In this project, I am making a small desk for my daughter. She tends to be very rough on furniture, so I want a solution that will be inexpensive but will also last a while. Luckily, up in the attic, there are a number of old kitchen cabinets as pictured below. If I squint my eyes a little, and dim the light, I can already see a desk, can't you? Be warned - this is no heirloom piece, but as a six year old, my daughter is convinced I'm a genius.

Step 1: Clean the Cabinet

This is the easiest step. Simply take a damp towel and some Dollar Store cleaner (thanks Jolene!) and wipe the cabinet clean, inside and out.
I love the making a desk thing. I would like to say the 50's, 60's and 70's paint contained lead. Lead based paint is found to cause mental retardation in children. I would suggest making her a new desk with the all the paint cleaned off. There are furniture restoring places that dip the furniture for you so you don't have to breath all those nasty fumes. It is a big messy job taking off old paint and the old paint needs to be disposed of properly. Don't want it contaminating your ground water. New shelve paper too. Lord knows how many times the paper had been sprayed with raid and the old plastic shelve paper had bad chemicals too.
ts soooo cute :D
ts soooo cute :D
kept waiting to see how the desk was going to manifest, thought article was in a wrong place. finally saw it at the end. i think it's absolutely brilliant. pls post update on how it works for her.
hilarious. but soooo cute.
What about maybe attaching the work surface to a small riser (maybe an inch or two), then putting a tiny lip on it to keep things from sliding off. So as to have an angled work surface when down? Just ideas, it's a fairly excellent idea as is.
it's a bit small, but i love the idea of having a chalkboard on one side! :-) I imagine it could save some room too, being able to put the top up, especially for playing kids. Nice job.
While I know they have to first survive, but many items constructed out recycled items gone one to become heirloom items. How to predict such a thing I don't know, but it's a good a reason of any to keep one reasonably mindful of the quality of their work. Not that I have no criticism of this project, but how great it would be if it could survive so your 60 year old daughter could say old dad is a genius?
One thing to be careful about with older furniture and cabinets is the presence of lead-based paint, which even if you paint over it is probably not something you want your kid playing around.
Maybe some foldable legs to support the desk part?? Otherwise, awesome idea, I absolutely love it, what a great idea.
This is a great instructable and a great idea. I love how you recycled something that a lot of people may have just tossed out. Glad to see you addressed the bracing/locking idea for the top. Too many years as an Emergency Medical Technician to not think of that one... One other suggestion. If you have an old (or new) swing arm lamp, it could be mounted to the side of the cabinet to provide spot on lighting for your daughter while she works. I know I am always telling my son he needs more light to work by :) ~C
If you glued some long, thin wedges to the top, tapering them toward the front, and re-mounted the desktop hinges to the top of the wedges in the back it would slant downward toward the user. Put on a lip at the bottom and presto! it's a drafting table. I just know it's easier for me to work on a surface that angles toward me than a flat one.
I would mount the cabinet to the wall, too. If your daughter leans on the protruding part of the desktop as she's climbing onto the stool, it could be catastrophic.
Forgot to mention: I like the project! And I admire your creativity in recycling. And your magical attic sounds like my father's magical basement! It always has whatever you need.
Thank you! I love the phrase "magical attic" it describes it perfectly.
That's pretty neat! My one concern would be keeping the panels upright when in chalkboard position; is there any bracing or locking mechanism? It looks easy to inadvertantly knock them down into the desk position, potentially squishing small fingers.
I was just thinking about that today when I moved it and it fell down.... any suggestions? I was thinking maybe a simple eye and hook... or velcro....
You want &quot;lid support brackets.&quot; Check out this page on McMaster: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?pagenum=2861">http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?pagenum=2861</a><br/>
Ooh... those are nice. Thanks for the link!
I'd say away from Velcro, and go for something that you can stably lock into place. The eye/hook or something similar would probably work nicely, and if it's up high your 6 year old would have trouble reaching it.

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