Introduction: Simple and Sturdy Computer Desk and Table
Check out the video above to see me explain the steps while actually doing them!
My small desk just didn't give me enough space to draw, edit videos, or play video games comfortably. So I decided it's time for a new one! I considered buying a computer desk, but couldn't find quite what I wanted, so I decided to make one. One that would have room for all my hobbies and be modular!
I decided to make it out of plywood. Compared to hard wood, it's cheap and super easy to work with. Also, I didn't need this desk to last for 30 years.
If you want to make these tables, you'll need a few supplies:
Table saw or circular saw
2 sheets of 3/4" plywood
Pocket hole jig
1 1/4" pocket hole screws
3/4" (or bigger) edge banding
Wood stain Lacquer (or polyurethane, etc)
Sandpaper (I used 220 grit)
Step 1: Have a Plan
You have to start with a plan!
First I looked at where I wanted to put my new desk. It is an 11 foot space in front of some windows.
Knowing that an 11 foot long table probably wouldn't be very strong, I decided to make it three separate pieces, so that each would be plenty strong on its own. This also makes it modular and rearrange-able!
I then used SketchUp (Free 3d modeling software available here) to model it, and make sure I would be happy with the finished product. You can find a link to download the plan below.
Step 2: Make Your Cutting Layout!
After I was happy with the SketchUp model I started making a cutting plan to figure out how many sheets of ply-wood I would need.
I ended up needing 2 sheets with plenty of room if you need or want to make them longer.
Step 3: Cut the Pieces
I like to cut the big pieces first and then the smaller ones.
Please be very careful while doing this and wear hearing and eye protection! Also these large plywood sheets are very heavy and it's a good idea to ask a friend to help you with them!
Cutting the legs was particularly interesting because I chose to tapered the legs.
You can also make them straight, but if you want to make them tapered, mark 3 inches down on one side (to keep it straight for the skirt to attach) and mark 1 inch over on the bottom. Then draw a line between those points and cut along that line. For the first one, you have to cut it by hand, but after that you can use it to make a jig to cut the rest if you are using a table saw.
To make the jig, you take a scrap piece of wood and make sure all of its edges are squared off.
Place the leg you cut by hand against the table saw fence and place the scrap wood against it and cut off the long edge of the scrap wood. Attach the wider end of the scrap wood to a small block to give you something to push the leg through. Line the jig and fence up so that the blade hits the leg at the place where you want to start your taper and use the jig to push the leg through.
Step 4: Drill the Pocket Holes
Pocket hole screws are perfect for this kind of projects because they make it easy to join things at a ninety degree angle.
I suggest marking where you want to put them ahead of time with pencil, but there is no need to be exact. Make them around 6 to 8 inches apart with one really close to both ends.
You should also choose to put your pocket holes where they can be hidden!
My pocket holes will only be visible on the insides of the legs, and the insides of the skirts.
For the legs drill pocket holes on the narrower piece toward the flat side and at the top edge make sure you make half of the legs have the taper on the left and half have the taper on the right! So they mirror each other on the table. For the skirts drill them along the top and on the 2 ends.
Step 5: Sand Everything!
You don't want splinters! I used a hand sander with 220 grit paper. It makes the wood feel nice and smooth. It also helps to clean off any dirt or pencil marks that may be left over.
Step 6: Attach the Edge Banding
This is how you hide the ugly edges of the plywood. Using a standard clothes iron, with no water in it. (Steam would cause the wood to swell, which would be bad.) Iron slowly, and press firmly. You're melting the glue on the back, to make it stick. Then run a scrap bit of wood over it to make sure its pressed down really well. Once it cools, use your finger to gently make sure it's holding well, especially at the ends.
Trim off any excess with a utility knife.
Be very careful not to cut yourself while doing this please! I will pass out!
Step 7: Stain It!
Stir up your stain and smear it all over. I'm using some disposable shop rags, but you can use a brush or cloth.Just make sure to fill in all the grooves. I like to leave it sit for a couple of minutes before wiping off the excess with a clean rag.
Oh, and I highly recommend you wear gloves. They call it stain for a reason!
Step 8: Protect It!
Time to lacquer. I've had trouble with brushing lacquer leaving some brush strokes in the stain. So this time, I tried something a little different.
I bought 2 cans of spray shellac, and sprayed all the pieces with a single coat, so that it would hopefully create a protective seal over the stain.
It worked! I came back later and brushed on two more coats of lacquer, and there were no brush strokes.
Step 9: Put It All Together
Start by assembling the legs. Clamp the two leg pieces down to a work surface, and put in your pocket hole screws.
Once you've built all your legs, attach the skirts to the legs.
Then attach the skirts to the table top. I found it easiest to do this by setting it up like the table was on its side.
Step 10: Decorate It!
Set it all up and use it!