How do I attach a short wood plank onto an Ikea fiberboard tabletop?
January 19, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

My desk is not deep enough for me to sit comfortably with the monitor at a distance. How would I go about anchoring a wood plank onto it that will hold the counterweight of a 24" monitor sitting on the overhanging edge? This picture should explain what I mean. Clamps? Nails? Screws?

For the record it's this tabletop which is made of :

Top: Fiberboard, Acrylic paint
Frame: Particleboard, ABS plastic
Filling material: Paper
Bottom: Fiberboard

It seems to hold small screws pretty well.
posted by legospaceman to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you might have an easier time installing a keyboard shelf so you can sit further away from the desk.
posted by Night_owl at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Screws should do it. Make sure the part of the plank furthest from the edge is screwed down very firmly. I'd probably go the extra mile and have a second plank on the underside of the table with a spacer block between the protruding sections, and screw through all three layers.
posted by pipeski at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2013

I'd drill through the board and the table top then put bolts through. Then I'd attach the monitor to the board if there's the option to do so. Personally though I'd have a board that runs the length of the table top as you're then distributing the weight more evenly and it may look neater. Remember that the edges of the table top are solid wood but the middle is just filled with honeycomb paper, so screws won't hold away from the edge.

I've got a bench vice bolted to mine and the bolts do the trick through the non solid section of the table top.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

An alternative that does not include drilling holes and adding ply: can you place the desk in front of a bookcase and put the monitor on a shelf?
posted by sciencegeek at 2:20 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

You may want to use brackets and a shelf to mount the monitor to the wall slightly higher than your desk. When you're working, slide the desk out as far as you need. When you're not working, slide the desk back.

If you do mount a board to the desk, try to find something just as long as the desk or you'll be chasing stuff that escapes down the gap.
posted by jaimystery at 2:22 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sciencegeek's post made me think of another way of attaching a board without drilling is to use a board the width of the desk and buy a couple of G clamps. One at either end should work.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 2:24 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I had that same exact crappy desk at the last startup I worked at, had the same problem with my monitor, and futzed around with adding an extension only to discover that the weight of the desk is so slight that the slightest bump* to my desk would send the entire desk & monitor contraption tilting over backwards, even though I only had a 17" LCD on there. So I don't recommend trying to add anything to the desk but to put something something narrow behind the desk (I used a flatpack 3 shelf bookcase) or install a wall shelf or mount for your monitor.

*every time I stood up, which was less than optimal.
posted by jamaro at 2:37 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Something non-permanent like clamps would be best. If you could run the board all the way across to the front of the desk, and clamp it there, that would be the most secure. Clamp the board to the underside of the table, so it doesn't get in the way of your keyboard./

Or, buy a bigger desk on Craigslist, and sell your current desk on Craigslist.
posted by sninctown at 3:05 PM on January 19, 2013

An easy solution: Glue and screw two of those boards together with a spacer between them that is exactly the thickness of the table. The spacer should only run halfway, so you end up with a long "c" shape that you can slide on the table from the back. When you don't want it, you simply slide it off. No screws or clamps in the table. It would look something like this from the side, with the "B" lines representing boards, and "$" lines representing screws:

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:20 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Easiest solution would be to buy a $15 bar stool, and put the monitor on that. I don't think any solution that involves screwing that piece of wood into your desk will look any better.

On the other hand:

  • Get a piece of flat wood that can be cut to the width and depth of what you want the desk to be. Overhanging by at least 1" all around will look better. Should be the nicest wood you want to afford (there should be some nice cabinet-grade plywoods that can be sanded at Home Depot).
  • Have the HD people cut it to the required size.
  • Get some sand paper and sand whatever edges aren't comfortable (such as where you'll put your arms when typing).
  • Using 9 1" wood screws 3 on the left, 3 in the middle, and 3 on the right, screw from the bottom of the desk into the plywood. Screw length should be just less than the thickness of both your desk and the plywood.

    This should look ok (and even better if you finish the surface), and be functional.

  • posted by hanoixan at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2013

    Note: if you use screws, screw up from the bottom so the heads of the screws are in the particle board and the threads of the screws are in the actual wood. Much more holding power that way. Be sure to use screws of the proper length to avoid embarrassing miniature steel stalagmites.

    Alternate solution: check Monoprice for monitor brackets, price in the neighbourhood of $15-$30. Options include swing-arm mounting to the wall (which guarantees the monitor won't overbalance the desk), as well as clamp-on or screw-down mounts for desktops.
    posted by seanmpuckett at 4:18 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

    I am really familar with Ikea furniture and this desk and I can tell you it will NOT support the weight of the monitor. Best case situation would be to screw all the way through the desk with bolts and 2"-3" washers but I am positive this will strain the Ikea joints and your desk will quickly lose stability. Go for a small wall mounted shelf or even a keyboard shelf. The lever action of your proposed desk extension is going to do a number on the desk.
    posted by saradarlin at 4:34 PM on January 19, 2013

    I vote for the 'C' clamps. I use two of them for almost the exact same application.
    posted by notreally at 4:38 PM on January 19, 2013

    I, too, would be concerned about the stability of the desk after you cantilever a monitor off of it.

    Also, avoid screws if at all possible. Screws just do not attach to fiber/particleboard with long-term reliability or any real resistance to a good whack. If you do this, drill holes and use bolts and washers. There's a reason that flat-pack furniture comes with those weird IKEA connector gizmos -- they create metal to metal joints that are resistant to lateral forces.

    Anyway, my recommendation is to consider a wall-mount -- they can be inexpensive or very expensive depending on your need to play with it regularly or not.
    posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on January 19, 2013

    It might be cheaper just to buy a slightly deeper tabletop and transfer the legs across.
    posted by primer_dimer at 2:32 AM on January 20, 2013

    Seconding the monoprice wall mount. I bought one that articulates and swivels for under $20 for a 32" TV a few years back. Still holding up just fine.
    posted by no bueno at 7:30 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Wow. I considered a few of these solutions, ended up being lazy and ducttaping the plank to the table, and then when I got tired of seeing the plank sinking down in the back, ended up drilling two holes at the corners of the plank, and another right where the table ends, and ended up screwing it into the table. The 23" monitor I had has held up fine so far (about a week). What's kept it from falling backward is that I have the nicer, heavier Ikea legs on this thing, and there's a wall at the back, with the plank snug against it.

    Thanks for the replies folks.
    posted by legospaceman at 5:02 PM on February 22, 2013

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