Rebuilding The Computer/Game Room

My big project for this year is to convert my computer/office from a collection of gear to a nice place to have my computers with lots of space and plenty of space for my gaming gear; board games, role playing books and papers, etc. I have a big table for the center of the room as you can see in the picture but the computer isn’t on it. Since it’s in the center of the room, when I need to print or scan something I have cables running across the aisle. It’s a hazard besides being a pain in the butt.

As you can see, the desk is fine for general computer viewing and such but not so much for printing or scanning. There isn’t any space for either. Plus with all my computer books and game books, I’m starting to get a cramp.

Way back in the day I started off as a Graphic Artist in the Army (well I started off as an MP but moved to being a graphic artist not long after). I still have most of my gear and break it out once in a while to work on something. In this case I worked on my office plan. Using the tape measurer I captured the room dimensions, transferred them to paper using a scale (that’s a three sided “ruler” with conversion markings so you can draw accurately), scanned it and posted it up on the ‘net.

Since it’s a scan of a drawing, it’s a little light. But from a piece of paper viewpoint when I’m in the workshop (eg “garage” 🙂 ), it’s perfect.

Next up I planned on working on the “Computer Wall” next. This drawing is a bit more visible, partly because I drew over the lines a bit harder so it’d show up in the scan.

I measured where the windows are (that’s the two cabinet looking squares up high) then figured out how high I wanted the desk and where to put the book cases for the computer books. There are three shelves in the center and the right and left bottom shelf extends to either wall. This should be sufficient to hold all the current computer books. Plus I added ends to the shelves vs using bookends. Bookends don’t let me use the entire shelf.

Last week I cleared out the room so I’d have sufficient elbow room to work. I also laid out a tarp and the racks so I’d have a place where I can set the work and stain/paint without getting it on everything. Friday I went to Home Depot and picked up the bulk of the wood. I had the guys rip the hardwood plywood so they were 2′ 11 1/2″ wide.

Yesterday (Saturday) I started work on the shelves first off. I cut the longer shelf bars into half and mounted them in the center of the Computer Wall then measured the distance between the shelves.

I took three shelves into the workshop and connected them then brought the shelf downstairs and checked. Once done I stained the shelves and after they dried, put them up on the wall.

Now part of the fun of working on this is that there is some ambiguity when I start. I don’t have every tiny piece on the paper, just the overall idea with measurements. Just like battle, things change once you get started.

Originally I planned on a long cable drop but then decided it would be too weak and decided on two 2′ 3″ drops. I also knew what I wanted to do with regards to the skirting but didn’t have exact measurements for where it goes and how it’d look. Some was decided when I picked out the wood Friday. Others when I put the first tabletop on the sawhorses and started thinking. First off, the cable runs. I used a hole saw to create the ends then drew lines between the holes for the run:

(I also got the router set up with the right chuck and bit).

Next, using a jigsaw to cut between the holes. Unfortunately if you’ve used a jigsaw before you’ll know that the cut isn’t straight. You make lots of adjustments to keep it on track and no matter how good you are, you are bound to have bumps in the job. This was the first time I used a router like this though so I didn’t think about that. So while the route looks pretty good, you can see where every bump in the jigsaw cut is. For subsequent work I sanded the opening before running the router. It didn’t make it perfect but it was better than this one. After the route I sanded it down so it came out better than it looks here.

Not that it looks bad or anything though.

Next I flipped the top over and the real thinking started. I needed to cut and lay out the skirting. I used the table saw to rip 1/2″ strips of oak for the trim and to rip 3″ wide pine boards for the rear skirt. I laid out the boards I had to get a feel for how I wanted it to work. With the pine skirt in the back I realized it would work best in front of the cable openings. I want to use a cable management system of some sort and was looking at using PVC pipe. Having the skirt in the front would have this work out well. Plus it adds support for weight in front where there will be stress vs behind. So I measured it off and noted it on the drawing for the rest of the desktops

Next are the front skirts. Same idea, move them around until they’re about right, measure it off and draw the lines. Now I’m ready to screw and glue. One of the things I thought about was how to attach the skirts to the tabletop. I’ve done long screws before but this time I wanted to use a more sturdy screw and do some counter sinking. I pulled out the button caps and got the right drill bit but it didn’t work very well doing it by hand. The bit grabbed and tried to go all the way through. So I used the drill press. I measured and tried to figure out the right length. It took a few tries as I went through the boards until at the end I think I got it right. I got the skirting glued down (with some smearing mess as always) and clamped then drilled out the pilot holes and screwed them down.

With the oak strips I ripped, I started getting them cut out right as well. I used a 22.5 degree cut as the edge was a 45 degree total cut which worked out pretty well. I used a circular saw to cut the angle on the table top and that’s never a perfect cut. Anyway, I got the three sections cut out and at the right angle, glued them down and used clamps to gently hold them in place along with my cabinet clamps for the width of the top. There’s a tiny bit of overlap at the edge so I can sand it smooth.

