View Full Version : Converting Old Dressing Table into a useful computer desk (pics)

09-29-2005, 11:28 PM
This saga started a long time ago. My wife had a dressing table while growing up. We were going to pitch it, because we just don't have the room for a dressing table, but I had an idea to make it somewhat useful. We wanted to have a computer in our bedroom, but didn't want some fugly computer desk or even one of those behemouth armoires. It wouldn't be all that bad if we could conceal a computer in the dressing table though......

And so it began...


Used to have a mirror on the inside of the lid - nice old wavy one. I made a frame for it out of wormy maple and it now hangs in my folks house.




We decided the drawers needed to hold a few active files (bills, etc), so some mods were made to integrate file hangers and also enough depth for the file folders.






With the drawers done, I moved to the center area. I cut the center section out and biscuited it to the top piece. Now there will ba a slot for the keyboard to slide out of.

Here you can see the metal brackets I welded up to keep everything together as it should be.


I'll attach a 19" flat panel monitor to the lid.

The "to do" list:
attach lid lift
attach keyboard mechanism
make keyboard tray
mount monitor
apply crackle finish and install hardware

10-03-2005, 12:42 AM
Trial fitted the slides today. It looks like it will work out perfectly.


I ordered some different lid lifts from Sugatsune (http://www.blumhinges.com/sugatsune-soft-down-lid-stay-black-nh-p-2275.html)

And some "blumotion" dampers (http://www.blumhinges.com/blumotion-for-doors-p-891.html) for the lid to hit on the way down (not sure if I need them yet)

I need to figure out how to integrate speakers into this unit also. I can likely sink them into the area behind the keyboard when iit is in the stored position. I need to get it all together and mockup everything into place so I can figure the rest of it out.

10-13-2005, 11:03 PM
That looks really great!! I've got an idea for a clean computer desk, but need a lot more skill before I can pull it off. This is looking really good.

10-13-2005, 11:05 PM
Thanks!! I ggot the parts in and it looks like everything should work as planned. More pics this weekend hopefully....

12-11-2005, 04:24 PM
Looks like an interesting and useful restoration. Being a Furniture Restorer in real life I appreciate seeing a professional job in progress. Looking forward to the continuation of this project.:fun_84:

01-29-2006, 10:23 PM
If this were my project, I would consider the idea of using a standard CRT mounted at an angle UNDER the top. The top would have a piece of glass cut into it, so the CRT under the glass could be viewed by the user while seated.

The benefit is that the furniture is still a completely usable computer station, but there is no evidence of any computer gear, thus maintaining the integrity of the original "antique" design.

When the glass is installed with a very slight tint and there is no power to the CRT, it just looks like a smoked glass top. Only when the CRT is powered up does it shine through the glass.

I like the idea of mounting the speakers in a hidden way as well. If you use a woofer, it is omnidirectional and can be placed behind the furniture. The stereo speakers could be mounted just behind the rear edge of the unit face up to get at least some separation.

FWIW, anyway!


01-29-2006, 11:42 PM
This project has been "back burnered" for a while. Many other more important things to tackle.

Will - I'm familiar with what you are suggesting. I've been in the office furniture biz for nearly 20 years. A company that makes a kit for what you are suggestting is called Nova (http://www.novadesk.com/main.shtml). I've even sold some of these over the years. I've used that setup a couple of times and while it wasn't "bad" from a ergonomic standpoint, I found it to be a Knee-knocker (I like to stretch out my legs under the desk)

One other minus for me is that I no longer have any CRT's. I gave my last one to my kids school (nice monitor - Viewsonic 17" .25dp) All I have are flatpanels now. I was considering a two-way mirror over the flatpanel mounted to the underside of the lid. If I have the room, that might be neat.

I need a warm spell so I can unearth my garage/shop and get back to it!

Good point in the sub. The CPU, a scanner, printers and the sub will go into an antique chest nearly. There shouldn't be anything exposed...

03-29-2006, 02:44 PM
Any updates on this Cebby? An interesting project for sure.

03-29-2006, 05:45 PM
Unfortunately, no progress. Too many projects, no time - or in the case of the dressing table conversion, too much crap in my garage/shop (unheated building). Seems every winter, my garage becomes the dumping ground.

Fortunately, its decent here for the next few days. I might actually make some progress. I have to make part of a custom medicine cabinet installation first though.

04-13-2006, 02:23 PM
Warm weather means some progress!!

I've got a question for any woodworkers out there. The top piece that I'll be mounting the monitor to has some warp to it (to be expected since it is pretty old and made from one solid piece of wood). I really don't want to spend the time and effort to make an all new piece, so I need some solution to flatten this piece out. In the end, it will be painted, so if I need to make a relief cut somewhere, I'm not opposed to this. Any idears?

Here's what I'm talking about...


I DID manage to get the bumpstops installed.

How about a little movie...

04-14-2006, 08:36 PM
I got it. AND I don't have to change my design ideas at all...

First I tried a ball catch. It just forced the lid over to one side, so no go. I was using one of these:

I was digging through some of my old hardware from past projects and came across these Southco (are they still around?) lid latches. These are spring loaded and when positioned properly, they help snap the lid to the closed position.


Southco P/N for the "Grabber" as they call it:
5 lb pull version is: C3 205 P
10 lb pull version is: CP 210 P

Success (or as close as it will get):


The "Grabber" installed (one side only is needed)



(Yes I know I need to fill that hole where I tried the ball catch...)

04-15-2006, 03:16 AM
Spent some time on this tonight...

Here's a pic with the Sugatsune lid stays. These work pretty nicely.


To give you a better idea of what I'm doing...

I'm using bedrail hardware to attach the monitor to the lid. There are plenty of off the shelf brackets out there, but they all take up too much depth. I needed something that would hug the lid.

These pieces will be attached to the back of the monitor:

I still need to weld another piece to the bottom and add the bottom holes:

04-17-2006, 11:51 AM
Lookin really good Cebby.

04-26-2006, 08:01 PM
very cool cebby. need more progress!

06-23-2006, 03:46 PM
Cebby, you have way too many projects. Someone finally has more than me and then has the time to post on the internet about it. :alc:

I don't think I've updated my build-up thread on the 85 in ages.


06-23-2006, 04:09 PM
If you only new the half of it.