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We are all tempted to going out and purchasing a tempered glass desk for their neatness factor, but can you trust glass to hold heavy objects? The answer is yes, if you do your research.

Please move down some if you want to get down to recommendations of desks. Also understand this is the research I have found when we first got our glass desks at our business. The research went on for around 3 day, and has about 10 hours of work put into it. I am not a glass expert but have come up with some key deciding factors in glass desks.

Truth is tempered glass has small trade offs for it's strength.
Cons of tempered glass:
* Corners/edges are more likely to fracture, and shatter the desk. (with any type of glass)
* The more in the middle you go (without support frames) the more likely it is to shatter the desk as well (though not as easy as the corners/edges). ( This is true for any type of glass). If your desk has vertical support frames on the middle or if you added them, ignore this.
* Cannot be cut after tempering, and is prone to scratching without a protective layer (most manufacturers apply this protective layer so it isn't a huge issue, tempered glass only~ issue).
* Deep scratches can lead to fractures, as any cut in the tempered glass creates a weak point as tempered glass is reliant on having a flat surface with equal tensile strength across.
* Manufacturers often lie in desks, claiming "tempered" glass but really offering heat treated glass. Be sure your desk says fully tempered glass or safety glass. More on safety glass vs regular fully tempered glass later.

Pro's:
* Shatters into small typically nonthreatening pieces, thus is safer then annealed glass which easily breaks into large sharp slabs capable of cutting skin very easily.
* Is far more thermally resistant. Tempered glass depending on manufacturing can withstand oven temperatures.
* Far stronger then annealed, or heat treated glass. High quality tempered safety glass (24,000 PSI manufacturing) can easily hold in excess of 300 lbs of safe weight, with a max (danger) capacity of 600 lbs (when using vertical support columns).

Information to know when choosing a glass desk.

Safe weight=Weight that can be applied to a desk with safety in mind. This is generally a little above 55% of the max capacity depending on dimensions, just use 55% as a general rule of thumb.
Max capacity= Absolute max capacity. Bending-> Cracking-> Shattering may occur at this max weight.

Heat treated glass (sometimes passed off a tempered glass) can hold anywhere from 80 lbs down to as low as 10 lbs depending on size, and surface. Avoid these desks AT ALL costs, these are the kind that can shatter with a sheer monitor..

Safety glass vs regular fully tempered glass are both the type of tempered glass with difference being manufacturing specifications.
The difference between the two is pressure applied at surface. Pressure applied at surface is a key factor in determining tempered glass' strength. The more pressure per square inch, the stronger the tempered glass.

Regular fully tempered glass pressure on surface is typically pressed at 10,000~ PSI. Depending on the size of the slab of tempered glass it can have a safe weight capacity of anywhere from 200 lbs down to 30 lbs with vertical support columns in middle, and edge/corner support bars.
Safety glass (higher quality tempered glass) must exceed 14,500 PSI. High quality safety glass generally is manufactured at 24,000 PSI (this are the 300+ lbs safe weight desks, which can get very expensive very fast). 14,500 PSI safety glass can hold a safe weight of around 130 lbs with vertical support columns in the middle, without them your safe weight drops to around 60 lbs.

What to look for in a computer glass desk?

The number one thing to look for is glass specifications. If the desk information online or at the store does not mention it's max capacity, ask one of the employees to provide you with a specifications sheet if possible. If no specifications regarding capacity are presented in the sheet, chances are it's a heat-treated glass desk and should be ignored.
Recommended: Safety glass, with at least 14,500 PSI. This gives you a minimum of around 60 lbs of safe weight without middle support columns, with support columns in the middle it goes up to around 130 lbs.

The second factor but near equal to importance as the number 1 thing to consider is the desk's support design. The recommendations are taking into consideration up to dual 25" or smaller LCD's, keyboard/mouse/5.1 speakers.
Recommended: Support all along the corners/edges of the desk, as well as the middle with vertical support columns. The corner/edge support is absolutely critical, specially when dealing with wide desks in the range of 2 1/2 ft or wider. Vertical support columns are recommended at nearly any size, but are critical for office and computer desks longer then 4 feet, and wider then 3 ft. Vertical support columns are rare, because they often intrude with aesthetics and rarely are needed for small computer desks since they rarely have anything besides speakers/monitor/keyboard and mouse on top. You will most likely have to do it your self for longer/wider glass desks. Understand that vertical support columns in the middle help at nearly all sizes of desks.

