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A good desk

I'm in the market for some office furniture. Most of this stuff is easy to find, but a good desk is eluding me. Everything I see seems to be designed forty years ago. Sure, they are all very good looking and even have some accommodations for technology (cable paths, keyboard drawers, etc). But none of them can handle what I want too through at it. The best example is that they all have hutches (something I like) that can only accommodate a single monitor (something I can't have).

Here is what I'm looking for:
- Reasonable price (I'm not forking over $10k for desk, more like a few hundred)
- Good amount of storage (PC, files, books etc. Preferably with encloses to keep things clean).
- Room for 3 monitors, a flatbed canner, pad of paper, and a PocketPC
- It would be nice if it had integrated lighting, power, etc. But none of that is a necessity.

So what do you guys use? Where did you find it?

Also, does anyone know if that extreme desk that was used in the movie Swordfish actually exists? My guess is that it falls into the $10k range, but I'm curious. I haven't found anything like it out there.

Marc
Monday, March 03, 2003

Well, you could always go to the local community college and learn metalworking and woodworking and do it yourself.

Often that is the best route.

Otherwise, you should consider purchasing modular office furnature so that you can have more options than the home office sets that you often see.  And a little woodworking here might make it more usable.

flamebait sr.
Monday, March 03, 2003

check out

www.anthro.com

They have good modular stuff.  I use one of their desks.  You'll probably have to go more toward $800-$1000.  They won't have enclosed drawers or shelves though.

Bruce Perry
Monday, March 03, 2003

Check out the

'Fog Console'

www.anthro.com/_Fs/FS_CnslStn_David.asp

<g>

B#
Monday, March 03, 2003

A hollow core door and two sawhorses.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, March 03, 2003

Find a place that sells second hand, solid core, flat wood doors. I paid about $40 for mine. There was a small scratch on mine that became the bottom of the desk. Pickup a can of clear coat and apply a few layers until it's nice and shiny.

Then, go to Ikea and buy two sets of desk legs for about $25 each. They come in packs for four, but with three monitors you probably want to put a couple of legs in the middle-back to support the extra load. While you're at Ikea, pick up a set of desk drawers on wheels. It fits neatly under the desk. You can also find metal guides for all the wire. Finally, pick your favorite keyboard tray and mount it under the desk. If you spend more the $400, I'd be surprised.

If cost is an issue, this produces a big sturdy desk for little money. With thecash you save on the desk, buy a comfortable chair... you'll thank yourself later!

Jeremy
Monday, March 03, 2003

I have to suggest you think hard before going to Ikea. They sell things cheaply, and they do the job, but they are not the most durable furniture. I use it, but the particular desk I got was designed to be assembled once and only once: the joints were not designed to be disassebled: in this one desk it's all cheap plastic that gets screwed into. This desk isn't ever going to get out of this room.

They have fine products, but... They aren't masterpieces you'll own for life. Of course, they're dirt cheap too. But you'll get more life out of a couple of 2x4's and a door.

Mike Swieton
Monday, March 03, 2003

Anthro.com has some very nice stuff, but it sure is up there in price.

I'm currently using the "door and stilts" approach. But this isn't exactly visually stunning. When hosting a client or vendor in my office, it looks very unprofessional.

I might have to just suck it up and go with Anthro. But geez, 5k for a desk seems a bit extreme. :)

Marc
Monday, March 03, 2003

I have two folding tables - one 8' and one 6', angled into each other. It's the "door and stilts" idea but gives you the deep corner for a big monitor. Then you can put your satellite monitors on either side.

Only downside is that the standard folding table is only 30" deep. I'd love to get a 36" deep desk.

I'll probably go with a custom solid wood desk once I win the lottery.

Philo

Philip Janus
Monday, March 03, 2003

"Check out the

'Fog Console'

www.anthro.com/_Fs/FS_CnslStn_David.asp"

Where on that do you put the three open books + client documents?

Philo

Philip Janus
Monday, March 03, 2003

I prefer a table to a desk.  I find it easier to get a table at a comfortable height for a keyboard - desks are less likely to be available in different heights.  Also I like the freedom a table gives my legs, not confined to a cubby hole.  And a table leaves more room on the floor for a UPS, or subwoofer, or even a computer.

I can't stand keyboard trays that attach under a table and slide or swing out.  I've never seen one solid enough to really use, and they never seem to work with mice well.

I also can't stand any sort of structure mounted on the table top.  They are restrictive without being useful, in my experiece.  And ANY sort of box to hold the computer (or printer, or scanner....) is just making extra work and (perhaps) trapping heat.

