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Hutch 1
copyright 2006

The Hutch Computer Desk

This desk is for someone who wants a big computer desk to cover a wall. It has lots of space for multiple printers below, a large desk top, and plenty of shelves above.

The desk show and described below is for two laptop computer. Plans for a second version are also provided that are for a large desktop computer system. The base for this desk is the same has my roll-top desk design and the construction notes for that base can be found in Roll-top Desk

The plans for our major projects are brought to you on the Honor Plan. You may look at as many plans as you like, but when you start to build please pay for the plans you use. These small payments are critical to keeping this Web Site open.

The first one built is in red elm and handles for two lap tops with a separate keyboard but it will suit a desk top computer as well. It is being build from hardwood lumber but the desk can be build from hardwood plywood with hardwood trim at a little less cost.

Hutch Desk in red elm 1

As it is a large desk, the cost of the materials is substantial but the value of the finished desk is about twice the cost of the materials, about $710. This type of desk is always popular and has resale value.

This is a moderate level woodworking project as it requires building drawers and hinged doors. This process has been made as simple as possible but still this design is not recommended for novice woodworkers. The Door & Filing Cabinet desk is much easer to make and will be quite similar if you add a top bookshelf.

Hutch 2

All the materials can be bought at your local home improvement store for about $800.00 in American hardwood. Build it from hardwood plywood with hardwood edge trim would be much cheaper.

Rockler order link to first page

Pictures of this and most of our other projects can be seen in our Picture Gallery.

  1. Ordering the Sketches

    This design includes twelve detailed sketches that are critical to your successfully building this desk. Here is where to get all the ordering information.

    The plans for our major projects are brought to you on the Honor Plan. You may look at as many plans as you like, but when you start to build please pay for the plans you use. These small payments are critical to keeping this Web Site open.

  2. Desk Construction

    You can make this desk by:

    1. Downloading this text.
    2. Ordering the Sketches.
    3. Studying the information and locating materials.
    4. Determining if the shelves suit your equipment.
    5. Purchasing materials, most local, some mail order.
    6. Cutting wooden pieces.
    7. Assembling the bases.
    8. Building the top.
    9. Assembling the shelves.
    10. Finishing all pieces.
    11. Assembling the entire desk.
    12. Installing the computer.
  3. Discussion of Sketches

    After you order the sketches, these notes will help you understand them.

    1. Hutch Computer Desk

      The Hutch Desk is shown face on with dimensions. As shown, it consists of four units -- two bases, the desk top, and the shelves. These units can be taken apart so that the desk can be moved into the room.

    2. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #2, Side View

      This sketch is shows the side view of unit showing the keyboard tray pulled out. Note the depth of the shelves and that the top drawer can hold CD's.

    3. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #3, Top View

      The top view shows the keyboard shelf extended. The two bases are shown as hidden lines below the top and the shelve unit sits on the back. The rectangles at the back of the top are cable holes.

    4. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #4, Top

      This sketch shows the desk top. The three rectangles at the back are special mail-order hardware for cable throughs. The top is make from .75 inch thick hardwood in boards 2 to 4 inches wide and joined with biscuits.

    5. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #5, Base

      This sketch shows three views of the base. Note large cabinet below is for a printer or other large piece of equipment. The top drawer is deep enough for a CD box. The left and right bases are not quite the same size to accommodate a very large printer. You make them the same size if you prefer but you may need to adjust the size of the keyboard drawer.

    6. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #6, Base Panels

      This sketch shows the side, doors, and back panels of the bases. The sides and doors can be either .75 inch plywood or wood panels joined with biscuits. The plywood approach is simplest. The back is simply fur plywood.

    7. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #7, Base Boards

      This sketch shows the boards needed to make the bases and the bases without doors, drawers or trays. The face is made from 1.5 by .75 inch hardwood lumber. The internal pieces can be made from cheaper secondary wood. The pieces that set the width of the bases are marked Set Width in case you wish to adjust the base widths. Only one of the pieces without a requirement number is needed.

