Welcome to my tutorial of building yourself a cheap and simple computer desk. In this guide I will take you step by step on how to create your own like this. If you look closely at the images above the first one is what I came up with according to actual dimensions of certain materials, it will have more fractions than the next two. Those are the dimension you will need if your MDF top is for some reason actually a quarter inch short of 24''x48'', making it 23.75'' x 47.75''. When I went to get the supplies I had a Homedepot associate cut my pieces down and so I brought a tape measure to ensure I was getting what I wanted. I found that the same MDF that I got was actually 24''x49''. This will work, there is no need to cut off that extra inch. Anyway if your MDF is a true 24''x48'' at minimum than you will want to go off of the second picture provided. The third picture is the same as the second with a reinforcing backboard and base. This is recommended, but up to you. This Project took me about four hours to assemble and costed around $62.00. You can use Plywood rather than MDF, it would be stronger and more resistant to liquids, although it will cost you much more. To prevent any issues from any liquid destroying your MDF top, you can use a quality oil based primer, then a finish coat. I advise you not to use a wood sealer or finish.

Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed

Tools your going to need:

  • Drill
  • 5/64th or 3/32nd Drill Bit
  • Pencil
  • Large Sliding C Clamps
  • Triangle or T Square
  • Square or something at least 24'' to create long lines
  • The green template wasn't even used but if you like to be really precise about hole placement then more power to you.
  • And a saw if your going to cut the materials down yourself.

The Materials needed are in the 4th and 5th photos in a table chart form. The Second long list is revised for changing the size of the rails from 22'' to 16'' and adding the cost of another 2x3/2x4 for the recommended back board and base. It turned out to be about $10 less than the first list. The short list is what the materials need to be cut down to.

Step 2: Measure, Cut, Measure Again

If you use the measurements I gave you on that table chart of dimensions, then you should have the same sizes shown above.The first image shows four pieces of .50 inch thick MDF. The two on the left are 6.5x24 inches, these are the side shelves (Horizontals) and the two on the right are 24x5 inches, those are for the shelve walls (Verticals).

The 2x4x96 or 2x3x96 inch studs whatever size you use, need to be cut to 30 inches in length. The Keyboard and Mouse Board will need cut down to 30x16 inches out of .50 thick MDF. I didn't include the backboard and bases on mine. If you choose to then you will need to cut, one at 28.5'' and one at 45''.

Step 3: Measure and Make Marks

In the images above I show that the MDF I bought for the Desk Top was supposed to be 24x48 inches but turned out to be 24x49. This is easy to fix. If you are in the same situation then all you do is make half inch marks from both edges and draw a straight line representing the new ends of the the Desk Top. This will leave a half inch over hang on the ends of your desk and make it true to the dimensions shown on the second image on the Intro page. Next I drew out the rectangles for the 2x3 leg mount positions. The true dimensions for those are also on the table charts. 2x3=1.5x2.5 this is what the size of the rectangle needs to be, Then you find the center and the midpoints. Between the center and the ends are where you make your marks, As seen in the last two photos above. These are for the pilot holes. You should repeat this process for the three other corners.

Step 4: Check It and Drill

In the first image, after making all my marks I place all of the components to see if it fit right. If it went over the lines you drew, you may want to check your measurements again. After that I went ahead and drilled the pilot holes using a 5/64th bit. Using a screw driver first I started the 8x2.5'' screws in until I could feel the point come through the back side. After I did all eight I flipped the table top over and had someone hold up the legs one at a time to continue drilling them in by hand a little more then by drill. It should look something like the last photo in this step.

Step 5: Moutning the Side Shelves

After the Legs are mounted , you can flip the table over so its upright. You will need to measure and make a parallel line 8.25 inches away from the first lines you drew on each end. After that mark the center so 12'' down and the midpoints after that (6 inch and 18 inch mark) above and below center. Using two large C clamps temporarily position the 24x5 inch (Vertical wall under the line so that the center of the .50 thick MDF is lined up with the 8.25 inch line.) Drill the three holes and repeat the screwing process using 6x1'' or 6x1.25" screws. If you don't drill pilot holes it will cause the MDF to split.

After you have done that you can remove the clamps and and repeat everything for the other side. I originally designed it to have three screws holding the (Verticals) but later chose to add two more on each side, one inch from each end. Almost done, the 24x6.5 inch shelves (Horizontals) are mounted in a similar process. When I slid in those pieces they were snug . I measured 4.5 inches from the top of each leg and made three small marks on each leg. One at 4.5 inches, one at 4.75 inches (center) and one at 5''. I lined it up and screwed in 8x2.5'' screws on all four corners. If you have a small drill bit that is at least 2 inches long I recommend drilling pilot holes. I did not and it caused it to split.

All that is left is mounting the rails. That's easy just put it up to the side of the keyboard and mouse board and mark the spots to drill the holes, then drill pilot holes then screw them in. I mounted my rails all the way flush to the back end of the desk. If you use 22 inch rails like I did then a good placement would be 2.25 inches from the back end, so that when ever you close it, it stops flush on the front end. In the end it should look some what like mine. Hope you enjoyed the project. Thank you for your time and have a good day. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.


1/31/16 My desk is great and worked as planned. I plan to build one for my room mate and when we gather the materials I found it cheaper to get (1) 4'x8' sheet of Plywood cut down to the right dimensions VS. (3) 2'x4' MDF board. And even after those cuts there's still another 28''x48'' of Plwood plus scrap. Also this time I will probably be using 2 inch L brackets. They are around $2 for four of them. When I painted my desk I used primer and then flat black finish all with spray cans. I didn't want to use a roller and brush to risk ruining to MDF. If you choose to use Plywood it will be much stronger and don't have to worry about what you paint it with. For the paint we went to Sherwin Williams and had them make a gallon up of Tricorn Matte Black for around $30 this should be plenty, even enough to do another project with. For the paint supplies I recommend Harbor Freight. They have a $9 Professional Roller set. SKU# 60684. Thank again for reading and continue on constructing.

<p>MDF is okay I have desk that is 20 years old made from MDF. I varnished it with an oil based product and it has lasted relly well </p>
<p>MDF is very smooth and takes paint well, but I'd recommend spending a few extra bucks for some A-C plywood. You put a drink on MDF, and the condensation from the drink will wreck the surface. Maybe not if it has two coats of paint on it, but why take that chance? It would suck to do all that work and have it ruined the first time you put a drink on it, or heaven forbid, spill a drink on it. <br>Also it would be nice to borrow a router with a 3/8 or 1/2 roundover bit and dress up the top edge. You'll be glad you did.</p>

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