‘A Mans Desk’

This is a picture of Shawn Blanc’s desk, which he comments on his site:

That’s a man’s desk. 21 square feet of simplicity and awesomeness built from scratch by yours truly.

I agree, it is a desk to envy. If you are going to build or buy a desk, here are somethings I think you should keep in mind:

  1. Size: I personally think a three foot by six foot desk is optimal. We don’t all have that much room in our lives for such a perfect desk size, so build it as big as you can. The depth is very important so never go less than 24″ or more than 40″ for a single user desk. Again, I think 36″ is the optimal depth. ((Here is Stephen Hackett’s desk which is also lovely.
  2. Think about how and where you will route your cables. Personally I think a grove or a sliding compartment on the desk top is ideal. You must also think how those cables will be stored below the desk, typically I use zip ties that can be screwed into the bottom of your desk (you can find these in the electrical aisle of a hardware store). I also like to have a place in the legs to route the power down and if I am making the desk a compartment to hide the cables in. I am a huge fan of the way this desk hides cables. ((I am going to get a picture of the desk my Grandfather built as it is stunning and has smart cable management.))
  3. Don’t ever build your desk to custom fit anything you have right now. You can build it to the space you want it to fit in, but don’t get fancy with the shape. Keep it a simple rectangle and keep in mind that you should expect it to last 10-15 years (at the very least).
  4. Building a desk is often cheaper and easier than one thinks. If you borrow and rent most of the tools you can build a desk that would cost you $3,000 for $300 and a weekend of your time.
  5. An old carpentry rule: ‘cut once, measure twice’. If this is your first time woodworking then I recommend measuring a ton of times.
  6. Sanding is the most important thing you can do for the finish of your desk. What the wood feels like before you apply any stains or paint or lacquer is what it will feel like in the end. Sand and then sand some more.

You may be asking: “But Ben, come on, your desk isn’t hand made — how could you possible know this?” Correct, but I have worked in construction for over 5 years of my life mostly with a hammer or Skil saw in my hand. I have helped to make countless buildings and custom pieces of furniture with my Grandfather. On top of all that, I designed this and helped build it. ((That is teak wood, and is about $2,000 worth of material, where mistakes get costly.)) It may be ‘just a headboard’ but I assure you that if you saw the work that went into the craftsmanship, you would never want to make a headboard. ((For size reference the bed is a California King.))

[Updated: 2.8.11 at 8:58 AM]
I was just reminded by a friend that I also was (allegedly) the main guy behind a huge bar that was built in the house I lived in during college — complete with a chandelier. For legal reasons I will not be sharing those pictures.


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