DIY Office Space: Revisited

In mid 2015, there was a growing problem for my office related workspace. For nearly a year, I had learned on my own how to design the best workspace for a vertically challenged guy in a home environment. Many of the text was from posts of April 2016, with some concluding thoughts for the future.

For nearly 8 years, I had the same desk I acquired while living in another place. It was moved to my current residence and it’s been in one piece (so to speak) ever since.

The old desk (or workstation)
The old desk (or workstation) in preparation for the new workstation, last summer 2015

However the desk had its quirks. The desktop was able to expand but I was told the company had went out of business (now in retrospect, I wondered if I got a “new” – like old stock) of this desk. Secondly the height was at 30″. Given my asian stature, the desk didn’t fit well because of my longer torso and short legs. Often the feet were dangling or I was falling off my Aeron chair or I had to take the old keyboard tray from another store-bought desk and use with the current one. Also I acquired LCD mounting kits that made it easier for me to use my flat panels in portrait (i.e. having 4  screens at 1024*768 with just two LG monitors I have.) I wanted at leastr 26″ clearance with the possibility to go up to 30 (say for another use) using Closetmaid shelving components.

Real workstations and cube farms are not only expensive, but very space consuming. Not complaining, however I wanted something similar, of the same quality but on a smaller scale, but enough space to work. This was the problem. I felt after reading and watching the iBook Guy (now known in 2017 as the 8 Bit Guy) on YouTube doing a similar thing, and created another workstation out of former desktops, I felt building a new desktop cube farm was in order as the solution. At the same time I would decommission the old desk and use it to hold things. It currently serves as work table for my binding machine, a mailbox (err shoe holder I got from Target), etc.

At the time, Clickford & Company was supposed to be a startup firm for IT like services to my friends. Melanie (the other half) wanted it to be as scrappy as possible. As a result, the idea was to have two workstations, one for me to do my work, and another designed for technical (testing laptops, etc.) The arrangement was supposed to be a “bullpen” setup of a larger desk for PC usage and the other for said ideas.

I initially drew out a sketch on paper (not on Google draw like the iBook/8 Bit Guy.)

After the sketch, I then took masking tape and taped out the area.

Initally the idea was to drill holes into the wall and mount the flat panels (or at least on the studs.) The second idea was to use Closetmaid shelving and place that against the wall. The idea the top could be adjustable if I wanted to stand or sit.

After telling the mother, she was skeptical on the idea of the wall, so the next plan was to buy studs and build a frame, like a traditional cube farm. This unfortunately brought the costs up, and not under a $60 budget I had.

Regardless I had to get the wood cut on site at the local Home Depot (because the vehicle would not be able to hold the 96″ wide frames). They came home with them cut at 48″. What bridged these together were hinges and standard phillips screws over an inch. The project began on one of the hottest days of 2015. I put them together outside then brought them inside. As you saw in the diagram, the revised idea was 4 stud boards, connected to a foot long piece connected near the bottom of the table piece.

  

My then desk phone

The L-portion that created this setup was the use of my file cabinet (known to the office furniture biz as a “pedestal.”


In March of 2016, there was major modification, to more of a cubicle format. Must be my autism and tight spaces. Anyways while the desk was modified, the structure was wobbly, but never fell down or no major damage to anything that was on it. In short there was challenges

  • Uneven flooring: The workstation had to conform to the basement’s uneven ground.
  • Electrical and where else? There was no other place in this area to relocate it. An outlet near the wiring closet had a burnt out receptacle due to an overloading issue. Second outlet faces the driveway (the doors to the electrical box and wiring closet would cut in)
  • As stated the electrical was a problem, the best outlet was facing to the street. Also the cat 5 cables were located in that area (trying to keep wiring to a minimum of 7 feet from device to the wall.)
  • The uneven nature caused this workspace to be a leaning tower of Pisa. It never collapsed, but still
  • HOME DEPOT FAIL: In late 2016, I realized, that some of the studs from the first round and second round (see the note of serial numbers) were not cut to specifications, literally cut in half. In future, I will make sure they cut to specs.

