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Mons art desk 1

Olympus Mons Computer Desk

Finish Subtotal: $41.00

Omissions and Contingencies (~12%)

( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $28.70

Estimate Total Cost $170.00

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


This desk was designed to be build using only a few hand tools that an art student might have, purchase at reasonable cost, or borrow. These tools are all useful for general around-the-house fix-up and can fit in a tool box.

  1. Electric Drill, 3/8 chuck
  2. Long shift drill, 3/16 inch -- $5.50 new
  3. Screw Mate bit for #8 screws -- $6.20 new
  4. Drill and Tape, 3/8 inch -- $7.50 new
  5. Bits, 1/8 inch twist, 11/16 in. paddle
  6. Miter Box and hand saw -- under $20.00 new
  7. Wood Chisel, 1/2 in.
  8. Tri-Square
  9. Screw drivers
  10. Coping Saw or jig saw
  11. Hammer and small nail set
  12. Hack Saw
  13. File

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

Rockler order link to first page

Fabrication Notes

This is your desk and you can build it to suit your likes and needs. This desk is also a personal statement so don't get in a big hurry.

Buying Materials

The wood for this desk can be any wood that is straight and has, at most, a few small knots. If you choose pine or greenish popular, they will not take stain well but you can paint them instead. You can make the keyboard shelf out of a striking piece of exotic wood if you like.

The drawings are carefully designed so that all the parts can be cut from standard widths of lumber using a simple miter box and hand saw. The small parts are all made from 1-by-2 lumber.

Cross Platforms

The three platforms set the size of the base so it is best to make them first. They are made from pieces of 1-by-2 lumber that you cut with notches to fit into each other. You can cut the notches by hand with a miter box and saw.

Cut all the notches and drill the holes before cutting the slopes on the bottoms of the diagonal pieces. You will have to trim most of the small cross pieces to fit the thickness of the diagonal pieces at their notch. This can be done with a saw or block plane.

The frames are assembled with glue, brads, and a mending plate. There is a trick to using finishing nails without the risk of splitting small parts. It is covered in Construction Hints on our Web site. Cut the head from one of the brads and chuck it into the drill. Use as a bit to drill pilot holes for the brads that are about %75 the length of the brads. Be careful not to mark the wood with the tip of the drill chuck.

The bottom of the diagonal cross is strengthened with a 2.5 inch mending plate. You can let this into the piece by assembling the two diagonals, screwing the plate in place, scribing around the plate with a sharp knife, removing the plate, removing the wood with a chisel, and reinstalling the plate. This makes work look much more finished.

Drilling Straight Pilot Holes

You will need to drill a lot of straight holes. This is best done with a drill press. Check to see if you can get access to one. They are sometimes available in art studios or drama scenery shops. If you cannot get access to one, then you will need to build the drilling aid show in Sketch #8.

The drilling aid is made from a 12 inch piece of 1-by-4 or a similar piece of plywood, two 3.5 inch 1-by-2 blocks, two 6 in. pieces of .75 in. 1/4 round molding, and two 4.5 in. 'C' clamps. You will also need a 5/16 in. diameter long stemmed drill about 12 inches long, an awl, and a square.

Draw a strong line down the middle of the base board for reference. Screw and glue one small block across one end at exactly 90 degrees to your line. Screw the two pieces of 1/4 round molding so they they meet exactly along the line. Do not glue them at first as you may need to adjust the height.

Take a test piece of scrap 1-by and mark a center point for a hole on one edge. Make a good, deep starting hole with the awl. Clamp the piece in the drill aid square against the back base piece and with the center point exactly over the line. Use the second block and the 'C' clamps.

Chuck the long bit and lubricate its sides and the 1/4 round with a bit of old candle or other paraffin wax. Lay the long shaft of the drill in the grove and drill the guide hole. You may want to keep the shaft in the grove by pressing on it with a bit of waxed wood.

Drill all the way through the scrap if you can and look to see how close to the center your are when you brake out. Also look at the start of the hole and see if it is centered on the wood. If it is not, you may need to adjust the height of the 1/4 round blocks.

Practice drilling several pieces of scrap before you take on your good wood.

Finishing the Holes

There will be a number of different treatments needed for the holes:

  1. Let-in Washers -- Any hole that has a nut associated with it will need a flat space for a washer around the hole. Never run nuts directly up against wood. You will want to buy the smallest flat washers that will fit your threaded rods (probably 5/16 in. washers just fitting on a 3/8 in. rod). You will need a paddle drill bit the same size as the washer outside diameter (perhaps 5/8 in. or 11/16 in.). Drill down only the thickness of the washers using the pilot hole as a guide. Be sure the resulting flat is perpendicular to the hole.
  2. Drill for the Tap -- Drill the holes to be tapped with the drill that you purchased with the tap.
  3. Clearance Holes -- The clouds and the platforms simply need flat washer flats and to be drilled out for the rods (3/8 in.). You can stop the center platform holes just before breaking out if you like.

Base Pieces

Cut the base pieces of 1-by-2 to the lengths shown in Sketch #5. Pan in on the drawings and look at the base joints. The two pairs of side pieces are identical except for the notch for the cross piece to support the back of the computer. Lay the pieces out on the floor and see how the platforms fit above them.

