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Desk Divider


Another Photo Essay...

I realize that it is highly unlikely that too many people would have a need to build something like this. Oh well, hopefully someone will enjoy reading this anyway.

Here is the "Before" picture.

This is your basic office desk, located in our church office. It has a raised front section, with a shelf and obscured plastic. The problem was that the section on the right of the photo was wide open. I was asked if I could come up with a barrier for the right side of the desk, for privacy and security reasons.

Naturally, being a church, resources are tight. I had to get creative to come up with something cheap. The real challenge was the obscure plastic panel. I could not find anything like this at the local big box hardware stores.

Providentially, I found a virtually identical panel. I was cleaning out my parent's garage and foudn a half-sheet of this panel just sitting there, where it had been since my parents bought the place over twenty years ago.

You just can't make up things like this!

For a design, I decided to make something freestanding. I had the plastic, but it would not span the whole distance. So I envisioned two panels spanning the space. So I needed 3 legs/dividers, and a top and bottom.

For the legs, I had a thick pine shelf that had been removed from our bathroom. The pine would be cut up to make some vertical legs/pylons.

Of course I forgot to take a photo at the beginning, so this is a heavily, clumsily, edited picture to show what the shelf looked like.

Here is the photo I edited to make that shot... I took all the scrap pieces and put them back together like a puzzle so that I could take this photo to show where I started.
The shelf supports were removed, a triangular pattern was created, and then arranged on the shelf, as shown, in order to lay out three legs.

Each support is about 5" wide at the base, and 2" wide at the top. They are around 1-1/2" thick, and about 11" tall. My overall goal was a finished height that was about 1/4" less than 12" tall, so that it would fit on the desk under the existing shelf.

Not much left after cutting out the three pylons.

For the top and bottom I had some reclaimed hardwood maple flooring that had been given to me by a friend. They were both longer than needed, thankfully. I had to fill a 63" space, so I cut the top board to be 62-1/1" long. (Best to leave a bit of wiggle room!) The floor boards were ripped to a 2" thickness. I then plowed a dado down the center of the two boards -- down the top of one, and the bottom of the other. The dado was about 3/8"x3/8" to accommodate the plastic panel.

The pylons were also dado'd down the center -- down both sides of one, which will be in the center, and down one side of the other two.

The middle pylon was notched to straddle the base. The base was cut down to fit inbetween the two end pylons such that the total length was 62-1/2" long -- same as the top board.

I painted the three pylons black, since the posts that support the shelf on the desk were black. I left the top and bottom boards as they were - plain clear maple lumber -- but I did have to add some polyurethane on the sides to cover over the fresh cut sides.

The two panels could now be cut to fit in the spaces provided. Once they were fitted into place, the top board could also be fitted into place and screwed down. It looked surprisingly good, I have to admit.

And then I had to take it apart and blow out the plastic panels with my air compressor, since dust had gotten inside the inner channels.

And here it is installed in the office. Net cost: Zero. Is the maple flooring a perfect match to the desk? Certainly not. But, it is a pretty close match, and does the job.

This is just sitting on the desk. No changes have been made to the desk, no holes drilled, no bolts inserted. In the future it can easily be removed if desired.

All in all, I'm very satisfied with how well this solution worked out to address this problem. I love having a workshop, and I love building things like this.


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