It’s been my goal for some time to put together a hand-drawn animation pipeline/station, if you will. I’ve been acquiring the different things equipment necessary: animation disk, the camera stand, the software, but a big piece of the puzzle is the animation desk. Now, you can buy animation desk online, but a great part of animation’s history: building your own animation desk, is an all but forgotten hobby.
So, I began making plans. I wanted to build the whole thing for about $100 dollars. Yeah, sounds cheap, but it can be done.
My only prerequisite for the project was to find a small hard wood (none of this particle board stuff) computer desk and convert it to an animation desk. I eventually found the exact desk I was looking for on Craig’s List. I passed up a ton of larger desk for something small because I didn’t want it to be bulky and heavy. The desk I purchased is 44″ wide and 26″ deep.
Here’s my initial design that my Dad altered appropriately.
Step 1: Secure a foundation to build the new table top on. We used 1″x4″ and 1″x 2″ pine for this. These were screwed in from underneath.
Step 2: I wanted to have the option of adjusting the angle of my desk, so we made slots from the 1″x 4″.
Step 3: We cut the slide arm from a 1″x 2″.
Step 4: For the slide arm to work properly, we needed to a spacer.
Step 5: Before drilling holes, we used a nail gun to hold the spacer in place.
Step 6: We drilled our hole to fit a 5/16″ bolt and fit the the slide in place.
Step 7: We then drilled holes and fastened the slide arm in place using a 1/4″ bolt for the frame side and a 3/8″ bolt for the slide.
Step 8: Click Copy and Paste to duplicate the other side. Ta Daaaa!
At it’s highest, the desk top sits at a 45 degree angle. This design doesn’t allow for it to lay flat, but it can angle down to around 20-25 degrees if necessary. It’s comes in handy when transporting the desk.
Step 9: Here’s Dad nailing a 1″x 2″ to add support.
We added a second support at the bottom as well.
Step 10: We lined up the 48″x 24″ table top and nailed it down.
Step 11: We penciled the 16 1/2″ diameter circle needed to fit the Alan Gordon animation disk.
Step 12: We drilled four holes to help us when cutting it out.
Step 13: I got to work cutting that hole. I was so afraid I was going to cut it wrong. This hole is the most important part of the desk cause if cut wrong, the disk will not spin freely.
Step 14: After cutting the hole, we decided to add one final support to strengthen the center of the table top.
Step 15: We added these blocks to strengthen the hold just to make sure it would not slip.
I put the animation disk in place.
Step 16: I spinned the disk to find the spots where it would stick and sanded those down till it could spin freely.
This only took us a total 5 hours to build. All the credit goes to Dad, who is a great carpenter, and who also owned all the correct tools necessary to build this desk. I could not have built this on my own.
Here’s the desk set up in my office. I’ve added all the proper things every traditional animation desk needs. I plan to stain the wood to match the rest of the desk and add trim to the table top. I’m deciding if I want to finish the top with wood veneer or formica. I’m not sure what would look best.
I would love to here everyone’s thoughts and questions. Plus, how do you think I should finish off this table?
In a future posts, I’ll outline my process of animation from this desk into the computer.