DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under $100
Old 23rd March 2012
  #1
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DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under $100

After rummaging through every thread and post I could find about studio desks, I've decided to put together a desk/workstation setup that works for me and doesn't break the bank.

I'd like the desk to incorporate a slide out 88 key keyboard, a small amount of in desk rack gear, computer displays, and a fair amount of desktop space for some mixing control surfaces. My biggest concern is cost, so these goals might be a little too lofty. Nonetheless, I'm going to give it a shot and see how close to $100 I can keep this project. Suggestions are very welcome!

Here are a few pictures of the sketchup model so you can get a general idea of what I'm getting at.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-economy-studio-desk.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-economy-studio-desk-front-.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-economy-studio-desk-side-.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-economy-studio-desk-piano-slide-.jpg

You can also see an animation of the model here: Studio Desk / Keyboard Workstation Model

I'd love to hear all suggestions you may have about the plan before I dive in.
Hate it? Love it? See how I'm going to get carpal tunnel a week after I start using it? If you see something that you know you'd hate about it, I'd really like to hear so I can learn from the collective hands on experience you all have.

I'll try to keep posting pictures as I get more ideas and start building the thing.



Let the journey begin.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #2
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Dude, if you can make this happen for anywhere around that price, and it is stable, I'll be right behind you ready to build my own.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #3
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My 2 cents ... I think the junction between the flat wood piece lying on the floor and the vertical wood triangle is the point at which stress will be maximum.

If metal built, that would be OK, but if using wood better use a tenon between foot and vertical post (or the angled one) and add a piece of wood at an angle between foot and post, somethink like

|.. /
|. /\
=====
Old 23rd March 2012
  #4
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Or he could move the support leg further out and make it vertical instead of slanted.

I haven't looked at the dimensions, but if you could design something that uses standard dimension lumber instead of having to cut plywood to dimension, that would make it easier for a lot of folks to build. It's doable to cut a 1x12 with a circular saw and a square. Ripping a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood to dimension is much harder.

Besides standard dimension lumber, there are some wider boards available in larger building supply companies that are glued up pieces of smaller boards. They are still solid lumber so you wouldn't have to edge band them for appearance.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #5
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I should clarify that I'm thinking about building it from wood. I'd like to use 2x6s to complete the frame and a few 2x4s in for extra support. I'll add metal supports if the wooden frame is not sturdy enough as I get going. But for now, I'm going with wood.

The average price that I can find for a 2x6x8' is about $4. There is a total of 421" of 2x6's in that model. That's about 35 feet. Which would require a little over four 2x6's @ $4= $17.50. I'll add one more 2x6 for a reserve. That brings us to $21 roughly. A couple more 2x4's @ $2 per 8' bring us to about $25.

So $25 in wood for the frame, plus a $5 box of wood screws should be around $30.
That leaves me $70 to build my rack mount boxes, a slide drawer for the piano, and some paint or stain. That'll be pushing it.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #6
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Yea, I am worried about the strength of that joint in the back. I've have been surprised in the past with the strength of a 2x6, so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be strong enough.

If not, I like the idea of the braces. I don't want to give up the look of that angled front leg, so I could probably put a smaller vertical brace up to that arm, which wouldn't be quite as visibly distracting but would give me the support that it might need.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #7
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I would suggest reorienting the feet from a flat on the floor position to putting them on edge against the floor and bolted to the upright legs with carriage bolts. This will make a stronger connection than screws going through the bottom of the feet into the upright legs.

You can put standard chair tips in the feet or adjustable screw in tips on the bottom of the feet.

Depending upon what you're going for and what you have to work with, you could build this from 2x material or I think you can build it with 1x material if you're careful with your joints. 2x material would be easier to build, but it's going to be heavy and will look like 2x material.

I can build a sawhorse from 2x material quickly, and with not much effort. I can build a sawhorse from 1x4's that's lighter and stronger if I invest more time in it.

If you want to keep the slanted leg, but are concerned about strength in the joint, you could glue on a triangular piece of sheet material over the joint on the inside of the frame.

For table top wood, this guy bought a used butcher block table and then cut out the parts he wanted. http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Desk/?ALLSTEPS
Old 23rd March 2012
  #8
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I would definitely use more than 1" thick for the foot, may be 2", glueing 2 x 1" and making a rectangular hole to fit the vertical and angled posts. This way you can use bolts across the upper 1# board.

Also bevel / round the side-top angles of the foot so it looks thinner. Same at front. Best is to use a router for this, if you can.

Good luck.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #9
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What is the transparent material? Can you post the skp file? If so, I'll try to offer some suggestions via altering the file.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #10
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Some rough ideas in this sketch. If you sandwich some of your members between pairs of 1x6's, this will create a strong joint and it's simple to build.

I think 2x material for the back rails and the keyboard support is unnecessarily heavy.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf desktop.pdf (18.7 KB, 708 views)
Old 23rd March 2012
  #11
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Here is the skp file. Have at it, I look forward to seeing the mods.

