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Attached bed Desk 1
copyright 2005

Attached In-Bed Computer Desk

  1. If you are a person who needs to use the computer while laying in bed, likes to make things or knows someone who does, and has a little pocket money, then this is the desk especially for you. This detailed plan with seven pages of illustrations and these construction notes is available right now free for instant downloading over the Web.

    This version of our In-Bed Desk attaches to a plywood base. The bed sits on this base and its weight keeps the desk from falling over. This allows the desk to be used with a bed that sits directly on the floor and does not have any open space under it.

    This desk is designed so that it can be built by amateur wood workers using only a few hand Tools and at a reasonable cost. It features the use of factory sized lumber and moulding thus eliminating the need for a heavy power saw. All the Materials can be bought at your local home improvement store for about $140.

    Attached Bed Desk 2

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  2. Download the Detailed Drawings

    This design includes seven detailed sketches. You can get them with this little form .

    Rockler order link to first page
  3. Desk Construction

    You can make this desk by:

    1. Downloading the drawing and this text.
    2. Studying the information and locating Materials.
    3. Purchasing Materials.
    4. Having the plywood cut.
    5. Hand cutting and drilling the wooden pieces.
    6. Hand lapping the threaded rod and nuts.
    7. Assembling the desk.
    8. Disassembling
    9. Finishing all pieces
    10. Reassembling and adjusting
    11. Installing the computer.

  4. Discussion of Sketches

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

    1. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk

      The sketch shows the front view with the desk in use and the side view with the shelves in the stored position. The desk is supported by a plywood platform that lies flat on the floor and on which the bed rests. The computer is in a separate night table beside the bed.

      The keyboard and mouse rest on the lower shelf that extends out over the user's lap. This shelf rotated around a support rod so that it can easily be pushed out of the way. The monitor is on the shelf which also rotates. Both shelves can be adjusted in height.

    2. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk, Top View, Sketch #2

      This sketch shows a top views of the desk. The shelves are shown darkly in the 'In Use' position and repeated lightly lines in the 'Stored' position. The small chain shown between the two shelves is optional and makes it easier move the shelves into position for use.

    3. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk, Shelf Wood, Sketch #3,

      This sketch shows the pieces of wood that are needed for the shelves. We recommend inexpensive American hardwood (ash, maple, or popular) for these parts.

    4. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk, Shelf Plywood Parts, Sketch #4

      This sketch shows the individual plywood pieces of the two shelves. All the plywood parts can be cut from one piece of A/C .5 inch fir plywood.

    5. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk,Stand Pieces, Sketch #5

      The stand is made from pieces of plywood with hardwood spacers and finished with 1/4 round molding. These parts form a box around the shift holding it upright. The plywood can be cut with handsaw or a jig saw.

    6. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk, Plywood Layout , Sketch #6

      This sketch shows the layout of the one piece of .5 inch plywood used for this desk. The first cut shown can be made at the store so that you can more easily get the plywood home.

    7. Attached In-Bed Computer Desk, Computer Night Stand , Sketch #7

      You can buy a garage sale night stand and modify it to accept your computer or you can build a simple one yourself. This drawings shows a simple night stand made in the same style as the desk itself. What it lacks in elegance, it makes up for in low cost and simple construction.

    Rockler order link to first page
  5. Materials

    This desk is made of plywood parts reinforced with American hardwood pieces. The parts are assembled with glue, wood screws, and Finishing nails. The mechanically parts are simply a large threaded rod and two long nuts. The cost estimate below is maple trim on fir plywood.

