Saturday, April 16, 2016

Adjustable computer desk

I wanted to build an adjustable computer desk / tv tray for my couch. It had to be able to adjust to many positions and able to hold such things as my computer, dinner, drinks and so on. I also wanted to split the tabletop so one side can be adjusted while the other side can sit flat.


Materials list    

                     Computer desk                 T              W         L            matt.                Qty.                      
                         base                                3/4"          11"        17"         plywood            1    
                        bottom supports            3/4"         3 1/4"     5"          plywood            3  
                        bottom arm                    1 1/2"       2"         26"           fir                      1
                        top arm                           1 1/2         2"         20"          fir                      1
                        brackets                          3/4"          2"          4"           oak                   4
                        table top                          3/8"         9"          13"          baltic birch      1
                        table top                         3/8"          9"           5 1/2"     baltic birch      1                                                                                                                
                          1  5/8'  4" lag bolt
                          1  5/8"   5" lag bolt
                          1  5/8"   21 1/2" threaded rod
                          6    3 "  wood screws  
                          8  1 1/2 small wood screws for the wood brackets                                                             4  knobs                                         

Let's begin                                                                                                   
The easiest way is to start is with the base and  then build the parts you need as you work your way up. 


To hold the arm an adjustable support will be used. I cut three blocks of plywood to make the flange for the arm. This will be very solid and will have a  lot of clamping power for the arm to tilt at different angles. 

The blocks are rounded off a bit to look nicer.

A hole is drilled in the center for the lag bolt. It is important to clamp all the pieces together while it is drilled to keep things lined up.

Two 3 inch screws are put into each piece. First I used a speed square to mark the position of the flange, this will keep things square. Then each piece is marked individually. Lastly, screw holes can be pre drilled and countersunk. 

If possible it would be easier to clamp the pieces before screwing them together. 

The flange is now ready for the arm and the lag bolt. Together with a knob this will make a very strong joint. 


To make the lower arm slots are cut in each end and a hole is drilled for the lag bolt. Special attention is taken to make sure the cuts are exact to fit the base and the other arm. The best way to do this is with a caliper.




                                The upper arm is rough cut with the band saw...


                               The upper arm is cleaned up and a hole is drilled for 
                       the lag bolt.

Here I inserted a bushing for the threaded rod, this will help for the support and also reduce wear in the hole.

Lag bolts are hammered in and then homemade knobs are added and it is a good fit. I put some sandpaper on the blocks to add some friction to help keep things more secure. 

Every time you have to buy hardware the costs add up so I made my own brackets out of wood. I found some oak and used my wooden miter gauge  to cut the four pieces for the brackets.

Again I am clamping and drilling the pieces together, this will assure that the holes are in a straight line for the threaded rod. 

Brackets are cut, shaped, drilled and countersunk....

This is how it looks before the table tops are screwed on. I use washers, spacers, brackets and knobs. The spacing can be adjusted with washers. When the spacing is correct the top can be added.

The knobs can be tightened individually, this way the tops can be set to different angles. 


Finally the table top. I used some 5/8th" baltic birch for the 2 tops, this will be strong enough and also keep the weight down.

I do a lot of work on my phone and tablet, this small desk can also hold my laptop easy enough. The desk can be adjusted to fit any chair or couch and when it is fully extended it is easy enough to work from standing up.


 The mini desk comes in handy when you are lazing around or doing computer work. Since I had to recover from an operation I spent a lot of time on the couch and did find it extremely useful. I have even had requests to build a few more.

See also

          Utensil holder                      Spray can door rack            How to make a country cabinet