of wood.
Also, I completely forgot to mention that I am planning of using the top flipped so that any staining will be negligible.

Thanks mahdee for the link. I have it saved in my favourites for some rainy day reading.

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1386 days

#11 posted 11-29-2015 11:33 PM

I only skim read some of the replies, firs key board not a problem just give it a 1”ish piece in the back and front for support, more then enough. I had to match an addition to one of my mothers antique walnut pieces, I used poplar used Trans Tint dye to get my color, then Min Wax walnut stain, looks perfect both color and Poplar has the same graining as walnut

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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