Speaking of sanding, once the glue dried I broke out the belt sander to flatten the oak trim. Funny that 3/4″ oak trim is exactly 3/4″ but 3/4″ oak veneer plywood is a touch less. Anyway got that straightened out and then broke out the sanding disk to remove labels and generally get some of the rougher spots cleaned up. Unfortunately the disk broke (it was plastic) so I zipped over to Home Depot to find a replacement. I decided to snag a finishing sander which would let me smooth out the desktop and take care of minor issues. I was going to get a fine grit belt for the belt sander but they don’t come any finder than 120. The finishing sander goes to 220. When I returned I finished up the sanding on the bottom then flipped it over to finalize the top. I used the belt sander to finish up the trim then the finishing sander to tidy up the top.

Now that the top is done I brought it downstairs (the cable openings are perfect hand holds), put it on the working racks and stained the bottom.

After it dried I then stained the top.

I think it looks pretty good actually.

Next is to clean up the shop area getting ready for the next piece. Cleaning between pieces is good not just to have things clean but to get tools put away and make sure things are at hand for the next piece. When working on a project, you pull out all the tools to use them but don’t immediately put them away because you’re still figuring out what you want to do. A drill may not be in use on one bit but may be on the second. With the next piece you already have all the necessary measurements and know how things go together. So a quick cleaning is helpful. It also keeps things out from under foot. Here the second table top is out and I’m ready to cut the 45 degree angle using the circular saw.

Once cut I put the saw away and using the hole saw cut out the four holes for the cable run.

I cut between the holes, sanded out the opening to make it smooth and routed it. Then flipped it over to do the skirt. This time I knew what to cut and had all the measurements. The angle was 45 degrees so I measured and cut that. I figured out the length and cut those. Then counter sunk the holes for the screws. I glued and clamped then screwed them down. Then I glued the trim (just one piece) and clamped it down. It was a little warped so I used a few extra clamps to hold the trim to the board.

With that done and the glue dried, I removed the clamps and started building the table legs. I like what I did for my old desk (an ‘L’ shape) so decided on the same thing. I ripped some scrap wood and cut to 28″ (the height of the desks). I decided the center leg would be a 6″ ‘T’ vs an ‘L’ for extra support. Once they were all ripped and cut, I glued and clamped then screwed them together. I set up three as an example of how it would look.

The straight edges of the desk where they come together I figure to have the ‘L butted next to each other. A couple of screw holes for bolts and the desks are held together at least against the walls. The corners will hold themselves together without needing the extra bolts.

Once done I used the belt sander to smooth the trim, some sand paper to clean up the harder to reach spots and the finishing sander to smooth out the table top.

Here’s the next fun part. I took the final piece downstairs. I moved the first top and leaned it against the wall then put the second piece next to it. This is how it’ll look (although flat of course).

I picked up the piece and started staining it as well.

I finished the bottom without any trouble.

Later before heading to bed I finished up the top so it would have a day to dry.

Next up is to make the center set of drawers. I will be making the box with stand before working on the drawers. This will let me get the majority of the big stuff done and I can work on the littler stuff to finish up the project.

I had to get Rita to help me with the sheet of MDF. It’s pretty heavy.

I measured it out with 2′ squares (8 total). The box is 2′ high and just a bit smaller in the other dimensions so 2′ squares is perfect for the task. After getting it down to 2′ x 4′ pieces, I used the table saw to cut and then trim down to the correct size. One of the 2′ sections was cut into the 4″ wide sections needed for the base.

Once cut I put in the dado blade for 1/2″ and dado’d the correct edges. I need a 3/4″ cut but since the Craftsman table saw saw bolt isn’t long enough I have to do 1/2″ then move the guard over 1/4″ and run it again.

Because of this minor shortcoming I have to take the chisel and do some hand trimming so pieces fit together correctly.

Once done I assembled the pieces to make the base. A bit of glue, drill a few holes and screw it together and it’s done. Pretty simple really.

One problem I had last year was holding the sides of the big box up while I screwed in the back, top or bottom. Enough so it’d stand on its own. This time I stumbled upon the right way. I clamped the sides to the edges of the sawhorses. That kept them upright and maneuverable so I could attach the back.

I attached the back, top and bottom then the base and prepared to go downstairs for the rest of the work. I cleaned up the garage and put tools away for tomorrows project.

I took the box, bolts, table legs, drill, and clamp downstairs. I clamped a leg to the table, drilled out the holes for the 5/16″ bolts and attached the legs.

Once the legs were attached, I moved the box into place (or close anyway) and manhandled the top into place. It took some pushing of the box to get it in position and there was a little crackling of the wood in the back as it gained tension but once it was in place it was just right.

I put a prop under the front right corner as a placeholder for the corner piece, attached the legs to the second top and put it in place also with a prop.

I think it looks pretty good even like this. I moved my chair over to test the height of the top and whether my legs would clear the skirt under the table. Perfect. And even with just the prop it’s nice and sturdy. I won’t be able to sit on it of course but it will hold up quite a bit of heavier gear.

The next two pieces are created pretty much the same as the previous one. MDF was cut into appropriate sized pieces and assembled. There were a couple of minor measurement changes because I built corner pieces. One wall wasn’t added and the base was shortened to be square and set back to the corner vs the back of the box.

Once done cutting and assembling, I brought both pieces downstairs and placed it in its position.

I think it looks pretty good however I’m thinking that the corner isn’t going to be sufficient to support anything. After looking and thinking, I believe a good solution is going to be to get a 1 1/2″ in diameter dowel or closet rod and mount it under the outside corner. It’ll look good and support the corner well.