When I can have a wall behind the table, as a backdrop to the monitor, I really like to have >sturdy< shelves - more like a wall mounted book case - on the wall above the monitor.  Spacing the bottom shelf for CDs, and the upper ones for books works for me.

RH
Monday, March 03, 2003

I agree with the poster above... modular office furniture is the way to go.  I went with the Bush Advantage series from http://www.everythingofficefurniture.com/adser.html.  (You can also find a limited selection at Staples.)  The corner desk easily fits 2 19" monitors.  I got two additional side tables and a filing cabinet.  The furniture should rearrange to fit any room in the event that I move to a new location.

rjm@rdmitchell.com
Monday, March 03, 2003

"Where on that do you put the three open books + client documents?"

Philo

On the monitor (usually two deep), on my lap, under my coffee, on the pile beside my chair, anywhere that isn't currently wet or at least only slightly damp and anywhere else I ...

I am not overly enamoured with it, I just thought a 'FOG Console' was amusing! 

My Bad

B#
Monday, March 03, 2003

Actually, Office Advantage is what I use, also. ;)

flamebait sr.
Monday, March 03, 2003

You should take a look at City Desk - it only about $80 and designed by programmers.

http://www.fogcreek.com/CityDesk/index.html

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 03, 2003

RH: I also prefer a table to a desk. I can't say how many times I have banged my knees against a stupid keyboard tray that is 12 inches too low or a drawer that simply holds pens. 

Ian Stallings
Monday, March 03, 2003

Oh, one more thing: I will never buy another item from ikea again. I have bought a few items, that were all basically crap that fell apart, but the one that stands out as the big piece o' crap was the attractive coffe table I bought. I bet they thought they were really clever when they used their special "connectors" instead of using a plain old wood screw. They table simply could not stand up well and swayed from side to side when I put anything on it. I ended up having a friend that builds furniture make it stronger using wood screws and a few braces.

Ian Stallings
Monday, March 03, 2003

Mike Swieton above say...
"This desk isn't ever going to get out of this room"

I had exactly the same problem once with a really good desk that I bought from Ikea about 10 years ago, I ended up taking a buzz saw to it as I was moving out and the landlords wanted it gone.

Alberto
Monday, March 03, 2003

Ikea has no choice with respect to their connectors.  Screws and nails don't hold very well in manufactured wood (i.e. laminated particle board and/or strand board).  I bet you'd improve structural stability if you put some dabs of glue where needed and most especially inside the dowel holes.  Ian's friend who does woodworking uses real wood, which doesn't have that problem.

Other advantage of Office Advantage stuff -- you don't need a drawer (keyboard or otherwise) underneath your work area.  I hate keyboard trays and drawers.  Given my proportions, the keyboard needs to be at desk-height anyway.

flamebait sr.
Monday, March 03, 2003

I was in this position a while ago - and I needed a desk that could handle 21" CRTs...

Try staples - they have some sturdy desks for a few hundred. I also got a very nice leather swivel managers chair for $80 (!)

punter
Monday, March 03, 2003

Third vote for Bush Office Advantage (this is starting to sound like an infomercial!)

I have the corner desk, two straight 48" tables, and a hutch on one of the straight tables. The corner desk is nice and BIG. Each table was about $150-$200 from Office Depot which delivers for free. All desk and table modules have a plastic channel along the inside of the back panel for wires.

This stuff looks very good in a home office. I like Bush's quality, pretty good for particle board stuff. The table and desk edges are finished with a nice thick plastic trim piece to protect the edge of the table from delaminating from constant use.

On the other hand, if I had it to do over again, I *might* go the solid core door route.

Bored Bystander
Monday, March 03, 2003

I would recommend taking a look at the Hon 38000 series.  You should be able to get a 72" x 36" (surface space) steel and wood desk for under $400 from a local office furniture supplier.  I have one with the metal hutch (another couple hundred dollars I believe) and it works very well for me.  The only problem with it is size.  If you are going to buy one for home like I did, you may have problems fitting it through doorways.

Anonymous
Monday, March 03, 2003

The best arrangement that any of my employers have provided is a standard office desk, the 40 year old design, plus a separate computer table.  I arrange them in an L.  I haven't seen anything that really works better.  But it is only good for one monitor.

The antro stuff, especially the Fog Console, looks pretty awful.  It makes a nice picture, but I won't want to work at one.  The Bush Furniture doesn't look too good either, but it might be possible to put together something useful.  Anything that looks modular reminds me of cubicles. 