    1. Wood


      • 1 -- Fir, .5 in., A/C, 4x8 feet, $24.00 each -- $24.00


      • 2 lft -- Hardwood, .75 by 2.50 inches, $2.50/ft -- $5.00
      • 5 lft -- Hardwood, .75 by 1.50 inches, $1.90/ft -- $9.50
      • 24 lft -- Hardwood, .75 by .75 inches, $.70/ft -- $ 17.00
      • 5 lft -- 1/4 Round, .75, clear pine, $.60/ft -- $3.00
      • 10 lft -- clear pine, .5 by .75, $.45/ft -- $4.50

      Wood Subtotal: $63.00

    2. Hardware


      • 1 -- Threaded Rod, 3/4 inch diameter, 36 inches long -- $ 6.20
      • 2 -- Tie Nuts, 3/4 inch, $ .90 -- $ 1.80
      • 1 -- Wooden Knobs, 2 inch sphere @ $1.25 -- $1.25
      • 1 ft -- Welded sash chain @ $.60/ft -- $.60


      • 100 -- Screw, flat head, #8 1.0 inch -- $ 3.45
      • 2 -- Screw eyes -- $.75
      • 2 -- 'S' hooks for chain -- $.75
      • 1 Box -- 3/4 inch brads -- $ 1.25
      • 8 oz. -- Woodworker's Glue -- $ 3.80
      • 1 oz. -- Epoxy Glue -- $2.90


      • 1 tube -- Valve Grinding Compound, water mixed -- $2.65

      Hardware Subtotal: $ 15.55

    3. Night Stand:

      • 4 -- .5 in. Threaded Rod, 36 inch -- $2.00/each -- $ 8.00
      • 8 -- .5 in. bolts -- $ .40
      • 8 -- .5 in. flat washers -- $ .40
      • 4 -- .5 in. Plastic feet -- $ 1.00
      • 4 -- 1 in. diameter wooden knobs -- $3.00
      • 20 lft -- Wooden strips -- $6.00

      Finish Subtotal: $18.80

    4. Finish:

      • 1 qt. -- Shellac -- $ 6.00
      • 1 pt. -- Shellac thinner -- $ 4.00
      • 2 qt. -- Paint, oil based -- $ 14.00
      • 2 qt. -- Paint thinner -- $ 3.00

      Finish Subtotal: $27.00

    5. Omissions and Contingencies (~14%)

      ( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $15.65
    6. Estimate Total Cost $140.00

    This is only an estimate (made in the November 1998). The price may vary in your area. Getting a good price on the lumber and plywood is critical to keeping the price down.

  6. Tools

    This desk was designed so that it could be build using only a few hand Tools that a home owner might have, purchase at reasonable cost, or borrow. These Tools are all useful for general around-the-house maintenance and can fit in a tool box.

    1. Electric Drill, 3/8 chuck
    2. Bits, 1-1/16 inch paddle bit
    3. Screw Mate bit for #8 screws -- $6.20 new
    4. Miter Box and hand saw -- under $20.00 new
    5. Tri-Square
    6. Screw drivers
    7. Coping Saw or jig saw
    8. Hammer and small nail set

    You will also need sand paper, paint brushes. etc. It would be nice to have a block plane and a four-in-hand rasp.

    If you have access to a table or radial-arm saw you can cut your own molding from boards and lower the cost by a few dollars.

    Rockler order link to first page
  7. Fabrication Notes

    This is your desk and you can build it to suit your likes and needs. This is a big piece of valuable furniture but don't get in a big hurry.

    1. Plywood Cuts

      You will need to cut the large plywood sheet. You can have the plywood supplier to make the cuts shown in Sketch #6 or you can make them yourself with a power saw and straight edge.

      If you want the supplier to make the cuts, have the drawings with you and double check the measurements. You will to buy the plywood even if you make a mistake.

    2. Lapping the Rod

      You can get the nuts to runs very smoothly on the rod by lapping then with water based valve grinding compound. This paste is available at auto supply stores. Mark the top of the monitor shelf nut with one punched dot and the top of the keyboard shelf nut with two punched dots. You will need to use the nuts in the exact relationship you lap them. Put a little compound on the treads and run each nut back-and-forth over the top foot and a half of the rod. This process takes about 15 minutes per nut.

