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Office in an Armoire

Computer equipment is concealed in an armoire.Homeowners who undertake the process of renovating a house often desire space for a home office. Some don't want the office equipment to be visible, so they look at creative ways to conceal it. One solution is to place it in an armoire. The shelves can be used to hold a computer monitor, keyboard, printer and other devices to create a functional workspace. And, when you are done working, you can shut the doors and relax in the same room.

To create a similar workspace in your home, carpenter Mark Wildasin offers this suggestion: First decide what items you will use. Next, ensure that the armoire provides adequate room for your equipment (you will generally need to store a hard drive, computer keyboard, monitor, printer, lamp and possibly a telephone). Before beginning, measure and record the dimensions of the armoire and the necessary components. Next, roughly sketch the layout for all the equipment inside the armoire.

Setting Up a Computer in an Armoire

In the armoire pictured here, the hard drive and printer are set on the bottom shelf , and the keyboard and mouse are placed on the shelf above that. Above the keyboard is a shelf for the monitor. To the right of the monitor, smaller shelves allow additional side space to be used to hold items such as a phone, a small lamp and several office supplies, including pens, note pads and paper clips. Except for the keyboard/mouse shelf and printer shelf, which slide in and out, all the remaining shelves are stationary.

When deciding how your computer equipment will be placed in the armoire, keep in mind that the usual position for a desk surface or keyboard is 30 inches from the floor. You can make adjustments to this height as necessary, but the keyboard should be at or just below the level of your elbows when you're seated. The top of the screen of the monitor should be just below eye level. Don't forget to leave enough clearance and space above each piece of equipment to make sure they function properly.

Installing Slides on Armoire Shelves

Installing slides on armoire shelves is a fairly simple process. Select slides with lengths that fit as closely to the depth of the shelves so that the weight on the shelves is distributed correctly and the shelves can be moved out to maximize their usefulness. Slides are sold according to weight; Mark recommends using slides with a 100-pound label for a shelf holding heavier pieces of equipment. For the keyboard shelf, use ball bearing-based slides, since this shelf will receive heavy use. If you're installing hardware on existing shelves, you'll need to reduce the width of the shelves by 1 1/2 inches to ensure the hardware will fit on both sides. Cut the wood appropriately and smooth the edges by sanding them. You may wish to add paint or stain to the shelves before installing the slide mechanisms.

To mount slides, follow these instructions, measure up from the base of the armoire, mark the inside portion of the armoire, position the desired slide and drive in the screws with a drill, ensuring that the heads of the screws won't prevent the slide from closing properly. Install the slide mechanisms as far forward in the armoire as you can; Mark suggests about 1 inch from the front house clearance slough of the armoire.

Before placing the shelves in the armoire, create a notch in the back of each shelf to allow the cords to drape down from the top. Using a tape measure, locate the middle of the back edge of each shelf and mark the spot with a pencil. Using a jigsaw, cut a triangular-shaped notch, or use a hole saw to cut out a circular shape.

Creating a Roll-out Computer Keyboard Shelf

You can create a customized shelf for the keyboard with an extended edge in the front, so it can be moved in and out and to conceal obtrusive slide hardware. Using a 3/4-inch-thick piece of oak, cut two pieces, about 2 1/2 inches wide and 2 inches shorter than the depth measurement of the shelf to make the side edges. For the front of the shelf, cut a piece of 3/4-inch-thick piece of oak 2 1/2 inches wide and the length of the width of the shelf.

To assemble, flip the shelf over, measure and mark 1/2 inch in from each edge of the sides and place glue on the top of each side piece. Apply the two side pieces onto the shelf one piece at a time, even with the shelf's back. After verifying that the sides are perfectly square, clamp the pieces in place and allow the glue to dry. Next, pre-drill and countersink four evenly spaced screws onto each side of the extended edge and insert the screws. Attach the front edge to the shelf in the same fashion.

Organize your armoire according to your needs, and line the insides of the doors with a cork backing to make bulletin boards. A cordless telephone will cut down on clutter, and a small lamp will provide light for your workspace.


Mark Wildasin

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