But it fits real well, eh?

Next up I need to figure out how to build the edge triangle cabinets. The size isn’t a big deal I don’t think but getting the edges flat will be interesting.

Ok, took a break today. Just decided to be a little lazy. I zipped over to Home Depot to get the support for the desk corner and stumbled upon the stair section. I picked up two of the supports, trimmed them down to 22 1/2″ and put it in place to see how it looks.

What do you think?

Ok from feedback and my own thoughts, I’ll be removing these. I think they just caught my eye when I was in Home Depot and being a bit of a ‘oooo flashy’ type of guy, I snagged them. I think I’ll be using a similar object to support the desk but front it with a 1×1 or 2×2 stop and put in a couple of 1/4 or 3/8 doors.

Tonight I worked on the corner cabinets. There was a lot of thought while I was working on them as this is a bit different than just making a box. When I made the corner boxes I decided that the corner boxes were simply one of these cut in half diagonally. So tonight I worked on the project as if I was making a full box.

I have a few techniques to show off as I go so there’ll be a few more pictures.

First off, since the box is basically 2′ square, I cut the MDF in half long ways and then in half again.

The pencil mark identifies where the sawhorse is under the board. Since this is too large to easily run through the table saw I’m using sawhorses but I also don’t want to cut through them so I mark where it is, cut until I’m close, stop, move the sawhorse behind the cut and continue.

You can just see the blade of the circular saw.

For the long cut I have a 9′ straight edge. This works great. I have a couple of ‘C’ clamps I use to hold it to the board and run the circular saw down the line. One of the tips is that if you don’t want to mar the underside of the board either because it’s a nice piece or it’s MDF which might be a bit softer and take a dent, you have to use a scrap piece of wood as protection. But you’d need three hands to hold the scrap, the ‘C’ clamp and be able to tighten it. I’m using a regular clamp to hold the scrap piece down then ‘C’ clamping the straight edge.

This works so much better and is a lot less frustrating. Once the straight edge is in place, I run the circular saw down and the cut is complete.

Next is to cut it in half again. This gives me four pieces that are easy to handle on the table saw without an assistant. I clamp the two pieces to the sawhorses so they don’t fall when I’m done cutting.

Under one side I put an additional support. This holds the left side up. When you’re cutting with a circular saw, if the two boards bind (press against the blade), the saw will kick back damaging the board or even you if you’re not careful.

I’m freehanding this one so being 100% straight isn’t as important. The cuts are less than 24 1/2″ so there will be a little scrap left at the end.

And you can see that the clamps hold the pieces sufficiently. I do try to balance it so it doesn’t pull the sawhorse over but it’s not perfect.

The steps for the triangle pieces are similar to the cuts made for the longer board. Draw a line down the middle first.

Next set up the straight edge so I get a straight cut.


Since the corner cabinet is for a corner, I have to trim the facing pieces at a 45 degree angle. I set up the miter saw and table saw to make the cuts.

Then start making the cuts. This was all after getting the MDF cut to the right size and making measurements. I already had a corner piece cut so used it to determine the length of the facing piece of the base.

I cut the larger pieces and assembled them.

Got the base cut and assembled. Looks pretty good if a little thin. Good thing the desk will be sitting on top of the cabinet.

And the facing pieces.

I got both cabinets done but if you look at the far right side, you’ll see the corner sticking out a little. I’ll trim all four of those on Friday and cut out the base platform (goes in the grooved areas in the pic on top), screw it in, screw the base to the cabinets and take them downstairs to see how it looks. Tomorrow should be a short bit of work.

I only had a few things to do tonight so I cut the corners to the right size, glued them down and screwed them into place. The bases are done.

With the bases complete, I drew a line down the trim line and using a jigsaw, cut off the excess. It’s not a perfect cut but pretty straight. I took some sandpaper to smooth it down a little.

Nice and smooth. Not perfect but it’ll be under the desk. Who’ll ever know? 🙂

I moved the four pieces (two bases, two cabinets) into the new game room and assembled them.

And the new corner piece is in place. I had to lift up the table and manhandle the piece in the correct position under the desk.

I think it fits in pretty well. I need to paint the pieces and of course assemble the doors and drawers but the bulk of the heavy work is done for this side of the room.

Here’s the corner piece from underneath:

And from the front corner.

Just a couple of updates. We went hiking over the weekend so I didn’t get a lot done. When we returned Sunday I went out and snagged more 1 1/2″ Oak for the front skirting on the desks and a piece of 1×10 for the right side computer shelf. I’d cut the right side piece on Wednesday or Thursday so I took it downstairs last night and stained it. I flipped it over before going to bed and did the other side. I should be able to cut and stain the second piece tonight as well as put up the hardware. I should be able to put up books this weekend although they’re all blocked by my computer and gaming gear 🙂

Got going again after the hike. In looking at the room I needed to get the synergy back together.

So I added the missing piece in the center 🙂 On the plus side the center piece can support my weight 🙂

I put one of the shelf supports on the new support on the left, used the level and got the first support mounted. Using the level I got the rest mounted then put in the shelf. I need to get the last bit on the right side next.

Standard set up for doing the next desktop. I drew in the line at the right place, mounted the straight edge and cut.

I drilled out the holes, drew in the lines and used a jigsaw to connect the holes.

