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Shaker Style table 1
Copyright 2005

Shaker Style Computer Table

with turned legs

The Shaker style of furniture has hand made by an American religious sect throughout the 1800's. Their furniture was known for clean simple lines and excellent workmanship. The Woodware Shaker Style Computer Table with turned legs strives for the simplicity for form and practicality of purpose from the original Shaker designs.

Woodware also has a second Shaker style computer table with sculptured legs.

This table features a wide expanse of hardwood for the top that is the center of attention. The frame and legs are made of lessor wood and painted or stained so that they do not detract the eye from the hardwood top.

The frame includes a pullout tray for the keyboard and a pencil drawer. There is also a lot of room underneath to keep the computer cables out of site.

The computer can either sit on the table top or as a tower beside the leg. The monitor can sit either directly on the table top or you can build a monitor bridge to raise to you best height. There is plenty of table top space for a printer and other electronic equipment.

Some people choose the Shaker Computer Table because it is a versatile piece of furniture. When not used for the computer, it can be used for a sideboard or even a baby changing table. This versatility makes it a particularly nice gift.

Most the materials can be bought at your local home improvement store for about $300.00. The turned legs can be ordered from a mail order house.

Rockler order link to first page
  1. Ordering the Sketches

    This design includes nine detailed sketches that are critical to you 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. Table Construction

    You can make this table by:

    1. Downloading this text.
    2. Ordering the Sketches.
    3. Studying the information and locating materials.
    4. Purchasing materials.
    5. Cutting wooden pieces.
    6. Assembling the table.
    7. Finishing all pieces
    8. Installing the computer.
  3. Discussion of Sketches

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

    1. Shaker Style Computer Table with turned legs (above)

      This three view drawing view shows three views of the Shaker Table showing the keyboard tray and drawer.

    2. Shaker Style Computer Table #2, Overall Dimensions

      This drawing shows the overall dimensions of the finished table. Note the width of the space available for the keyboard and mouse and the height of the keyboard tray.

      The table top shows three cable through holes. The construction of these holes is covered in a separate document on our Web Site. If you do not put in cable holes then you will risk damage to the cables between the cable edge and wall.

    3. Shaker Style Computer Table #3, Top Removed

      This drawing shows the construction frame with the table top removed. Note the details of the leg attachments and that the keyboard tray slides pass through holes in the center board.

      The frame does not need to be made from as expensive hard wood as the top. These boards can have a few knots and other imperfections.

    4. Shaker Style Computer Table #4, Side-to-Side Pieces

      This drawing shows the details of the frame pieces that run side-to-side. Note that a front piece is not show as it consists of only the drawer front. The Center Board has dado and cut-outs for the tray slides. The Back Pieces are simply two fill boards.

    5. Shaker Style Computer Table #5, Front-to-Back Pieces

      This drawing shows the wooden pieces that run front to back. The Ends are shown with tenons. You could use biscuits here but the tenons are much more authentic.

      The Stiffeners have a nice decorative curve on the outside ends and fit into dadoes in the Center Board.

      The Tray Guides keep the Keyboard Tray Slides in place.

    6. Shaker Style Computer Table #6, Bottom Boards

      This drawing shows bottom boards that stiffen the frame. Note that the area under the drawer is complete filled while the back area is not. This allows easy access to the computer cables.

      The edges of the Drawer Area boards and the Rear Board show and so should match the Stiffener boards.

      The rest of the Drawer Area boards can be lesser wood. The Front Tray Guide is made by making the Drawer Area boards extra long and cutting off Front Tray Guide. The grain for the Front Tray Guide runs cross ways.

      The Middle board provides a lot of strength to the frame and should be made of strong wood.

    7. Shaker Style Computer Table #7, Keyboard Tray

      This drawing shows the details keyboard tray. Note that the Slides run all the way to the back of the table frame. This allows the keyboard to be pulled well out from the table. We choose wooden sliders for both the Keyboard Tray and the Drawer to be consistent with real Shaker furniture.

      The Stop Piece must have all its edges rounded as it may rub against computer cables. In general, relieve all edges that the computer cables might cross with rasps and sandpaper. The Stop Piece is not glued but held with two screws so that the Keyboard Tray can be removed.

      The three Lip pieces simply keep the keyboard from sliding of the tray. The center one is attached with small screws but no glue so that it can be set for specific keyboards.

    8. Shaker Style Computer Table #8, Drawer

      This drawing shows the details if the small pencil drawer. This drawing shows a 1 inch thick front piece with dovetail joints to 1/2 inch sides.

