Computer Desks that Don't Suck?
April 24, 2005 12:34 AM   Subscribe

I need a new computer desk solution. The closest thing to computer desk nirvana I have found online is the IKEA Jerker desk, but IKEA hasn't seen fit to move into my area yet and they don't sell all the accessories online.

Ideally, this is what I am looking for:

1. A keyboard tray that will hold a multimedia ergonomic keyboard, mouse and mousepad, AND a 6x8 wacom tablet. I need a keyboard tray because I am short as hell, so mice and tablets and such can't live on the desktop. A height adjustable desk won't quite work unless I can raise up all the monitors to be eye level, which brings me to my next requirement...

2. Enough space (and weight bearing capacity) for up to 3 monitors--a 22 inch CRT, a 19 inch CRT, and a 17 inch LCD.

3. An area or areas (raised shelves, side shelves, whatever) with enough room for a 9x12 flatbed scanner, inkjet printer, the computer case, and surround sound speaker system.

4. Enough desk space remaining for writing, sketching, and my reference stand. (I am a digital artist, so I regularly have to clip up pages, books, etc. to use as reference while I paint.) This space can be in front of the monitors.

5. Cable management, or at least a way to hide the rats' nest, is a must.

6. I like simple, modern lines and materials.

A few caveats: It needs to be inexpensive.. no more than 400 bucks. It can't be L-shaped, but a corner/triangular configuration would be fine. I generally don't like "tower" configuration desks. They make me feel nervous and crowded.

I am open to do-it-yourself suggestions, but I drive a sedan and live in an apartment, so do-it-yourselfing would be limited. Plus, my toolkit is limited to a couple of screwdrivers, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a pink hammer.
posted by xyzzy to Shopping (10 answers total)
I'm pretty sure you can call IKEA and order pretty much anything in the catalog, even if they don't have it in the online store.
posted by trevyn at 12:55 AM on April 24, 2005

Alas, some of the Jerker stuff is "store only." I *could* theoretically ask my brother to drive to his local IKEA then bring it all up when it visits later this summer, but I figured there had to be some other artist type Ask Mefites with crazy desk requirements like mine that might offer an alternative solution.
posted by xyzzy at 1:14 AM on April 24, 2005

Your Jerker (hur, hur) looks like the Electronics Workbenches I had in school. I dunno about the keyboard tray being an option for some of these things, but I bet a lot of things are possible with an existing keyboard tray's pneumatic arm and $10 in hardware from Home Depot.
posted by boo_radley at 1:50 AM on April 24, 2005

Not a solution but a warning: I had a 22" + 15" CRT combo on a desk for a while, but because it wasn't solid wood (some generic glueboard composite) the desk started sagging. If it weren't for the reinforced metal bar underneath, I'm certain the table would have snapped. I cannot stress enough how important it is that whatever desk you end up with, make absolutely certain it's solid wood. If you keep your computers under your desk as I did, you can probably imagine just how tragic it would be to have 120 lbs. of monitors coming crashing down on your computers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:42 AM on April 24, 2005

Civil is quite correct that particalboard sags under any real load. But I anticipated this when I bought a super cheapo computer desk, and used a single vertical 2"x4"to support the middle of the desk and transfer the weight of the monitor to the floor. Ugly, but it works unobstrusively. If you've any woodwork skilz at all you do it more elegantly.
posted by mojohand at 7:37 AM on April 24, 2005

You can purchase Ikea items by fax if they are not available on their web catalog. My wife and I just did this for our Kitchen Cabinets. You can probably get started by calling 1(800)434-IKEA.

They will make you fax them a copy of your driver's license along with the order. Kind of a pain, but it works.
posted by alms at 7:54 AM on April 24, 2005

I don't know if I can help you hit both your weight bearing requirement and your price point, but I have been very happy with my FIT system desk from anthrocart you could probably get started for about $400 without a monitor shelf and about 550 if losing the shelf is a deal breaker. You can add accessories over time. The reason I recommend this even though it is over your price point is because the strength is absolutely unparalleled. I have had 2 21" CRTs and a 19" LCD on mine for 3 years and it is still absolutely rock solid.
posted by tcskeptic at 8:18 AM on April 24, 2005

here's the simple do-it-yourself solution:
buy 2, 2-drawer metal filing cabinets and a flat solid door or thick piece of plywood to lay across them. You could make plywood look decent by getting a piece with an oak veneer or something and a piece of oak trim along the front edge. the easiest would be a nice sturdy door that's already finished. shop around for a decent keyboard tray to screw on underneath. Get a nice fully adjustable chair. I thought this cable management kit looked kind of slick but haven't used it. Depending on your printer you might be able to get some kind of stand to stack your printer and scanner on top of each other.
posted by jacobsee at 10:13 AM on April 24, 2005

re: the weight isse. I've had the IKEA Jerker desk for something like 7 years, and it is not sagging, despite carrying the weight of a PC tower and an ancient and ridiculously heavy 21" monitor. I suspect this is because the desk does have a big and sturdy metal bar that runs under it.
posted by edlundart at 10:37 AM on April 24, 2005

Thanks everyone for your awesome suggestions. :)
posted by xyzzy at 1:00 PM on May 6, 2005

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