Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sawdust Desks: Are They Safe?

A while back I bought a "computer desk" at a popular office supply store.  Sliding tray for ergonomic keyboard comfort. Upper shelf to house the printer.  Room for my speakers.  A side shelf for the hard drive.  Of course it's made of pressboard, evidently the material of choice of Office Minimum.

It's served me well for a couple years but over the past few months its screws started coming loose.  As they'd fall I'd collect them along with several bolts and nuts.  The entire desk began to lean to port and I supported the lowest shelf with a few coke bottles.  I knew I needed to repair it, but I do live in mañana-landia, after all.

It's no wonder I lacked inspiration in the cluttered corner below, too many distractions. The cats enjoy hanging out around me because I'm the one with the air-blasting fan.

When my bro/sister-in-law sent me a new webcam for my bd, the time had come to dive into the project. I carefully unplugged all the computer's components, wires and plugs and safely stowed them to be cleaned before reconnection. I flipped the desk over and around tightening and replacing screws. I even set glue into the former screw holes for a little extra support. The ergonomic shelf had long ago fallen apart and rusted. I poured some Coca Cola on to clean off the rust and was able to reassemble and reattach it. It doesn't slide anymore, but it's still a nice feature. I completed the reconstruction on Thursday. 

On Friday the sturdy new-looking desk was moved into its new location, in another room; to give me a new perspective and inspiration. I' d been sitting at the desk for a couple hours answering emails, when all of a sudden the entire desk collapsed around and on me and broke into several pieces. I sat there in shock as I watched the computer and all its attachments, attached, take off flying onto the cement tiled floor. Naturally a fresh giant glass of ice water was part of the mix.

Upon inpection of the boards that collapsed, the pressboard had returned to its original state of sawdust covered in wood-colored paper. It was completely disintegrated and had the appearance of a piece of wood that had come into contact with a swarm of starving termites. There were no termites, it was just sawdust. Not a very strong item for tropical living.

I couldn't stand looking at the parts just sitting by themselves, so at 3am (not my usual housecleaning hour) I took my dry paintbrush and cleaned the components as if petting a newborn kitten, and dragged my sturdiest wooden table to 'inspiration corner'. The top half of the sawdust desk was salvageable, and it works well sitting on top of the REAL table. The printer took a beating but it seems to want to work, so it'll get some professional attention. What's important is no one was hurt (like me!) and neither was the computer. Everything is working today as usual.  Things always work out, because now I have a larger desk space with room to move and places to write. I may feel empowered here after all. 


Anonymous said...

I checked here

to see if there was an earthquake in Merida. Nope. So it must be that Second Law of Thermodynamics which took you down. Amazing recovery! Glad you're ok, and the machines still work!


Linda Dorton said...

Eric, it reminded me of an earthquake. I was too stunned to get a photo of the instantaneous disaster. Thanks for the thoughts.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Linda, ouch! when I bought my computer desk, I got one made of pink glass.I would have preferred black or clear but my choices were pink or blue. The sawdust and glue ones were much cheaper but I haven't had good luck with them NOB. They get chips on them, start to fall apart etc. I've never had as spectacular a failure of a desk like you did however. I am glad everything still works and you have a better work space now.

Linda Dorton said...

Thanks,Theresa. It was a strange sensation. All's well but the printer. It was having problems before the disaster tho.

richard said...

in addition to putting glue into the screw holes toothpicks might have helped but perhaps the particle board was just too damp from humidity. get some tomato crates...just kidding.

Anonymous said...

A useful lesson...sawdust furniture, also didn't know you could clean rust with coke very Helpful Heloise Hint
Great blogs Anne