      You can simplify the Drawer construction if you like or buy drawer parts from a woodworking mail order house.

    9. Shaker Style Computer Table #9, Leg

      This drawing shows the table leg. You can either turn these legs from 2-inch stock or purchase legs already turned. The top of each leg has one mortise.

    Rockler order link to first page
  4. Materials

    The Shaker Style is made of American hardwood. The top is the show piece and is made of the best wood. The frame is made of lesser wood and is painted or stained very dark. The legs are a purchased item.

    1. Hard Wood
      • Fine hardwood (red oak) ------------ 15 board feet ---- $84.00
      • Secondary hardwood (popular) ------- 16 board feet ---- 72.00
      • Turned Legs, maple ------ 4-28.25x2x2 inches ---------- 32.00
      • 1/4-inch Plywood ------- 3 sq. feet ------------------ 6.00

      ------- Subtotal: $194.00

      Rockler order link to first page
    2. Hardware
      • Wooden Drawer Pull ------1 ------------- $3.00
      • #8 x 1.25 flat head ---- Box of 100 ---- 3.00
      • #6 x .75 flat head ----- 16 ------------ 1.00
      • Hardwood plugs --------- 4 ------------- 2.00
      • Feet ------------------- 4 ------------- 4.00
      • Glue -------------------- 1 pint ------- 4.00
      • ------ Construction Hardware Subtotal: ---- $16.00

    3. Finish:
      • Stain -------------------- 1 Quart ----- $ 9.00
      • Shellac ------------------ 1 pint ------ 6.00
      • Shellac thinner ---------- 1 pint ------ 4.00
      • Tong Oil ----------------- 2 16 oz. ---- 14.00
      • Enamel Paint, oil based -- 1 Quart ----- 9.00

      ----------Finish Subtotal: --- $42.00

    4. Omissions and Contingencies (~19%)---------------- ( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $48
    5. Estimate Total Cost $300.00

    This is only an estimate (made in the fall of 1996). The price may vary in your area. Getting a good price on the hardwood is key to keeping the price down.

  5. Tools

    This table was designed so that it could be build by an amateur woodworker with a modest home shop. It requires the use of a radial-arm or table saw 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 table and you can build it to suit your likes.

    1. Options

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

      1. Hardwood Choice -- The top can be made from any good American hardwood including white oak, red oak, ash, maple, hickory, or pecan. The frame can be made from a less expensive wood, like popular, and painted.
      2. Drawer Guides -- You can use heavy duty metal drawer guides for the keyboard drawer if you prefer.
      3. Frame Color -- The frame can be any dark color including black, dark red, dark green, or dark blue. The legs can be finished naturally or painted to match the frame.
    2. Overall Assembly

      A table top make from hardwood planks will expand and contract with temperature and humidity. It you try to bolt it solidly to a strong frame, then something will crack. Our note on attaching table tops gives several ways to do this.

      To prevent this type of damage, we need to build a strong frame and mount the top so that it can expand and contract separately. This is not difficult to do but it means the frame must stand alone and take little of its strength from the top. This can make the difference between a piece that lasts five years and one that lasts one hundred.

      For a good computer table we need to bring the keyboard down to almost lap level. The keyboard tray accomplishes this but cuts a big hole in the table frame in the process. This makes the frame much more complicated than one for a normal table.

      We have two separate tasks; build a table top and build a table frame. The two are built and finished separately and only put together in the final assembly.

    3. Table Top

      The table top is the primary display of this design. It should be of fine hardwood and carefully finished. This is where you should put your money.

      The table top planks are edge glued. Using either tung-and-grove or biscuits will insure good alignment. The top edges rounded. This is best done with a hand plane.

      Round the corners of the top about a 1/2 inch radius. Only solid hardwood can be rounded in this way. This make your table quite distinctive from the usual Formica and chip board with all its uncomfortable sharp edges.

    4. Cable Holes

      The cable holes show are detailed in a separate note on cables on our site. They help you to get the computer cables out of site and out of harms way. You will need to decide on their number and placement to suit your particular computer equipment.

    5. The Frame The frame is held together with screws and glue. It is made from about 36 separate wooden parts and requires some attention to assemble.
      1. Decorative Curves

        The Shaker table frame features simple decorative curves on the ends of the front-to-back stiffener pieces. This curve is echoed in the front ends of the keyboard tray sliders. These curves are only ornamental but at much to the tables appearance.