      The eight 27 inch pieces of secondary wood support the printer trays at the bottom and provide a place to mount the drawer guides at the top. The four stops simply stop the low trays from going too far back. The secondary wood blocks have one screw hole through one side and two at 90 degrees. These go inside joints where ever the joints need strengthen. This way you do not have to have screws showing from the outside.

    8. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #8, Printer

      This sketch shows the printer tray. It is made from .25 inch plywood with a boarder of wood.

    9. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #9, Media Drawer

      This sketch shows details of the media drawers and keyboard tray. The drawers are deep enough to hold a CD in a rack.

    10. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #10 Top Back

      This sketch shows the size of the top back. It is made from hardwood plywood. It is show .75 thick but .50 inch can be used if the side groves are adjusted.

    11. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #11, Shelf Uprights

      This sketch shows the details of shelf upright boards. They maybe made of either .75 inch thick hardwood plywood with hardwood edging or from .75 hardwood lumber joined with biscuits.

    12. Hutch Computer Desk, Sketch #12, Top Shelves

      This sketch shows the details shelves. They maybe made of either .75 inch thick hardwood plywood with hardwood edging or from .75 hardwood lumber joined with biscuits.

    Rockler order link to first page
  4. Materials

    The Hutch Desk is shown made from hardwood and this cost reflects that approach. The large panels may either be hardwood panels joined with biscuits or hardwood plywood.

    1. Wood
      • Bases, .75 inch hardwood ------ 31.25 board feet
        • Sketch #6 -- panels , 26.5 square feet hardwood or plywood with edge trim
        • Sketch #7 -- 1.5 inch by 19 linear feet hardwood
        • Sketch #9 -- 8 inch by 3.25 linear feet hardwood
      • Top, .75 inch hardwood -------- 17 board feet
        • Sketch #10 -- 42 inches by 76 inches hardwood or hardwood plywood with edge trim
      • Shelves, .75 inch hardwood ---- 28.5 board feet
        • Sketch #11 -- 11.75 inch by 12 linear feet hardwood or hardwood plywood with edge trim
        • Sketch #12 -- 11.75 inch by 16.5 linear feet hardwood or hardwood plywood with edge trim

      Example: Red Oak 77 @ 5.50 /bf Red Oak ------- Subtotal: $422.00

      • Bases, .75 inch secondary wood ------ 16.5 board feet
        • Sketch #7 -- 1.5 inch by 18 linear feet secondary wood
        • Sketch #7 -- .75 inch by 14 linear feet secondary wood
        • Sketch #8 -- 1.00 inch by 12 linear feet secondary wood
        • Sketch #9 -- 8 inch by 17.5 linear feet secondary wood

      Example: Good Pine 16.5 @ 3.00 /bf ------- Subtotal: $49.50

      • Plywood, .75 inch oak, 4 x 8 ----- 1 ------------ $34.00
        • Sketch #6 -- Base Backs
      • Plywood, .75 inch fir, 4 x 8 ----- 1 ------------ $26.00
        • Sketch #10 -- Back
      • Plywood, hardwood 1/4 inch 48x24 -- 1 ----------- $12.00
        • Sketch #8 -- Printer and Computer trays

      ------- Subtotal: $72.00

      Fasteners:

      • Biscuits, #10 ---------------------------- box of 100 ----- 8.00
      • Screw, flat-head, #8 x 1.5 inch ---------- box of 100 ----- 4.00
      • #4 finishing nails ----------------------- 1 lb ------------ 1.40
      • Glue ------------------------------------- 1 pint ---------- 4.00

      ------- Subtotal: $17.40

      The following materials can be obtained from:

      Rockler order link to first page
      • Recessed Hardwood Pulls, oak (22301) - 4 ------------ 25.00
      • Recessed Hinges ---------------------- 2 pair ------- 20.00
      • Shelf Support Pin (33894) ------------ pack 16 ------ 3.30
      • Rectangular metallic Grommet (91314) -- 3 ------------ 41.00
      • Feet, polished nickel glides---------- 2 sets of 4 -- 5.00
      • Drawer Slides, 16 inch (39348) ------- 3 ------------ 30.00