Unfortunately one of the problems with the hole saw and plywood is that it can cause a little damage on the other side. It’s also the reason I go in from the top. That limits damage to where no one can see it.

But you route it out anyway and deal with it. As I said, it’s on the under side so no big deal.

Next the drill press for the skirting.

For the pine back board.

And after drilling.

Draw a bead of glue down the bottom edge.

Next is to use my finger to evenly spread the glue on the edge. If it’s not spread evenly you won’t have a good seal with the wood.

After the glue dried (about an hour), I brought it downstairs and used the other end piece to put the top down for fit check.

And it seems to be off by a hair 🙂 No problem though, if you check out the way the two side pieces fit, there’s a pretty big gap there too. So I expected some adjustment would need to be done. I’ll get a good measurement for the next piece so it’s 100% accurate.

In order to get space to work on the other tops, I moved the computer and gear over to the desk and took out the other gear. Looks a little better eh? 🙂

Got the top up and stained.

And in the morning I stained the other side.

Getting home tonight, I started in on getting the new desktop in place and lined up. It actually came together pretty well.

It lined up just right. I measured the remaining space and gained an inch. When I originally measured the room, I did it from the center as there was stuff in the way. So this worked out pretty well.

Even Niki was excited 🙂

I hung out under the desk to take in the view. Looks pretty good even from down here (and even though it doesn’t exactly match up 🙂 ).

I brought out the next desktop and started in on it. I figured I’d show some of the steps part way through. This is the start of the hole done by the hole saw.

And this is the hole saw 🙂

And the jig saw cutting between holes. I set the left hole at 14″ vs 9″ because of the Radon exhaust pipe. I was going to have to cut an access hole in this desktop for it to fit.

The other corner support and the Radon tube. I’ll be painting that, perhaps with any remaining Pecan stain to match the walls. But I needed to take several measurements before I cut to make sure I got it right the first time. After getting the top routed and cleaned up, I got measurements and brought the top down to check. It still didn’t look right to me so I made several measurements and eventually got it down right.

I measured 2″ in from the edge and 6 5/8″ in from the edge then used a quart size paint can to draw in the circle.

When I cut it out, I went about another 1/8″ out from the pencil as it wasn’t exactly large enough.

It worked well enough. I didn’t have to make a bunch of cuts and it matches up almost exactly.

And it looks like a perfect fit from here.

I brought the top back upstairs and finished up installing the skirting and edge. I’ll let it sit overnight for the glue to set.

In the mean time I took out the last shelf for the Computer Wall and using the jigsaw, cut it down to size.

It took me two more tries to get it trimmed down so it’d fit.

But finally it matched. I have to run to Home Depot to get two more supports and four shelf supports plus I have to stain the shelf.

Ok, one side is stained now. I’ll do the other side tomorrow along with the new desktop. Then work on the fifth desktop. I’ll have the same problem but the semicircle will need to be on the other side.

A little more sanding to take care of the glue drips and I’m ready to take it downstairs to stain.

Just a few technique steps. In this one the strip was a little wider than the 3/4″ plywood. So after gluing and it drying, I needed to take the belt sander to smooth it back down.

Basically I’d just run my finger along the edge and if I felt anything other than smooth, I sanded it down.

Once I got the piece done, I measured out the hole for the Radon pipe and cut it out. Then took it downstairs to see if it fit.

Looks like it did. Let’s look closer.

Looks great. I’m stopping for now until the other piece is dry so I can check for fit. I don’t want to add the extra skirting under if I need to trim.

I did line up the two pieces and it was off by a bit (about an inch at 45 degrees) but realized after that the new piece didn’t have the trim on it yet so it’s likely no more than 1/8″ off.

Well yesterday I zipped over to Home Depot to get a few things; more stain, new blades for the jigsaw, a couple of clamps, and the rest of the hardware for the shelves.

When I returned, I finished up the fifth top by bringing it upstairs, cutting the skirt and trim, drilling out the counter sunk holes, and gluing, clamping, and screwing it together to set. Once it was done I removed the clamps and sanded the piece to finish it.

While working, another neighbor dropped in to chat. Allan lives a couple of houses away and across the street. We chatted about woodworking and he wanted to show me his project. He was tiling an indoor fountain. I went over and the contrast was amazing. He has a one car garage and scraps of wood are everywhere. He has a long but narrow workbench and a pegboard behind it with some tools haphazardly mounted. He laughed and said that we are opposites in many ways. I’m zipping right along with my project, he’s taking a long time, I’m super organized and he’s not 🙂

Honestly I was a little wary being in his garage. He was a little high strung so I wasn’t comfortable hanging out there for long.

Anyway I headed back, took the tabletop downstairs, cleaned up the garage and moved the bikes back inside.

I went downstairs then and mounted the smaller shelf supports on the right side and put up the new shelf. So the shelves on the Computer Wall are done.

I removed and remounted the other shelf supports after measuring. I put the shelves up and put a couple of books up to test and found it was off by a little. So tonight I’ll be removing shelves and moving the supports down about 3″. That’ll let me mount the shelves at the correct level.

Next I’ll need to add in the end pieces and stain.

I still need to pick up more shelves for the other wall, more shelf supports, two sheets of MDF, two sheets of 3/8″ plywood, 2 sheets of the white 1/8″ particle board for the drawers, and hardware.