      2. Frame Pieces

        The frame pieces have cable holes, tray slider holes, and dadoes. All the dadoes are 1/4-inch deep and 3/4-inch wide except those in the drawer.

        Out-of-site cable holes need to be at least 2-1/4 inches in diameter to accommodate the largest connectors. The hole for keyboard and mouse cable can be as small as 1 inch as these cable connectors are small. Round off the edges of all cable holes.

      3. Frame Assembly

        You will probably want to dry-fit the frame, using the screws but no glue, first. The disassemble it and glue it back together.

        Start with the legs and end boards. The drawings show mortise and tenon joints but biscuit joints are possible.

        With the frame upside down, install the Center Board. Drawing #2 shows screws angled in from the inside so that they do not show.

        Now add the front outside stiffeners. These are screwed in dadoes to the center board. Counter sink screws straight into the side of the legs. These will need hardwood plugs to cover them later.

        The four filler blocks between the stiffeners and ends can be made of scrap but will have to be planed in thickness. These should screwed from the inside only.

        Install the back outside stiffeners just like the front one except Center Board screws angle in.

        Install the Middle and Rear Bottom Boards.

        Then install the center stiffeners and the drawer area bottom boards. Also install the front tray guide with three screws up from the bottom. Biscuits into the End also help.

        Install the Back Pieces and their mounting blocks. Screw these pieces up from the bottom so that the screws do not show.

        The frame is now complete except for the tray and drawer guides which will be fitted later. It should now stand on its own as it has most of its strength.

        When you are happy with the fit, disassemble the frame and glue it.

      4. Keyboard Tray

        The keyboard tray is made by edge gluing 3/4-inch boards. Biscuits help here but tung-and-grove is good too. Much of this area is seen by the user so the use of good hardwood is warranted.

      5. Drawer

        Drawing #8 give details for construction of a simple drawer. The front joints are shown as a dovetailed. A good dovetailed drawer adds considerably to the value and authenticity of the piece. The dovetail can be cut by hand or with a router and jig. Either way, you will want to practice on scrap wood until you are completely satisfied.

        It is also possible to purchase drawer parts from a mail order house. You may then need to adjust the width of the Keyboard Tray to accommodate available drawer part sizes.

    6. Mounting the Top

      Drawing #3 shows six small blocks with loose holes for screws to hold the top to the frame. Other approaches are possible.

      There are number of ways to mount a fine table top to its frame. One approach use special pieces of hardware. These are short, rounded pieces of flat metal with holes for one screw pointed up and one pointed down. They have to be let into the frame with a simple paddle drill bit. They are available at most hardware stores and wood mail order houses but you have to look for them.

      Another way is to cut a saw cleft in the inside of the outside frame pieces. You then fashion small wooden blocks that fit into the saw cleft and screw to the table.

      Whatever you do, do not screw the top tightly to the frame. These two parts must expand and contract separately.

    Rockler order link to first page
  7. Finish

    You may finish your table any way you like. I recommend: oil stain, a spit coat of shellac, and many coats of tung oil finish for the top and legs. I would use a sealer and oil-based paint for the frame. Finish the top and legs disassembled from the frame on reassembly. The Keyboard Tray is also highly visible and deserves attention.

    1. Staining

      Work with the stain color that you have chosen. Practice on a piece of scrap wood. 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 the side and end grain hardwood take the stain differently, you can apply a spit coat to only the one that stains darkest (usually the end grain). This will limit the stain penetration to more closely match the finishes.

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

    3. Exterior Finish

      I like a modern tung oil finish such as:

      • Formby's Tung Oil Finish

      These are applied with a cloth pad rather than a brush. This table will take at least two 16 oz. bottles; three 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.

    4. Frame Paint

      Painting the frame adds enormously to the enjoyment of this piece. You may need a seal and two color coats. The entire keyboard shelf is easily removed and finished like the top.

  8. Completion

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

    1. Reassembly

      Do not glue the top and frame together.

    2. Cabling

      Detailed cabling instructions and plans for a remote power switch are given in our Web page under 'Freebies'. 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 table user.

      Determine which leg will be closest to the wall outlet. Screw the remote switch box and surge suppressor to the bottom of the top close to that leg. Route the switch cable up to the table top.

      Install a generous number of cable tie mounts to the bottom where cables will run.

      Dress the cables neatly base and table legs 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.

Rockler order link to first page

Conclusion

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 table, we would be happy to put it on our web page. We need pictures of table with real people standing beside them.

Don't forget to order the sketches.

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