Notch out the base pieces with your saw and miter box and remove the waste with a chisel.

Assemble the Base

Lay the finished pieces out on the floor and check the match for the platforms again. Assemble the base with glue and finishing nails. Drill pilot holes for the nails just like you did the brads. You can place only one nail near the floor in the joints that have tapped holes.


Cut the silhouettes out of 1-by-2 stock. You can make them into all sorts of shapes to suit yourself. If the new shape are tall, make them in pieces and slip the upper parts over the rod.

Fourteen of them are really half silhouettes that fit at corners. Some of these need to be notched and some of the complete units need notches for half units. Again make these to suit yourself.

Attach the silhouettes to the base board with glue and brads. Again be sure to drill pilot holes for the brads.

You can add pieces of cove molding to the corners to strengthen the joints. The top of these pieces can be shaped to match your silhouettes. Attach the molding with brads and glue.

Do not drill for the tapped holes until the glue is completely dry.


One end of each rod can be threaded directly into the wood and the design also uses six wooden nuts under the shelves. Drill out the pilot holes with the drill bit purchased with the tap (close to 5/16 in.). You want the hole to be a little deeper than the tap length but you usually do not need to brake out the bottom. Clamp the piece between to pieces of scrap wood to prevent breakage and tap the wood. Use a 1/4 turn forward then back motion. No lubricant is needed. Tap as deeply as you can but do not twist the tap too strongly.

The normal tap does not tread all the way to the bottom of the hole. Because of this you can twist the rods in too tightly and break the wood. You can help this situation by making a bottoming tap as shown in Sketch #8. It is a 3/8 in. bolt or piece of threaded rod with two nuts lock together on it. You file three slots in the end to make teeth. This can be easily done with a small triangular or bastard file. The filed grove is not symmetrical. One edge is sharp to make the teeth the other is more sloped. Run this tap into the holes after you have done all you can with the real tap. Use the same motion as before then clean out the saw dust.

The tapped part of the silhouettes should run all the into the base boards at least .75 inch.


Cut out and drill the cloud braces exactly like the diagonals of the platforms. Check the measurements with the base before drilling the holes. Make flat washer flats around both the top and bottom of the holes.

Install the Rods

Place the base on the floor and screw the twelve rods into the base. You can put a little wax on them if you like. Tape paper flags on the top of the rods so you do not poke yourself with them.

Thread on nuts and flat washers. Place the clouds on the rods and adjust them to the height you want. Put on more flat washers and nuts.

Do not trim the length of the rods until you have trail assembled the desk.


Place nuts and flat washers on the rods and place the platforms in place. Add more flat washers and nuts.

Keyboard Shelf

The shelves are simply flat boards with the edges and corners rounded off. The best wood in the desk should go into the keyboard shelf. The worst can be the shelf under the computer.

The selves are attached to the the rods with wooden nuts you make. The nuts can be in the shape of small clouds as shown, or perhaps space ships, or satellites. They have a tapped through hole and two screw holes. The screw holes are drilled with the #8 Screw Mate and should be on the circumference of a circle with the tapped hole in the center.

The nuts allow some adjustment for leveling the shelves. You can take out the screws, give the nut a half turn, and put the screws back.

Computer Shelf

The shelf under the computer is simply screwed to the base (no glue).

The top computer shelf sits on top of the computer and is supported at the back by two rods with wooden nuts. You may want to put some felt feet on the underside of this shelf. The length of these rods is completely dependent on the height of the computer. With some computers, one rod cut in two will be long enough. These rods make a handy place to tie wrap cables.

Rod Height

Try all the parts at various heights. Take your time. Try siting you computer equipment on the desk and standing back to take a look.

The exercise Air Typing from our Web sight can help you find a good height for the keyboard and monitor.

When you really like it. Mark the lengths of the rods with a file.


Take off the shelves and platforms. Remove the rods and mark them with paper and tape. Hacksaw off the rods and file the ends. Drill pilot holes for the eight feet.

Sand all parts. Move power sanders very slowly so that they erase their own swirl marks. Round off all edges. You are ready for finishing.

Rockler order link to first page


You may finish your desk any way you like. We recommend:

Rockler order link to first page


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

  1. Reassembly

    Be sure to print your name, the date, and who the desk was for on the underside of a shelf. Draw pencil guide lines and print with am indelible marker.

  2. Cabling

    Detailed cabling instructions and plans for a remote power switch are given in our Web page under Freebies. Make up a good number of cable tie mounts and be ready with mounting screws and tie wraps. The remote power switch is optional but is really needed with this desk.

    Place each piece of the computer in the desk one at a time. Route and connect the cables. Dress the cables neatly up to the rods 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 an extension cable for the keyboard and a cable tie mount under the keyboard shelf where the cable comes out of the keyboard. Route the mouse cable over the edge to a second mount and secure them together down a rod.

Rockler order link to first page


Thanks again for using a Woodware Designs 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 will be happy to put it on our web page. We need pictures of desk with real people standing beside them.

Rockler order link to first page

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