For my next home office desk I am considering something custom built at a place like http://www.columbiaoak.com  They do nice work and are tolerably priced.  You can also get really fancy hugely expensive but not more useful custom work done if you look around for it.

mackinac
Monday, March 03, 2003

The first desk I bought for home use, many years ago, was a real struggle to get it in to the house and down the hall to my room.  Then I discovered that desks usually come apart in to 2-4 major pieces and moving them is no trouble at  all.  This might not be true for the Ikea ones.

mackinac
Monday, March 03, 2003

If I had to do it all again, I'd build it myself, actually.

But I suspect that I'd make it pretty perminantly fixated to the room it was in, so I don't think it would fly in an apartment.  Hence Office Advantage is available and inexpensive.

flamebait sr.
Monday, March 03, 2003

I have a big glass topped table thing from Ikea, with a  platform underneath that the computers go on, the single keyboard, monitor and mouse go through a switch.  The desk surface fills until I can't stand it anymore.

When we move, I'll have to dismantle it, #237 on the hate list.

Simon Lucy
Monday, March 03, 2003

For a do-it-yourself desk, I highly recommend buying laminated countertop from the hardware store, and setting it on filing cabinets. It's about the same cost as the suggested "door" desks, but requires no finishing. Also, being countertop, it is spill-proof and easy to clean. It also typically has a two-inch lip at the back, so pencils won't roll off the backside.

I used that for years as a student. Now I've upgraded to a corner desk from one of the office stores. Lots of flat space, rather sturdy, reasonably priced, but not much for drawer space. For that, I bought cheap, stackable plastic cabinets that stand next to the desk.

David Fischer
Monday, March 03, 2003

I can hardly beleive this topic - isn't there a furniture workshop in your area that'll build exactly what you want at a price waaaay below the $10K mark - it'd cost $1K here (New Zealand - so freight would run you a few buck...) if you wanted good hardwood, but a fair bit less for pine.

James Davies
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Way back in the dark ages (early 70's) I worked as an undergrad at a place in Cambridge call Intermetrics.

They had the very enlightened idea of stocking 6' x 3' butcher block counter tops, along with two-high metal filing cabinets, which made perfect bases for the table tops.

Unfortunately, a new maple 6' x 3' butcher block counter top is around $600. But you can't beat its durability.

That's what I've got in one home office.

In the other, I use 5' x 30" Anthro desks, and they're pretty modular and easy to configure. But a bit pricey ($400-500).

Chris Ryland
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Until I started using a flat screen (no good for serious graphics work, though), the main problem I have always found is getting a desk that is deep enough. I can put up with most other irritations of office desks.

The only time I *ever* found something really good, I had it for about 2 days before it got swiped by a director (for the same reason that they usually have the best of everything else, too).

You might also consider looking at chairs to complement the desk. The best I ever used were Aeron (at very large Pharma with very deep pockets).  http://www.hermanmiller.com/CDA/product/0,1469,c201-pss1-p8,00.html 

Justin
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

I don't think that it meets your requirements (in fact, I'm not sure that it meets anyone's requirements), but when people talk about desks, I always bring up the Aura (and you mentioned "Swordfish"-esque desks):

http://www.poetictech.com/aura/

And the best part is that the whole thing rotates!

I don't think that it would really work, but I'd love to try one out. Maybe the next time that I set up an evil lair in a hollowed out volcano...

Bill Tomlinson
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

I definitely recommend the Aeron chair, except the price of a new one may be more than your other office furniture combined.  If possible, try to look for the latest backrupt local dot-com, and see if they're selling off Aeron chairs in the bankruptcy sale.  One of my coworkers was able to pick one up that way for $350, rather than the ~$900 list.

Josh Johnson
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

I personally love the steelcase stuff.  It's modular and very well built.  I don't think I've seen a line of office furniture I liked better, regardless of price.

Jared Martin
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Also, even if you are lucky enough to not work in cubicles, don't overlook cubicle furniture. You could put cubicle walls along the non-window walls of your office. And cubicle desks tend to be very well thought out for programming use.

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

They're not exactly on the cutting edge of office furniture technology or esthetics, but the modular desk components I got at Office Depot work fine, and look decent enough to show to a client (all the crap on top of the desk is another matter).  I got about 20 feet of desktop, arranged in a U, and a file cabinet for a little over $700  (on sale).  Free delivery, too.  By doing a little research,  I was able to get a desk that exactly fits the wall spacing of the room.

It's what you'd expect for the price: particle board covered with veneer and wood half-rounds on the edges.  It's quite strong, though. 

Hardware Guy
Wednesday, March 05, 2003


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kyle walker
Friday, October 31, 2003

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