I started this project for several reasons. I needed a better desk than the one I had. I found as I was studying I would have a book on the class notes on the keyboard my assignment on the desk and my book in my lap. The desk that I was working on was made of ½ in particle board. The legs were thin aluminum tubes. I began searching for concepts and designs and found Some of the things that I wanted in a desk. I have listed these below. I wanted to learn more about woodworking, but did not want to purchase lots of tools to learn about wood working.
Features of the desk that I wanted
1. Monitors at an elevated level
2. Room to move keyboard out of the way for more desk space
3. Room for PC so it is not on the floor
4. Easy to disassemble for moving (bolt on boxes)
5. Cable management
6. Durable and made to last
7. Minimal amount of tools required.
8. Learn some woodworking and finishing
I drew inspiration from a desk that I felt fit these criteria very well. The desk was originally a kickstarter back in 2014 that did not go through. I liked the idea, but needed more room and wanted to add monitor risers that I could slide my keyboard underneath so that I could have more work space when I wanted it. The link for the inspiration is
Pocket hole jig
1” fostner bit
80 grit sand paper
220 grit sand paper
1" Foam brush
2 4’x8’ sheets of ¾” solid plywood
Screws for pocket holes
Binding post bolts (10x)
Paint(choose your color)
6 in legs (5x)
Leg mounts (5x)
Step 1: Plans for the Desk
solid core plywood is needed for this project because of the joint type used. pocket hole screws traditionally are done in solid wood and not in plywood. Most of the plywood available at home improvement stores have hardwood veneer on the outside and a soft wood layers on the inside. Sketches of the parts needed are provided. These can be altered to meet your individual requirements. The desk is made of three main parts the top section, with two boxes that will be bolted to the top. Legs will then be attached to each of the boxes.
Step 2: Cut Stuff
Cut the rough pieces out and then proceed to cut out angular pieces and windows. Windows will be cut by first using a forstner bit to cut holes into the plywood with a block underneath to prevent splintering out the back. Then use a jig saw to cut lines tangent to the circles and then sand them smooth. Use this technique for all the windows and also on the cord management corner on the top of the desk.
Step 3: Assemble Table
The top of the desk has 3 side panels and the top panel. Pocket hole screws are placed so that the top of the desk would be flat and smooth without plywood edges on the top surface. Spacing on the screws is about every 6 inches unless it does not match with the design. For example the cable management hole.
Step 4: PC Box
The PC box is tricky to position the pocket screws so that they do not show when the desk is assembled. Screws will be put into the bottom panel going into the panels next to it. The inside top of the window panel and on the same position on the other opposite panel. The inside panel is done the same way as the windowed box because it will be hidden when bolting it to the top of the desk. This will leave a nice clean surface for the PC to go on and keeps all the screws hidden.
Step 5: Step 5: Shelf Box
The box shelf is more straight forward with screw placement. All the screws will be placed underneath for the lower two shelves and attach to the side panels. Screws will be put into the top of the top shelf to hide them when the box is mounted into the desk.
Step 6: Add Support to the Top Desk
More stability will be required for the PC box. To do this secure a panel to the inside so that it will be screwed in at the top of the desk and the back panel.
Step 7: Taping for the Accent Edge
Apply masking tape to the edges of the plywood, windows and cable control areas. This will keep a nice sharp accent edge for the desk.
Step 8: Paint the Edges
Apply paint to the edges of the plywood. Several coats of paint will need to be applied due to the paint being absorbed very quickly on the ends of the plywood. It took three to four coats to get the desired look. The grain of the plywood still shows through the paint, but only by texture. The paint used was Rust-olem enamel paint. Color of paint can be chosen at your preference.
Step 9: Apply Stain
A rag can be used to apply the stain. Apply in the direction of the grain for a more natural stain. Minwax Maple stain was used for this particular instance, but other stain selections can be used as desired.
Step 10: Apply Finish
Apply polyurethane finish to the desk and allow 8 hours to dry. Total layers to apply is 4-5. Sand with 220 grit between layers to ensures good cohesion between layers for a better finish. Don’t forget to apply finish to the legs as well. Minwax clear semi-glass polyurethane finish was used, but other finishes should do just fine.
Step 11: Attach Leg Plates
Leg plates are attached to the bottom of the PC box and shelf box. Two plates are put on the shelf box and three for the PC box.
Step 12: Assemble and Use
Attach the PC box and the shelf box to the top with binding post bolts. This project requires a total of 10. Four on the shelf box, three on the PC box and three were placed just above the PC box to reinforce the panel the PC box would be bolted to. Cut the legs to the height that you would like the desk to be. For this instance, 29" was an ideal height which required cutting 2" off of the 8" legs.
Step 13: Monitor Risers
Monitor risers can be added if you would like to. They allow a place to slide your keyboard underneath and provide a good height to your monitors to reduce neck strain. The design is fairly strait forward and will involve the same staining, sanding, and finishing processes as described previously.
Step 14: Conclusion
back on this project I would have built a scaled down mock up with foam board. This would allow me to see where the design had flaws and possible issues from the design. I learned a lot from building the desk and would say that I have improved my ability to design and work with wood.