      Remove the nuts and clean them with soap and water and a scrub brush. An old tooth brush works well inside the nuts. All the grit must be washed away. Dry the part thoroughly. The nuts will now run smoothly over the rod. After final assembly you can apply dry lubricant if you like.

    3. Making the Base

      The base consists of a large sheet of plywood the bed sits on and a pedestal to hold the treaded rod upright. Three additions squares of plywood are cut to put under the other three corners of the bed so that the it can sit flat. The rod is captured in a box with triangular buttresses to hold it ridged.

      The two central spacer pieces should be the same width as the threaded rod (probably .75 inch). These are best made of solid hardwood like maple, ash, or oak. The 1/4 round molding farther reinforces the box. It is a good idea to make this out of hardwood also and plane one corner round. Glue and screw all the parts together. You want this construction as strong as you can make it. The rod should be a good tight fit.

    4. Making the Shelves

      If you have access to a table or radial-saw, you can cut the stiffeners and other trim pieces for hardwood boards. If you do not you can make them out of dimensioned lumber using only hand Tools. The larger Monitor Shelf stiffeners can be made from 1-by-2 stock. The spacers from .75-by-.75 rectangular molding. All the smaller stiffeners and the keyboard shelf lips can be made from .5-by-.75 molding. These can be shaped with a hand plane and rasp.

      Cut out the plywood shelf parts and drill small pilot holes where the rod will be. Cut out the six plywood disks and again drill only pilot holes. Nail and glue the disks to the shelves with an alignment nail though the pilot holes. The large disk goes on the bottom of each shelf.

      Cut the ten handle pieces of .75-by-.5 stock and round them. Cut out the hand hole in the keyboard shelf. Install the hand grips with nails and glue by predrilling the nails. This is explained in Construction Hints.

      Cut the six .75-by-.5 and the two 1-by-2 stiffeners for the shelves. Taper the two 1-by-2's. Nail and glue the four keyboard shelf arm pieces straight along the sides. Install the top 1-by-2 stiffeners with screws and glue, against the disk and slanting out slightly. Trim the bottom stiffeners and install them directly below the top ones with nails and glue. If using hardwood trim, predrill all nail holes.

      Do not glue the keyboard shelf to the keyboard arm just yet. You may wish to adjust this angle to your exact needs.

    5. Installing the Nuts

      The nuts are 1 in. face-to-face and 1.125 in. point-to-point and about 2.125 in. tall. A 1-1/16 in. hole will make a tight fit on the nut. The holes must be drilled exactly perpendicular to the shelf surface. A drill press works best for this but you can do it by hand, if you are very careful to drill straight. You may need to file out places for the nut points inside the hole.

      The nuts can be strongly anchored inside the holes by the following steps:

      1. File and sand out the holes until the nut points fit tight but the flats show some space.
      2. seal the inside of the hole with thinned shellac
      3. Thoroughly clean the nuts with shellac thinner
      4. Prime the nuts with white metal primer. This can be a gray spray or a white oil based paint.
      5. Lightly sand all surfaces
      6. Apply epoxy to all surface
      7. Press in the nuts
      8. Allow glue to partially set and clean off excess epoxy

    6. Install Shelves

      Cut out the four Rod Blocks shown in Sketch #3. Each is made from two pieces of wood with a 45 degree angle cut on one end to form a notch for the rod. Screw and glue these together. Be sure to cut away a little of the bottom to allow room for the end of the nut. Rasp and round off the corners.

      After the epoxy is completely set, screw the keyboard shelf arm onto the rod. Temporarily support the extended end with a piece of wood and clamps. Make it as flat as possible. Place one of the larger rod blocks on the top disk, press it hard against the rod, and mark the position. Drill two pilot holes down in the front part of the block foot print. Turn the shelf over and drill screw holes up from the under side of the shelf. Install the block with screws and glue. Drill two more screw holes at an angle through the back of the block into the shelf. Repeat this process with the three other rod blocks.

