Introduction: Cheap Desk From a 4x8 Sheet

About: I'm a software engineer by trade and electronics by hobby.

I wanted a new desk for myself but didn't want to spend an arm and a leg. I got inspiration for this design from

I liked the second level that my current desk has, but wanted a wider desk with some storage. So I came up with this design.

Step 1: Design

To get the most bang for my buck I designed the desk with as little waste as possible (actually there was 0 waste from the 4'x8' sheet). This was designed and built with a 29" desk height, I have seen others at 26" so pick your favorite.

Here is the model and design in sketchup.

Step 2: Get Lumber for $11!

I was going for a desk as cheap as I could, so I headed to my local Menards. Against the back wall they have a scratch and dent section for sheet lumber. There was a piece of shelf particleboard in the $20 section, but didn't have a price tag on it. I brought it to the front told them it was $20. Then, the cashier called over his manager and then he called the lumber guy and the lumber guy said $10, WIN! When I brought it home I measured the board and it was actually 4' x 8' 1". Lucky the big gouges were on the 8' 1" side so trimming off that one inch removed the big imperfections in the sheet. I also got a stick of lumber for cross support, you could really use whatever you got, a stick of wood or sheet material.

  1. 4'x8'x5/8" Shelf Particleboard, scratch & dent for $10
  2. 1"x4"x4' Stick for cross support ~$1

Caveat: you got all the necessary tools and some screws already.

  1. Circular saw
  2. 1/8" pilot drill bit
  3. Drill
  4. Impact driver
  5. Tape measure
  6. Square
  7. Box of 1 5/8" phillips drywall screws

Step 3: Assembly

Screw it all together. If you want to be extra sturdy you can glue all the edges, but I wanted the option to take it apart when I move.

  • I built the desk on it's back
  • Pilot drill all the holes
  • Put 3 or 4 screws in every 2' joint
  • Use a carpenter's square or the 3:4:5 rule to get the legs square
  • The 2nd level support is just screwed in from the bottom on the center support. The sides are held in place with dowels
  • Sand the rough corners/ edges or whatever you want

Finishing Step Options

  • Sand the rough edge, and call it a day
  • "Fill the cut edges with elmers glue. Then when dry, you can easily paint over it..." -aaahotdog
  • Buy ~20' of edge banding, glue it one, then cut off the extra