How to Fix Your Poorly Designed Office Desk
You’ve finally bitten the bullet and gotten that new office desk, put it together and BAM It’s the worst goddamned desk you’ve ever purchased. I know. I’ve been there. I recently purchased a desk that happens to be a knee-breaker from Walmart. Thankfully, it looks like it’s no longer for sale, and it shouldn’t be. Whoever designed this desk failed to take into consideration legs and swing. The dimensions looked good though, which is why I bought it, but it’s actually knee short by the shelves on the end.
Why Didn’t I just Return It?
I’ll answer the obvious question. Since the desk is a piece of shit, why didn’t I return it?
It weighs about 100 pounds. I actually had to risk it by asking someone to help me get it into the front door. There’s no way I could have gotten it into my car without taking the same risk. Once was enough!
I’m not going to UPS or Fedex or anywhere else to mail this SOB back to the company. It’s NOT happening for the same reason I’m not asking anyone to help me get it into my car.
I didn’t have time to wait for another desk to be shipped. If my office is down, I can’t work… Not that there’s much work these days.
I’m not buying another desk when I just spend $100 on a new desk, and I don’t need a floor weight. The floor is gonna stay down all by itself.
How Did I Fuck Up? What Were the Dimensions of the Desk?
I actually looked at this desk for several days and compared the dimensions of the current desk I had to the one I bought. I also compared those dimensions to other desks in the same and different price ranges. My original desk had a 52” gap between the legs. I rarely hit a knee on it.
Front Length: 52 inches
Side Length: 52 inches
Height: 29 inches
Depth: 19 inches
Leg to Leg Diagonal: 45 inches
Buying this desk meant doubling my desk space, meaning I’d have a place to write as well as type. However, I failed to make a calculation. 52 – 19 is 33 inches. At no point is that ever going to work for me. Complicating factors were the side shelves, which take off another 12.5 inches, and that dimension was not listed anywhere. The end result is that the leg space is 20.5 inches. That is cramped, and I knew it the minute I sat down. Unfortunately, after you destroy the box and put it together is a bad time to realize these things. Also, who the hell thought this was a good idea? The designers of this desk literally took a 52 inch ( 4.33 foot) desktop and fucked it up so badly that it left less than 2 feet of leg space! This should have been caught in the design and testing phase.
The second thing I realized is that there was no feasible place to put the computer or the monitors! I have a two monitor floating stand. It anchors with a clamp. The modesty panel was too close to the desk edge to fully fit the clamp. Another bad design flaw. A good hard knock to either monitor, and that clamp will spin, come free and damage $200 worth of monitors. The desk also didn’t come with a feasible place to put the computer. It’s either going to take up desk space or sit on the floor. Neither of those are good options. To be fair, I saw this before I bought it was figured 52 inches was plenty of space to find somewhere to put the computer. Turns out, my computer is very large! It’s longer than 19 inches.
How I Fixed This POS Desk
After staring at the desk for a good hour, I realized it has to be used as a corner desk, meaning the monitors have to go in the bend of the L. It’s the only place that offers enough room to clamp the monitor stand. The computer has to go on the shelves, which means the top shelf had to be removed. That solved the problem of where to put things, but it didn’t solve the uncomfortable nature of this desk. It’s an L, not a corner, which means it comes to an L on the inside too. Across an L isn’t a good place to put a keyboard. I needed another panel to fill the L. Luckily, I just removed that shelf!
Tools I Needed
T-shaped flat brackets – had to order
A Handheld Miter Saw – Had to order
Very Short Screws – Already had
Wood Putty, Cause I can’t Cut a Straight Line – Had to order
Black Paint – Already had
Drill – Already had
Determination – Got it
1. Draw Lines to Cut the Shelf
The first step was drawing the lines on the back of the shelf that I had removed so that I know where to cut and how long to cut it. To do this, I placed the bottom side of the shelf on the under side desk and moved it until I liked the depth. This ended up being about 9.5 inches. Then, I drew the lines.
2. Cut the Shelf
Once the hand-held mini miter saw arrived, I took the shelf and the saw into the kitchen and cut out the piece I needed. This took an hour, and as predicted, even with lines drawn, I can’t cut a straight line.
3. Test the Shelf
Once I finished the cuts, I tested the shelf. The fit wasn’t close enough to use, even with wood putty. The good news was that one side was better than the other, so I only had to recut one side.
4. Cut the Shelf Again
I had to take the shelf back into the kitchen and cut one side again. This time, the fit was close enough that I could use it and fill the gaps with wood putty.
5. Install the Shelf
I used T-brackets and very short screws to install the shelf. This was a challenge. Desks typically come with some sort of predrilling. To install a panel to turn the L desk into a corner desk, there were no predrilled holes. Thankfully, I do have a drill, so I was able to force the screws through the wood, and it had to be very short screws because desktops are typically only .5 inches thick, so the screws had to be less than .5 inches long. I had a few.
6. Use Wood Putty to Fill the Gaps
I used wood putty to fill the gaps between the original desk and my add-on.
7. Paint the Putty
I used craft paint, which is what I had on hand, to paint the putty to a color close to the black of the desk. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it’s better than tan putty!
8. Get Back to Work
At that point, the desk is usable, but it really speaks for the poor design of the original desk. No desk should need this much modification after it’s put together. It’s a complete failure of the company that designed and sold the desk. If there had not been a global pandemic and the risk of returning it and catching COVID so great, they would have gotten this desk shipped back to them:
1. Because I wouldn’t have had to destroy the box by completely cutting out the front panel in order to touch the exterior cardboard as little as possible.
2. I could have asked someone to help me load the box in the car.
3. Because I would have been able to travel to UPS or FEDEX to return it safely.