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Old 12-16-2009, 05:42 AM   #1
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Building a Desk


So I'm planning on building a desk and bookshelf combo setup for our computer room. I want the bookshelf to cover the entire wall, and go around the window. What would the best wood be to make this out of? I want the bookshelf to be about 12 inches wide, 2 to 3 feet long and about 7 feet tall. We will probably end up painting the desk and bookshelf, so finish of the wood won't be seen. Also I thought about making the desk out of two 1 inch thick pieces of plywood, Type A, I guess that's what it's called, the smooth kind. Any ideas?

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Old 12-16-2009, 06:44 AM   #2
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Building a Desk


Books weigh a lot and a couple of questions. Do you want the bookshelf shelves adjustable or fixed? Do you plan on a face frame or just a narrow edge of the bookshelf? What kind of tools do you have to do this project? Do you need he depth at 12"? A slightly narrower (11") depth shelf will bow less than a comparable 12" depth for the same length and weight.

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Old 12-16-2009, 09:41 AM   #3
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Building a Desk


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A slightly narrower (11") depth shelf will bow less than a comparable 12" depth for the same length and weight.
Why? A 12" shelf has 9% more stiffness than an 11" shelf.

I made a big desk with a 1/2" top and it's held up for about 20 years. I recently made one by laminating two pieces of OSB and contact glueing 5mm ply on top. I don't recommend this method.

I made an MDF bookshelf that's about 14" deep and 18" wide. It's got heavy books and it's held up nicely.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:05 AM   #4
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Building a Desk


For the shelf sag question look here:

http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm


As far as the wood choice, I would use 3/4 shop birch if you are going to paint it anyway. Use iron on edgebanding to hide the plies. For the desk top, one layer of 3/4" plywood with a 2" solid wood edge. If it's a large area, then add a stringer in the center underneath for extra support. One inch ply will be expensive and hard to find (usually). This is a desk, not a work bench, so that kind of beef really isn't necessary. Use glue on all of your joints.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:10 AM   #5
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Building a Desk


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Why? A 12" shelf has 9% more stiffness than an 11" shelf.

I made a big desk with a 1/2" top and it's held up for about 20 years. I recently made one by laminating two pieces of OSB and contact glueing 5mm ply on top. I don't recommend this method.

I made an MDF bookshelf that's about 14" deep and 18" wide. It's got heavy books and it's held up nicely.
To the op, pyper is correct. A wider shelf will have a better resistance to sag, overall. My point should have been to decrease the width to 11", because most books are less than this.

The last few desks I made had 3/4" veneered plywood, banded with solid 8/4 stock, planed to 1Ĺ" about 3" wide.

To the op, here's a link to a shelf span calculator.
http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm

Maintenance6 beat me with the link!
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Last edited by 47_47; 12-16-2009 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Added
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Old 12-20-2009, 05:35 PM   #6
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Building a Desk


Definitely going to do the edge banding, so I appreciate that. For the book shelf I plan on just using 1x12's for the work, using a router to cut grooves for the shelving, and maybe finish nails just as a little extra support. For the desk I have thought about using 1/2 plywood, but would really like to use 3/4 inch instead. I'll check the price difference for the grade and compare at that time. I want some sort of accent or decorative wood on the desk, so I'm planning on getting a decorative baseboard and going around the bottom of the shelves and desk, and have thought about using a small crown molding for the top of the desk and shelves to give the accents and a more decorative piece instead of a plain square piece of furniture. The room it will be placed in has a decorative chair rail, and some wood accents, we'll add a new decorative crown molding and baseboard with new paint in the room, and I'm hoping to tie it all together with the shelves and the desk. I appreciate everyones suggestions and the help.

Update-I used the sagulator for some testing, and think I've got some good figures. Using Oak 1x12's, 24 inch span with 12 inch depth, and a 50 pound load...which is high for the books that will be placed on the shelf anyway, I'm getting a sag of 0.001 in/ft. I do have some larger Masonic bibles that I have collected from family members, and ones that I've gotten through my work that are rather large, but those will likely remain on the bottom shelf, not causing any weight distribution to be placed on higher shelves.

Last edited by mark!; 12-20-2009 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:19 PM   #7
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Building a Desk


That sounds like it would be pretty nice.

If the shelves will have a back, then you can put nails or screws through from the back, which will dramatically increase how much weight you can put on them without worrying about sag.

It's amazing how much a little bit of trim can really improve the look of a desk. That sag calculator is pretty cool.

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