Should I build My Desk PC with wood or metal?
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when preparing to build your own Desk PC will be what material to use for your build. The two most common materials used are metal and wood. Each offers advantages and challenges. Let’s explore the possibilities of each.
For our purposes, we’re referring to all of the various types of metal here (aluminum, steel, iron, etc). The most obvious benefit that metal offers is strength and durability. A solid metal framing if constructed correctly, could last for many years. I have never attempted a metal build however and its doubtful that I ever will. Despite the durability argument there are just too many negatives for my situation.
First and foremost is the difficulty of working with this material. Special tools and knowledge are required for cutting and welding and unless you are already skilled in these areas I would recommend wood as your framing material.
Second is weight. While the idea of a large, heavy, solid desk may sound appealing, consider the frustration of moving it later. Granted, aluminum is fairly light but it can also be quite expensive and you still have the need to really understand how to build, bend, and work with this material without permanently damaging it.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have the skillset and the tools and you want to build your desk PC out of some type of metal, go for you. This is your desk pc and it should be everything you want and drool over. I’m just saying that if you want a less expensive and (in my opinion) easier to work with option, wood is definitely worth considering.
I’ll be the first to admit that wood is not the end-all, be-all when it comes to building materials but there are advantages.
First, the majority of us have at least some power tools or hand tools that we can use to cut and sand the material. My son, Mason, and I built our first Desk PC with little more than a table saw, drill, jigsaw, and a small sander.
Weight is another advantage. While I’ll be the first to admit that our desk PC was not exactly light when we finally hauled it upstairs to the game room, I am grateful we didn’t build it out of something more “durable” that would have felt like a large bolder. In fact, in looking back, had we build that monster out of a heavy metal framing material, it would have probably found a home in the living room downstairs and I would now be divorced.
Finally, for us at least, cost was a major factor. When we compared the cost of a DIY project from wood and outsourcing a metal build to someone who knew how to work with such materials, the decision was easy. Had I come from a different background and understood welding, etc. I might have made a different decision. As it was, I knew little about woodworking beyond the basics but that’s all I needed to know and all you will need to know as well.
Above all else, let me offer this as a final persuasive argument for building your desk PC with wood instead of metal. Once you are finished and finally sit down and hit that power button and begin installing your operating system of choice, you’ll be overwhelmed with satisfaction as you awe at your creation. Over time, however, you may find yourself, as we did, wishing we had made some modifications. Despite our best efforts in planning, design, and assembly, there are certain aspects that, if we had it to do over again, we would change. Since our wood PC was fairly inexpensive to create, we can afford to build another one, a better version, without remorse. If we’d put $1000 into building a metal framed desk I’d be making a ton of excuses for our missteps and rationalizing that it is “good enough”.
But Why Can’t I Have Both? You CAN!
If you are dead-set on incorporating metal into your build, consider a hybrid design that utilizes both wood and your metal of choice. For example, you could build the frame out of wood and wrap the sides with aluminum. Or manufacture a sturdy leg system out of iron. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to conceptualizing your design. This is yours so make it what you want it to be. If your budget and skills can allow for it, this is one situation in which you can have your cake and eat it too!
What’s Right For You?
The bottom line is this. Use the material you are comfortable working with. By starting with a material we are comfortable with we weren’t afraid to start. Since our materials were fairly inexpensive we weren’t afraid of messing up with a bad cut or an uneven hole. If your skill set is in metal then by all means have at it. I want you to build a desk that you can be proud of, something that is not only yours but is YOU. This is your creation. Make it with what you feel comfortable with but by all means MAKE IT!