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Built-In Computer Desk: How You Can Create Custom Furniture with an Industrial Flair Part 3

In Blog, Decor, How To Guides by Megan Hodge1 Comment

Woo-Hoo!  This is the third and final post of this computer desk series. 😀  Are you as excited as I am?  I have to admit, this part is a little tricky, and you definitely need a good vise grip to hold the black iron pipes in place while you thread them.  And, you need some strong muscle.  I suggest skipping your arm workout if you are going to be threading pipes.  There are electric pipe threaders, but, if you are trying to go the economical route like us, then a pipe threader set is what you need.  This is a side angle view of the built-in industrial computer desk.

The other tricky part to this process is assembling all the pipes to form the frame of the desk.  It takes some planning and playing around with angles to get it just right if you are doing a built in desk like ours.  But, all the effort in the end is so worth it!  I also recommend spray painting the pipes and hardware after you have assembled the frame.  This way you do not have to go back over and use extra spray paint because the pipes will become marked up after assembling. This is a photo of black iron floor flanges that have been spray painted copper.So, let’s learn:

How to Thread ¾” Black Iron Pipes

  1. Make sure your vise grip is secured to your table properly. Also ensure the table you have your vise grip attached to is sturdy and can handle a great deal of pressure and weight.
  2. Place one end of the black iron pipe into the pipe holder of your vise grip.
  3. Take the ¾” threader and place it in the ratchet of the pipe threader setThis is a photo of a 3/4" pipe threader attached to a 3/4" pipe being held by a vise grip.
  4. Ensure the pipe is secured in place and start turning the ratchet clock-wise to start threading the pipe.
    1. This part is difficult and it takes a little bit of time to get the pipe threaded. This is a photo of a pipe threader threading a 3/4" black iron pipe.
  5. Once you see the pipe has been threaded to the end of the ¾” threader, turn the ratchet counter-clockwise to remove the threaded black iron pipe out of the pipe threader.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 if you need to thread the other side of the pipe.
    1. All of your pipes will need to be threaded on both ends. For us this included, the two pipes cut at 30”, the 2 pipes cut at 24”, and the two pipes cut at 52”.
  7. Once all your pipes have been threaded on both ends, take some steel wool and rub the newly threaded end like a pool cue. This will clean up any metal shavings leftover from threading.

See, you are already done with all the pipes!  Now it is just time for assembly.

How to Assemble Your Pipe Frame: This is a photo of black iron pipe fittings that have been spray painted copper.

Now… to build the desk frame.  This part ended up being much more challenging than expected (but we will get to that soon enough).  First, you will need all the black piping and fittings.  You will also need two pipe wrenches and a friend for some support.

Looking at the picture of the frame, we will construct the rectangular frame in the middle:This is a photo of the assembled black iron pipe frame after it has been spray painted copper.

  1. Attach the black iron tee fitting to the ends of the 52” pipe (the longest pieces). Make sure you:
    1. Tighten the tees as much as possible.
    2. The end of the tees on the same pipe are pointed in the same direction.
    3. The pipes need to be the same length with the tees attached.

You will need to use the two pipe wrenches to get the fittings tight.

  1. Attach one of the 36” pipes (the second longest piece) to connect the two 52” pieces with tees.
    1. This is where having a friend to help hold the pipe will be helpful.
    2. While it may be tempting to use only one pipe wrench and the long pipe to tighten the pieces, I highly recommend using two pipe wrenches to avoid stripping the pipe thread.
  1. Attach the second 36” pipe to the other side. Here is where it gets difficult.
    1. The reason it gets difficult is, after you have one end tightened, as you attempt to tighten the other end, the first end will come loose.
    2. There are several solutions to this:
      1. Tighten the pipe into the first as far as possible, then tighten it into the other end just enough that both ends are threaded so they do not come out.
      2. Cut this piece (or any of the four pieces of pipe) in two and utilize a union fitting.
        1. The only thing is that the pipe with the union fitting has to be last part added to make it work
  • Grind off one end of threads and utilize JB Weld to attach that end after threading the other end of the pipe into the fitting.
    1. This was the option we ended up taking, after struggling with the first solution.
    2. If you use this solution, make sure to allow the JB Weld plenty of time to set (the set time should be on the packaging).
    3. Take your time with this, as it requires a lot of patience, and can become very frustrating.
  1. Once that portion is complete, you should now have a rectangular frame of piping with the open end of the tee on the same axis as the 52” pipe.
    1. And you also have the hardest part completed… YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s build the wall mounts for the desk.  First, the bottom wall mount (you will need 2):

  1. Attach the black iron floor flange flange to the black iron Elbow using the 2” nipple. Tighten using the pipe wrenches.
  1. Attach another nipple to the other end of the elbow.
  1. Attach the other end of the nipple to one of the open ends of the tees.
  1. You should have a bottom wall mount on each end on one piece of 52” pipe.

Next, the top wall mount (you will need 2).  This will be essentially identical to the bottom mount, except that one set of nipples will be a 26” piece of pipe (but we will go through the steps to be safe:

  1. Attach the black iron floor flange to the black iron elbow using the 26” piece of pipe (the shortest of the pieces cut).
  1. Attach a 2” nipple to the other end of the elbow.
  1. Attach the other end of the nipple to one of the open ends of the tees.
  1. You should have a bottom wall mount on each end on one piece of 52” pipe

To make sure your wall mounts will fit flush against the wall, place the completed frame on the ground with the mounts all touching.

Tighten or loosen (I preferred tightening) the mounts to adjust the position of the wall mount flanges so that all four mounts touch the ground/floor without wobbling.

Once you have everything tightened, attached, and position as you want, you have completed your frame. This is also the time you can spray paint the piping to be whatever color you want.  We chose cooper spray paint because I am obsessed with copper piping right now!

This is a side view of the assembled black iron pipe frame.

How to Install the Built-In Computer Desk:

  1. Make sure your pipes are angled correctly, and make any needed adjustments.
  2. Have someone hold the frame with all four floor flanges are flush against the wall. This is a side view of the black iron frame installed in the living room.
  3. Use a level to make sure the frame is level for the table top.
  4. Once level, use a drill driver to screw in one 2″ screw in each of the four floor flanges.
  5. You will need 4 screws per floor flange. Continue using your drill driver until all holes are filled in with a screw.
  6. Once the frame is secure, place the wood table top on top of the frame.

Done! This is a photo of the finished custom built-in industrial computer desk. This is a photo of the finished custom built-in industrial computer desk.

If you want extra security and support for the table top, you can use clamps to hold it in place.  As of right now, we do not feel the need to do this after using the desk, but feel free to add those!

I am so excited for this desk.  It ended up being a little higher than we planned, but that actually worked out in our favor.  This desk almost doubles as a bar table, and it will look like perfection with the bar stool I have in mind.  I’m excited to decorate with it!  I also have some other organization ideas to conceal cords, conceal the router, and make it look pretty.  That will be an upcoming post at a later date!

The industrial look may not be for everyone, but this desk is an example of Ian’s and my combined taste.  Keep in mind you can also customize this desk to suite your preferences!  The pipes can be spray painted any color you desire, and the wood desk top can be stained or painted in a color you enjoy.

I hope you all enjoyed this post! You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.  My next post will be about maximizing space if you have a small kitchen like ours.

Do you like the industrial décor look?  If you made this desk, what color would you choose for the black iron pipes?

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