My Typographic Desk

My Typographic Desk

A few months ago, I finished up on a project here at my home work station. I posted a quick photo on twitter with the intention of releasing more information about it. Well, better late than never, right? Here is my Ikea typographic desk mod. It was plenty of work, but it has definitely proven to be both useful and enjoyable.

The Hardware

It starts with a basic Ikea Galant corner desk. I went ahead and bought the side extension as well. I chose black for the top color. I figured this would give the best contrast for the white letters, and would also match the other things in my office. Next, I needed the top cover. My intention was to use an opaque plexiglass. I visited Regional Supply in Salt Lake City to see what they had available. If you are looking for sign supplies, they are excellent. The 4’x8′ sheet of plexiglass was going to put me at about $90. I probed further, and they came up with a different kind of material with the same aesthetic qualities as the plexiglass only it was half the price. Lastly, I needed the letters. To make these, I made about a 20 page PDF with several different sizes of letters. I chose to only use Helvetica Neue and Minion, and I stroked the letters in light gray. After that, I printed up about 3-4 copies of the PDF on 60# paper at alphagraphics and went to town with my exacto knife.

The Results

A few hundred dollars later, it was finished. I used a router to cut the top plastic to match the exact contours of the desk. It serves as both a clean desk top as well as a dry erase board for jotting down a few quick notes or ideas. The letter forms under the desktop look excellent. They almost appear to be luminous between the desk and the plastic.

Some Advice

A few notes if you are planning to do this yourself. The plastic top that I used, while it was half the price, scratches much easier than plexiglass. This was especially evident when using the router around the edges. Either try to protect the surface from the router, or be willing to shell out the extra $40 for better material. Also, since it’s not glass, plan on needing a dry erase cleaner to wipe the writing off thoroughly. This is something I chose intentionally; I didn’t want things to easily rub off as I worked at the desk. And lastly, I didn’t use anything to secure the plastic to the desk. You could use bolts or some industrial double-sided tape. I found that the weight of the material as well as the things on top of the desk worked well enough to hold it in place.

Scott Jensen

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I'm Scott, and I love writing things like this. But I spend most of my time working as a designer.
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