      ------- Subtotal: $124.50

    2. Finish:
      • Stain -------------------- 1 Quart ----- $ 8.00
      • Shellac ------------------ 1 pint ------ 6.00
      • Shellac thinner ---------- 1 pint ------ 4.00
      • Polyurethane ------------- 1 quart ----- 16.00

      Finish Subtotal: $34.00

    3. Omissions and Contingencies (~11%)( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $80.60
    4. Estimate Total Cost $800.00

    This is only an estimate (made in the fall of 1999). The price may vary in your area. Getting a good price on the hardwood is critical to keeping the price down. If you make the shelves and base panels out of hardwood plywood with a simple hardwood trim this cost will come down about $150. Using scrap or recycled wood for the secondary wood will also help.

  5. Tools

    This desk was designed so that it could be build by an amateur woodworker with a modest home shop. To build the desk as shown requires the use of a radial-arm or table saw, biscuit cutter, and common hand tools.

    Rockler order link to first page
  6. Fabrication Notes

    This is not intended to be a detailed step-by-step construction guide but rather a number of points to consider. It is your desk and you can build it to suit your likes.

    1. Options

      Look over the desk drawing as decide what you are going to do:

      1. Equipment Supported -- Go over all the computer equipment you wish to support with this desk and determine the size for each piece. An exercise, Air Typing is given on our Web Site to help you determine the height you need for the keyboard shelf, the monitor, and the angle for the monitor. You may wish to adjust the width of the bases and spacing of the shelves to suit your exact equipment.
      2. Plywood versus all hardwood -- The first person to build this desk request it in all hardwood. It would be easier and cheaper to build it from hardwood plywood with .5 inch hardwood molding over the exposed edges.
    2. Making Flat Panels from Boards

      Wood is a dynamic material produced by living processes. It has great strength, beauty, and utility but it does have properties that you must deal with. Wooden boards expand and contract with temperature and humidity. Farther more they expand across the grain far more than along the grain and the side away from the center of the tree expands more than the side closest to the center of the tree.

      The result is that, if you are not very careful, forces will build up and warp and crack your piece of furniture. You can reduce this problem but being very careful when gluing up wooden panels.

      To glue up the top, base sides, and shelves for this desk, use the following steps:

      1. Limit board width -- Do you use boards that are too wide. Look at wide boards and see if you can determine the point nearest the center of the original log and rip the board into thought that point.
      2. Alternate lay up -- Carefully look at the end of each board and draw on an arrow pointing to the center of the original log. Lay the boards out in the order you plan to glue them up. Rearrange the boards to alternate the arrows, one up the next down. If the panel warps it will then warp into gentle S curves instead of one large hump.
      3. Biscuits versus Tung and Grove -- Biscuits have generally replaced tung and grove. You do have to have an expensive tool but they save huge amounts of expensive hardwood, speed the process, and work better.
    3. Making the Bases

      The bases are have two showy sides, a plan back, and a frame front. There is not top or bottom.

      1. Making the Boxes

        The sides and doors of the base boxes are show as glue-up panels (see above). This is however a good place to use hardwood plywood. Note that the two boxes are the same depth but not the same width. The backs are plain fir plywood.

        Inside the base boxes are a number of wooden blocks. Screws through these allow you to assemble the box parts without the screw heads showing on the outside. Long strips of wood at the bottom provide a support for the printer trays.

        The front is made from 1.5 inch wide hardwood held together with biscuits and screw blocks on the inside.

        The doors are hinged with hinges developed for kitchen cabinets. The best of these are completely hidden yet let the door swing completely open. You may have to purchase a tool to install this type of hinges.

      2. Making the Drawers

        The drawer boxes are shown made from secondary wood (nearly clear pine, popular, etc.) with .25 inch plywood bottoms. On the second front piece is good hardwood. They mount to the base boxes with heavy duty drawer guides (all metal with ball bearings).

        They are show with double thick front. The inside board is secondary wood and has course dovetails to the sides. This is a nice exercise in hand woodworking. The second front panel is made from primary wood and is simply screwed to the inner front piece after the drawer box is installed. This lets you locate the front piece just right.

      3. Making the Printer Trays

        The printer trays are simple pieces of .25 inch plywood framed with hardwood. These let you pull the printer out to attach cables and service it but you do have to put some books or something under the front when you have it pulled out.