Which means I still have two cabinets to make and 12 more legs. I also need to mount the plug strips on the computer side and the cable management stuff as well as the foot rests.

That’s what I can remember. I’ll add as I remember more.

I did get a couple of pics of the new shelves on the right. I’ll have to get them on line.

I got paged at 1:45am for an issue at work. While I was waiting for other folks, I stained the other side of the fifth desktop. Just being efficient 🙂

So here is the pic for the last shelf for the Computer Wall.

And with the shelf. This completes the wall as far as the plan. The far left side might need some editing as it’s an inaccessible corner.

And I set up the shelves for the middle wall however found that the supports were a bit high. So I’ll be dropping them down before completing this wall.

So I started working on the last desktop. I measured it out, made my lines and cut. Interesting that the straight across cut seemed to tear up the top a little.

But the diagonal cut was virtually tear free. It’s puzzling.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday when I was working and then at Home Depot was replacing the blade in the jigsaw. I don’t think I’d ever changed it in the 10 years or so I’ve had it. When at Home Depot I saw this while looking for a sanding disk and picked it up.

I put a replacement blade in which was longer and the cut for the cables was a lot faster and smoother. It didn’t really seem to change the shape of the cut. There were still the waves and bumps that needed to be cleaned up but it was a lot faster.

So it’s been cut and routed. Note that it is shorter than the one on the other side. It’s the one next to the door so it’s about 2′ shorter than the opposite side. When I put the cabinets in I’ll have to shift it over to the right a bit to make it even.

And since I’ve been working on these, it’s a lot faster to get things cut and placed in preparation for glue, clamp, drill and screw.

You can never have enough clamps 🙂

Saturday morning. Got the shelves realigned correctly and the books fit.

Got the second wall set up too. I need to run down to Home Depot for the rest of the gear. In the mean time though.

The right wall is done.

Coming around the back wall.

And the other corner. I will need to paint that thing.

Ooooh. One minor issue here. The desk is a little longer than needed.

I can fix it though. Just trim a little off the right.

The circular saw doesn’t go all the way through the skirting.

Time to break out the ol’ stand by. A few strokes later…

And it’s off and we’re ready to go.

And it fits. Excellent!

Next I need to make the legs for the last four desktops. I got all the scraps together and ripped them to 3″. I measured each to 28″ and used the miter saw to whip out a bunch of parts.

All cut and ready to put together.

And ready to take downstairs.

All the legs attached to the table tops. I need to work on the shelves next so the tops are staying on the floor for now.

I zipped over to Home Depot to pick up the rest of the gear including more shelving. I spent several hours sanding the shelves to get rid of scuff marks, paint, and grease pencil. Eventually it came out very nice.

I got the shelving down stairs and assembled the long wall set of shelves then moved the shorter wall (8′) over so I can assemble them. I moved the shelves into the game room.

And it’s time to break for the evening.

In the morning I finished up the third shelf. It was a touch off on the middle one so I had to add a spacer and let the glue set. Still, it came out pretty well.

I set out to stain the three shelves while I worked on the drawers and ran errands. I needed to let each shelf dry for 2 hours before I could move it. I put each on the rack where it belonged to finish drying while I stained the next one.

As a method, it worked out pretty well although it was a little crowded in the room for a bit.

I got the drawer cabinets done and brought downstairs. I put the desktops in place and found a tiny tiny problem. 🙁

See back when I was making the fifth desktop, I mis-measured and cut the cable cutouts 2″ too far (6″ instead of 8″). I just went with the flow as what could 2″ really mean?

Ah there’s the rub. See the drawer cabinets are about an inch shorter than the space between the skirts. With the left side being 2″ narrower, the cabinet doesn’t fit. So I’m going to either have to make a new cabinet, really not a big deal other than using more of the remaining MDF, or us the jigsaw to cut the back or 2″ (or less) of the front of cabinet.

In the mean time, here is the room now!

It’s not done yet, but the big stuff is.

Tonight was the night to lay down a layer or two of clear coat. I thought I’d move the desks away from the walls to make it easier so I snagged the left most desk and started moving it away from the wall. Unfortunately the corner triangle cabinet tipped and landed across both feet. I have two lumps across the tops and it split the skin just to the right of the top bone on the left foot.

I moved out the second table as well and decided to not muck with the others. I did remove the computer gear from the top of the right most desk. Using 220 grit sandpaper I roughed up the tops then applied the coating. The can said to not slop it on so I applied a light coat. It did dry quickly, the first desk being dry before I left. I figured it might be because the stain was a combination of protection and stain vs just stain. So for the next coat, I was very liberal with the coating. It’s drying now. I’ll see what it looks like in the morning.

Details details.

I was checking out the coating this morning and it looks really good. There are a few bubbles, likely because I really was liberal with the final coat. I’m thinking I may run the 220 sandpaper over it one more time and add a third coat just over the working area (in front of the cable cutouts).

Tonight though I’ll be trimming the cabinet to fit and disassembling the desks to stain the legs and paint all the bases. I need to pick up a couple of replacement rods for the corner cabinets and figure out what I’m going to do about the computers. Rolling stands or some sort of hanger. I don’t think the hangers will work out only because the weight of the computers and the plywood might not work out.

Ok, took the cabinet upstairs, measured (several times) and cut the front off of it. I left an inch of space and when I placed it where it belonged, it fit fine.

