Scratch Build: The Ultimate Computer Desk

Discussion in 'Computer Cases, Power Supplies and Cooling' started by ultimatedesk, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Aastii

    Aastii VIP Member

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    13,291
    403 forbidden?

    That is what I'm getting on them :(
     
  2. Troncoso

    Troncoso VIP Member

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    4,421
    I don't even get that. Just blank space
     
  3. linkin

    linkin VIP Member

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    13,521
    Pictures aren't working for me, only because I'm at TAFE
     
  4. Compequip

    Compequip New Member

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    669
    No pics. just red X..... Something is wrong with his upload....
     
  5. Mitchell

    Mitchell New Member

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    19
    i am seeing an ice cube with a frog. and it also say that it violates tos
     
  6. Shane

    Shane Super Moderator Staff Member

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    20,441
    ultimatedesk,Use photobucket its much better....Imageshack is crap imo.
     
  7. linkin

    linkin VIP Member

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    13,521
    I second this :)
     
  8. FuryRosewood

    FuryRosewood Active Member

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    2,964
    or he could use dropbox.
     
  9. cabinfever1977

    cabinfever1977 New Member

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    I can see the pics just fine.
     
  10. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    First Staining Attempt

    Wow, sorry to all you folks that cannot see the images - I really don't know what could be going wrong. Imageshack in general is for the most-part reliable. They occasionally have a server that goes down, but still. Are you all still having problems viewing them?

    So - it's been some time since my last update (What has it been.. 2 weeks? Geez!) but I haven't been idle at home, it's just that I was really busy (There are kittens running around now!) and I've been working with some staining techniques, which has been a long, learning process.

    I did a bit of research and came across a good video over here: Link and I opted to give it a shot, because there apparently, is a tendency for maple to come out a little blotchy due to the tight grain, or something or other like that.

    So I picked up some supplies:

    [​IMG]

    Made up a test board - some wood filler, some real maple trim, and one side sanded to 120 and the other sanded to 220:

    [​IMG]

    And, apparently, I was supposed to cut the shellac with some denatured alcohol. Something I was not able to find, and subsequently, I found out that it is actually quite difficult to obtain here in Ottawa. I did not realize at the time, that I could have cut it with methyl hydrate, which is something quite commonly available at the local Canadian Tire.

    And, this is where things start to go wrong. Here is the shellac applied:

    [​IMG]

    Ok, not bad. Full strength. Ended up closing the grain structure completely, most likely. Here is the gel stain I chose:

    [​IMG]

    And, onto the wood:

    [​IMG]

    Wait 5 minutes, wipe off...

    [​IMG]

    Gross. Seriously? This is why you test on samples first. Look at that colour - it's practically pink!

    How about a second coat.

    [​IMG]

    And why the heck not, we'll stain the back as well, where it hasn't been shellac'd.

    [​IMG]

    Huh...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now really. That was not quite what I was expecting. Time to get a new sample piece - no shellac, but sanded properly to 120.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    What's going on here? This is not really the expected "richness" of a dark gel stain like this, is it? Hmm..

    [​IMG]

    Doh! Looks like keeping the gel stain in the basement, where it is freezing, separated the contents. There is a visible layer of clear liquid on top of the stain - that shouldn't be there.

    Staining attempt number 1? Failure.

    1. If you're using shellac to seal, to avoid streaking and blotching - you MUST cut it
    2. If you're going to use a gel stain, don't keep it in a cold environment before you're about to use it.

    Well, time to put the stain upstairs for a little while, and maybe another trip to the hardware store... And just an fyi, this took me about a week just to do the 2 samples, since it's so cold, I can only do 1 coat per day, as it takes a long time to dry.

    And here's a little something else:

    [​IMG]

    Cute, no? A litter of 5 - the first one was stillborn, so we've got 4 kittens, pretty exciting stuff. ;)
     
  11. Aastii

    Aastii VIP Member

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    13,291
    All of the pics are working perfect for me now :D

    I can not express just how jealous I am, it looks quite simply amazing. The desk, not the kittens
     
  12. voyagerfan99

    voyagerfan99 Master of Turning Things Off and Back On Again Staff Member

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    23,017
    When do you think it'll be totally finished?
     
  13. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    Second Staining Attempt

    Thank you Aastii, glad the pictures are working as well!

    Well... I've actually assembled both of the cabinets, and last night I did the final sanding (In preparation for staining) of the actual desk surface. The real time consumer is that it's cold, and I can only really stain 1 piece at a time. So, figure, a week for the desk surface, a week for both of the cabinets, a week for the top shelf... so optimistically, I'll have a desk, assembled, upstairs, ready to use in 3 weeks, but I'm thinking it'll be more like a month, to a month and a half.

