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Basic Pair Programming Desk 1

Basic Pair Programming Desk

  1. Introduction

    Extreme Programming (XP) is a specific approach to writing software professionally. It is fast and low-stress while producing quality software. It is done with the programmers working in pairs in a central room. The following simple furniture designs support this approach.

    This designs provides plans for quickly building simple, sturdy furniture that both supports the extreme programming style and provides a good ergonomics environment for computer work. Included are construction notes and plans for a low-stress desk (pictured above) and file-&-door printer table (below).

    For paired programming, the two programmers use wheeled chairs on a smooth floor so that they quickly alternate the keyboard user. To accommodate a pair with one left handed and one right handed person, the keyboard tray is wide enough for two mouse pads, one one each side of the keyboard.

    Extreme Programming Desk 2
  2. Supporting this Site

    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
  3. Pictures of our Projects

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

  4. Sketches

    Simply send in this little freebie form.

    1. Extreme Programming Desk

      This basic computer desk is a solid core door with simple legs. The legs are made from standard 1-by-2 stock and held on with easy to obtain hardware.

      In this design, the keyboard is placed on simple, wide plywood tray that pull out on mail-order ball bearing runners designed specifically for this purpose. The monitor rest on Monitor bridges that are a custom height for the specific user. There are blocks on the back of the desk to keep it from crushing the cables and eyelets underneath the top for tie-wrapping cables.

    2. Extreme Programming Desk, Legs, Sketch #2

      The legs are easily made from standard stock wood using only a hand saw and miter box. The hardware is available a Home Depot.

    3. Extreme Programming Desk, Keyboard Tray, Sketch #3

      The Keyboard Tray is a piece of 0.5-inch plywood with wood trim all around. The trim is 0.5 by 0.75 stock commonly used in window frames; it is readily available. You can have the plywood cut to size at the supplier. The tray is assembled with nails and glue.

      The mouse pad raiser holds the mouse pad up to be more even with the keyboard. The thickness should be 0.75 to 1 inch. If the programming partners are left and right handed you will need two mouse pad raisers.

    4. Extreme Programming Desk, Printer Desk, Sketch #4

      In an extreme programming workspace, you need individual storage areas for people's personal things and areas for common equipment such as printers, FAX, coffee machine, etc. This desk is lighter hollow door sitting on two short filing cabinets. This unit matches the look of the computer desk.

    5. Extreme Programming Desk, Blocks, Sketch #5

      These blocks are used to locate the filing cabinets under the door and to prevent cables from being smashed behind the tables.

    6. Extreme Programming Desk, Monitor Bridge, Sketch #6

      Different programmers need computer monitors at different heights. One easy way to handle this requirement is to have a simple Monitor Bridges at the needed height. These bridges are simple pieces of plywood with plywood or board sides. They are assembled with nails and glue and strengthened (critical for large monitors) with common chair leg brace hardware. The bridges have thick felt feet that let them slide easily over the desk top.

      For paired programming you may wish to add fixed casters that allow the monitor to easily side sideways. Handle holes cut into the front also help.

      Also shown is a raiser for the mouse pad. These are made of scrap wood and raise the mouse pad .75 to 1.5 inches. Two will be required to accommodate both right and left handed people for shared programming. The raised pad makes for a better reach if you are using a large keyboard.
  5. MaterialsYou can build one desk and one printer table with the following inexpensive materials:

    One Extreme Programming Desk

    1. Wood
      • Solid core core, about 78 by 28 inches, 1 -- $ 42.00
      • .5 by .75 inch wooden molding, 18 feet, $.48/foot -- $ 9.00
      • 1-by-2 pine boards, 24 lft, $.45/foot -- $ 11.00
      • 1/2 inch plywood, 48 by 48 inches -- $ 14.00
    2. Hardware
      • 4 d finishing nails, 1 pound -- $ 1.50
      • 1 inch chair leg brace, 12 -- $ 12.00
      • Metal feet, set of 4 -- $3.00
      • Felt feet, box of 4 -- $3.00
      • Eye screws, package -- $ .75
      • Flat head screws, 3/4 inch #8, box of 100 -- $ 3.25
      • ** 2 inch drawer corner brackets, 4 -- $ 2.50
      • ** Accuride keyboard slides, 18 inch, 1 set -- $ 23.00

      ** these materials are available from:

      Rockler order link to first page

      One Door-&-Filing Cabinet Printer Stand

      • Hollow Core Door, about 78 by 28 inches, 1 -- $ 22.00
      • .5 by .75 inch wooden Molding, 4 feet, $.48/foot -- $ 2.00
      • 4 d finishing nails, 1 pound -- $ 1.50
      • Two Drawer Filing Cabinets, 2, $50.00 ea. -- $100.00
    3. Other Materials
      • Wood Glue 8 oz. -- $ 3.00
      • Stain -- $ 8.00
      • Polyurethane Varnish -- $ 9.00
      • Paint for legs -- $ 9.00
    4. Omissions and Contingencies
      • Allow %12 for tax, sandpaper etc. -- $ 40.50
    5. Total -- $ 320.00

      The secret is to get a good price on the filling cabinets.

