DIY Studio Desk

silverling_co

New Member
Hey everyone,

I'm in the process of designing my own studio desk and I would love any thoughts/experience/advice you have on the subject! I don't use a lot of sound gear, but I have included a tray for my keyboard, and a 4u 19" rack on the desktop (for a power conditioner, pre-amp and 2 audio interfaces). I'll also have two monitors (one widescreen, one vertical).

Most of my work is in Dorico (notation) and Cubase (recording and mockups), so I think this workflow will be pretty good for me. If you have any suggestions or things to watch out for, let me know! I've never done a DIY on this scale before, so I am keen on advice and experience from those who have.

Cheers!
Cody
 

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halfwalk

Active Member
Some of this might seem obvious, but one never knows.

- Consider leaving room for your cat to sit and watch you work, if you have one. Mine appreciates this. :emoji_cat:
- Don't forget about cable management; it's nice to design the desk with this in mind, rather than as an afterthought.
- Leave a spot for that piece of gear that you didn't even know you wanted, and therefore haven't purchased yet. (though looks like you've got no problem there)
- Measure your chair and really work out the ergonomics to match your ideal position and posture. Adapt the desk to yourself, rather than adapting yourself to the desk.
- As the adage goes, measure twice, cut once.
- Post some pics and show off your handiwork afterward :)

Good luck, and enjoy!
 

Morning Coffee

Active Member
I thought that the desk in this video was an interesting and practical design, where the keyboard section does not move, but rather, the top of the desk slides out of the way to give access to the keyboard. (as mentioned by Nick's comment above)

 
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Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
The problem is that anything on the desk will get pushed onto your lap - and it's also where the keyboard and mouse want to be (instead of where they are). That's why the stationary shelf with the monitor on it needs to be raised about 3-1/2".

But his design is on the right track. :)
 
OP
silverling_co

silverling_co

New Member
Thanks for the input everyone! There are definitely some good ideas here. I definitely like the idea of having a fixed keyboard stand under the desktop, but I'm not sure about having the desktop slide. Like @Nick Batzdorf says, everything on the desk will end up on your lap! I'll play around with it for sure though!
 

MatFluor

Senior Member
I thought that the desk in this video was an interesting and practical design, where the keyboard section does not move, but rather, the top of the desk slides out of the way to give access to the keyboard. (as mentioned by Nick's comment above)

I actually built mine based on his design. Works well - just make sure you use the right wood because it could bend.

Changes I made to his design: I made it about 10cm wider (due to the larger Keyboard I have), and added rails so the top parts slides more easily and controlled. Else it's pretty much the same, cost was less than $250.

The height is (for me) great, good playing height for MIDI, a little bit high for writing/gaming/other work. But not too high, just a little bit. I could measure some stuff if interested. They Key is, my knees don't touch the metal frame underneath as it's far enough away, the piano is comfortably low but doesn't touch my thighs. So for me, it was really a great design, easy to make as well.

Note that the top in my pictures was a bit too much to the back, I usually slide it just enough to see all key fully, but not the Keyboards frame.
 

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Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Nice job.

added rails so the top parts slides more easily and controlled
You might put some paste wax on top of the boards the desktop is sliding over:

https://www.scjohnson-professional.com/en-us/products/floor-care/paste-wax/sc-johnson-paste-wax

It makes a big difference.

But really, something like this - hardwood strips (maple in this case) are probably the best answer if you're using plywood. It won't wear out.

I used to use heavy-duty drawer slides, but now I make them as shown. More work, but the coolness factor is important. :)
 

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Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
^ It doesn't have to be Johnson's Paste Wax, of course. That's just the brand most woodworkers in the US use for this kind of thing, and it's not expensive.

I use more deluxe (meaning expensive :) ) stuff for finishing.
 

MatFluor

Senior Member
^ It doesn't have to be Johnson's Paste Wax, of course. That's just the brand most woodworkers in the US use for this kind of thing, and it's not expensive.

I use more deluxe (meaning expensive :) ) stuff for finishing.
Thanks, yeah - I put some wax on the vertical boards to slide better and prevent a little wear. The drawer slides at the sides at a little comfort too there.

Nice! I'll keep your solution in mind once I overhaul the desk, it could be a nice solution/addition as well.
 

Morning Coffee

Active Member
I actually built mine based on his design. Works well - just make sure you use the right wood because it could bend.

Changes I made to his design: I made it about 10cm wider (due to the larger Keyboard I have), and added rails so the top parts slides more easily and controlled. Else it's pretty much the same, cost was less than $250.

The height is (for me) great, good playing height for MIDI, a little bit high for writing/gaming/other work. But not too high, just a little bit. I could measure some stuff if interested. They Key is, my knees don't touch the metal frame underneath as it's far enough away, the piano is comfortably low but doesn't touch my thighs. So for me, it was really a great design, easy to make as well.

Note that the top in my pictures was a bit too much to the back, I usually slide it just enough to see all key fully, but not the Keyboards frame.

Very nice. I'll make a similar desk sometime in the future, with a few minor tweaks, just don't have the space at the moment. I'm also thinking of getting those iLoud Micro speakers you have!
 

maestro2be

Active Member
Be careful if you decide to do a "fixed keyboard and mouse" position on top of the desk. I did that and I get killer back pain from having to "reach" constantly for the mouse and keyboard. You will find yourself getting lazy and not pushing in the midi keyboard to type and mouse.

During those moments when you're "recording live notes" you will "reach" for the mouse and keyboard (for those little change track clicks, or lower volume etc.) since your mind is focused on your Midi keyboard, music and not posture. Before you know it, hours of this habit will form and your back will be hurting as well as your neck and shoulders. You need to be able to lean back some in the chair throughout the day to rest your neck and back so don't make my mistake.
 
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silverling_co

silverling_co

New Member
I also made a desk using the sliding top kind of design. I had a piece of glass made for the top that slides in grooves in the hardwood plywood.
This was very similar to my first deign with the side racks for equipment. After thinking about it, I realized that I don't do a lot of recording in my studio. Almost all of my work is "in the box" with notation programs (I like Dorico) and mockups (in Cubase). I definitely like the versatility your desk has with adding equipment though.
 

dasbin

New Member
Be careful if you decide to do a "fixed keyboard and mouse" position on top of the desk.
Yeah, that makes sense to me. What do you think is the solution to keyboard and mouse position?

I was thinking of having my controller drawer be deep enough that my keyboard and mouse are normally positioned in front of the keyboard in that drawer, then when I want to do some playing I'll bring them out up on to the main desk and slide the keyboard forward in the drawer.
 
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silverling_co

silverling_co

New Member
@dasbin That is kind of what I was thinking too. If I can have both pretty close to the correct height and position, I won't have to worry about reaching
 

MatFluor

Senior Member
I can recommend grabbing some carton (that you have lying around) and make a table mockup based on the design you want to go with. Then adjust to taste until you think that all is comfortable (that's the way I adjusted the heights of my metal frame - I got the frame first, adjusted with some cardboard to know where the piano will be and where the top desk surface will be, and made sure both were comfortable to sit, stretch legs, easy to reach etc).

Then measure twice cut once ;)