The Built From Scratch DIY IKEA Multimedia Desk: Part 1

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It's pretty easy to create your own "custom" table by using IKEA table legs. The legs are set at a perfect height for making a desk, and people have often turned to an assortment of surfaces to match for a simple DIY desk solution. But I wanted to set out to build something a little more advanced...

It’s funny, because this project might never have gotten started if I had not been at IKEA looking for a desk in the first place. You know how it goes: “Ooh, cool table top…[write down the product number]…Ooh, cool table legs [write that one down]". Inspiration and plans are born aplenty wandering the aisles of IKEA. But then you navigate the crowds down to the warehouse section only to discover they're out the pieces you needed to make those plans come true. *POOF* Plans gone. In my case time it was the table top. 

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A quick calculation revealed the $150 table top could easily be replaced with an alternative source of hardwood and a bit of elbow grease. My workshop at home is outfitted with all kinds of little tools I thought I could put to use, while reminding myself I was trying to customize, but keep it within the realm of reasonable effort (yeah, right!).

Then inspiration struck: What if I turned to using pieces of raw exotic wood for a custom streamlined computer desk different from the rest. I wasn't looking for a modern "techy" desk, I just wanted something sleek and fairly affordable.

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Rockler is a cool woodworker’s store here on the West Coast that carries a lot of really amazing wood. After hours of browsing, I settled on Jarrah, a wood I had never heard of before. A quick Wiki search determined it is as common as oak in Australia, part of the Eucalyptus family, a very dark, heavy, durable, and water resistant wood (note: this is also a great opportunity to reuse any spare pieces of lumber you might have kicking around at home for a desk top). $100 later and I was out the door, ready to get started back at home.

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I laid my wood pieces out on the floor to match up the grain, flipping pieces around until I had the look I wanted. Then I moved the wood into the shop to recut all the edges so they would glue together as straight as possible.

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After finishing the first edge cutting, I took out a biscuit cutter to add little disk shaped holes in the edges of the wood so I could fit biscuits (disks) in for gluing. These biscuits provide more connective strength when gluing two pieces of wood side-to-side, similar to IKEA's wooden dowel and slot system you're already probably familiar with (see photos above and below).

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Then I glued everything up, using some large clamps with the same technique I used to glue and construct my own custom speakers with recently. I used Gorilla Glue to join the pieces, a brand name glue available at nearly any hardware shop, then waiting 24 hours for the glue to set before moving forward.

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Stay tuned for next time when I finish putting together and add some of the finishing touches for my DIY desk. See Part 2 here.

(Images: Peter Treadway)

(Re-edited from a post originally published 5.9.08 - GH)