If there’s one fundamental constant in our household, it’s that I’m a cheap bastard. I don’t like spending money on things I need, so I can save money to buy things I don’t need. Unfortunately, “things I need” has been dominating the past year, with expensive house repairs, dental work, and car repairs rounding out the top places I’m spending money. I am disappointed to find yet another “things I need” knocking at the door and begging to have money spent on it.
I don’t think I’ve ever owned an actual desk. I do have an Aeron chair (which I highly recommend, if you have the cash or come across one) I acquired from the previous company’s liquidation, because I’d be too cheap to pay full price for something like that. But my desk has always consisted of a six foot folding table and a five foot folding table, arranged in an L configuration, showing here, though rarely this tidy:
I’ve gotten along OK with folding tables, but when you put drinks, electronics, gun parts, etc, on a surface that’s basically a laminated printout of wood backed with paper, and then glued onto particle board, the surface tends to go pretty fast. At some point, I turn the table around so the crappy parts are in the back, but about once every three years or so, it’s time for another folding table. Yesterday, I had a big piece of “laminate” (i.e. paper) come up, and extended my tape job another foot or so to patch it. I’ve looked at the polymer folding tables, and they feel flimsy to me. Cable channeling would also be more difficult without the steel supports. If you look at solid wood or high quality laminate folding tables, you’re now talking real money. So it is time for the madness to end. I looked online to find better solutions, and I’m struck by how much office furniture either sucks, or is expensive. I’ve always liked Ikea as a cheap, not quite sucky solution, but nothing they had was big enough for my desk space requirements. The trend today seems to be for smaller workspaces, which I would quickly have piled a foot high with crap. So Bitter helped me go through Pinterest and Ikea Hackers, and I found the perfect solution:
Perfect idea for solving my problem! I don’t much like the red, but it comes in black. The butcher block countertop they use, made of solid oak, is a little rich for me, but Ikea offers a much cheaper alternative in a solid Beech. They make it in lengths of 96 inches, which can be cut to size. It’ll work fine for making two desks I can arrange nicely in an L shape. I’d also pick up some storage space, since they also have drawer and cubby modules for this desk. I can stick the server that runs the blog in the cubby, alongside its UPS, if I don’t install the middle piece.
All this can be done for under 300 bucks. That may be double what I’d spend on a new pair of folding tables, but I think solid Beech is going to hold up a lot better than laminate, and if it gets rough, I can just plane it, sand it, and refinish it. If you have a look around that Ikea Hackers site, it’s pretty amazing what people are doing with some of their furniture.