Is there a computer workstation out there for me?
June 27, 2005 1:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new computer desk/workstation. Help me find what I'm looking for!

OK, so I've searched the Ask Metafilter archives for the past hour and dug up several previous threads on this very subject, none of which attack the very issue I'm having.

I'd like to find a desk that has enough room to house a 19" monitor, while having some extra space to do some school work if necessary. It must have a keyboard/mouse drawer. I'm thinking that an L-shaped desk might be the best, but finding one in my budget has been tough. I don't have any size restrictions. It seems that going to local retail stores is a waste of time, as I haven't been able to fall "in love" with a desk yet.

My budget is pretty low - I'd like to spend less than $300. Is there a desk out there that fits my criteria and budget?

(note: Many people have recommended IKEA's "Jerker" desk in other threads, so feel free to leave that one out :)
posted by nitsuj to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Try Craig's List! There is tons of cheap, quality furniture on there.
posted by k8t at 1:54 PM on June 27, 2005

I second the Craigslist recommendation, and also suggest querying your local FreeCycle group. Their website seems to be down right now, but I'm sure it's a temporary issue... kinda like when MeFi goes down. ;)
posted by bjork24 at 2:25 PM on June 27, 2005

Is it a 19" CRT or TFT monitor?
posted by armoured-ant at 2:32 PM on June 27, 2005

Response by poster: CRT.
posted by nitsuj at 2:33 PM on June 27, 2005

Another for Craigslist. And if you live by a college, see if it has a Daily Jolt website and check the Marketplace section. You're running a little late, but there are still going to be recent graduates who are moving out the area and want to sell their stuff for dirt-cheap.

Or, if you're not looking for shelving or whatnot just build your own! Get a slab of plywood (butcher block is nicer but more expensive), sand it down, cover that shit with a few layers of polyurethane stain, sand it down again, reapply polyurethane and keep it up until it's as smooth as you want it. If you're using plywood you'll want to screw a a couple of 2x2s (or 2x4, depending on the side) along the bottom to keep it from warping. You've got a desktop. Now find a couple of old sturdy filing cabinets, put your desktop on it, and you're good to go. I got my cabinents for free from my parents' basement, but in all I love my big-ass ghetto desk and it cost less than $30.
posted by schroedinger at 3:38 PM on June 27, 2005

Cheap option #1 is to find a local used office-furniture store. I got a gigantic Steelcase desk for $135 (admittedly, this was a long time ago, but still).

In a similar vein, cheap option #2 would be to find out if there is a state-property auction, business liquidator, etc, in your area. You can get some killer deals that way.

Not-quite-so-cheap option #3: you can customize a workbench at McMaster-Carr for about $300 that includes work surface, legs, and keyboard drawer (or save a few bucks and make the whole thing typing height). Not sure about shipping though.
posted by adamrice at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2005

I have 2 of these desks from Target. Both have 19 inch CRT monitors on them. If you place your computer on a side table, there is a fair amount of room, although mostly on the left side. It is very cheap, but it is actually relatively sturdy. It is real wood, not particle board, so you could re-stain or paint it to suit. It assembles easily. They have matching add-ons and bookshelves. They also have a table for around the same price that you could use to make an L.

The drawer is quite small, and it would be nice if you could switch it to the other side. I had a problem with a camlock on one desk. Other than that, it is surprisingly well made.
posted by Yorrick at 6:50 PM on June 27, 2005

How cheap are you willing to go?

I just bought my fourth used steelcase-like desk for $1.99 at the local university surplus sale (#3 was FREE from a yardsale's leftovers, woohoo!). You will find deals like that around you if you look hard enough. A keyboard drawer can be had and added by yourself for under $20 (only 10x the price of the desk! HA!).

The best part is you'll be able to keep the desk working until you're dead (steel doesn't rot, and I doubt you'll be using it on a marina, so it won't rust out). The things are that sturdy (mine supported 3 x 20" trinitron monitors and myself [265 lbs of fat] when I needed to change the lightbulb in the ceiling fixture). Of course you'll want to throw it out when it goes out of fashion. (Wait... it did already? 30 years ago? There's no resurgence for Avocado Green?! Oh my!)
posted by shepd at 7:27 PM on June 27, 2005

My housemate is getting the Mikael from IKEA. It comes in a few flavors, but black/corner stuck out in our eyes.

My old desk was a door on top of two file cabinets. Very, very spacious. Do that, if you can.
posted by rfordh at 9:12 PM on June 27, 2005

I had to get an inexpensive unit for a small space and I found some OK pieces at Staples in the Z-Line. I couldn't find the one I got, but here are some options. Not *great* furniture, but they have some style. Here are a few in varying price points that could be ordered online.

expo 79.99

Glass L-desk - 139.99

mobile, silver & frosted glass - 199.00

I don't know much about this company, but here is an OK looking unit from another maker on sale for 55.99 with free shipping thru 7/3/05. Other models available here too.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:01 AM on June 28, 2005

also, nitsuj, check out Amazon under furniture - they have a fair number of alternatives, some for well under $200.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:08 AM on June 28, 2005

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