Typewriter Talk

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29-7-2018 13:57:01  #1


Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

I occasionally check out eBay for typewriter desks. There are a couple of nice old wooden examples there at the moment, but they are big, pricey and a long way away from me. And I don't much like the little metal trolley things - the old wooden desks appeal to me much more.

The main, important feature of a typewriter desk seems to be that it's a couple of inches or so lower than a typical desk. Many of them are also quite good fun - they transform from normal desks to have a lower bit for the typewriter, and/or have draws which fold out for documents, etc.

It occurred to me just recently: I've been sitting at a sort of modern typewriter desk for over a year at work, without realising it. I didn't like it at first - it's got a pull-out "side desk" sort of thing which is lower than the main desk, and I just thought it was strange and I've preferred to just have an L-shaped desk all at the same height.

But now I've got into typewriters, I think it may be perfect for that. My computer monitor and keyboard could be on the higher bit, and a typewriter on the lower bit. With my swivel chair, I could be going between the old and modern technology instantly. Probably great fun for people who "typecast".

I wouldn't get this colour, but this is the design:

https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/desks/desk-computer-desks/malm-desk-with-pull-out-panel-black-brown-art-60214183/

Very tempted.

 

30-7-2018 13:06:20  #2


Re: Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

Does the pull-out section extend enough that you can actually use it for a typewriter? You'd have to be able to get your legs under it, be able to turn your chair so it doesn't hit the main desk, and it would (should) have to manage the footprint of a large standard.

I don't agree that the main criteria of a typewriter desk is that it should be lower. I use a regular height office desk for my typing needs, and in my experience what is most important is to have a chair that is height adjustable. With an adjustable chair I can get myself in the correct ergonomic position for any type of machine, or my computer's relatively flat keyboard.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

31-7-2018 06:36:03  #3


Re: Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

Uwe wrote:

Does the pull-out section extend enough that you can actually use it for a typewriter? You'd have to be able to get your legs under it, be able to turn your chair so it doesn't hit the main desk, and it would (should) have to manage the footprint of a large standard.

I don't agree that the main criteria of a typewriter desk is that it should be lower. I use a regular height office desk for my typing needs, and in my experience what is most important is to have a chair that is height adjustable. With an adjustable chair I can get myself in the correct ergonomic position for any type of machine, or my computer's relatively flat keyboard.

Yes, the pull-out section pulls out a lot more than in the pictures on the Ikea website. Plenty enough for a big typewriter. I tried the setup at work, imagining there was a typewriter on it - no issues with room for the typewriter, a chair or my legs. The widest-bodied typewriter I have is the Hermes Ambassador and there's plenty of room for that, but the carriage would probably encroach over the main table unless I positioned the machine on the extreme edge of the pull-out table.

You don't say what you think the main criteria for a typewriter desk is? If you can solve the height thing with an adjustable height chair, then that doesn't address the table's qualities. I'm not an historian but when starting to look at typewriter tables, it seems that, historically, height was the main differentiating factor - the idea being that you could have your hands at the 'correct' height while having a seat height that is comfortable for legs & feet.

In my own limited experience so far I'd say that, following height, sturdiness is an important concern, especially in terms of avoiding wobbling while a big heavy typewriter carriage advances. I'm not sure how sturdy the pull-out bit of the Ikea desk is though - it's on rails under the main desk at one end, and on rollers at the other. I couldn't get it to move much by wiggling it around, but it may wobble when a typewriter with a hefty carriage is being used.

I imagine a hefty enough carriage, if say the tab feature was used such that the carriage built up a fair bit of momentum, could probably cause the pull-out table to pull in or out, depending on orientation!
 

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31-7-2018 19:05:44  #4


Re: Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

Roginald wrote:

You don't say what you think the main criteria for a typewriter desk is?  

The main criteria for a typewriter desk is a really good chair.

Roginald wrote:

If you can solve the height thing with an adjustable height chair, then that doesn't address the table's qualities. I'm not an historian but when starting to look at typewriter tables, it seems that, historically, height was the main differentiating factor - the idea being that you could have your hands at the 'correct' height while having a seat height that is comfortable for legs & feet.

There is no desk - be it an antique typewriter-specific desk or a brand new one* - that can provide the correct ergonomic position for every typist. This is why a height adjustable chair is important as it allows you to adjust to the typing surface as opposed to trying to size a desk for some nonadjustable chair. I have a small collection of desks that include vintage metal office desks and small ones made specifically for typewriters and they are not all the same height. 

I can type almost anywhere, on almost anything. I sometimes use my patio table in the backyard, even my lap, and for short sessions it's not an issue. If I'm going to be typing for hours on end I use my modern U-shape office desk and adjust my chair so that my forearms are in the correct position. Even the typewriter model I'm using comes into play and might require a height adjustment.

[*The exception might be those new motorized standing desks that you might allow you to change the desk height instead of the chair.]


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

01-8-2018 05:50:48  #5


Re: Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

I also am happy to use certain typewriters on my lap, and would want certain typewriters at different heights when used on a desk.

As a general rule though, I always feel comfortable with the typewriter a little bit lower than my computer keyboard, for the obvious reason that the keyboard extends higher on most typewriters. Small differences can make all the difference. It's not just comfort and safety for the wrists, but how well you can see the typing line. If I position my most-used typewriter, an SM3, on the desk where my computer keyboard is, with my adjustable chair at max height (and with a cushion on it), I can't quite fully see the typing line all the way across - it's obscured by the ribbon cover. With the typewriter just two inches lower, I can see the line fully and it's a far more satisfactory arrangement.

I wouldn't be without an adjustable chair, but if one wants a setup whereby a modern computer keyboard and a typewriter can be switched between practically instantly, getting the heights right matters. I really like the idea of just needing to turn towards either my PC keyboard or a typewriter, and everything is at the right height, and I think this Ikea thing could probably be a great setup.
 

     Thread Starter
 

01-8-2018 09:52:58  #6


Re: Accidental typewriter desk from Ikea?

Here's a good use of the desk. As I say the fact that one of the 'bits' was lower than the other and that it could be temporarily pulled out, used to annoy me and I couldn't see the point. But here we can see why someone might want to push it out of the way to get into bed!:

https://preview.ibb.co/bssNqe/malm.jpg


It's starting to make more sense to me now, as I also don't necessarily want a typewriter next to my computer all the time, but sometimes it would be very nice to have both to hand. You can see in this pic that there is plenty of space for a big typewriter on the smaller bit.

I think it's a nice coincidence that it needs to be lower by design, but it accidentally makes it great for putting a typewriter and a computer accessible from the same seating position.

For now though, I stumbled across one of these for £5 in a charity shop yesterday, and while there's exactly the wobble you might imagine from looking at it, it's actually not too bad at all using my SM3 on it.

https://image.ibb.co/m8ZGiz/bed_table.jpg


So that will be getting positioned next to my current computer table in much the arrangement of the Ikea table, so I can switch between the two easily.

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