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When we are designing a work desk at home, we need to ask ourselves the following key questions. How large do we need it to be? What will it be used for? What materials will it be made of?

Work desk dimensions

The work desk must fit into the room and be suitable for your needs. First, measure the room’s dimensions. We recommend as large a working surface as possible because there’s never too much space for work, say 200 × 90 cm.

If space is tight, you’ll need to choose a smaller work desk to satisfy your needs.

You’ll use an office chair, so you’ll need at least 60 cm from the edge of the desk to the wall and furniture behind your back for normal use, or 75 cm for freer movement.

When defining desk dimensions, you need to ask yourself what purpose it will serve. Will it be for hand writing, for a computer, or for multi-purpose work?

Desk depth is vital if your work is computer based. If you use a laptop, a depth of 50cm is sufficient; the same is true for hand writing and typing. If you have a PC with one or more monitors, we recommend depths of between 75 cm and 90 cm, as distance from monitors is important for your eyes. A depth of between 45 and 55 cm is enough for children’s desks.

Desk length is usually between 120 and 150 cm, as this is sufficient for a monitor, keyboard, notepad, desk lamp, pens, telephone, favourite drinks and perhaps a flower. If this is not possible, 100cm will suffice.

Desk height should be between 73 and 76 cm. If you’re tall, we recommend adding a centimetre or so. You can determine the best height by sitting on a chair, bending your arms at an angle of 90 degrees and measuring the space between the floor and the elbow or forearm: this should be the height of your desk. Of course, chairs must be positioned so that their legs are at a 90-degree angle.

Shape and purpose of use

Desks differ substantially in appearance and purpose. Below are some of the most common desk types.

Writing desks usually have straight edges and are intended for writing, typing and using laptops. They can stand by a wall or away from walls altogether. Writing decks don’t have to have spare surface area for pens and notes, and they can have a drawer or two below their surface board.

Computer desks are usually slightly more spacious than writing desks. There will be space for one or more monitors, a keyboard, speakers, earphones, microphones, tablets, external disk, and the like. There must be space under the desk for cables, computer housing brackets, pull-out shelves for keyboards, and other accessories. Monitor shelves (photo below) are a convenient addition as they enable better body posture and additional space for accessories.

Corner desks are very popular for smaller rooms where space is tight and usually provide lots of leg space. We must be slightly more inventive when configuring corner desks to best use space. They can be made using one or two desk boards.

Floating desks are very popular in hotel rooms and a great idea for homes. They are usually assembled in bedrooms and living rooms, have no legs and are attached to the wall. They are very convenient for vacuuming and household maintenance.

Folding desks are similar to floating desks. They are fixed to the wall and can be folded against the wall using folding brackets. 

Double-sided desks are desks where two people sit facing each other. They are often used in offices but can also be a great solution for home offices and nurseries.

Standing desks most commonly consist of telescopic bases which can be lifted to the desired standing height and back to the sitting position at the push of a button. Standing up regularly while working at desks improves health and concentration.  

Board materials

The material you use for your writing desk depends on your preferences, budget and imagination. 

Chipboard

Writing desks are usually made of chipboard with ABS edging and economy brands usually satisfy the needs of ordinary users. The dimension of Chipboards are relatively large (2800×2070 mm), so if you’re making a writing desk yourself, you can order a custom size desk board from local stores and carpenters

Plywood

Plywood is a slightly more expensive solution, but it’s much more durable and more attractive for those who prefer a natural appearance. Unlike chipboard, plywood can be quite easily shaped and cut. If you want your desk to be sturdier, you can glue several pieces of plywood together using woodworking glue. If you don’t want the layers to be visible, you can cover the edges with veneer edging. Plywood must be protected with varnish or lacquer, as it will otherwise be difficult to keep clean and stain-free. We recommend translucent water-based varnish or some other type of wood protection.

Edge glued panels

Edge glued board is another natural solution for writing desks. It is completely natural and easily shaped. We recommend 3-layer glued board, as it doesn’t bend and is much more durable than the single-layer board. If you decide to use a single-layer glued board, we recommend strengthening it with 42×42 mm wooden battens set perpendicular to the structure; battens are not needed if you use frame legs. Glued board, like plywood, must be protected with varnish or other wood coatings to make cleaning easier.

MDF – fibre board

Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) is made of groundwood residuals and glue. MDF’s advantages are its ease of shaping and processing, absence of gnarl and other irregularities, and price. MFD allows for easy cutting, milling, and grinding. Varnishing is recommended to make it water-resistant and easy to clean and water-based varnish can be used. If you want your desk to be sturdier, you can glue layers of MDF together with ordinary wood glue. MDF is found in similar formats to chipboard so your MDF desk’s dimensions are virtually unlimited. You can order it cut to size from your local carpenter.

Table legs and frames

Desks can be designed in various ways. Desk boards can be placed on individual legs, frame legs, cabinets, cupboards, chests of drawers and side supports.

Individual legs are a very simple solution when it comes to making a desk. We simply attach the feet to the desk board and it’s ready to use. But you do need to make sure there are enough feet or attach a supporting element – apron to the bottom of the desk if the desk board is long to ensure sturdyness and straight desk board. The connecting element can be a strong planed batten or cable channel.

Leg Frames are just as easy to attach as individual ones and renowned for their stability. If the desk board is thick enough for long and thick screws, your desk will be stable. Frame feet can also be used for tables.

Chests of drawers and shelves are practical when making desks as they also enhance stability and durability. So, when planning a desk, include such useful elements and combine them with individual feet or leg frames.

Wooden sides are a practical traditional solution for creating desks and they are the most economical. They are usually made of the same material as the desk board and are stable and durable if used correctly.

Conclusion

Create your working nook to your liking. Make it comfy, convenient and add whatever you like. It should be pleasant and make you want to return. Do your best when designing it, as your productivity, mood and, ultimately, your health depends on it.

For more demanding users, we will show you how to make other types of desks and desk boards, and other materials to use in our future blog posts.

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