Economy Studio Desk.skp

I just made the material for the desktop transparent in the model because I wanted to show more of the model through it and let people see what it would look like with a piano actually in it. I was thinking about using some type of nice plywood for the top originally.

That's kind of a novel idea though, to make it see through so you could see the piano through that surface. That hadn't dawned on me. I don't know if I could get a clear material like tempered glass or plexiglass to support the weight across that much surface area though. I guess I'd have to build a frame under that surface or something to make it work.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #12
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Plexi would probably bust your budget in a hurry and you'd have to use some kind of frame for it to keep it from flexing. And it would get scratched up.

The problem with plywood is cutting it to dimension and then having to cover the edges to make them look decent.

I tried to describe this product before in this thread, but here's a link to a commonly available glued up board that could be a candidate for a desktop surface without a lot of cutting. http://www.lowes.com/pd_72884-99899-...&storeId=10151

There are plently of computer desks on CL for $35 or less that people want to unload. You could always grab the sliding tray hardware and other useful items off of one of them instead of paying new prices for the same thing.

Last edited by 2manyrocks; 24th March 2012 at 12:34 AM.. Reason: add link
Old 24th March 2012
  #13
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I completely agree that 1x material is the way to go for a more finished/ classy desk look. I don't know if I've got the building skills to make a desk of 1x material that would hold up though. I think I can make the 2x material look okay if I can get the proportions right and space it out in a way that it won't look too bulky or look cheap.

I am definitely okay with repurposing old wood, parts or what ever I need. I think that is what it's going to take to keep the cost down. I'll have to keep my eyes open on craigslist and around for usable stuff.

I think I'm going to try and get some wood and start on some of the frame this weekend. If I get anything significant done, I'll post some pics.
Old 24th March 2012
  #14
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I Adjusted the model to represent some ideas from the suggestions above.
DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-studio-desk-keyboard-workstation-feet-vertical-.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-studio-desk-keyboard-workstation-feet-vertical-front.jpg

For sure it will be more sturdy with the vertical feet layout but I'm not sure if I like the look as much. What do you guys think?

I will probably come down to whether or not I go with 1x material or 2x. If 1x material, there will be no question that we'll need to do it that way to keep the strength in those joints.
Old 24th March 2012
  #15
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Another problem not to forget: the joints between feet and back of the desk are other weak points. If desk is dragged on the floor, feet may be damaged,

I would suggest to add a brace between the two feet, or to add angled braces between each foot and the back.
Old 24th March 2012
  #16
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You can avoid some of the pressure on the joints in moving by putting a set of rollers on the back legs. Then you can pick up the front and roll the whole thing.

You can also increase the strength of the stretcher rail to post by adding a glue block to the inside corner. A piece of 2x4 would certainly work.

I agree with your concern about the vibe going on with the feet. Part of it I suspect is the way the angles point away from each other. You might reduce the angle, orient both angles the same way or just round both of them off.

Another thing going on is the visual tension created by having the brace mounted outside the 2x6's instead of directly in line with them. Having the brace outside is easier from a construction view point.

It seemed to me today that maybe the keyboard should be rigidly mounted instead of being on a drawer extension. If you are mounting the keyboard on a 2x4 frame next to a 2x6, you can drop the keyboard down 1 1/2 inches to make the keyboard look like it sits in the desk instead of on the desk.

I keep coming back to the idea of stopping the angle braces at the height of the 2x6 arms. Instead of having the keyboard slide in and out, you could make the desktop slide in and out similar to the way a piano key cover slides in and out on some pianos.

Your sketch really helps visualize what you are thinking.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf desktop 2.pdf (107.3 KB, 255 views)
Old 25th March 2012
  #17
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I went and got some wood today and started to carve this thing up. I decided on 2x material. I went with 2x's because I don't think I will have to worry about any strength issues in the joints at that size. I think the build will be a bit more simple this way and perhaps easier for others to replicate.

The frame was pretty simple to get together. The only tools I really needed were a tape, a square, a circular saw, and a drill.

Here are some pictures of what we've got so far.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1457.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1470.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1477.jpg


I've mounted a 2x6 across the front as a brace for the piano. I haven't decided for sure on whether to make the piano slide out or to make the keyboard surface a solid mount as per 2manyrocks' suggestion. Also by mounting that cross brace there now, it allowed me to put some stress on the structure and test it's strength. I sat on it and it held my weight (190 lbs.) fine. It'll be easy enough to move down later if I decide to go with the piano slide.

While I was at home depot I found a piece of particle board in the cull lumber bin for like $2 so I grabbed it as a possible top desk surface.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1490.jpg

I got the angles cut on the feet and arms and I also added the brace for the rack mount boxes to sit on.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1504.jpg

Next I think I'll begin work on the rack mount boxes. It'll be a little tricky to get these things to the correct height and angle so that they are an effective rear support for the lower desktop surface.
Old 25th March 2012
  #18
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Cool, lookin good!
Old 25th March 2012
  #19
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As I have fond from my own DIY desk experiences, 3/4" plywood or particle board spanning that long a distance (main desk surface) needs additional support to keep it from bowing (as you have done for the upper shelf).
Old 26th March 2012
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Old 27th March 2012
  #21
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I was looking for some transparent material to test a possible idea from a couple posts back. I came across a large piece of thick plexi that had been used as a protective top for a dining table. It was out of some old ladies house and they were getting rid of all the furniture so they just gave me the plexi top.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1533.jpg

I took it home and cut it down just to see if it might be an option and it worked pretty well. I actually think I might go with it if it will handle much of a load once I mount it on.

