Recording Studio Desk - Wood Movement?

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Forum topic by wcompton posted 01-03-2017 10:41 PM 1389 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 747 days

01-03-2017 10:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humidity wood movement desk table

Hello everyone!

Below are a few images of a recording studio composer’s desk I am finalizing plans for. I’ve included a link to the Sketch Up files as well if anyone is interested in taking a look:

My questions are as follows:

1.) If I use 6×6 post lumber from Home Depot for the legs and the aprons, mill the pieces down to size (4.25”,4.25”), paint them, and attach as shown using 8” lag screws, will that design sufficiently allow for the expansion and contraction of the wood over time? I don’t want any cracking. The desk will only be used inside.

2.) The sliding table that the keyboard sits on will be constructed, according to my current plans, by attaching five 2×6s milled down to 1.25”x5”, side by side using pocket hole screws and glue. Then a “cross beam” will be attached using 3” wood screws across the end grain of the table. These are the sides of the sliding table, the piece with the angle cut. The heavy duty drawer slides will be attached to the aprons from this piece. Will this construction method allow for sufficient wood movement? Again, I don’t want any cracking and I definitely don’t want the table to fail!

Thanks for your help! Any other observations and or constructive criticism is totally welcome. Cheers!


5 replies so far

View clin's profile


974 posts in 1235 days

#1 posted 01-03-2017 11:31 PM

Sounds like you are talking about using construction lumber for some of this. Construction lumber is not dried out the same as furniture grade wood. So I think you still might get some splitting, cupping, and warping after you build it.

Sounds like your shelf will be 5×5” = 25” deep. Seems quite large. That much wood attached to the sides, and wood movement will be an issue. Consider making the shelf from plywood, or do as I did and not make a full shelf.

I didn’t build a desk from scratch, I modified one to hold my keyboard. A couple of points to make. It’s tough to have the keyboard high enough without the desk being too high. So one thing I did is only supported the keyboard at the ends. That way I didn’t lose any more space under the keyboard (thickness of shelf).

I ran the grain front to back, in line with the sides. Since I also have back pieces, the short shelf ends are still support across the grain. Just by the back and not the sides. Mine is 10+ years old, and I’ve had no issues.

I also combined two different sizes of heavy duty drawer slides. Long ones on the desk and short on the keyboard shelf. This allows me to slide the keyboard way up under the desk so my legs don’t have to fit under the keyboard while I’m just working at the desk.

My shelf is two sides and a two piece bottom (one piece at each end). The back of the shelf is two pieces or rails. The gap between the rails allows for cables to plug into the keyboard. Though a single piece with strategically located cutouts would be stronger.

Here’s some pics. FYI, my keyboard is a full 88 keys, fully weighted, so it is about as heavy as these things get.

-- Clin

View wcompton's profile


2 posts in 747 days

#2 posted 01-03-2017 11:46 PM

Beautiful! Is that 3/4” plywood that you used for the keyboard shelf? Also, when you say you used two separate drawer slides does that mean you purchased 2 pairs of drawer slides, one smaller than the other, took them apart, and combine parts of each to make a custom slide? How do you know if two slides will work that way?

Thanks for the response. Table looks great.


View clin's profile


974 posts in 1235 days

#3 posted 01-04-2017 03:58 AM

All the pieces of the keyboard shelf are solid oak. And, as I mentioned, the grain runs front to back, rather than the normal length of the shelf. But it really is two small shelves at each end. Again, this means the grain of the sides and the shelves, run the same direction. Though the “rails” or back of the shelf is firmly attached to the shelf over the shelf “length” of about 12”. So this is perhaps a potential wood movement problem, but after more than a decade there has been no problem.

My choice of wood probably had more to do with what I had on hand than anything else. It’s been way too long for me to remember. Pieces of plywood, with edge banding would work well, and remove all concern for wood movement and be stronger since two sides of each small shelf are unsupported.

While this has worked just fine and there’s nothing that needs fixing. If I were to do it today, I’d make all of it from cabinet grade 3/4” plywood or Baltic birch plywood. Use iron on edge banding and it would look just fine.

I’d make it like a box with bottom back, and two sides. But I would cut a large part of the bottom out in the middle to create more clearance for my legs. But I wouldn’t cut it all away. I’d leave about 3” all the way across to form a corner with the back. This would make that very stiff (though I don’t think this is really needed). I’d cut openings in the back as needed to accommodate cables and perhaps reach the on-off switch if located there.

Here’s a rough sketch of what I’m talking about.

Concerning the drawer slides. What you said is exactly what I’m talking about. Get two sets of full extension slides (a long and a short set). Use the short part of one (on drawer/shelf) and the long part of the other attached to the desk.

Note: The keyboard almost certainly has some “rubber” feet near the ends. This means the loads are all at the ends and nothing in the middle of the shelf. As in my case, there is no actual shelf in the middle. Point being, there is no concern for sagging.

Since you are prepared to use pocket screws, it would be a great application for this. Some screws in the back to the sides, and screws in the bottom to the sides and back. Use some glue and it is plenty strong for the intended use.

FYI, while the shelf slides easily, my keyboard is heavy enough that it takes a little bit of effort. So I never noticed it moving while playing. I’m not aware of drawer slides that lock or have a detent when open. But if this were a problem, I’m sure you could rig up some sort of catch at the back of the shelf to lock or otherwise engage to prevent the keyboard from moving.

-- Clin

View youdidntbuildthat72's profile


18 posts in 760 days

#4 posted 01-10-2017 03:18 PM

I’ve never had a 6×6 post from lowes or home depot NOT CRACK. As a matter of fact I don’t think they sell them without cracks in them LOL. They will also warp and twist on you if not careful.
Its better to cut and glue up multiple boards for stronger wood and less chance of twist or warping.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2349 days

#5 posted 01-10-2017 03:29 PM

I’d use mostly birch plywood for this, even the legs. Either make the edges a feature, or apply iron on edge banding.

If you like square legs that large, a glued and screwed plywood box section would be far more stable than a 6x, and plenty strong.

I have 200-300 pound machines riding on carts made with L-section plywood legs. They’re strong, stable, and have been plenty durable, as they roll over horse mat edges moving around the shop.

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