Apr 172013
 

My desk is a horizontal door. Not metaphorically. It’s a real door.

I made my first door-desk when I was a teenager. I still use one today. I have no desire to get a “REAL” desk, because what could be better than a door? They’re big. They’re sturdy. There’s no worrying about damaging expensive furniture, because it’s just a damn door. I’ve attached all kinds of things on my desk with screws, glue, and clamps. The door top of my desk is decades old now, but because doors are constructed to be slammed and kicked the surface still looks like new.

Door-Desk

One secret to making a door desk is to use a solid core door. That makes it heavy and solid. You can screw anything into it and it stays in place. My own desk was stained with a cherry stain on top and black stain on the side. It was the 1980s, after all. I might give it a more natural look these days. The underside doesn’t need any special treatment, so it’s bare. I coated it with a satin polyurethane so it looks like nice furniture and has a waterproof surface. Door desks should be projects of their own, and boy do I have a lot of things attached to mine.

Door-Desk-Work-Space

My first door desk had shelves I constructed to sit on top, but now I just use wall mounted shelves so I have more space on top. My monitors, a lamp, and a microphone are all mounted on adjustable arms. The arms keep the desk clear while also letting me quickly readjust the space for different needs. Door desks are deep enough that even with equipment on the desk I still have six feet by almost two and a half feet totally clear for working. I sometimes clear it to spread out five feet of butchers paper for outlining and designing.

The first thing I attached to my door desk back when I first assembled it was an adjustable keyboard and mouse shelf. My first job out of college had these exact same shelves and I liked them so much that I tracked them down and bought some. Because they’re heavy duty they’ve lasted for decades and are like new. I figure even coders and writers should buy tools like a craftsman, tools that can last a lifetime. These allow me to put the keyboard at any height and angle, thus helping me avoid and adjust for repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel.

Door-Desk-Video-Keyboard

Above is my video editing setup. This uses a larger keyboard with the editing commands on the key and a jog and shuttle wheel for moving through video quickly. You might also notice that I now use a vertical mouse, which helps again with repetitive motion injuries. It works great for me, allowing me to work longer on photo editing and other mouse intensive tasks.

Door-Desk-Ergo-Keyboard

For writing I use a smaller keyboard that’s made to reduce the distance fingers have to travel when touch typing. It’s small enough that I don’t need the mouse shelf, so the mouse is really close.  I can bring the keyboard right above lap level, which keeps the arms relaxed and the shoulders back for better posture, thus less sitting strain. Having the Backspace and Enter at the center of the keyboard took a little practice, but now it’s second nature when I’m touch typing.

When I first set up the door desk I used filing cabinets to hold the door up. Short filing cabinets are often the perfect height. Eventually I needed bigger filing cabinets to hold all the folders for the many projects I was working on and decided to replace them with shelving units instead. I painted the new shelving units black to match. This gave me two drawers on the side along with more shelves to store equipment under the desk.

Door-Desk-Peg-Board

When assembling the cabinets I replaced the wood on the back with pegboard. I use the pegboard to hang equipment using standard pegboard hooks. I keep a network router, a networked USB hub, and power plugs mounted here, thus keeping them off the floor and the desk.

Door-Desk-Wire-Management

I also attached wire holders under the desk so the wires are off the floor and organized. Enough wires for you?

Door-Desk-LED

Ever since getting some wrist pain many years ago I’ve been using ergonomic keyboards. I wanted a good way to work in dim lighting, which is great for video editing along with writing at night, but none of the  ergonomic keyboards I found had LED lighting built in, so I bought some LED ribbon lights like those used in under-cabinet lighting in a kitchen to create built-in dimmable lighting. The ribbon has glue on one side, and the wiring easy.

Door-Desk-Devices

Under the desk I’ve also attached a USB hub with switches so I can switch certain UBS powered equipment on and off. I have my two keyboards attached along with a USB microphone. Next to this is a card reader which is also mounted under the desk to keep it out of the way. Both the card reader and switchable USB hub are attached with heavy duty velcro so I can remove them for easy rewiring if necessary. A coat hook holds my headphones.

Door-Desk-With-Standing-Desk

While this desk is used for my desktop machine, I also have a light stand with a laptop shelf attached to it next to the desk. This acts as an optional standing desk. You might notice that I have a power strip attached under the drawers and network cable fished through areas I drilled holes. I’m not sure I’d have done this to an expensive desk, and a cheap pressed-board desk might not hold up to the abuse.

The setup works great for me.  Adjustable. Plenty of room. And if I want to add new features I have no problems with pulling out the power drill.

Anyone else also like their doors horizontal?

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  2 Responses to “Doors Make Great Desks!”

  1. i have also been enjoying my door horizontal! after the three weeks i have spent using a $30 door and some $7 ikea legs, i am never going back! having 6ft+ of space for less than some lap desks is just awesome, and being able to do whatever you want to it is amazing! i have drilled holes for cables, run conduit through the back (great for keyboard and mouse wires, charging cables etc.) mounted monitors to it, and sat my PC on it because the desk felt empty and i haven’t felt bad for doing any of it! it really is the best desk for anyone doing video producing, audio mixing, programming (the list goes on!) because you can just have so much space. i haven’t been that efficient with the space as you have, but for $60, who cares! i still have 1.5′ across the desk, even with 2 monitors, a big keyboard and mouse pad, a laptop, USB hubs and an ATX desktop!

    • Yeah, the freedom to do whatever you want to it, because it was cheap, is such a huge feature! I never would have drilled so many holes into an expensive desk. Welcome to the door desk club!

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