Next up is to empty the room. Yep, I need to get all the tables and cabinets out so I can clean the carpets of course but also so I can paint the cabinets.

You can’t quite make it out but I numbered the legs; 1-18 starting at the right side and numbered the positions on the tables between the bolt holes. That way there’s no question of which goes where and where the tables go.

I also learned the best way to get the tables back into the room. With the cabinets it’s like a puzzle. From the right most table (A) around to the left most (F) and the cabinets (I-VII).

1. Install cabinet V in front of the Radon pipe.
2. Install table D on top of cabinet V and behind the Radon pipe.
3. Install cabinet IV fully under cabinet V. It’ll be slid under table C.
4. Install cabinet III to the left of its designated position. It’ll be slid into the corner.
5. Install table C.
6. Slide cabinet IV half way under table C and D.
7. Slide cabinet III into the corner.
8. Install table B on top of cabinet III.
9. Install cabinet II.
10. Install table A on top of cabinet II.
11. Install cabinet I under table A.
12. Install table E.
13. Install cabinet VI under table E.
14. Install table F.
15. Install cabinet VII under table F.


Really the back wall is the complicated part because of how close they are together there isn’t any room to get table D out without getting table C out first.

I got all the cabinets into one place. They’re all the same height (mainly) so that’s something 🙂 You can see the top right cabinet is a little shorter than the top left one. That’s the one that was trimmed. All the center cabinets are marked for position; left, center, right. Actually the left one is the most important one as it’s shorter than the others but it’s good to have markings.

All the legs in a pile. I’ll only be staining the facing piece of the center leg as the others will be hidden by cabinets.

And the room is empty again. I’ll be painting the cabinets shortly.

The firewall sitting lonely with a boatload of cables. This will be organized when it’s in place.

The center cabinets painted. I looked for my red paint but either I used it all up or it was a small can. I snagged the Maroon paint instead. It’s like a gel so it went on very thick. I may put a second coat on or more likely just move them and paint the other cabinets.

I painted only what was going to be seen from the outside. I’m still thinking about what I’ll do for the other cabinets. I don’t need to paint the outsides of the two corner cabinets (III and V) so may just paint the bases and facing edges. The end cabinets will get one side painted and perhaps the one by the door will have both of the outsides painted as you’ll be able to see it from the doorway. Same with leg 18 as it’s right on the edge.

More painting tonight!

Ok, got the corner pieces done; edges, base and back.

And the other corners. I’m still not sure I want to put cabinet doors on them so I painted the inside. If I do, then I’m good. Same with the corners though. I am putting doors on them but if they don’t look right when open, I’ll paint them later.

I also stained the center legs. I didn’t clean them up though (you can see the lines). Being that they’ll be back in the shadows, I didn’t worry about them too much.

And the end legs since they’ll be visible from the sides.

Tomorrow, clean the carpets (probably not shampoo though 🙂 ) and reassemble the furniture. Heck, with 30 hours already this week, hopefully nothing’s going on and I can bail early. Then I can populate the shelves as well.

Details still will be doors and drawers. Oh and the foot rests. Nothing that can’t wait a week. I have a game to run Sunday and am cutting it close as it is.

Ok, putting the room back together tonight. I even left early so I could make sure I got it all done tonight.

So I spent time getting all the gear out of the room so I could vacuum and have it all prepped for the assembly.

After getting it all out and cleaned, Niki wanted to come check it out.

It was a tiny bit frustrating mainly with the end pieces. I had to pull them pretty hard to get them into place as they’d just rotate in place.

At this point I started bringing the misc gear into the room and putting it on the desktops. Once I got most of it out of the library, I started bringing the gaming books in. I had to mix them with the boxed stuff as I put them back so it was a little time consuming. As I finished the second shelf, the whole thing seemed to shift a little.


I felt around behind the top books by the wall braces but didn’t find anything. Then I saw the paneling was out a little on the right side. I shifted the books a little and the whole panel moved.

So I took all the books out and stuck them on the next shelf. That entailed some cursing as I moved them over. I lifted the shelves off of the hangers and then used some 2 1/2″ screws with washers to secure it again. If you look closely at the wall, you can see where the panel was coming off. So I screwed it back down and fixed it up then moved the books back over.

Figuring the other shelves were ok as they held the other books without a problem, I continued loading them with the other books. As I was putting the last couple of items on the bottom shelf…


Uh oh. Look at the back and push the shelf back in. If I can have it hold, I can remove the books and fix this one.

*crack* *shift* *creak*

And I dance back out of the way as it comes crashing down. Holler up the stairs to Rita, “I’m okay!”

I checked out the damage. Really only the top shelf of books came down. The other two shelves are still intact so I can remove the books in order and stack them. And there was only minor damage with a few of the boxes. One of the books is a little bent. Otherwise it’s good.

Well, the shelves are destroyed so I’ll have to build some new ones. That’s a minor, time consuming thing but nothing horrible. I’ll be removing the other shelf and redoing the screws. I think the paneling is thick enough that in the original configuration, it was holding up but this new one with the support much lower the stress has changed and it’s pulling the screws out. I’ll get some more 2 1/2″ screws and fix them as well as fixing the first set of shelves, just in case (the left two wall supports as the right most one has been fixed).