In March of 2016, I started to redo the desk, again. This time was based on seeing other DIY furniture made in those vocational programs at the thrift stores. The desks were held up with bolt like fixtures. Seeing an end table in my house in the same way, the easiest way was to buy bolts, get a new drill bit for the size and put the studs together per the bolts. This actually came out be under $40 (melamine boards would jack it up to $70 – but much less than the growing figure in version 1.)

UPDATE: In retrospect, this was a cheaper and MORE EFFECTIVE option. Hinges, and other silly screws were so expensive and just screwing nuts into bolts was so easier.

As I am a greenie, I re used the other boards in the new design.

This design would be a cinch if it weren’t for those LCD mounting panels. Most of these “bullpen” setups do not mount LCD screens to the back of the desk. They ether sit on the desk or on a PC or a docking station. But remember, the reason why I did this was to make the monitors be portrait instead.

I braced the old workstation against the new one in the beginning
I braced the old workstation against the new one in the beginning

  

Initially I took off the LCD flat panels, then moved the brackets as if I wanted the monitors to face to the “desk” next to it.
The initial construction of Version 2

 

bolt to stud to nut.

As a result, this added a greater challenge. I did another sketch up on paper and it was designed similar to the other desk, but this time the 4 studs would be connected through a bolt and nut. An attempt to use the Closetmaid to hold the table top was scrapped.

This worked. Up until when I started to rearrange it it became kindling, it all came down. Fortunately it didn’t damage the wood. I bought two pieces of 2x4s and 2x6s and was able to brace it like seen above.

Before I rearranged the workspace to make it become a “bullpen” it was sturdy and rock solid.

In summer of 2016, I relocated this to my bedroom. Yeah it sure hot as hell during the summer time, but I needed light. As much as I am a goth, you saw the pictures of my basement. I use this for Lego and other things now. In fact, while I gave up on the bullpen, I took notes from this temporary setup

Because I was able to stand on this I took a page from this setup and applied to a modified setup shown in a later update due to not having pictures.

Things I’ve learned:

  • Controlling the mess: You saw it, I know and I’m working it. It’s mostly unorganized paper. When working, get everything moved out then bring things back. Have as much clearance as possible
  • Done singlehandedly, not recommended, but be careful if you have no other options.
  • Again, check with your local hardware or DIY box store to ensure that you have the right cut if you can’t take it home in one piece.
  • Sketch, sketch, sketch on grid paper. This helps a lot
  • On the Closetmaid: Any Closetmaid, or the Rubbermaid while the rails and pieces holding the melamine boards are designed to handle a number of pounds, it’s designed to hold it for long periods of time (meaning it won’t work well as a desktop holder.) From the summer of 2015 into 2016, this is how it worked. HOWEVER, while I did use other pieces to hold up the private Museum of Telephony.
    I did however had an idea that I may do in future designs, DIY workstations shouldn’t have a detachable desktop like the office grade only because such hardware don’t exist and it could be risky for safety.

A trick while keeping the desktop space held on each side by a stud (seen better in the second round above), the trick (in theory), is to place the rails right on the side of the stud, so it’s flush. IN theory, that top white piece could be installed to the back of those 2x4s, facing the wall. You could then use layering Melamine boards to hold things, while the core desktop space is held by the other 2x4s like below

  • Cost savings: The closetmaid solutions plus the constant screws and hinges was just driving the cost through the roof. The nut and bolt solution would’ve worked more effectively. The 2.0 update from March of last year was $40 and it was worth every penny.  The hardware except for the wood and boards, could’ve cost under $100 and wouldn’t had reocurring costs to almost $160 near the end. However with the right creative and engineering mind, it may be less than getting a similar priced workstation at your local Staples and have it fall apart in a few years.

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