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I'm putting together a desktop for my pc working space and I'm on a tight budget. I ordered a particle board kitchen counter top, 38 mm thick (1.496"), which also will be laminated with HPL. The dimensions are 140 x 80 cm (55.118" x 31.496"). I'll be putting it together with 4 independent legs at the corners (no frame here). I'll put an LCD monitor on top of the desk with a new "wooden" raising stand under it (but a 2nd monitor might show up in some time) + additional accessories (keyboard, small speakers, a lamp, pen baskets etc.) + resting my forearms (at least half of them) on the top.

Now, do i have to reinforce it, so the middle won't sag or bend? People whom i ordered the top from told me it's thick enough and it shouldn't bend, but if it happens slightly in 2-3 years i should add a 5th leg in the middle. If i need to reinforce, how do i go about it? Should i screw some sort of a flat metal panel on the bottom to follow the long edge? An aluminum profile? Or maybe a wooden board would be enough? Wouldn't the metal reinforcement add to the overall weight?

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I would make a frame underneath about 2” in from each edge screwed and glued. 2*1 would be good and that will give some support to the legs, possibly some bracing for the legs - a horizontal bar that could also be a footrest across the back or diagonal bracing like an X.

Edit: the desk I am at has a frame of 20mm * 65mm and the same 38mm thickness top that you mention but it is not particle board (particle board is weaker than some glued timber block table tops) so take note of Isherwood's comment about 2*3"...

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  • 1x2s won't do the job, even on edge. Those things are wet noodles. 2x3 is as small as I'd go, and flat 2x6 might be ideal. I do agree that a frame is the right approach. – isherwood May 5 at 12:47
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Any stiffener you have on hand or can easily source would do. The test would be to place the potential beam with one end supported on a stair or something and lean on it. Does it move substantially under half your body weight? If so it's not suitable.

I'd run a beam front and rear, but back far enough from the front so it doesn't show from standing height. Some ideas:

  • 2x3 or 2x4 on edge
  • 2x4 or 2x6 flat
  • 2" aluminum box extrusion
  • 1-1/2" steel angle

Alternatively, move your legs inboard as far as is comfortable. By reducing the span 6" at each end you dramatically reduce the flex the load will cause.

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    Concur re: beaming. Without beams, how will legs be fastened? Simply screwing into particle board can be iffy over time. – Phil Freedenberg May 5 at 16:06
  • 2x4 or 2x6 flat you suggest is steel, right? Is it 2x6 inch (sorry for asking, i'm a noob and use metric system). Wouldn't this make the top too heavy? Would this way work: link? I'm trying to find something in my area right now, but i need pre-drilled holes, so it's not easy. I don't like the idea of moving the legs inboard, but if you say it might work, i might actually do it. – braidedwire May 6 at 14:14
  • Not steel. I am using English units. 2x4 and 2x6 are typical wall stud sizes, for reference. – isherwood May 6 at 14:42
  • Ok, thanks, so we're talking wood. Could you also tell me what "flat" means in this particular example? And does my illustration from the link make sense? – braidedwire May 6 at 14:58
  • That diagram is exactly what I had in mind. Smaller beams would need to be oriented vertically to add enough stiffness. Larger ones could be horizontal (flat to the top) and still do the job. – isherwood May 6 at 15:24

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