Third factor is sturdiness of the frame. Glass is susceptible to shock, and flimsy desks will only worsen this. Look for sturdy frames that will not rock around after a slight bump.
Recommended: Get desks with vertical support beams/corner and edge support. Something like this (lacks middle support but is not needed in this design):
http://www.glassdeskfurniture.com/wp...glass_desk.jpg

Other factors (Mostly non critical factors):
* Keyboard/mouse pull out should be bolted to the desk's frame NOT the glass. I have seen some horrible designs where the keyboard tray is attached to the glass with what appeared to be glue, luckily I havent seen it in newer desks.
* Be sure the frame is well welded, bolted, screwed or held in place. No industrial glue is not a good choice.
* Be sure to check pricing vs capacity/features of desks. Some companies will charge a hefty premium just because the design looks great while not offering the same support and features of a cheaper desk.. It's very easily to get conned when looking for a glass desk.
* Be sure to check for the tempered glass for a protective coating, try lightly scratching one of the corners of the desk with a key. Be sure not to get caught
.

Hope this helps.
 

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Very thorough explanation, thanks!

Can you comment on the relationship between carrying capacity and ability to withstand impacts?

I dropped something on my glass desk a couple of weeks ago, near the edge. I fully expected the entire panel (24" x 48" approximately) to shatter, but a part of the edge simply chipped off.

EDIT: Or perhaps impact resistance is more related to construction...either way, any insight would be appreciated
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Quote:

Originally Posted by BigMak911 View Post
Are you in the deskmaking business? lol Seriously, very thorough post. Thanks man.
No I am not but at my business we need to cover all aspects down to the angle the "T" makes. Lol. I did plenty of research to see if using glass desks are dangerous in any ways as we'd have customers put their desktop PC's in our desks, as well as us have a possibility of doing the same if needed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kremtok View Post
Very thorough explanation, thanks!

Can you comment on the relationship between carrying capacity and ability to withstand impacts?

I dropped something on my glass desk a couple of weeks ago, near the edge. I fully expected the entire panel (24" x 48" approximately) to shatter, but a part of the edge simply chipped off.

EDIT: Or perhaps impact resistance is more related to construction...either way, any insight would be appreciated

Too many variables to say why it only chipped the corner. I would have to say it was probably safety glass (higher quality tempered glass). Normally larger fractures are created from an impact, but perhaps you lucked out with the way it hit, and what it hit with (material of the object)..

Carrying capacity and ability to withstand impacts are two difference things. For example zirconium dioxide is known to be harder then steel, but will easily break with impacts (brittleness) while steel won't. There are knifes made of zirconium which require no-sharpening what so ever, but are prone to breaking when using them to chop up vegetables because of the brittleness.
Tempered (or any) glass is brittle; thus (any) glass desks should be firm to avoid rocking back and forth which introduces uneven pressure at many places for brief periods of times which can test it's ).
Edit: Impact resistance has more to do with the material in question and it's molecular structure.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
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Originally Posted by cbrazeau1115 View Post
Can you give any advice on the quality of this specific desk? I tried to follow your guide but still just dont know that much about glass desks.

Here is the desk in question: http://www.staples.com/Staples-Tempe...8#ReviewHeader
The keyboard tray looks questionable it appears it may be glued unto the glass, or attached to the class in some way. I can't see any other pictures so I can't be sure. It's small, limited, design looks well designed but cheap. Should still be decently sturdy. Glass isn't too thick but if it's really tempered glass it should be able to hold just about any LCD under 30"~. I would not recommend placing your tower or cpu on top unless it's a very small micro atx. Not because it won't handle the weight because it could but because of the amount of space it has.

For $69.99 it's a decent price. I wouldn't say it's a steal. If you were to go with a cheap "wood" desk you can certainly do better in terms of real state/sturdiness. With glass desks your often going for aesthetics so basically if that's exactly what your looking for go for it. If your open to other suggestions check this desk out:

http://www.staples.com/Z-line-Cresen...P4541:CL164549

It uses the same glass thickness, but it's base/support is far superior.
The keyboard is attached to the frame, as it should be.
It gives you a side tray for additional accessories.
 

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Actually, if I had the ability to I would take the key board try off. I prefer working with my keybaord on the desk. Thanks for the tips but I really dont mind the size of the desk and I dont like the design of the other one that greatly. Thanks for the help! I will take a look at my staples to check it out more.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Quote:

Originally Posted by cbrazeau1115 View Post
Actually, if I had the ability to I would take the key board try off. I prefer working with my keybaord on the desk. Thanks for the tips but I really dont mind the size of the desk and I dont like the design of the other one that greatly. Thanks for the help! I will take a look at my staples to check it out more.
Yup sure thing.
 

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I know it's been a long time since someone posted in this thread, but I was wondering if anyone could give me their opinion on this desk?
http://www.menards.com/main/storage-organization/office-organization/office-desks/contemporary-caren-59-black-l-shaped-desk-unit/p-1444438110038.htm

I've had it for over a year now, no real problems. I have both my tower and and a 32" Samsung HDTV on it which I use as both a monitor and as a tv. The glass is listed as TEMPERED Glass. This is a picture of my desk as of today, and I apologize for the messy room.
 
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