      Install the Monitor Shelf in a similar manner. It is shorter but it must support more weight.

      Attach the Keyboard Shelf to the Keyboard Arm with clamps or a few screws from the bottom. You will want to adjust its position and angle in final assembly.

    7. Night Stand

      The computer itself sits in a night stand beside the bed. You can buy a simple night stand at a garage sale, modify it to accept your computer, and refinish it. You can build a simple one any style you want. Or you can build the simple night stand shown in Sketch #7.

      This stand is in the same style as the desk shelves and allows the computer to be set at any height you wish. Its two shelves are supported by .5 inch threaded rods that are topped with round balls. The shelves can be cut from the center of the plywood base (see Sketch #6) without reducing the strength of the base. The night stand shelves are trimmed and finished to match the desk shelves.

      Try laying in bed and reaching over to see the best height for the computer disk drive. Cut off the threaded rods to put the shelves at just the right height for you. Put plastic feet on the bottom end of the rods, drill holes in the spherical wooden knobs, and epoxy them to the top of the rods.

    8. Disassembly

      Take the shelves off for Finishing. Round off all sharp corners with a rasp, block plane or sandpaper. Fill any voids along the edge of the plywood with toothpicks and glue. Work filler into the edge of the plywood with a putty knife. Sand all surfaces. Drill a .75 inch hole for the rod in the wooden knob.

      Rockler order link to first page
    9. Finishing

      You may finish your desk any way you like. We recommend sealer and two coats of oil based enamel in two colors. This seals the wood completely and makes it easy to clean (important when there are health concerns). The plywood edges of the shelves need special preparation work.

      • Color Scheme

      • You can, of course, finish the desk to suit yourself. We recommend a two color treatment. The body of the desk should be a light color perhaps an off white, or pastel. The base can be a darker complementing color.

      • Spit Coat

      • A spit coat made of one part 3-pound shellac to five parts shellac thinner makes a good wood sealer and primer. Here its use is important in getting the paint to stick and in sealing the plywood.

      • Plywood Edges

      • The exposed plywood edges of the shelves take some effort to seal. The end result should be uniform in texture and must not have holes one place and excess filler another.

        First fill all visible holes with glue and wood splinters. Toothpicks work well. Let dry and sand with course paper over a wooden block. Fill with wood putty (I like the power you mix with water). Let this dry thoroughly and sand again. Seal with a spit coat. Sand again and refill. Sand again, seal again, and sand with fine sand paper. In the process you can round the edges of the plywood a little bit. The edges are now ready to be painted.

      Rockler order link to first page
    10. Completion

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

      1. Reassembly

        Install the rod into the base. It should be a tight fit and it may go in easiest by turning. Spin on the two shelves and adjust them to the desired height. Glue on the knob.

        Place the base on the floor and slide it under the bed. Place the three plywood squares under the other three corners of the bed. The base pedestal should be up against the side of the bed but not so tightly that it is difficult to make the bed.

        Have the user lay in bed and find their most comfortable position. Clamp the keyboard shelf to the keyboard arm and adjust the angle for the best position for the user. It is best if the arm meets the shelf at the center of gravity of the shelf with the keyboard and mouse on it. This may be a little father out than shown in the sketches. Screw the shelf on from underneath and have the user try the feel of the keyboard.

        With the keyboard in position, adjust the monitor for the best location. Screw the four blocks down to hold the monitor in the best location.

        Try installing the chain so that when you pull the keyboard shelf into use position the monitor shelf follows be hind. This is optional.

      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 desk user.

        Install cable tie mounts as needed along the back, underside of the shelves and down the base. You will need extension cables for the keyboard, mouse, and monitor as well as an extension cord for the monitor power.

        Place each piece of the computer in the In-Bed Desk one at a time. Route and connect the cables. Dress the cables neatly 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.

        You may need a cable tie mount under the keyboard shelf near where the cable comes out of the keyboard. Route the mouse cable over to the same mount and secure them together.

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

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