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Chair Desk 3 views Chair Desk as built open
copyright 2013

Chair Computer Desk -- Under Construction --

This desks is specifically desk for people who want or need to sit in a comfortable chair and use the computer. It is designed for a laptop computer and features (1) a strong base on which the chair sits but is not attached, (2) a swing out hub, and (3) a desk top tray.

The prototype was built for a person with arthritis who spends many hours a day in her comfortable chair.

This desk can be built in a moderate home workshop by an experienced worker. It features a heavy plywood base, and a desk top tray trimmed with hardwood. All materials are available at the local home store. The materials cost about $140.00.

Chair Desk in use 02
  1. Ordering the Sketches

    This design includes eight 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. Purchasing materials.
    5. Cutting wooden pieces.
    6. Assembling the components.
    7. Assembling the desk.
    8. Finishing all pieces
    9. Installing the computer.
  3. Discussion of Sketches

    The Chair Desk is built in two parts (1) the base, and (2) the desk top which are connected by a swing hub. Sketches #1 and #2 show the complete unit in three views.

    1. Chair Desk Computer Desk, Rotating

      The Front View shows the arrangement of the desk top right in front of the chair. The top is supported by the hub on the user's right and just touches the arm of the chair on the left.

      The side View shows the base and the arrangement of the chair.

      The Top View shows the desk top and the location of the laptop computer. it is not difficult to make the desk swing from the other side of the chair. The desk top is trimmed out with hardwood made from scrap from other projects.

      The hub is made from a threaded rod and two tie nuts that are available from the local home store. It is secured with hardwood pieces.

    2. Chair Computer Desk, Three Views, Sheet #2

      This sketch shows each three views of the Chair Desk without the chair itself. Note the area allowed for the Chair area of 28 by 27 inches. You can adjust this to suit your chair if needed.

    3. Chair Computer Desk, Desk Top Details, Sheet #3

      This sketch shows the desk top and the pieces used to make it. The tray is made from hardwood plywood that was not quite 1/4 inch thick. The ends, edges, and bottom are reinforced with hardwood. The hub area is thickened by cutting out plywood shapes and gluing them together, drilling the hole for the nuts, and then adding hardwood top and bottom.


    4. Chair Computer Desk, Base Pieces, Sheet #4

      This sketch shows the desk base side piece and braces. These are all cut from 3/4 inch fir plywood. The cut out is just for show and you can make it any shape you like.

    5. Chair Computer Desk, Blocks, Sketch #5

      This sketch shows the wooden blocks that sperate the parts of the frame reinforce its joints. Several of they pieces need to be the same thickness as the threaded rod which is given as 1/2 Inch. All these blocks are secondary wood that can be of any type and are typically made from scrap softwood.

    6. Chair Computer Desk, Hardwood for Desk Top, Sheet #6

      This sketch shows the hardwood trim for the desk top. I made the prototype out of very fancy Purple Heard scraps I had left over from another project. You can use any hardwood you have on hand. The two end pieces started out 0.75" and I cut them in half on a table saw.

    7. Chair Desk Computer Desk, Plywood for Base, Sheet #7

      This sketch shows the layout of the plywood base parts on the 4x8 foot piece of .75" fir plywood. You may want to adjust the size of the base piece to fit your chair. If you change the 33 inch length you will need to also adjust the length of the side brace. Also note the first cut line that you can have done at the store to make it easier to get the plywood home.

    8. Chair Computer Desk, Plywood for Desk Top, Sheet #8

      This sketch shows the layout of the desk top pieces on a 2x4 foot sheet of hardwood plywood. Again you can have a first cut done at the store.

    Rockler order link to first page
  4. Materials

    The Chair Desk is made of plywood with hardwood trim. The cost estimate below is for a fir plywood base, hardwood plywood for the tray, and red oak for the trim.

    This is only an estimate (made in the fall of 2012). The price may vary in your area. Using scrap materials is the best way of keeping the price down.

  5. Tools

    This desk was designed so that it could be build by an amateur woodworker with a reasonable home shop. It requires the use of a radial-arm or table saw and common hand tools.

  6. Rockler order link to first page
  7. Fabrication Notes

    This section 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. Size of Chair -- You will need to measure the size of the chair you are building the unit expressly for. You can make the base a little bigger if you need. You want the inside edge of the computer tray to be even with the front of the chair arms. The exact placement of the chair will be done at the end, so some adjustment is possible.
      2. Computer Size -- You need to check to see if the computer you are planning to use will fit nicely on the tray which is just under 12 inches side when finished. If any other equipment is going to live on the desk, such as a phone and charger, you need to make sure that there is room for it too.
      3. Left or Right -- Determine if you need the computer tray to swing to the left or right (as shown). It is now difficult to adjust the drawing for the other handedness. Email me if you need help.