  6. Tools Required

    You can build this furniture with the following tools:

    1. Saw and Miter Box --A small hand saw and miter box are needed. The cost new is about $20.00.
    2. Drill -- This can be a hand drill or a small power drill. You can use cut off nails for the bits.
    3. Screw Driver -- The angle brackets and drawer guides usually have Phillips head screws.
    4. Hammer -- You need a common claw hammer. A small point nail set also helps.
    5. Square -- You need a simple square.
  7. Construction Notes

    Two pieces of furniture are included in this design. One is a simple computer table and the second is a Door-&-Filing Cabinet table for printers and excessories. Even small operations will need two desks and you can easily make more as the group grows.

    1. Simple Two Terminal Desk
      1. Door

        The main desk needs a "Solid Core" door. The center is filed with softwood but may have a few voids between pieces. It costs more and much heavier than "hollow core" doors but it can take the weight and accept screws anywhere.

        You can also get these doors either in inexpensive hardwood or masonite. The hardwood is bland but looks nice if stained and varnished.

        You will certainly want to sand off all sharp edges and you may choose to round the end corners.

      2. Legs

        The legs are cut from standard 1-by-2 stock. Each leg is made of two pieces nailed and glued together. The cross piece is notched to better brace the legs. Be sure the legs are square.

      3. Keyboard Tray

        Cut the 1/2 inch plywood 11 by 41 inches. be careful to cut it square.

        Cut the four long pieces of molding to the sizes shown in Sketch #3. Predrill nail holes using a cut-off nail for a bit. Glue and nail the front and back to the edge of the plywood with the excess sticking up. This forms a lip to keep the keyboard from sliding off. The two side pieces sit on top of the plywood. You will need to notch the back slightly and form a slight slope on the front end of the side pieces.

      4. Hanging the Tray

        You can use standard heavy-duty drawer guides for the keyboard trays but the custom ones are easier to use as they have build-in hanger brackets. These have steel balls and do not have plastic wheels. Cheap guides work badly.

      5. Adjusting the Drawer

        The slides brackets are adjustable for the distance from the tray to the underside of the desk. ergonomics keyboards need more room than conventional ones. Some people will need a particularly low keyboard and should have wood blocks placed under the brackets.

        After the drawer glue is dry. Attach the keyboard guides to the underside of the assembled tray. You can add additional screws into the sides of the tray.

      6. Cable Protection Blocks

        The four Cable Protection Blocks are cut from the same molding (Sketch #5) but have two beveled ends. They are pre-drilled and nailed to the back edge of the doors. These prevent the desk top from crushing the computer cables against the wall.

        If you like you can add some eye hooks along the back edge of the doors underside. These allow you to tie the computer cables up out of the way.

    2. Door-&-Filing Cabinet Printer Table
      1. The Filling Cabinets

        Two draw filling cabinets are valued and rarely found at garage sales. Decent new ones cost about $50.00 at a discount store. Cheap cardboard ones do not work well, neither do real cheap metal ones without wheeled drawer guides. You can use one file cabinet and one set of legs but the legs can only be screwed to the outside 1-1/2 inch of the hollow door.

      2. Cutting the Molding

        You use .5 by .75 inch molding to position the filing cabinets, keep the desk top from crushing the cable against the wall, and to frame the keyboard trays. It is commonly available as it is used in sash windows. Using this material means you do not need any kind of power saw to make this desk.

        The molding is easiest cut with a miter box and small hand saw. These cost about $10.00 each new. All the cuts are either 90 degree or 45 degree. Be careful to note if the 45 degree cuts are on the .5 inch or the .75 inch side.

      3. Hollow Core Door

        The door normally used for the File-&-Door desk are 'Hollow Core'. They are inexpensive and light weight but they only have solid wood around the outside edge. The center cavity of the door is fill of air and cardboard. You can only get nails and screws to grab around the outside edge.

      4. Positioning Blocks

        The positioning blocks are short pieces of molding with one end cut 90 degrees and the other at 45. For simplicity you can simply make all 12 the same length. The wide side should stand up in the miter box for the 45 cut.

        Pre-drill the block for #4 finishing nails. This is easily done by cutting the head off a nail and using it for a drill bit.

      5. Placing the Positioning Blocks

        Place the door on the floor best side down. Be sure to protect it by placing in on a clean rug or magazines. Anything trapped under the door will leave a ugly scratch.

        Place the empty filling cabinets in place upside down on the door. Position them equal distance front to back and a convenient distance in the the end you like.

        Place the positioning blocks around the corners of the filing cabinets. Place a thin piece of cardboard, like a piece of manila folder, between the block and the cabinet. Attach the blocks with nails and glue. Some of the nails will not catch much wood.

    3. Finish the Desk

      Round off all sharp corners. Use a small block plane, rasps, and sanding blocks. Spend some time on the front edges of the keyboard drawer so that the edges feel comfortable in you hand. Round the door corners a little too.

      The door is usually simply hand sanded, stained, sealed with thinned shellac, and covered with two coats of polyurethane varnish. The legs are usually painted a dark color or to match the filing cabinet. The door edges take stake stain much differently from top veneer. It is best to paint them a strong, bright color.

  8. Conclusion

    Congratulations, you have complete a good, low-stress computer desk. The desk you made could easily be in use by a series of programmers for many years.

    We need a picture of your completed desk for our Web Site. This will show people everywhere that they can build their own low-stress computer furniture.

    Thanks again for visiting our Web site.

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