It certainly was exciting though 🙂 And the desktops are just fine.

Ok, got the new shelf, trimmed it down to size and screwed the shelf back together. I also stained it so it’ll be ready for use tomorrow.

I cleared away the debris so I could put up new supports.

Note that I added two extra rails for the other book case. Also, instead of all three shelves filled with books, I went with the two lower rows with the top one holding the bigger board games and other misc stuff. I figure this changes the support dynamic. The book case seems to be just fine. With the second one up, there will be a little fewer books on both so the weight shouldn’t be too much.

Here’s the first shelf. I will be moving one of the rows over to the second one (just rebuilt) and the others down one row each.

And Niki is patiently waiting for me to get my gear put away 🙂

Not quite at the end here but the majority of the stuff is done.

I put up extra wall supports. I may have to consider using concrete screws in the top ones at a later date.

Got the new shelves up without issue. It’s a little to the left of where I want it but I can deal with such a minor issue later.

Got the shelf filled with the rest of the games and started bringing out the computer gear. First the cables, then the hardware.

I put my station at the end of the desk. It seems the right spot for now. I put the rest of the bits around the tables.

Ok, (mostly) done. Walking into the room from the doorway. Printer, scanner, extra monitor, my laptop, monitor for the other systems. Music is playing!

Stepping in and looking to the left. The TV and DVD player and my work laptop (yea, a MacBook Pro!).

The gaming side of the room. Magazines, papers, and a couple of notebooks.

And the last part of the room. I still need to adjust the minis cabinet and organize the books. Then some work behind the door for storage.

And of course I need to work on cable management 🙂

Picking up again a week later. I’ve been thinking about how I want to proceed with the drawers, cabinets, and foot rests. I’ve measured the existing cabinets to make sure and then measured it again. I made two drawings so I know exactly what I needed to get.

Saturday morning I zipped over to Home Depot and picked up two sheets of 1/2″ plywood, sanded on one side and two sheets of vinyl covered 1/8″ pressboard for the drawer bottoms. I took them over to the saw as the car won’t carry full sheets but it will carry quarter sheets without issue and I don’t need anything bigger than that. I also stopped by the drawer hardware aisle and picked up hinges, cabinet knobs and drawer pulls. I also snagged 9 sets of European bottom mount auto close drawer slides.

First off I cut out the cabinet doors; two of them. I took one downstairs to check it out and felt like it was much too large to be adequately supported by the MDF. It is denser than particle board but it’s still pressed fiber. I decided to cut them in half creating smaller doors. I’d also decided to try and trim the doors with some of the leftover oak trim cut down to 1/4″ x 1/2″. I ripped the 1/4″ from 3/4″ wide to 1/2″ wide using a push stick of course.

The doors cut in half and the beginning of getting the strips cut to size.

Once I got the strips cut, I glued them together and used the big cabinet clamps to hold the strips in place.

Then the side strips. They’re not exactly set up right so I’m still evaluating if I want to push on with the other three doors.

Ready to start in on the drawers.

I cut the plywood into 4 1/4″ strips and 8 1/4″ strips. These will be the drawer sides.

And got the bottoms cut out as well. Ready to put them together.

Before putting it together, I need to dado the ends. 1/8″ deep by 1/2″ wide. I assembled the dado blades. I need to replace the protective fence.

I got all the ends dado’d so I think I’m ready to go.

I set up a quick jig to help with putting the boxes together.

I started in on getting just the corners done.

The wood was a little warped. Nothing horrible so I snagged some shims and reversed the clamp and pressed out while I attached the bottoms.

So I got the first drawer put together.

And with perseverance, and a little cursing, got the first three assembled.

Then moving along got all 9 together and ready for sanding. I used my belt sander with 80 grit to smooth down the bottom then the palm sander to smooth down the edges and corners.

It was a very lengthy and sawdusty. I was coated from head to toe in fine dust. Woosh!

I started in on staining. First I cleaned up the garage though.

Nice big stack of finished drawers.

The faces will be the 3/4″ oak plywood I have leftover from the desks. I’ll use the router to put a nice edge on them and then mount them in the cabinets downstairs.

This is moving right along 🙂

Ok, unstacked (and unstuck) the drawers and moved them downstairs.

Next I snagged two of the scrap boards from the desktop cut. Oh and best go get Niki before she disappears 🙂

Measured out the board and it’s exactly the right width to get the 6 small drawer facings and the second board gives me the three larger facings. Cutting the first one gave me a start as it was a bit unwieldy for one person. I got it cut but it was a little ragged. The next two boards I measured half way and used the jigsaw to rough cut it. It make it easier to handle and less dangerous.

Next, time to set up the router in the router table. This will let me route the sides of the drawer facings and have a nice curve vs a square corner like the garage workbench (which I’ve been using quite a bit of).

I’m using a Rockler table with an aluminum face plate. I remove the round part and screw the plate in to the router.

Then I just drop it into the table and I’m set. You can get a jigsaw plate so you can set up your jigsaw the same way. It has a fence but I won’t be using it because the bit has a roller on the end so it’ll stay where it belongs.

See, looks pretty good if I do say so myself.

All routed out and ready for sanding. I do a light sanding to clean it up and find all the splinters (*ow*).

And stained. I think they look pretty good actually.

