The finished product!
The desk surface is an 8' wide, 3' deep, and 1.75" thick maple butcher block workbench top bought pre-made from Global Industrial (www.globalindustrial.com/g/work-benches/components/tops/butcher-block-work-bench-tops
). The legs are 3/4" galvanized steel pipes painted black. The underside of the desk is 25.5" off the floor (I'm pretty short). I'm really happy with the result!
Details about my computer and setup are below.
Pipes and fittings
For the legs, I used 3/4" pipes and fittings bought from Home Depot. The four longest ones were cut and threaded (for free!) from one ten-foot pipe. I used galvanized steel pipes. It was a bit more expensive, but way easier to clean and paint than black iron.
6x floor flange
Before doing anything, I made sure the pipes fit together the way I planned and that everything was reasonably level. The tricky part was getting the center leg to be the same length as the back corner legs. Turns out the tees add about 2", so 6" + tee + 4" in the corners is the same as a 12" pipe in the center.
Here's everything I used to clean and paint the pipes. The primer pictured here isn't what I used, I did some research and ended up getting self-etching primer instead. I also ended up not using the pipe wrench or the gasket rubber, which I had planned on using to tighten the pipes without scratching the paint. Turns out I was able to get it level and sturdy without tightening them more than by hand. Lastly, I only used one of the sanding blocks.
I scraped the stickers off the pipe and got the adhesive off with goo-gone and rags.
They're all sticker- and adhesive-free now!
Galvanized steel has an oily residue on it from the process used to make it. This will cause paint to adhere poorly to the steel, so it needs to come off. Vinegar was recommended as the best way to get rid of this, so I used steel wool and vinegar as my second cleaning step.
After the vinegar
Getting better! You can still see some residue on them though.
To get the rest of the residue off the pipes, I scrubbed them with steel wool and TSP mixed with some dish soap. TSP both cleans the surface of the steel and also etches it slightly, which helps the paint adhere.
That's about as clean as they're going to get!
It was a lot harder than I thought to screw this together tightly! Not everything is at right angle yet (I didn't do that until I was assembling the desk), but it was perfectly level when all the flanges were touching the ground.
I applied 2 coats of Rustoleum Self-Etching Primer, meant for metal. It went on greenish-gray. I was careful to do many thin coats instead of applying it thickly so the paint didn't run.
This is after 2 coats of black matte paint. I flipped the legs right-side-up for the second coat since that's the angle that will be visible anyway.
Loaded up and ready to go!
I was glad they fit in our SUV.
The desk was destined for a room upstairs in my house, so my friend and I had to carry the top up my stairs. The box it came in said it weighed 168 pounds, so I was very glad we didn't fall down the stairs with it.
There was a rougher and a smoother side to the top, so I used the rougher side for the bottom of the desk. I got the pipes at right angles finally (except for that center leg, I fixed that after taking this picture), and used 1-1/4" wood screws to attach the flanges to the top. I pre-drilled the holes so the wood wouldn't crack.
The fully-assembled desk! The only thing left is to finish it and set up my equipment. There was more natural light when I took this picture, so it's the most accurate color-wise. The other pictures look more yellow, but it's because of the artificial light and the fact that I took these pictures on my phone.
The top was treated with mineral oil when I got it, but was still pretty rough. To give it a nice finish, I sanded it with 220-, 320-, and 400-grit sandpaper, and then gave it three coats of clear matte polyurethane.
I should have used an orbital sander, but I didn't have one so I got a good arm workout.
The color looks different, but that's just the lighting. The polyurethane didn't change the color at all. I did three coats, lightly sanding with 400-grit sandpaper in between. I also used tack cloth to remove all traces of dust before each coat. When I was done, I used cardboard to go over it once more, which smoothed it out even more.
I love how much space I have!
– Late 2013 15" MacBook Pro, 2.6 GHz i7 processor, 16GB RAM, discrete graphics
– 3x AOC 27" IPS monitors (not sure what model)
– 87-key CODE keyboard (made by WASD) with Cherry MX Green switches
– Apple Magic Trackpad 2
– Blue Yeti microphone
– Logitech speakers with subwoofer
– Kingston 7-port powered USB hub
– 2x Seagate 1TB portable hard drives
– Xtand Pro laptop stand
The computer is running one monitor through a mini-DP to HDMI adapter, one through a mini-DP to VGA adapter (one of my HDMI cables broke), and one directly through the HDMI port. It's able to drive three monitors plus the internal screen because of the discrete graphics card.
The microphone, keyboard, and two hard drives (not visible here) are all connected to a powered USB 3.0 hub (also not visible in this picture), which plugs into the USB port of the laptop. Connecting and disconnecting the laptop takes about 30 seconds.
Here's a look behind the monitors. I found the wooden "crates" at Hobby Lobby, and they're great for stashing all the cables and power bricks. The hard drives and USB hub are all command-stripped to the laptop stand, and the whole thing is surprisingly sturdy. The power strip is command-stripped in place as well.
The subwoofer from the speakers and the hard drives are more visible here.
Everything is on top of the desk, so the only cable below the desk is the power cord!