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Standup Desk made from MDF 1

Stand-up Computer Desks made from MDF

This is the construction notes for our Stand-up Computer desk made from Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). It can be built in one weekend, using home-fix-up skills and Tools, for less than $50.00. It features a look-down monitor, a lamp area, and a shelf for the computer.

Stand-up computer desks have are several good uses:

Standup Desk from MDF 2

The graphics above show the front view, side view, top view, and the lower shelf. The monitor is in a shallow well. The keyboard and mouse are on a shelf across the front. The computer and other equipment are on a low shelf. The legs are long and boxie. There is a flat area beside the monitor. Built from MDF, the cost of the Materials is about $50.00 .

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 make the legs a little long and then cut them off to your best height. (I cut them off three times already and they are still too short.)

The MDF version shown here is for a flat screen monitor. The desk can be modified for either a CRT monitor or a notebook computer. The notebook requires only a flat top with out the monitor well cutout. The CRT requires more of the back of the desk top be cut away and desk set a few inches away from the wall. Please e-mail me if you need to see these modifications.

If you like our fun Freebies, remember we can only keep this Web site open if we sell our Low-Stress Computer Furniture Plans or you follow our ad links and make purchases from our sponsors. Thank you.

Rockler order link to first page
  1. Desk Construction

    You can make this desk by:

    1. Downloading the drawings and this text.
    2. Studying this information and locating the Materials.
    3. Purchasing all the Materials locally.
    4. Cutting and drilling the small pieces.
    5. Assembling the desk.
    6. Finishing all pieces.

  2. Download the Detailed Drawings

    This free design includes four detailed sketches. You can get them with this little form . Look for "4 Stand-up Desks" in the list.

  3. Discussion of Sketches

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

    1. Stand-up Computer Desk, MDF Version

      The front and side views show the desk main features of the desk. It is tall enough to use either standing or sitting on a tall stool, it has a flat screen monitor in a shallow look-down well, the keyboard and mouse are on a fixed shelf at the front, and there is a low shelf for the computer.

      Note that the legs are long and are held in place with bolts. This desk can be disassembled for shipment or storage. The flat top shelf is large enough for a lamp, a few books, and a coffee cup.

    2. Stand-up Computer Desk, Top Views, Sketch #2

      Three top views are shown, Desk Surfaces, Top of Frame, and Lower Shelf. The Desk Surfaces shows the available work area for the keyboard shelf, monitor well, and the writing surface.

      The Top of the Frame shows the way the frame fits together with the legs.

      Also shown is the way the monitor well bottom fits into the frame. The cut outs in this shelf allow access to the leg bolts and provide pass-through for cables. The Lower Shelf shows the size of the MDF lower shelf and its supports.

    3. Stand-up Computer Desk, Frame Pieces, Sketch #3

      The nine different pieces that make up top frame are all cut from MDF. They are all rectangular.

    4. Stand-up Computer Desk,MDF Layout, Sketch #4

      This sketch shows the layout on one sheet of 0.75" MDF. All the pieces of the desk can be cut with material to spare. The legs can be made several inches longer and the desk up to 2" wider if you like.

      Note the First Cut and the Second Cut. These can be made at the home store to make it easier to get the MDF home.

  4. Materials

    This desk is made from one sheet of 0.75" MDF. The parts are assembled with glue, dry wall screws, and bolts.

    1. Wood MDF
      • 1 -- MDF, 0.75", 4'x8' -- $26.00

      Wood Subtotal: $26.00
    2. Hardware
      • 1 box -- Screw, drywall, 1.25" ------ $ 4.00
      • 12 -- Carriage Bolts, 1/4 inch, 2.0" -- $ 4.00
      • 12 -- Flat Washers, 1/4 -------------- $ .50
      • 12 -- Nut, 1/4 ----------------------- $ .50
      • 8 oz. -- Woodworker's Glue ----------- $ 4.00

      Hardware Subtotal: $13.00
    3. Finish:
      • 1 qt. -- Shellac -------------------- $ 7.00
      Finish Subtotal: $ 7.00
    4. Omissions and Contingencies (~14%)( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $5.00.
    5. Estimate Total Cost $50.00
    Rockler order link to first page

    This is only an estimate (made in the April 2006). The price may vary in your area.

  5. Tools

    This desk was designed to be build using only Tools normally used for home fix up projects.