    2. Make the Base

      The base pieces are simply cut from 3/4" plywood. Note that the outside brace piece is 0.75" taller as it goes all the way to the floor. The cut out in the braces can be any shape you like.

      You cannot edge glue the plywood very well so the design shows wooden blocks in all the corners for reinforcement. These blocks can be counter sunk for screws and screwed and glued in place for a very strong joint.

      You can start by gluing up the outside support. All the blocks between the two pieces should be the same width as the threaded rod so that they form a pocket for it. Three blocks on the front from this pocket. The long strips on the diagonal and lower section keep the two parts evenly spaced. You can make the long pieces our of two or more parts if you are using scrap.

    3. Chair Desk top being glued up
    4. Make Desk Top

      Cut the plywood top as a long rectangle. The two edge pieces can then be cut a little long as long strips and a grove the width of the plywood cut their length. These can then be glued and clamped in place and allowed to dry completely.

      The hardwood end pieces were then cut to fit between the finished pieces. I cut one piece for each end from 0.75" stock and cut it edgewise with my table saw. A band saw would do this job better. Glue and clamp the four end pieces in place.

      Draw graceful curves for the two ends and cut the curves with a jig or band saw.

      Cut out the long bottom hardwood strips to be the same height as the plywood is thick. Glue and clamp these in place to run the length of the bottom at a slight diagonal for stiffness.

      Put the top and bottom fill pieces of plywood out and sand the edges. Fit the top one between the outer strips. The first bottom fill piece needs to be cut into three pieces so that it will fit between the diagonal strips.

      Add the rest of the fill pieces each with a small hole to mark the location of the center. You need to build up enough thickness so that, after you add the two hardwood outer pieces, the total thickness will add up to a little more than the length of the two tie nuts put together.

    5. Chair Desk top
    6. Set the Hub

      Test drill some holes in scrap to find a tight fit for you tie nuts. A 0.75" inch hole worked well for the 0.5" tie nuts.

      Drill out the glued up desk top. This hole must be at right angles to the desk tray. Make the two hardwood blocks and drill them too.

      Screw the two tie nuts on the threaded rod with a little space between them. Tap the two tie bolts into the hole in the computer tray by taking on the end of the rod. Leave an equal amount sticking out top and bottom.

      Press the hardwood blocks in place top and bottom. Then screw them down with the heavy screws. Check the ease with which the threaded rod turns in the two tie nuts. If the turn is very stiff you can lubricate the rod with either graphite (messy) or paraffin wax (rub a candle on the rod) -- to not use oil or grease--.

    7. Assembly

      You can not set the treaded rod down into the base support and test the action of the tray. If the rod turns in the base rather than in the tie nuts, you can set it in place with epoxy.

      Drill a hole in the large wooden knob to math the treaded rod as a top ornament. If you prefer you can make one out of the hardwood scrap instead.

    Rockler order link to first page
  8. Finish

    You may finish your desk any way you like. We recommend: paint or oil stain covered by two coats of polyurethane varnish.

    1. Staining

      First practice on pieces of scrap wood (both hardwood and plywoods). 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. Varnish

      Polyurethane varnish may be applied with a foam brush and well brushed out. Follow instructions on the can for drying time and sand light between coats. At least two coats are needed.

  9. Completion

    All that is left is to the locate the chair, adjust the computer tray height, and install the computer and cables.

    1. Locating the Chair

      Place the chair on the base and put the foot cups under the feet. These can be either wood or plastic. Spin down the computer tray until it just touches the arms of the chair (this may take a couple minutes). Move the chair until the chair is centered in its space.

      When you have the chair just were you want it, mark the location of the chair feet cups. Blue masking tape works well for this.

      Move the chair aside. Screw the front two chair feet cups in place. You may do the same with the back if you like.

      Put the chair back in place and check out that everything works. Move the desk and chair into their position for use.

    2. Cabling

      The power supply for the computer can be tiewraped to the diagonal member of the support and run its cable, with a big service loop, through the holes near the hub. You can also run any other cables the same way.

      Any other cables, such as the mouse, can be looped up and dressed out neatly with small tiewraps. The drawing shows a line of small holes along the back for this.

    Rockler order link to first page
  10. 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.

Don't forget to order the sketches.

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