I started prototyping the design for the rack mount boxes.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1534.jpg

It was a lot of trial and error, but I think I've got something that will work.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1538.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1541.jpg


PRICE UPDATE =$32.08

Materials Used Cost
2X6 X 92” – 6 =$21.49
2X4 X 96” – 1 =$1.98
14" X 84" Particle Board(Cull Lumber =$2.14
1lb of Wood Screws 2 ½” long =$6.47

That leaves us $67.92 left to stay on budget. Anybody think we'll make it?
Old 27th March 2012
  #22
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If the plexi flexes too much, you can cut a couple of reinforcing rails from the rest of what you have and glue it to the underside of the top. It's like adding a couple of pieces of 1x2 under a sheet of 3/4 plywood to stiffen it except that the plexi rails have would be solvent joined to the plexi top. It is a bit different glue up wise because you would clamp the plexi reinforcement to the top and then the solvent is drawn into the joint by capillary action. Once it sets, the clamps are removed. The joint also needs to be pretty precise because the solvent can't make up for large gaps between the two surfaces.
Old 27th March 2012
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane Steel View Post
I went and got some wood today and started to carve this thing up. I decided on 2x material. I went with 2x's because I don't think I will have to worry about any strength issues in the joints at that size. I think the build will be a bit more simple this way and perhaps easier for others to replicate.

The frame was pretty simple to get together. The only tools I really needed were a tape, a square, a circular saw, and a drill.

Here are some pictures of what we've got so far.

Attachment 283654

Attachment 283658

Attachment 283659


I've mounted a 2x6 across the front as a brace for the piano. I haven't decided for sure on whether to make the piano slide out or to make the keyboard surface a solid mount as per 2manyrocks' suggestion. Also by mounting that cross brace there now, it allowed me to put some stress on the structure and test it's strength. I sat on it and it held my weight (190 lbs.) fine. It'll be easy enough to move down later if I decide to go with the piano slide.

While I was at home depot I found a piece of particle board in the cull lumber bin for like $2 so I grabbed it as a possible top desk surface.

Attachment 283660

I got the angles cut on the feet and arms and I also added the brace for the rack mount boxes to sit on.

Attachment 283661

Next I think I'll begin work on the rack mount boxes. It'll be a little tricky to get these things to the correct height and angle so that they are an effective rear support for the lower desktop surface.
You ever think about building decks?.....
Old 27th March 2012
  #24
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I've done a few decks. Does it remind you of a deck?
Old 27th March 2012
  #25
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I think it's a compliment to you that your cuts and fabrication are so square and neat looking.

What did you cut the material with?
Old 27th March 2012
  #26
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I was hoping it was a compliment. Thanks.

You're going to laugh at me but I used a Rigid cordless circular saw and two five gallon buckets as a stand.
Old 28th March 2012
  #27
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Looks like excellent cutting with a circular saw to me.
Old 28th March 2012
  #28
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I found another piece of ply lumber in the cull bin at homedepot (I did a lot of scrounging around in there) that I'm using for the rack mount boxes. It's sandeply and it has a pretty nice grain to it so it should look nice upon finishing.

I got the sides and cross pieces of the boxes cut out. I predrilled all of the holes so there would be no issues with splitting or cracking.
DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1577.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1576.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1569.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1597.jpg

I got a 6 space set of raxxess rack rails and cut them in half so I'd have 3U on each box. I probably could have fit a 4U rail in there but I wanted to play it safe.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1589.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1593.jpg

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1601.jpg

They came together quite well and they are pretty solid. They should be able to hold the gear without a problem.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1605.jpg

I plan on finishing the boxes with a thin 1/4" layer of the same grain sandeply to cover up some of that ugly frame and give it a nice polished look later.

DIY Studio Desk/Keyboard Workstation under 0-img_1603.jpg

Price Update= $51.85

Materials Used+Cost
Sheet of 4’X8’ Plywood (Sandeply from Cull bin) = $4.02
1 ¼” Wood Screws - 35 Count box =$1.94
6 RU Rack Rails – 1 set =$12.81
1X2 – 8’ Furring Strip =$0.75
¼” Sheet Metal Screws - 8 = $0.25

I probably should have been more patient and ordered rack rails online to save a bit on the price of those but I just wanted to keep going with the project while I've got momentum.
Old 28th March 2012
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks View Post
Looks like excellent cutting with a circular saw to me.
Nah...........Shane Steel's an ANIMAL with this!!!!!!!!! He did it with his teeth.
Old 28th March 2012
  #30
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really nice! i like the modular nature of it! i would have only tweaked it a bit by angling the glass tops or even not using the very top one. cheers!
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