Sep 6, 2008

How to Make an Animation Desk, Part I

After reviewing a few sites discussing how to make an animation desk (including here, here, here, here, and here), and after the eighth(ish) family trip to Disney World a few months back, I decided to make one myself. My wood-savvy Dad agreed to help (read: I drafted him). Here's the final product (avec il):

So--how does one go about making one of these bad boys? That's an excellent question. Though I don't have plans on paper (a lot of it was ad hoc and written on the wood itself), I will attempt to explain what we did as best I can. To begin, here is a sufficient (but not exhaustive) list of supplies that we used:

Desk Body
  • Aspen; one (1) 20"x48" sheet (you can get whatever wood you want, but aspen is soft, pretty cheap, and attractive). You'll use this as the top of the desk and for the disc. The desktop will be 20"x30" in the end. The extra 20"x18" piece will be used for the disk. More on that later.
  • Eight (8) 1"x2"x3' pieces of aspen (for the legs...they'll be glued together in pairs)
  • One 1"x8"x8' that you cut to make the four sides. We used clear spruce, which had no knots. It is a little darker than the aspen, but it stains seamlessly.
  • Scrap for light support: One (1) 1"x4"x18", two (2) 2"x4"x6" (we used birch plywood)
  • Scrap for mechanism on back of desk (we used spruce): one (1) 1"x6"x4' (you will rip it into two (2) 1"x4"x19.25" pieces later), one (1) 1"x4"x6' (you will rip it into two (2) 1"x2"(true)x17" pieces, and one (1) 1"x2"(true)x23 5/8" pieces), one (1) 1"x2"(true)x9.5" that we made from scrap.
  • Piano Hinge (3 ft.)
  • 1.25" drywall screws
  • Four (4) 1.5" L-brackets
  • Two (2) 4" carriage bolts
  • 5-10 washers


  • One (1) circular (12" diameter) fluorescent light and bulb(s). Mine has two bulbs.
  • One (1) switch
  • One (1) switch cover
  • One (1) plastic one gang switch box (should come with nails)
  • One (1) 6' non-grounded cord

  • Peg bars (2; mine are acme)
  • 10.5"x13" sheet of frosted plexiglass (.250 in. thick; we couldn't find any at that thickness, so we put in two that were .125 in. thick on top of each other)
  • The circle that you cut out of the aspen (more on that later)
  • Some scrap wood to cut out that will be cut in a curve to allow the disc to rotate (not sure on sizes)
  • 1/4"x1/2"x4' scrap pieces (we ripped them) that will be used to hold the plexiglass
  • Four (4) tiny L-brackets (3/4"x3/4"x1/2", I think)

  • Square
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Punch
  • Battery Drill
  • Electric Drill
  • Table saw (with dado blade)
  • Clamps (at least two; "you can never have too many clamps" -my Dad)
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Belt sander (if you have one)
  • Router
  • Saw compass (if you want; we just used the jigsaw very carefully after being unhappy with our compass's results)
  • Chisel


  • Wood glue
  • Wood putty (make sure it's sandable and paintable)
  • Black paint (if you want; I used flat so it wouldn't shine with the light)
  • Stain (I got a lighter color, which worked out really well. It was a stain/polyurethane combo, which I was a little nervous about, but it worked fine.)
  • Felt
  • Clip-on desk lamp (if you want--there was one on sale at Menards for $5 bucks, so I grabbed it, and it works marvelously.)
Congratulations if you made it this far without going going crazy.

If I remember anything else that we used as I continue writing this series, then I'll add it on. Don't ask me how much it all cost, since I honestly couldn't answer you. First off, I can't remember, and second, we used a lot of stuff that we already had. It was more costly that I wanted to make my own disc; the supplies for it were definitely more than a student disc (which runs around $80). In total, the project probably put us back between $250 and $500 (including a second piece of aspen, since we messed up the first one). By far the most expensive thing for me was the peg bars (which I wanted to be a good, solid aluminum). They cost $42 each from the Cartoon Colour Company. I don't know if that was a rip-off.

That's it for now. I'll begin posting on the actual building process soon.

1 comment:

David Nethery said...
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