Atlas Typewriter Desk

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If you’re a regular follower of Typewriter Review, then you’ll no doubt be in the camp that types its orders at dawn and wages their campaign with clicking keys and ratcheting carriages. Battles are never easy, whether it’s with ourselves or uncaring editors. And since you’re the typewriter type, you’ve added to your struggles with paper, ribbons and the ire of friends or family who insist you keep a lid on that terrible racket. They were amused at first, but your insistence on typing every bloody word on that contraption has gone on long enough.

And there are times when you’re tempted to chuck it. Perhaps you should just conform to being the silent type. Unobtrusive. After all, we writer types are often loaded with empathy and a desire to please.

But no, darn it, it feeds my soul! Where else would my muse live? (That last bit, save for yourself, else be on the lookout for those gents in the white coats.)

So you persevere, despite the odds. Good for you! I’m on your side, as are many others. Type it out. Shout it out. It feels good!

What might not feel good are the stress and strains on your digits and tendons.

I struggled for a long time on standard height desks before finally realizing that typing was much easier when the typewriter sat a bit lower. It was like trying to hit a baseball standing outside the batter’s box. As soon as I moved closer to home plate and found the sweet spot — bingo!

So much of our digital lives demand little of our physical positioning and conditioning that we forget that our bodies are built for motion.

And like any craftsman, our tool is the typewriter. Just like there’s an optimal way to wield a hammer, there’s an optimal way to hammer a typewriter key. I won’t go into the typing technique here, since this was covered in a previous post.

My search for a typewriter desk led down two paths: the jumbo one with the typing table that retracts into an oaken enclosure or the typer’s table with metal legs and wheels. Neither fit my room or style.

So I ended up building one myself!

I’m no furniture maker, so it was something simple, with rough cuts, pine boards and deck screws. It fit nicely in the corner without overpowering the room.

I’ve since refined the design.

I call it the Atlas Typewriter Desk!

Your world is your typewriter and the Atlas is here to hold it steady — at the proper height!

It’s made of solid wood and can accommodate everything from an office standard to a lightweight portable.

The surface is 25-inches from the floor. The perfect height!

Plus, with an innovative design that anchors it against the wall, you’ll have a stable platform — without the wobbles!

Most small desks with four legs often buckle under the movement of typewriter carriage and keys.

Not so with the Atlas. In fact, the heavier the weight, the more stable it becomes.

Are you tight on space? Its compact form allows easy placement in just about any setting.

Don’t want to dedicate an entire desk to a typewriter? The Atlas is small and light and can be stashed away when not in use. Move it from room-to-room — wherever the mood strikes!

Need to compliment the Atlas with additional space? Place it next to a shelf, filing cabinet, even a nightstand.

The Atlas is versatile and accommodating — the ideal partner for your typewriter — and your muse!

Great, I love it! Where do I buy one?

Not so fast, pilgrim — here’s the rub: you’ll need to make it yourself!

I’d like to give you detailed step-by-step instructions, but I’m afraid I’d only make matters worse. Plus, I’m sure any competent woodworker would tell me I’ve got it all wrong.

What I can give you is a rough sketch and the pieces of lumber. If you’re any bit crafty, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

The legs and risers were 1-by-4-inch pine boards, while the top was comprised of two 1-by-8-inch pine boards, fastened together from the underside by two pieces of 6-inch long furring strips. The entire desk is held together with 1-inch wood screws placed in strategic locations. You’ll need to make angle cuts. I used a power miter saw. Though I’m sure a hand saw and miter box would work. The surface could be a single piece of board, but I didn’t have the saw to cut this piece. The two 8-inch wide pine boards fit in my miter saw. 8-inch boards, are 7 1/4-inch actual, yielding the 14 1/2-inch deep surface. It could be a bit deeper, as some keyboards might hang over the edge, while allowing enough room in back for the paper. I call it the “riser,” it’s that board that connects the top with the legs and helps anchor against the wall. It’s about 11-inches long. I cut one edge at an angle, then used that as template for the second. Same for the legs–which start out a bit longer than 25-inches, so that after the angle cut, you get about 25-inches height from the floor. As long as all pieces are identical, you’re good to go. It might not be exactly 25-inches from the floor, but you might want it a bit higher or lower depending on your chair and where your legs fit under the desk. Pine boards are pretty cheap, so don’t worry if you screw up. I did!

If you have any improvements, I’d love to hear from you! Post in the comments!





  1. hi–i built a custom ‘built-in’ in my studio–along the “Atla” lines but attached to the wall–also extremely sturdy–
    i found my ideal height to be 27″–
    would you like to see some shots of it?
    richard in ithaca

    1. Oh, I like “built-in” — means business! Not some temporary approach like I have where you can cave to the crowds and move the operation to the cellar. Send pics! If I get a few more I can make a post! Send to my full name at gmail. danielmarleau

  2. sure, Daniel, i’d love to send you some shots of my stationary-design typing table….hey, if it passes muster with your readers and yourself, maybe you could ‘add it to your line’ as the “Atlas…. “Atlas Imperial”–got a certain ring to it—-but let me say: none of us folks should be driven to the cellar on account of our dedication–doesn’t seem right…No!–we must hold our heads high; clap away at it, and remind them all, that THIS is the way it’s always been done–THIS is the real way…and that all these humanity-removed electronics–that no doubt cut you off from the heart and soul of the process–are simply a passing phase…
    i joke about this, but only to a certain degree; i say with all sincerity, that until a writer returns to the classic method of writing–the harder way, the slower way–that that writer will not, can not possibly, produce the greatest work that they are capable of… (okay; i feel better)
    thanks very much for the information on getting the photos sent, and i’ll get them off in the next few days–ciao, richard

  3. I did think of building a desk for a while, but for me, waiting did the trick. I found a lovely wooden writing desk (complete with shallow drawers and a compartment for my typewriter!) neglected on the side of the road and knew that this was my big break—I’d been looking for one for ages!—in thrift stores and other places but with no avail. That old song is right! The best things in life really are free!

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