    1. Electric drill
    2. Screwmate drill bit for your screws
    3. Saw -- Skill saw, jig saw with straight edge and clamps, or hand saw

    All fasteners must be predrilled into MDF. Wood screws should be predrilled with a Screwmate bit.

    Rockler order link to first page
  6. Building Your Desk

    This is your desk and you can build it to suit your likes and needs.

    1. Customize Your Desk Design

      • Decide which version of the desk you want to build. This MDF version is quick and cheap to build, but will last only 5 years. Our hardwood versions have clean lines, and should last 75 years. The CRT version is bigger and can handle bigger equipment. If you are considering replacing your CRT monitor, you may want to do it now and build the flat screen version.
      • Work out the best height for the monitor and keyboard for your personal needs. The exercise Air Typing on our Web Site shows how to do this in detail. The basic idea is to find the arrangement that is least stressful for you. Try this exercise both standing and sitting on a tall stool. You may want to build the legs two inches long and work out the very best height for you before you finish the desk.
      • Also decide if you want the mouse on the left or right side. You may also want to cut squares of scrap wood a little bigger than you mouse pad to raise the mouse up by about one inch.
      • Decide on finish -- Finishing this desk will make it last longer and look better. You can seal the MDF with thinned shellac and then paint the desk with oil based enamel.
    2. First Cuts in the MDF

      Have the first and second cuts made in the MDF sheet at the store

    3. Build the Top Frame

      Cut out the four, 3" wide pieces of MDF that make the top frame. Screw and glue the corners together.

    4. Make the Legs

      Cut out the eight long pieces that make the legs. You can make them extra long and then cut them off later. Screw and glue the pieces into two pairs of legs.

    5. Attach the Legs

      Attach the legs to the top frame with bolts ( no glue). The bolts holes must be near the edge of the legs to get enough room inside for the nuts. Stager the holes so the bolts do not line up. Use a knife or small chisel to cut out material in the leg bolt holes for the square part of the Carriage bolts.

    6. Attach the Top Trim

      Glue and screw, from the inside, the four narrow 1.5" pieces around the lower edge of the top frame. These add strength to the legs.

    7. Make the Top

      Cut out the desk top from the MDF. Check that the monitor well is the right size for you monitor. Cut the hole for the monitor well. A cable hole in one corner is helpful.

      Set the frame upside down on the top. Glue and screw blocks of scrap MDF to the top inside the frame. These keep the top centered.

      You may screw (but do not glue) the top down with screws through the frame and into the blocks. If you prefer, you can leave the top removable.

    8. Making the Well

      Cut the monitor well bottom shelf and the three pieces of MDF that support it. Cut two access holes for reaching the bolts and one for cables. Screw and glue the 1.5" strip to the front of the shelf and the two short 2.25" pieces to the ends. Fit the shelf up under the to frame. Screw and glue it.

    9. Making the Lower Shelf

      Cut the lower shelf from the MDF. The back corners are notched for the legs. The computer side notch can be enlarged for cables. Screw and glue the 2.25" pieces to the bottom of the shelf.

      The two side pieces would be much stronger made from regular wood boards. This is important if you plan to rest your foot on the bottom shelf while sitting on the stool.

      Bolt ( do not glue) the bottom self assembly to the legs.

    10. Fit Check

      Check to see if you computer equipment fits this desk properly. You may want to put loose pieces of scrap MDF under the front edge of the monitor to tip it back more. You may want to cut a scrap piece of MDF the size of you mouse pad to raise the mouse up a little.

    11. Dissemble for Finishing

      Unbolt the desk to make Finishing easy. Sand all cut edges and round shape edges. Round the exposed corners on the top and lower shelf.

      Rockler order link to first page

    12. Finishing

      Unfinished the MDF will easily take on stains. I recommend sealing the MDF with thinned shellac and then painting the desk with two coats of oil based enamel.

      The interior of the monitor well can be painted a dark color.

    Rockler order link to first page
  7. Completion

    All that is left is to the final assemble of the desk and installation of the computer cables.

    1. Cabling

      Detailed cabling instructions and plans for a remote power switch are given in our Web page under " Freebies " . The tie wrap mounts described there will help to keep cables neat and out of the way. The remote power switch is much easier to use than several hard-to-find switches.

Rockler order link to first page


Thanks again for using a Woodware Designs 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 desks with real people standing beside them.

Woodware Designs, Woodware@woodwaredesigns.com

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