    4. Making the keyboard Drawer

      The keyboard drawer is a simple wide tray to hold the keyboard and mouse. It has a nice hardwood front and hardwood sides. The bottom is plywood. The sides are wide enough to mount the heavy-duty drawer guides.

      make both the base boxes and desk top before making this drawer. Place the bases where you want them on the up-side-down top and precisely measure the width you need for the keyboard drawer.

    5. Making the Top

      The top is a glued panel of good hardwood. Be sure to use the glue-up procedure described above. The bottom boxes attach to the top with a few screw blocks. Glue the blocks only to the bottom boxes so that the boxes can later be removed with a few screws.

      The fancy cable grommets shown are a mail-order item. Plan where you will need your cables and cut the holes.

    6. Making the Top Shelves

      The top shelf assembly is made from a hardwood plywood back with glue-up hardwood panels for the shelves and uprights. Making these also from hardwood plywood with hardwood strips nailed to the exposed front would save money.

      Dado the sides to take the back plywood. The shelves and interior uprights are therefore a little narrower. The small internal shelves rest on shelf pins so they can be adjusted. You will need to drill the shelf pin holes before assembly of the shelves.

      The top assembly simply sits on the desk top. You may want to put felt or cork on the bottom of the shelf uprights. You can buy a few simple metal mending plates and screw them on the back tying the shelves to the top and base.

    7. Trial assembly

      Assemble the unfinished desk. Check the fit of the bases and the keyboard drawer. Plan how your cables will run and cut any holes you need for them in the sides of the base boxes and shelves. This is a big desk.

      Disassemble the desk for finishing.

    Rockler order link to first page
  7. Finish

    You may finish your desk any way you like. I recommend: oil stain, a spit coat of shellac, and two coats of satin finish polyurethane on the hardwood.

    1. Staining

      Work with the stain color that you have chosen. Practice on a piece of scrap wood (flat side and edges). Do not start on the panels until you are satisfied. Do not hesitate to write off an $8 can of stain and go purchase another of a different color.

    2. Spit Coat

      A spit coat made of one part 3-pound shellac to five parts shellac thinner makes a good wood sealer.

      If your test shows that side and end grain are staining differently, you can apply a spit coat to only the one that stains darkest (usually the edge). This will limit the stain penetration to more closely match the finishes. Test this on scrap first.

      A spit coat can also be used between applications of stain and as a general sealer after staining.

    3. Finish

      For this desk I like satin finish polyurethane or a modern tung oil finish such as:

      Formby Tung Oil Finish

      These are applied with a cloth pad rather than a brush. This desk will take at least one 16 oz. bottle; two will be better. Follow the instructions on the bottle carefully and apply a liberal number of applications on all work areas. The toughest finish is needed on the keyboard shelf directly in front of the user. I would apply the finish over the painted surfaces also to produce a glazed effect but try this on scrap first.

    Polyurethane produces a tough but thin plastic coating that can crack with use. Tung oil produces a thicker more rubbery finish.

  8. Completion

    All that is left is to reassemble the desk, and install the computer.

    1. Reassembly
    2. Cabling

      Detailed cabling instructions and plans for a remote power switch are available. Make up several cable tie mounts and be ready with mounting screws and tie wraps. The remote power switch is optional but is really helps the desk user.

      Determine which side will be closest to the wall outlet. Screw the remote switch box and surge suppressor to the inside of this base box. Route the switch cable up to the your user's preferred location.

      Install a generous number of cable tie mounts to the back and underside of the shelves where cables will run.

      Dress the cables neatly and tie then in place using tie wraps. Do not pull the tie wraps too tightly, the cable should be able to slide back-and-forth a little. Trim off all the tie wrap ends. Black tie wraps look best and last longest.

Thanks again for using a Woodware Computer Furniture Plans. We very much want to know how you are getting along with your project and would be happy to answer any questions by email.

If you send us a picture of your finished desk, we would be happy to put it on our web page. We need pictures of desk with real people standing beside them.

Don't forget to order the sketches.

Rockler order link to first page
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