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Fall kick-off ylab news backlog: Desktop Metalwork

Ylab’s metal master

Ylab’s hosts at the David Dunlap Observatory have a nice simple reception desk – but they want the ability to lock  up whatever is on top. You know, big things than won’t fit in a drawer. Which is kind of impractical because there are  no drawers on the desk.  They asked us if we could do something about it. We like a challenge. We put ylab member Metal Master Miro to work on it.

Aluminum panels can cover the opening, but they need support. The requirement is to make them removable and have them discretely stored.

We started with some solid 1/4” square aluminum bars. We milled a channel on the aluminum to hold the panels, and drilled and countersunk holes for the mounting screws.

Aluminum bars, before and after milling and drilling

Nicely mounted on the desk to hold the panels.

Then we worked the panels. Aluminum sheets in the thickness we use is not quite rigid enough for the span, so we made reinforcement bars and riveted them to the sheets.

Miro knows the drill.

A riveting process, followed by shot peening the rivets.

For all the pieces, a copious amount of filing and elbow grease was required to soften up rough edges.

Not the filing cabinet you expected.


We made and mounted supports for discretely storing the panels when not in use.

No visible means of support. At least not when looking from the top.

And finally, it all goes together in four simple steps.

Slide in the top…

… snug it up into the hidden support brackets…

… slide down the front panel…

… and tuck in the locking tabs.

Case closed.

Just add padlock. We’ll take off the protective plastic layer and clear coat it after it’s been inspected.

And with all the milling,  drilling and filing, we got our money’s worth out of this guy.

My job sucks.