    Also, that doesn't include all the detail work like getting the glass, setting up fans, hiding the wires, making the fan controls, power switches.. oh geez, now I'm getting depressed lol. It'll get done sometime soon ;)


    Some of you may have wondered - "You stained 2 small pieces of wood in the past 2 weeks?! That's all you have to show for progress on THE ULTIMATE DESK?!"

    Well, not quite... Really - I did more, I swear.

    As you all know, the first staining attempt went really poorly, so I immediately went out and started on a second staining attempt. This time, I purchased some pre-stain wood conditioner, as well as a traditional oil-based stain. I also set out to do this the right way. If I'm going to spend a week staining small samples, I might as well have something to show for it. I cut 8 small blocks of wood, and sanded them all to 120 grit, just like before, and tacked them all off.

    [​IMG]

    I had a plan this time - I was going to see what kind of colour combinations I could get with just 2 stains, and 1 wood conditioner (The gel stain, for what it's worth, had been mixed several times, and had been kept upstairs for a few days). Here is the wood conditioner I used. You can see in the background that it tints the wood just slightly.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the oil-based stain I picked up. It's a Minwax product, Red Mahogany.

    [​IMG]

    And of course, the Varathane Gel Stain that you've already seen, also, Red Mahogany.

    [​IMG]

    In this picture you can see a bit how the oil stain reacts to the wood conditioner. The wood conditioner seemed to have hardly any effect on the gel stain, most likely because gel stains don't really penetrate the wood the same as an oil stain.

    [​IMG]

    And in this picture you can see the whopping difference between the oil stain and gel stain, which are, strangely enough, supposed to be the same colour. The one on the left is the Minwax, and the one in the middle is the Varathane. Neither the first or second piece have wood conditioner on them. The piece on the right is wood conditioner + the Minwax oil stain.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the production line, the stain is still wet, I haven't wiped off the excess yet.

    [​IMG]

    And here is the result of 2 days of staining. (First day sanding, tacking, wood conditioner, first coat of stain, second day some of them got a second coat).

    From left to right, here is what I did to get the different results (Some of them obvious, some of them pretty darn subtle).

    1. Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
    2. Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
    3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
    4. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
    5. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
    6. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
    7. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain x 2 Coats
    8. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain x 2 Coats

    Wow! It's pretty amazing the different shades you can get when using just 3 pretty simple substances.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I then set about the next 4 or 5 days applying one coat of high gloss polyurethane each day (That was a long and boring process). Basically, get home from work, go downstairs for a whole 5 minutes, do a quick sanding, tacking, and another light coat of poly, done for the day, wait for the next day.

    Here's the final result of Staining Attempt Number Two. Please keep in mind, they are not in the same order that I mentioned above.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There's no doubt that I will use this method again in the future. I also now have a great set of staining samples for maple plywood that I will surely fine handy in the future (They are all marked on the back what the process / stain used was).

    Guess what though. None of them really came out the way I wanted. I'm still in search for that rich, deep, red mahogany / cherry look, and these just won't cut it (Though I admit, I do like #5 and #6, but maybe only because of their really spectacular grain pattern).

    See you next time for Staining Attempt Number Three! *sigh*



    Oh - and here's another snap of the kittens - they are 20 days old when this picture was taken, and they had just opened their eyes only a couple days beforehand.

    [​IMG]

    I won't be posting another update until next week, as I've decided to take a trip to the East Coast to celebrate St.Patricks day! I'll be in Halifax if anyone wants to go for a few pints! Have a great weekend everyone!
     
  14. Troncoso

    Troncoso VIP Member

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    halifax like nc/va (not sure which)??
     
  15. wolfeking

    wolfeking banned

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    11,258
    halifax (South Boston area) is in southern VA. not too far away really, about ~35 miles from me.
     
  16. danthrax

    danthrax New Member

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    597
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about and viewing pictures of Ultimate Desk! Looking forward to seeing the progress from here. Good luck and thanks for giving us something to marvel at, you are quite the craftsman.
     
  17. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    Third Staining Attempt

    Halifax, Nova Scotia - CANADA Yeaaah ;) I had a lot of fun - it's a big St.Patties day drinking destination. Home of Alexander Keith, you know!

    Thank you very much for the comments danthrax. I remember spending so many hours browsing various build logs and saying the exact same thing you're saying, to the poster, and to have it returned on my very own projects is really incredible. Thanks.

