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Build a table for your computer.

Where to put a home computer is becoming a problem for many Western households. The computer, keyboard, monitor, and other peripheral equipment can quickly cover the top of most desks or counters in home offices or dens. A solution could be one of these tables designed specifically for home computers. They are simple enough that either can be built over a weekend (drying time for the finishes will add a few days).

From the side, the tables look similar--both have open rectangular leg frames and a crosspiece (to resist sideways movement) that's screwed to the legs' inside rear faces. But differences in design, size, and materials let you adapt one to suit your particular needs.

The smaller table (3 feet long) has a top and pull-out shelf made of 5/8-inch birch plywood; legs and crosspiece are also birch. The table's height is 29 inches, but the pull-out shelf is about 26 inches--a more comfortable height for typing on computers with independent keyboards.

The legs and crosspiece of the larger table (4 feet long) are vertical-grain Douglas fir, with a top of ready-made maple chopping block. We also show an optional stand for the monitor.

To build either one requires a table saw, a router (or a set of dado blades for your saw), bar clamps, an electric drill with 1/4-, 3/8-, and 3/4-inch bits, a pilot bit for countersinking #10 woodscrews, and wood glue. The chopping-block table also requires a socket wrench for tightening countersunk 2-1/2-inch lag screws. Plywood-topped table with pull-out shelf

If you use birch wood throughout, your cost will total about $120; if you use birch plywood but clear fir instead of birch lumber, you'd save about $50. You'll need a half-sheet of 5/8-inch plywood; a 4-foot 2 by 4; a 6-2 and an 8-foot 2 by 2; two 8-foot 1 by 2's; a 3-foot 1 by 6; about 6 inches of 1/4-inch dowel and a foot each of 3/8- and 3/4-inch dowel; four small wooden drawer pulls sized to fit the 3/4-inch dowel; 26 2-inch #10 woodscrews; two 1-1/4-inch #8 woodscrews; and 1-1/2-inch finishing nails.

Start by cutting the leg pieces to size. Note that the vertical 2 by 2's have 1/2-inch-deep notches sized to receive the 2-by-4 top and 2-by-2 bottom pieces. Clamp leg pieces together. Using a 3/8-2nch bit, center, drill, and countersink holes for the woodscrews through the verticals into the bottom and top pieces: one screw into each bottom end, two into each top end. (Position the top screws about 3/4 inch from the top and bottom edges of the 2 by 4's). Glue and screw the legs together, filling the countersunk holes with 3/8-inch dowel plugs.

cut the half-sheet of plywood into a 21-by 30-inch piece for the shelf and a 24- by 36-inch piece for the top. Next, cut two 10-inch lengths off one of the 1 by 2's and set aside (these will be used later as screw strips). In the remaining 1 by 2's, cut a 1/4-inch-wide by 5/8-inch-deep notch along the edge (see detail sketch).

Once notches are cut, check that the 1 by 2's will fit flush to the top of the plywood. Make miter cuts in the trim pieces for the top. Cut a trim piece to fit front lip of shelf, but don't cut its small end notches yet. Nail (with 1-1/2-inch finishing nails) and glue the 1 by 2's in position (including shelf trim).

After sanding the legs smooth, rout or dado a 3/8-inch-deep, 3/4-inch-wide groove into the top inside faces of the legs. The groove starts 3/4 inch above the bottom edge of the 2 by 4, and it should be roomy enough for the shelf to slide easily.

Next, position the legs on the underside of the tabletop: center each leg 2-1/2 inches in from the short sides, making sure legs are parallel. On the underside of the tabletop, mark the position of the inside face of each leg, then center, glue, and screw the 10-inch-long screw strips to the underside, using three screws for each strip (see detail sketch). Mount each leg to a screw strip with two screws running sideways into the 2 by 4 (make sure the groove for the shelf faces inward).

Measure the distance between the outside edtes of the legs. It should be 32 inches, but you may have some variation. Cut the 1-by-6 crosspiece to match.

Before securing the 1 by 6 to the legs, you must add four 3-inch-long 3/4-inch dowels capped with the drawerl pulls. These dowels will be used to hold long computer cables and power cords so they don't dangle beneath the table. Center and space the dowels 13 inches apart, 1-1/2 inches in from top and bottom edges. Make sure the legs are vertical before screwing on the crosspiece to inside faces of legs, with dowels facing to the rear. Add the drawer pulls to dowel ends using short lengths of the 1/4-inch dowel.

Next, measure the distance between the inside faces of the legs--it should be 29 inches but might vary. Add 1/2 inch to this distance and cut the shelf width to match. Also rip the shelf to equal the depth of the legs (should be 21 inches).

Check that the shelf slides into the grooves in the legs, then complete the shelf by cutting a 1/4-inch-deep notch (see detail drawing) in the bottom-front corners of the 1-by-2 shelf trim. To prevent the shelf from sliding too far in, use #8 woodscrews to secure two small stop blocks of scrap 1 by 2 to the underside. The blocks should hit the crosspiece when the shelf is flush with the front (see photograph below). Chopping-block table

Less complicated to make than the other table, this one has two leg frames, a 1-by-8 crosspiece, and a ready-made (more expensive) top. It does offer some choice in design, though. You can make the table from 26 to 29 inches high by adjusting the length of its legs, and you can make an optional stand for a monitor, disk drives. or other computer gear.

To build the table base, you'll need a 4-foot fir 2 by 3; 6- and 8-foot 2 by 2's; a 4-foot 1 by 8; 6 inches of 1/4-inch dowel and a foot each of 3/8- and 3/4-inch dowel; four wooden drawer pulls sized to the 3/4-inch dowels; 16 2-inch #10 woodscrews; and six 1/4- by 2-1/2 inch lag screws. The top is a 4-foot-long counter-width (25-3/4 inches) chopping block; you can buy or order one at a lumberyard or specialty furniture store for about $100. The legs and crosspiece will cost about $20.

To include the optional monitor stand, you'll have to buy a 3- by 4-foot chopping block (about $150) instead of the smaller block, and rip a 10-inch-wide section off it; you'll also need another 6-foot 2 by 2 and 12 more #10 woodscrews.

You make the legs and crosspieces as described for the other table, but the top pieces of this table's legs are 2 by 3's instead of 2 by 4's. Space leg 35 inches apart, centered and square to the top, before attaching them to the underside with countersunk lag screws. Measure the distance from the outside edges of the legs (it should be 38 inches) and trim the crosspiece to fit. Drill the holes for the 3/4-ich dowels, glue them in place, and add drawer pulls, using short lengths of the 1/4-inch dowel. Screw on the crosspiece, making sure legs are vertical.

The length of the optional stand depends on what equipment you might want on the table. The one we built is 30 inches long, leaving room for a printer on the table. Because there is no crosspiece to resist sideways forces, we set the legs in 1/2-inch-deep grooves dadoed into the undersides of the top 1 inch in from each end. Secure in place with screws. Finishing the tables

After the basic assembly of the components is complete, finish-sand, rounding sharp edges, and seal the wood. We finished all the legs and the plywood top and shelf with mat-finish polyurethane. We gave two coats of penetrating oil sealer to the chopping-block surfaces.

Both tables are based on a line of computer furniture created by Williams and Foltz Design of Emeryville, California.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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