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How to Make a Cable Management Trough from Recycled Wood

My aim with DIY projects around the home is to look for innovative space-saving ideas and save costs on materials by recycling.

Simple bespoke cable management trough made from recycled wood, designed to keep the cables off the floor.

Simple bespoke cable management trough made from recycled wood, designed to keep the cables off the floor.

Tidy Your Workspace With This DIY Project

Cables have a natural desire to tangle when two or more are laid down together, so the cabling under our office desk was ‘spaghetti junction’. I even placed a folding table under the desk to put some of the cables on—to keep them off the floor and making cleaning under the desk easier—but they just kept sliding off the table.

I could have used cable ties to keep the wires tidier, or bought one of the various cable-tidy accessories or gadgets that are available (some of which are quite cheap). However, I find cable ties a bind when you want to remove, replace or add a cable—and, apart from expensive trunking, the other cable-tidy gadgets I’ve seen look just as cumbersome or fiddly to use.

Therefore, as part of our recent major home office makeover I decided to make my own cable management trough from recycled wood.

Cables tangled up on the floor before I installed the cable management trough.

Cables tangled up on the floor before I installed the cable management trough.

How I Designed the Concept

My criteria for design and build were that this piece should be:

  • Free (it costs nothing if you use recycled wood)
  • Effective in keeping the cables off the floor, to make it easier to clean the floor under the desk
  • Easy and quick to make
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile

Based on my criteria, I came up with the concept of a simple long wooden trough that could be screwed to the wall under the desk, with plenty of large openings to thread plugs and cables through as appropriate.

The concept of my basic design was:

  • A suitably wide and long trough would contain cables and any power adaptors
  • Lots of large openings would provide versatility in how cables are threaded through and laid in the trough, e.g. to spread the cables out so that they don’t bottleneck and tangle in constricted openings
  • Screwing the trough to the wall under the desk would keep it out of sight (and off the floor) and make vacuuming and sweeping the floor under the desk a lot more practical

Materials You'll Need to Source

For this project I decided to use recycled wood; and the wood I needed was:

  • 2x planks, each about 2 ft long and 6 in wide
  • A length of 1” x 2” timber about 3 ft long, to cut into four pieces

The wood I sourced for this simple mini-project was:

  • Planks salvaged from our old desktop corner shelving unit (made from pine floorboards) which I’d replaced as part of our home office makeover
  • 1” x 2” timber recycled from one of the back shelf supports removed from the wardrobe in our home office, also during the home office makeover

Step 1: Cut Holes and Clamp the Planks

  1. Use a bench mitre saw to cut the pieces to length: two planks about 2 ft long each, two pieces of timber (for wall brackets) about 1 ft long each, and two pieces of timber (as cross braces) cut to about 7 inches in length.
  2. Clamp the two planks together.
  3. Use the largest hole saw cutter to drill three holes in both planks, one at each end and one in the middle.
  4. Clamp the two planks together, at right angles, and then glue and screw them together.

Step 2: Glue and Screw the Wall Brackets and Cross Braces

  1. Glue and screw the two wooden wall brackets (1” x 2” timber about 1 ft long) to the edges of the trough base. Fixing the wooden wall brackets in this way (as shown in the image below) provides for a 1 inch gap between the trough base and wall, giving further options for threading cables through the trough.
  2. Screw and glue the two cross braces in place between the wooden wall brackets and the top edge of the wood trough. In addition to making the trough rigid, this provides for two large square holes (one at each end of the trough) for optionally threading cables through.
Gluing and screwing the two wooden brackets and two cross braces to the trough.

Gluing and screwing the two wooden brackets and two cross braces to the trough.

Step 3: Prepare the Trough for the Wall

  1. Drill a pilot hole at the top of each wooden wall bracket so that it’s ready for fixing to the wall.
  2. Sand the trough to smooth all the corners and edges.
  3. Wipe clean with white spirit (or mineral spirits) to remove sawdust.

Step 4: Fit the Trough to the Wall

Once the piece is made, it needs to be fixed to the wall before it can be used. So, to do this:

  1. Place the trough against the wall where you want to fix it.
  2. Level it with a spirit level.
  3. Using a hammer, gently tap a screw through each pilot hole to mark the wall for where to drill.
  4. Put the trough down and drill the two holes in the wall.
  5. Tap a plastic wall plug in each hole in the wall.
  6. Reposition the trough so that the pilot holes align with the two holes in wall, and screw into position.
The trough screwed to the back wall under the desk.

The trough screwed to the back wall under the desk.

Step 5: Utilise the Trough

Having secured the cable-tidy trough to the wall below the desktop, all that remains is re-cabling all your computer equipment to make use of the trough. Check the images below for examples.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Arthur Russ

Your Comments

mezabul on September 01, 2020:

This is very nice post. You are great.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on August 24, 2020:

Yes, I worked in ICT (Information Communication Technology) in the civil service for 20 years, and I also saw what you experienced.

I know most people prefer Wi-Fi, but I still have a personal preference for cabling rather than Wi-Fi (for a good solid, reliable link) e.g. a LAN cable all the way down to our living room, and a 2nd LAN cable to our son's bedroom/office. However, the LAN cable to our living room is now redundant because of the advent of Powerline Adaptors:-

How Does Powerline Ethernet Work? https://youtu.be/ywQeJCa3jl8

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 24, 2020:

I think that is a neat idea. After working in broadcasting for nearly 20 years (before I became a legal editor) I saw all kinds of cable/wire management/mismanagement. Some engineers were tidy and some were engineering chaos. I'm sorry to say that my husband is one of the latter. I'm just praying that everything goes wifi and Bluetooth, and I can get rid of cables forever.

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