Low Cost Computer Desk





Introduction: Low Cost Computer Desk

Over the summer I decided I needed a new desk. After looking online at many different desks costing hundreds dollars I figured I could make one for much less. In fact the total cost I estimate to be around $50. This price could go up very quick if you have to buy some power tools or end up going to the hospital because you misuse the tools. On that note I thought I should add in here that I am not responsible for the structural integrity of the desk design nor your proper or improper use of the tools needed. Any way I hope you enjoy this instructable.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

-Two 2x4' MDF sheets ~$11(each)
-Two 20 hole steel tie plates ~1(each)
-One Quart of paint ~$8
-Six legs~$3.50(each)
-Box of 3/4in Screws~$6
-Polyurethane(Optional, Helps protect against water)
-Test bottle of accent paint (Optional) 
-Round over router bit
-Jig Saw
-Coffee tube Cap
-1/8in drill bit 
-Sand Paper 
-Jig saw
-Power Sander

Step 2: Design

The design of the desk was made to fit into the corner of my office just right so anyone can edit the design to fit best into their space. The only problem with the design is the need for a keyboard tray if you put your monitor in the middle. For the corners as said before I used a coffee tube cap to get the right corner shape.

Step 3: Cutting/Routing

To cut out the rough shape I used a jig saw. I might help to use a circular saw to cut out the long straight sides or use a guide for the jig saw because I had a hard time keeping perfectly straight on the sides. Once cut use a sander to fix any mistakes made while cutting. Finally, to finish off the table route the edges that are not exterior or any you don't plan to have against a wall. 

Step 4: Painting

Now for the most personalized part of the project PAINTING. For my desk I chose to paint it black because it matched my office. As far how to paint find a nice clean place and paint it. (No, I will not give instruction on how to paint a piece of wood :) ).I also played around with cool paint designs but ended up deciding to do a geometric accent in one of the corners. (If you make the table please feel free to leave a picture of your table in the comments. I would love to see what other designs people could come up with).  

Step 5: Accent

This part while easy took the longest because of the drying times. The design works by first marking out equal distances from a set point on two sides of a right angle then connecting 1 to 1, 2-2, and so on. The only real hard part is getting the tape on straight which I used a long piece of scrap wood to do.  

Step 6: Finishing

The last step before assembling the desk was to cover the whole thing in a protective polyurethane coat.(Note: I will take at least 2 coats). Of all the steps this was the most frustrating because you have to first apply the urethane all over the piece and then go over the whole thing slowly with the paint brush to get out all the bubbles.  

(I know that is not polyurethane but both have the same affect) 

Step 7: Assembly

Almost done, now the last thing to do is pre-drill the holes for the legs and tie. Then screw all the pieces together.  

Step 8: Enjoy

Now that you have finished your desk you can use it as a computer desk or just put some fun junk on it like I do. In the end your desk should look like the one above. If you liked this instructable please vote for it.




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46 Discussions

Can anyone who has made this comment on how well the MDF has held up to warping?

2 replies

I haven't made this on in particular, I made another (similar) design with an MDF tabletop and it holds up pretty well, but my desk has a leg/post towards the middle to prevent bowing just in case I have something heavy on it. If your desk is longer than about 3 to 3.5 feet long I'd suggest making a support running across the bottom attached to the legs with brackets (preferably steel) just to be sure that you won't have to make a hospital trip if your table decides to snap in half. Hope this helps! :)

An add on to my earlier comment as stated by someone else these legs are the "adils" from ikea. 4$ a piece as of 2/27/16.

Instead of the notches I drilled holes for the cables on the backside of the desk using those drill bits made for cutting door knob holes. Also due to my extremely long legs the 4x8ft mdf sheet I simple cut in half to make it 2x8 then cut to size lengthwise to fit the walls.

Adils are fantastic and super easy to use. Didn't have a chance to polyurethane it which I really need to do and didn't have a router but after moving the center leg forward about 3 inches behind midway and adding on the steel plates this thing is sturdy. Thanks for the instructable!

Unfortunately mdf where I am is 31$ a sheet


what size router bit did you use on the 3/4" MDF?

ausum work,ive few questions,

ideal length of legs ? for adults for better placement of neck to screen
angle, and hands angle using keyboard on table so we can avoid tray for

2. width seems bit less, dont u feel it may be few more inches for comfortable hand placement for keyboard long use.?

3. how to identify position of legs for uniform weight distribution ??

thank you,,.

ausum work,ive few questions,

ideal length of legs ? for adults for better placement of neck to screen
angle, and hands angle using keyboard on table so we can avoid tray for

2. width seems bit less, dont u feel it may be few more inches for comfortable hand placement for keyboard long use.?

3. how to identify position of legs for uniform weight distribution ??

thank you,,.

I've been needing to see something like this for my basement jam spot. When I saw this. And read through it I was able to come up with something. Thanks for posting this good sir.

Just wanted to say thanks for this, built my desk over the past few weeks, made a it a bit larger, 8'x10', used a total of 7 of the ikea legs.

So far its great, color is flat paint with satin polycrylic so its a bit less glossy than yours but the idea is still the same...

hopefully the 5 pictures I uploaded will post as well

3 replies

Looks great, thanks for the pictures, and great solution for holding up the back.

As a side note; The desk is now about two years old and still working great, the MDF has stayed flat even with the weight of books and a monitor on top, and the paint/finish is still looking like new.

also, in case anyone notices that the legs shouldn't hold the desk up, the back is supported by 2x4's screwed into the wall studs. I realized that after ramping up the size so much I might as well secure it to the wall a bit too.

Great project. I built something much larger, but the desk surface is similar. Thanks for giving me the idea. My supports are much rougher.

This desk is a lot like the one we built with Kee Klamp legs, certainly not as inexpensive as this desk, but the same idea:


How thick is your MDF? The legs from IKEA mention they are good for a table of thickness at least 1", yet I only see 3/4" MDF's at Lowes or Home Depot. Worried about the screws coming through the top. Is yours 3/4" thick and did you use shorter screws?

1 reply

Yes, I did use 3/4" MDF which was suitable but a thicker MDF could work fine even with the added weight. Also I did use 3/4" screws but with the plates which added about an 1/8" or so none of my screws went through. I did however use a drill that stops applying force at a certain point (available on most cordless drill/drivers) that allowed me to slowly adjust the torque until I was satisfied without over doing it. In summary as long as you don't go crazy tightening the screws you should be fine. (Also predrill with a small bit and add a drop of wood glue on the threads it really helps)

That looks really useful, and looks store-bought. That's a plus.

Great project for "All-thumbs" like me. Also, in my part of the world it is difficult to obtain specialized parts. As a follow-up, would like some ideas for some sort of shelving storage in the same spirit of this project! Keep it up!