Workbench 2.0

I may have come up with a solution to the lack-of-a-workspace idea. Since I couldn’t set up a dedicated workspace, I decided to multi-task one of my existing emplacements – my computer desk. Here you can see the humble beginnings…

Humble compy desk

That desk is either from IKEA or someplace spiritually close to it. I picked up the desk way back in 1998 (ye gods) and I’ve been dragging it around ever since. (Shockingly enough, the cam screws are just as tight today as when I assembled it so many years ago.) It’s decent enough, but the wood is MDF and likely to fall apart on me if I do any serious work on it.

Additionally, I’d need to get the monitor and speakers up off the desk – they would get bounced around too much anytime I needed to set a rivet or grommets, and the prolonged tappity-tappity of tooling would probably do bad things for the monitor’s backlight.

What to do then? Well, for the desk I decided to laminate a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood to the top of it, and figured that would prop things up nicely. Actually, the original plan called for adding vertical supports laminated to the existing sides, figuring I would need more support there, but after prolonged thought (and too much time spent wandering around a Home Depot looking for the best wood) I decided I’d once again over-engineered the plans in my head and just went with the new surface.

Here it as after gluing and screwing the new sheet in place:

Resurface complete

Damn fine piece of wood there. This part was really easy – the guy at Home Depot cut the wood to size for me on their panel saw (they do this for free guys, just ask for it) so all I had to do was lay it down on a piece of cardboard, spread some glue on it, then invert the desk onto it and line it up. A handful of screws and three cups of sandpaper dust later, and voila.

(And yes, there is a slight misalignment, that is on purpose. I thought it would look odd to have the bull-nose edge in the middle of the sandwich, and well, I’m the one looking at it every day… )

“But what about the monitor” you ask? For that I got a little more creative. You’re thinking I just put in a standard wall-mount, right? Not quite. I know we’re not going to be in this apartment forever and I didn’t want to leave any permanent marks on (or holes in) the walls, so I went down to IKEA and found the Stolmen wardrobe system, the primary component of which is a floor-to-ceiling spring bar. $30 for a single bar and $10 more gets you a 4-pack of the little collar doohickeys to mount stuff onto.

(I originally found these through Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell – they mount shelves on these and make cat trees with them. Good idea for apartment dwellers.)

One of the scraps left over from getting the table surface cut just happened to be the perfect size to mount the center speaker unit and the monitor mount to, so I just had to get the whole assembly attached to the mounting doohickeys…

…and that thought right there added about 2 hours to the project once you count in planning time and time spent at the hardware store getting parts. What I should have thought up was getting a pair of U-bolts to mount the board assembly, but NO, I had to think up something clever

Anyway, in the end I built some L-brackets out of a piece of pre-punched strap metal and a few bolts later the whole thing is mounted as you see here:

Monitor Mount detail

Yes, those are zip-ties holding the speaker in place. Hush up, you.

There is also a shelf planned for this – one of the other scraps left over was a 6-inch wide section long enough to get the speakers mounted outboard of the monitor, but that’s going to wait for another day. Here’s what we’ve worked up to so far:

Workbench 2.0

While I was able to pick up a rubber poundo board to go under my tooling slab to help keep the noise down, I still need to get a new slab. The last one was that 70-pound tombstone, and this desk isn’t big enough to just leave the thing on the desk like I used to do – and moving it around is going to eventually lead to me dropping it on my foot or one of the cats, so no.

The only other question is the dye process, and I think I have a solution for that involving a modified storage tote and my patio. Stay tuned.

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