    For those of you interested in seeing how the kittens are doing, I've been keeping a bit of a video log on them - ie. I have been taking quick video clips of them every few days, since day 0. You can check them out here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/MrAderome#p/u

    Also, here is a bit of a sneak peak, as far as actual computer hardware is concerned - I've been slowly acquiring bits and pieces, since I'm still not entirely sure what will end up in this Ultimate Computer Desk.

    Kingston has decided to sponsor me, and has sent me this really fantastic SSD drive. I am PSYCHED!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you are all aware, my first 2 staining attempts were successful in the sense that I learned a lot, however, I was still not achieving the result I originally wanted.

    I decided to try something other than the tried-and-true local Home Depot, and I hit up a custom furniture store - Randalls. Let me tell you - it was a truly great experience, and I will be returning there many more times in the future due to the incredible service I received there.

    I walked in with my backpack full of my 2nd attempt samples, and immediately a salesperson started talking with me about what I was there for. I explained to her the stains I tried, along with the techniques, and she asked to see my samples.

    I pointed out the ones I liked, and why, and why I didn't like them, and she came back in a few minutes with a couple stains that might interest me. She then asked if she could do some sample stains on the back of the pieces I brought in. She took the pieces behind the counter, sanded them down, stained them, and came back in a few minutes with actual, real - this is what they're going to look like - samples.

    How cool is that? I could have just gone there in the first place and spent the whole extra 2 dollars, but would have walked out with 1 product - the right one - the first time. Amazing - I'm really happy I discovered that place.

    I can't imagine Home Depot opening up any of their products for a test piece.. I've never asked though, so who knows. Randall's is my goto place for stains now, however!

    [​IMG]

    Once again, I decided to see what variety of colours I could get with what I had on hand, so I setup 8 samples once more:

    1. Old Masters
    2. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters
    3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax + Old Masters
    4. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Minwax
    5. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters x 2 Coats
    6. Old Masters x 2 Coats
    7. Wood Conditioner + Varathane + Old Masters
    8. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Varathane

    [​IMG]

    I worked on the samples for about a week (1 coat per day, did 5 or 6 coats of poly on top, light sanding between poly coats)

    [​IMG]

    Here are a couple close up shots while staining was in progress

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    And a comparison with the previous samples, once everything was nicely glossed up

    [​IMG]

    Look at the difference in colour! Now that's more what I was looking for. There's no question that the gel stain has "muted" the grain a little bit, however, the colour is unquestionably closer to what I was looking for originally.

    Here is a shot of my previously favorite samples from the 2nd round, against the new samples

    [​IMG]

    And a closeup of the 2 samples I think I like the best. The differences between this batch are quite subtle, as the Old Masters gel stain has a very strong dye which mutes out the effects of conditioner, or any other stain applied before or after.

    [​IMG]

    Now that's what I call progress! I think I can call it quits for testing stain now. Time to move on to the dreaded motherboard tray / I/O Slot stuff...

    Until next time!
     
  18. Troncoso

    Troncoso VIP Member

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    4,421
    A 128gb SSD...........................................

    you have no idea how sad I am....but at least grats to you
     
  19. jgoff14

    jgoff14 New Member

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    343
    I want one!
     
  20. Benny Boy

    Benny Boy Active Member

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    2,861
    Mohawk furniture grade waterborn dystain. Being a dye, the color turns out uniform and not muttled. The natural colors in the wood, make the color variations in the finished piece. The porosity of the wood(soft spots make bloches)does not affect the consistent color acheived, without the "wash" coat.(wash is usually 1/2 sealer-1/2 solvent but I make it weaker beacuse if its too much it may not all sand back out enough). With dye, no wash needed.

    Each color the raw wood has, takes on it's own stained color. Make sence?Has that deep(as in depth, not dark) look, yet clean and clear. Like 3D if you will. Has that slight glisten like it's wayyy down in the wood, when the light shines on it. I think this is what your looking for. You probably have some furniture that looks like that.
    Very easy to use, just brush it on, and let it dry. There are other alcohol/solvent type wood dyes but those are for other specialty finishes and the waterborn is the way to go. I know you been working on this stain for a while, and working hard I see, but I think you'll be glad you looked into it, if you do. They have mohagany, but it doesnt have to be that brand. I'm suprised Randalls didn't show/have some. Perhaps they do!

    http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/catalog_browse.asp?ictNbr=178 suggest dark read mohagany. color can be easily adjusted/lightened from there if wanted.

    If interested, call a couple Architectural Millworlk companies in your area, that do the finishing themselves.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011

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