The bigger bottom drawer facings.

So while they dry, I cleaned out the cabinets and put the drawers in the cabinets. Just setting in there for now.

I screwed down the rails.

Then screwed in the drawer portions. I removed the black screws as there were there to hold the sides in place while the glue dried. The support screws will do just as good a job holding it in place now that the glue is dry.

And it’s in place. Moves pretty easily.

And it’s level. Pretty cool.

I finished up the other two drawers and put them in place.

Slight problem just like the garage workbench. The tolerances are pretty close. Much more than the 1/2″ width between the drawer and the wall of the cabinet and the drawer won’t stay on both rollers. On this side there’s a lip to hold the drawer over the rollers.

The other side there’s not. It’s to eliminate tension. So I’ll take a screwdriver to it and add a couple or three washers to the screws. This will push it out just enough and the drawers will be done.

Two more cabinets to go.

A real quick mock up of where the drawer facings go. Looks pretty cool actually.

Ok just a little work tonight. I had to run to Ace to replace the drawer pull screws. The ones they supply are fine for normal drawers I guess but with me adding 3/4″ facings on top of the drawers 1/2″, I needed to get a set of #8 1 1/2″ screws. With correcting the left side rails I essentially just finished up the first set of drawers.

First I chased down all the washers I had and repositioned the left side rails to be two washer thicknesses away. It seemed to correct the problem although later it looks like I may have to add another washer to the back of the middle drawer. No problem though.

Once that was done, I had to center the drawer pulls so a quick side to side measurement (12″) and top to bottom measurement (3 1/16″) to get the center of the facing. The pulls are 3″ center to center so 1 1/2″ from center to find the centers for the holes and drill away. Once the three facings were drilled, I positioned them over the drawer and using a small phillips screwdriver I poked the drawer to identify where the holes needed to be, put the facings down and drilled away.

I think it looks pretty good and they’re all lined up fairly well. I had do some widening to get the top two facings in the right place but that’s not a problem. Once they’re in place, I’ll drill a couple of holes and mount the facings to the drawer. Better than having the drawer pull holding it in place.

Damn, installing drawers is a pain in the ass! It’s a pretty exacting job. On the first cabinet I had to use some washers in order to get the drawers to stay on the wheels. On the second one I had to use a pair of washers on each screw and it looks like I need to add another one to the center drawer.

Honestly, I think I used up my allotment of curse words for the next two weeks. I broke the drill bit twice just hitting it against the cabinet as I was bringing it in to drill the holes. I kept dropping the washers and screws. It wouldn’t stay straight so the screw would drop along with the rail. I drilled the holes in the drawers but it seems that each face was over to the right a tad all the way down. So each drawer is off to the right by 1/8″. I screwed one of the drawer rails on the wrong side and had to back it out, replace the screws and do it again on the right side.

It was just a night for fun, let me tell you.

I did finally get the drawers installed though. They’re straight and work just as I expected they would.

These are the handles I’m using along with the same style knobs for the cabinets.

Find the center and drill holes left and right 1 1/2″.

I’m using the phillips to identify where to drill the holes in the drawers to match the face plates.

And there we go. Drill and mount.

As you can see, they’re all just a little off. I’ll use the drill and move them over to the left in order to match and add the extra washers so the center drawers doesn’t drop out of the rail but that’s two cabinets done.

A thought this morning. I have a strip of oak from last year’s workbench project. I’ll cut strips to length for the center cabinet and glue them in. That’ll give them support and will be a little wider. The problem is that if you put too many washers in, you’ll have that much less screw to hold the drawer up. For a 1 or 2 washer shim it’s ok but when we’re talking about 4 or more total washers, it’s becoming unstable.

Alrighty. With some forethought I’m a bit more prepared mentally this time. I even screwed two rails in the wrong sides and didn’t get too annoyed. 🙂 I moved them to the correct side and got the drawers all done before starting in on the cabinet. The last cabinet.

I got all my bits assembled. I moved the table farther out of the way. I made sure I had sufficient space to work.

I drew the lines for the rails, lined them up and marked where the screws would go. Then did a partial screw to get them all started. This way I’m able to easily get them started rather than fumble with two washers, the rail, the screw and the screwdriver. I’m working hard on reducing frustration.

I started screwing in the rails. I used three screws per rail this time. The first two aren’t a problem to get in (mainly) but the getting two washers behind the third screw was a bit more challenging. In the end I used some scotch tape to hold the washers in place. I poked the screw through which held it in place and it made it a lot easier to work with.

And as you can see, they’re all mounted. The right side ones were a bit harder because I’m not left handed. I had to lay on my back in the cabinet in order to get the proper leverage to screw in the rails.

I think the extra screws in the center made it better, more stable. The drawers seem to move mostly ok. The bottom one is a little stiff but I think there’s a problem with that side too.

I also did the facings a little different. Rather than using the same sized drill bit for the drawers, I used one a bit larger. That let me reposition the facings until they were properly lined up then tighten up the screws. I think it came out pretty well.

With this done I packed up all my gear, vacuumed the room and put some stuff away. I still need to adjust the center drawer cabinet and may mount extra washers over on the right side cabinet just to be consistent.

I still need to do computer stands, foot rests, and the cabinet doors on the end. I think I’ll take a small break though. I have a game on Sunday and have some preparations to do.

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