Introduction: DIY Simple Modern Desk

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This is a very simple and modern looking desk. It's made out of plywood, with a stained top and painted legs. It's lightweight, easy to disassemble and very affordable to build. It would be perfect as a student's desk, in a cool modern office, or if you're looking to incorporate a stylish work space in your home.

Step 1: Materials

This build requires about 2/3 of a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood.

You're going to need the following cuts:

  • A - 1 @ 26 x 40 inches (for the top)
  • B - 4 @ 27 3/4" x 4" (for the legs)
  • C - 4 @ 21 1/2 x 4 " (for the legs)
  • D - 4 @ 6 x 4 ", 45 degree (for brackets)
  • E - 2 @ 13 x 1 1/2 (for support)
  • F - 2 @ 1 3/4 x 1 1/2 (for support)
  • G - 3/4 inch strips (for edgebanding) made of either wood, metal, or some other material.

You're also going to need:

  • drill with 1/8" bit
  • glue
  • 1 1/4" drywall screws
  • paint / stain
  • staple gun + staples

Step 2: The Top

Now, let's start with the top. In order to give the top a more interesting look, I decided to create the illusion of separate boards, even though it's made up of one piece of plywood. So I'm using masking tape, separating out five boards. Each board I'm staining using a slightly different colored stain.

I start with the three middle boards, pull off the tape, re-apply some tape to stain the middle two boards, and then I let it dry. I continue to work with a darker stain in the periphery around the whole table to give the surface a more lived-in, realistic look.

The next day, I start applying shellac, first underneath, then about five coats on the top. You could use any finish you prefer, such as polyurethane or lacquer, also.

Step 3: The Base

To build the base only requires a few steps.

So we have cut B & C, and those primarily make up the base. So let's attach B & C together with glue and screws and basically make two boxes, one for each side of the desk.

Next, let's put on the brackets on opposing sides. I'm using staples for the sake of simplicity.

And there you go, the two legs, completed with brackets for stability, and they make a big difference.

For a contrasting base, I decided to use oil paint. I started with a primer, and then I moved on to a glossy white paint, sanding in between coats.

Step 4: ​Assembling

To assemble the desk screw in the legs to the top. Also, screw down the support in the middle, and the brackets connecting the legs to the bottom of the table. These would be a good idea to paint too.


Now for the edging, there are several options. I wanted a metallic edging to contrast the wood and the white. So first, I started with aluminum that I cut and bent. However, it broke, so I decided to paint strips of wood with aluminum paint and staple that on. Another option would be to put on wood edge banding ahead of time and staining it the same as the top.

Step 5: Finishing the Desk


Now, to bring down the gloss level a little bit, it's a good idea to finish the piece with some wax polish and steel wool, this makes the surface smoother, and not quite as shiny. Wipe off with a cloth when you're done.

You can find the wax polish here:

And there you have the finished desk. A very simple design, easy to put together. Lightweight and easy to move. Cheap to make, and of course there are endless possibilities in terms of variation when it comes to color and design.

Step 6: Conclusion - Watch the Video!

For a much better look at the process, make sure to check out this quick 4 minute video on how to build this very simple desk.