Introduction: Low Cost Computer Desk

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.



RandyW70 (author)2016-08-19

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

zTragiic (author)RandyW702016-09-09

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! :)

RandyW70 (author)zTragiic2016-09-09


XaviOrin (author)2016-02-27

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.

XaviOrin (author)2016-02-27

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

BillM93 (author)2016-02-18

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

ArsalanG (author)2015-12-25

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,,.

ArsalanG (author)2015-12-25

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,,.

bornmayhem (author)2015-04-28

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.

westbrook.jason made it! (author)2014-08-21

Also wanted to say thanks for this =). Using your design as a base and wIth the help of my father we also modified the design a bit to fit around a room. We added cutouts for the chairs, as well as a smaller ones for cables and then at the rear to accomodate the window sill. My Dad, being an engineer of 37 years decided to use 18 of those legs.

Also, for those who are wondering what legs specifically were used they're from Ikea and they're called "ADILS". Right now they're around $3.74/leg but they're all metal and attach to a metal mounting plate which is also included. They have a few other styles too and they're all really well built imo.

hkalidass (author)2014-03-16


mckooter (author)2012-09-21

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

fluxor (author)mckooter2014-01-06

Really nice job.

Sobaka-Gemini (author)mckooter2013-01-29

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.

mckooter (author)mckooter2012-09-21

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.

fluxor (author)2014-01-06

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

simplifiedbuilding (author)2012-04-30

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:

tpullano (author)2012-04-20

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?

Sobaka-Gemini (author)tpullano2012-04-20

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)

mochimaster (author)2012-04-18

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

Geedox (author)2012-04-17

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!

Lthrboots (author)2012-04-16

Looks great and easy to do. You definitely got my vote on this one.

Sobaka-Gemini (author)Lthrboots2012-04-16

Thank you I appreciate it.

chaitanya.vedak (author)2012-04-13

Another Great way would be to First color the Corner is a Base Color of Opposite Contrast. (Like the Green you got) and let it dry
Next use some very narrow Masking Tape (like 3-5mm or so wide)
Then connect the Dots with this tape.
Next Color onto the these lines and the background
Once the paint dries, remove the masking tape to reveal the unpainted stripes

Voila.. Painted Stripes

Great method, I wish I had thought of that when doing this would have made it much easier.

Your Welcome.. Watch discovery Turbo for many Various method of Painting. Especially Chip Foose, Then there is also West Coast Customs, trick my truck, and American Chopper.. During their builds, they also come to parts where the paint goes on the vehicle, at that time they sometimes explain the procedures too.

fromgrozny (author)2012-04-14

you have floor mat with my nationality ornament :)

marjorieallea (author)2012-04-13

Very attractive desk!

chaitanya.vedak (author)2012-04-13

the Finish is Fabulous.... very Shinny

megainstructa1 (author)2012-04-12

I like this and it seems relatively easy. You got my vote!


wthit56 (author)2012-04-12

I'm fine with hand-drawn plans; quick and easy.

But if you're interested, you could try out Google's free CAD-type program, called "SketchUp". Very easy to use, and very, very free. ;P

Sobaka-Gemini (author)wthit562012-04-12

Thanks for the advice I will defiantly have to use SketchUp on future projects

chrwei (author)2012-04-12

a tip for getting tape on strait:
- tear off a piece longer than you need so you have room for your fingers at the ends on the sticky sides of the tape, which won't stick well anymore.
- line up one end where you want it, but don't press down hard yet, hold it there light enough that you can turn the tape to line up the other end
- hold the tape taught at an up angle away from the table and line up the other end.
- slowly bring the other end down into place, so that the whole length of tape touches down at once. if you miss, you can pull back up.
- once it's laid down right, press the tape down.

If you have a really long line to make, you can do it in 2-3 foot sections. with some practice you'll learn to do it with the roll so you don't have to tear off sections.

if you tape doesn't end at an edge like it does on this project, you can tear off your finger held sections by pressing down at the spot you want to stay and tearing, use a fingernail to get a good clean edge.

Sobaka-Gemini (author)chrwei2012-04-12

Great tip, I personally got a used piece of acrylic and lined the tape up along the edge of the acrylic.

Farrelbark (author)2012-04-12

I think I'd like to learn how to make that rug you got there as well....

gverble (author)2012-04-12

I really like this project as well. Can anyone order from IKEA to buy the legs or do I need to be a member?

Sobaka-Gemini (author)gverble2012-04-12

Anyone can, you can also go down to your local IKEA and find the legs in the warehouse.

msmythers (author)2012-04-12

Table looks nice but I'm glad your math works for cutting because it doesn't work for your estimate of cost. Using your list of only things you priced the total is $59 not $35.

Sobaka-Gemini (author)msmythers2012-04-12

Good catch, I have no idea how that happened (monkeys on keyboards) but it is now fixed.

wthit56 (author)2012-04-12

The design looks great, man! Nicely done!

legostarwars (author)2012-04-11

That is a very big desk, you can place there 5-6 computer screens

robertrunyon (author)2012-04-11

You can get countertop connectors to make joining the pieces easier. You are already familiar with a router so it should be easy enough for you to do.

The site below sells a few different types. But I linked directly to the ones I liked best. They also sell a router template to make it easy to install.

You can get similar items at local DIY centers, I'm sure.

Great instructable! This might be something I do in the near future.

pfred2 (author)2012-04-08

I'm at my no budget computer desk, well I call it a stand, now. I needed it to fit exactly in a little cubby hole, so I opted for making it myself. It is crude, but it works surprisingly well. I've since put a clear finish on it, but I've no new pictures of that I'm afraid. Try to imagine it a bit deeper color, with a shine.

robgonzo (author)2012-04-06

I am planning on building a similar desk in the near future and I've been debating on a laminate top or paint. Given the very nice results you seem to have gotten with paint and polycrylic I think I know what wins! Nice job!
BTW, where did you get those table legs for $3.50 each?

Sobaka-Gemini (author)robgonzo2012-04-06

I got the legs at IKEA (They are used for their tables but you can get them separate from the table). Here is a link if you want it I also believe you can get the legs in
many different colors and could make some cool combinations.

Corkas (author)2012-04-06

great job, thanks for the cool ideas, keep them coming

About This Instructable




More by Sobaka-Gemini:Outdoor LED ThermometerLow Cost Computer Desk
Add instructable to: