Introduction: Corner Shelf for a Desk

About: I'm a husband and father that loves working in the garage. From sewing to welding to wrenching on engines and everything in between.

My wife needed something to cover the cords on her desk behind her dual monitors. I built this small corner shelf for her. It allows her to make use the otherwise useless space for picture frames or a plant and hides the ugly cords.

This is a fairly simple and cheap build and can be achieved using minimal tools. I decided to finally use the pocket hole jig that I purchased almost a year ago, but there are many different methods that could be used to construct this. Follow along to see the process that I used.

If you prefer videos over reading, I made a video of the process.

Step 1:

You will need:

  • Plywood (1/2" or 3/4")
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Straight edge
  • Pocket hole jig
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Wood glue (optional)

I purchased a 2' x 4' x 1/2" piece of ACX plywood for ~$10 USD. The ACX refers to the construction of the plywood. The 'A' refers to the quality of the front ply, the 'C' refers to the quality of the back ply, and the 'X' indicates that the glue used to hold the plies together is suitable for exterior use.

Find a suitable cutting tool (circular saw, handsaw, etc). I decided to give pocket hole joinery a try, but nails and glue would work just as well. Adjust your tools and fasteners accordingly.

Step 2:

The shelf was going to be a triangle with 24" legs. I marked 24" down the long side of my plywood and used a straight edge to draw a line to the opposite corner. This would be my cut line. I then drew another parallel line 1" past my cut line. The distance from the edge of the base of my cordless circular saw to the inside of the blade is 1". I clamped my straightedge along the second line and used it as a guide to keep my cut straight.

NOTE: To achieve a clean cut free of tear out, position your board so that your saw is spinning into the nicer side of the board.

Step 3:

After the triangle top piece is cut, I used my table saw to cut the side pieces. I set the saw fence to rip pieces 3.5" wide. I oriented the board so that the blade spun into the nicer side of the wood. Once both pieces were ripped to width, I moved the fence out of the way and used the miter gauge to cut the side pieces to length. I left them slightly longer than needed so the remaining length can be trimmed off later.

Step 4:

Pocket hole joinery is an easy way to hide fasteners. If you're unfamiliar, a pocket hole jig enables you to drill angled holes through the face of a board which exit through the edge of a board. Most jigs are adjustable to accommodate thicknesses from 1/2" - 1-1/2". A stepped drill bit is used to achieve a hole with a shoulder which will position the head of the screw below the face of the board. Wooden plugs are available to fill the remaining hole if desired.

I'm using the Kreg R3 kit. It comes with everything needed to get started and an assortment of screws. The case that it comes in has markings to help get the stop collar set to the correct depth for the thickness of wood you're working with.

To drill the holes, the jig is clamped to the board. The drill bit rides in a steel sleeve and is drilled until you hit the stop. You want to drill these holes where they will the least visible. Recommended spacing is 6" from hole to hole.

Step 5:

After all the pocket holes are drilled, sand down any tear out around the holes. At this point, you could paint/finish the individual pieces, but I knew I still had to trim the side pieces. I stood the side pieces on the top piece and made sure the edges were flush. Using the included long square drive bit that came with the Kreg jig, I carefully drove the screws. If using a drill to drive the screws, you want to make sure that you go slow so you don't accidentally drive the screw in too far. This would result in the point of the screw sticking out the top of the shelf.

Before attaching the second piece, I put another pocket hole in the short side of the piece so I could tie the two sides together.

Step 6:

I had left the side pieces a little long so that they could be trimmed flush to match the angle of the front of the shelf. I tilted my table saw to the correct angle. The first side that I cut, I accidentally cut a little too much off which also cut into the top piece. I was worried about doing it again on the second cut, so I left the second side a little proud. I used my belt sander to "blend" my mistake and to remove the little extra on the opposite side. It could have all been done by hand sanding, but would have taken much longer.

Step 7: Finishing

Since I was using plywood from some unknown species, I didn't know how it would take stain. I contemplated using a sho-sugi-ban method, which is basically charring the wood with a propane torch, using a wire brush to clean off the char, and then applying an oil finish. I did a few test pieces with some of the same plywood scraps. They turned out ok, but I decided to paint it instead.

Thanks for checking out my project. If you liked it, be sure to vote for me in the 'Shelving' contest.

Step 8: Put It in It's Place

And here it is in it's new home. You can see that the corner of the desk/cubicle looked very messy with all the cords. The spot was fairly useless. The shelf makes it look so much cleaner and provides some extra desktop real estate for plants and photos.

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest