How to deal with desk with sharp edges?
November 25, 2009 1:31 PM   Subscribe

A desk I bought from office depot a couple of months ago has sharp edges -- not sharp enough to cut, but sharp enough to be plenty annoying if I ever touch those edges. Is there any easy and not-ugly way to deal with these?
posted by shivohum to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is it made out of? Glass, metal, press board, wood?

There are these things that parents use to baby proof furniture and fireplace edges you could buy.
posted by chiababe at 1:53 PM on November 25, 2009

What material are the corners? Also, until you get it fixed, avoid watching the movie "Lost Highway". One of the characters meets a rather unfortunate end with a sleek glass coffee table. To this day I can never look at furniture with sharp edges the same way.
posted by tfmm at 1:55 PM on November 25, 2009

chiababe probably has the right idea, but if it's just a plain jane wooden desk, could you not just sand it down?
posted by felspar at 2:01 PM on November 25, 2009

If the desk is wood, maybe you could pay a local woodworker to go round it with a roundover router bit (that wouldn't work with any kind of manufactured board, though).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:09 PM on November 25, 2009

Thanks for the ideas so far. The desk is wood, with probably particle-boards on the surfaces, I think...
posted by shivohum at 2:13 PM on November 25, 2009

I would just go grab a sanding sponge at the hardware store and go over the parts that concern me.
posted by dhartung at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2009

If the surface is formica type material, it shoud file down a bit more. Use a relatively fine file and hold it about 45 degrees or so and file it rounder
posted by Redhush at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2009

hold a a strip of fine sand paper by the ends and chamfer the edges just a tiny bit, like buffing shoes.
posted by hortense at 3:44 PM on November 25, 2009

Formica is a self-edging material, which will look fine if you take the sharp edge off.

To do it right, you need to find a friend who has a router and a small rounding-over bit (or rent one for a day). This will produce a smoother and more even edge than sandpaper. Try it on a piece of scrap first, and then do a small area out of sight on the back or the bottom edge of the piece where you want to do the top edge to make sure it does what you want.
posted by KRS at 3:47 PM on November 25, 2009

If it is a laminate top you can use a file designed for edging laminate. I believe it is called a plastic file. Since you don't have a lot to do I would wrap sand paper around a block of wood and use that always sanding in a downward direction so you don't lift the laminate off at the edges. You can also do this if it is a wood top. Just go slow so you can see any problems as they develope.
posted by leetheflea at 4:38 PM on November 25, 2009

I have a tiny Dremel I used to round the edges of one of those sharp metal Apple keyboards. It was kind of fun and not terribly noticeable.
posted by clango at 6:28 PM on November 25, 2009

Er, if you don't feel like potentially ruining your desk by trying to sand particle board (I've tried it, with disastrous results) I'd suggest something simple-- Electrical or duct tape. You can find all sorts of colors, and just by choosing a good, thick tape and by being really careful about the edges, you could make it way less ouchy. If you try it, make sure that the tape is halfway over each edge (top and bottom) and that it goes exactly to the edge. If you want to do the vertical edges at the corners as well I'd suggest doing that part first.

If you struggle with the corners, try cutting v shapes (90 degree angles) into the ends of the tape and then wrapping them down to where the tip of the v matches perfectly with the corner. You want the sides of the v to match up perfectly when you wrap that around on the other side.

Confusing? I hope not. Good luck!
posted by wild like kudzu at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2009

First off there are different types of particle board. Some are made of finer particles than are others. The finer ones are compressed at a higher pressure and are also denser making them harder. I'd just take some medium grit sanding paper and wrap it around ( tightly) a sanding block or a small piece of 2X4. DON'T use just your fingers, you'll burn them. Plus if the particles come through the sand paper, you'll have splinters for sure. You can get a sanding block at the hardware store, but a small block of wood will work. Sand it lightly, but with even pressure at first to get an idea of how much effort it takes to smooth it out. Don't get carried away and try to do too much too fast. Particle board isn't the best to sand but it can be done if done properly ( light pressure). Just medium grit, sand lightly and long strokes varying where abouts on the edge your sanding. Sort of go one long stroke one way and then come back in the opposite direction moving your block over slightly so that your not sanding the same part of the edge all the time. Continue going over the edge a few times and you'll be done in short order. Just check the edge every so often and when its smooth, stop. Too much pressure will make sawdust AND rough edges! Good luck.
posted by Taurid at 9:58 PM on November 25, 2009

And for future desk buyers. Look for desks with 'radiused' edges to avoid this common problem with inexpensive desks.
posted by Muirwylde at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2009

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