I am the Casual Hammerer, and I’m here to ask you a question.
Is a man not entitled to a dedicated hobby space in the comfort of his home?
‘No!’ says the man in Washington, ‘It belongs in the garden shed’
‘No!’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘It is an affront to god.’
‘No!’ says the man in Moscow, ‘Just use a table and pack it all away when you’re done.’
I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different.
I chose the impossible. I chose… a Hobby Desk.
A space where the hobbyist would not fear the prying hands of his children.
Where the tinkerer would not be bound by the petty morality of sticking to the instructions.
Where the great would not be constrained by the need to put all their stuff in the cupboard when guests come round!
And with the sweat of your brow, the Hobby Desk can become your workspace as well.
So I was getting increasingly frustrated with my hobby workspace setup. While I was using a nice big spare table we have in our lounge,
It had its… limitations. The main one being that any prolonged use of the table would often annoy my wife. Who is not a fan of the clutter and general mess that building and painting plastic army men creates. Especially when it is left on display for days, even weeks at a time.
So the typical hobby cycle for me would go like this:
- Get the itch and get all my stuff out of the various cupboards it was stored in.
- Do hobby stuff for a few days, sometimes weeks.
- Pack all my stuff away again.
- Months pass…..
- Go to step 1.
The shared space also wasn’t good for doing lots of smaller hobby sessions. I would have to pick my time to commandeer the table wisely. Ensuring I could leave things out for at least a few days to make the most of it. Which is not good and has lead to many a half finished project and lots of grey plastic in my display cabinet. BOOOOO!
The usual solution to this is to takeover the garage/garden shed. I didn’t want to do that, because:
- I don’t have a garden shed.
- For most of the year my garage is a cold, damp, depressing place.
I also couldn’t create a little man cave for myself either because space in our house is at a premium. So after much searching and thinking I came up with a plan: The Hobby Desk.
I needed something that would fulfil these key requirements:
- Not take up too much space.
- Give me a decent sized work surface.
- Allow me to leave things in progress without them being on display.
I quickly settled on getting a bureau style desk. It hit all my requirements and in most cases would give me centralised storage for all my crap at the same time too!
There is one problem with wanting a bureau desk though, they get expensive, fast. Thankfully IKEA currently have two bureau desks that are on the cheaper side. I nearly got the cheapest one but it was out of stock, so I ended up getting the more pricey Hemnes desk instead. Which now that I have it all set up is the one I would recommend everyone should get. The cheaper one takes up less space, but you have very limited storage space within the unit. No cupboard underneath the desk is also a waste of potential storage space too. So Hemnes is the desk of choice to turn into a Hobby Desk!
It is IKEA furniture so it is a breeze to build but there is one thing I would recommend: Do not build the interior shelf for the desk area of the bureau. While it does give you a couple of small shelves to put paints on it does not take advantage of all the space within the desk! I also opted not to put the shelf in there for one key reason: HobbyZone Modules.
The Hobby Bit
I could have made do with the desk as is and gradually filled it with paints and other bits. However, creating a dedicated hobby space felt like a go big or go home kind of situation. So I looked into what other hobbyists did to kit out their sheds, garages, and desks. There are lots of custom build solutions out there. Many expensive ones that look amazing, many cheap DIY solutions that look….less amazing. I was about to settle on some weird DIY custom shelving solution then I found HobbyZone. It was a true moment of weird organising joy.
HobbyZone have a range of products but their small, interchangeable modules are the main product they make. You can build them in a variety of ways to give yourself paint racks, paint brush holders, kitchen roll holders, cornered shelves and more. All for a reasonable price for machined flat pack wood made for a specific purpose.
So, I measured up the interior space of the Hemnes bureau and triple checked everything. Making sure the modules I bought would fit in the body of the desk and still allow me to close the desk door. Which sadly meant no fancy corner modules. After much deliberation I decided on two sets of drawers one with smaller storage spaces, the other with two larger drawers, a small brush holder and two paint racks. One to keep my commonly used paints within reach at all times. The other to keep paints for my current projects to hand.
Assembling them with wood glue and hammering in the small magnets and join the modules together was a bit fiddly at times. Thankfully the end result speaks for itself. These things are slick and have already proven their worth. I will likely change up what I store in each area as time goes on and my workflow develops. For now it is just great to have an organised and ready to go work station in my house.
Other additions I’ve made to the desk are to add a couple of spare screws to the inside of one of the cupboard doors to hang my Citadel Paint Mat from. It is just the right size to hang there without keeping the door slightly ajar. I also plan to add an LED lightstrip to the desk area to help illuminate the HobbyZone storage without having to angle my lamp into the desk all the time. Another idea is to screw in a few of the Citadel Paint Rack units to help store the rest of my paints. These are both a long way off though because the initial cost of the desk and HobbyZone stuff.
So that’s my setup. I am so happy I took the plunge and did it. I now have a great dedicated hobby space that works with my house and lifestyle. I also hope it will increase my overall output now that I can jump in and do things in short bursts rather than having to block out huge chunks of time.