Introduction: How to Make a Modern Home Office Desk

About: I am Norman, a graphic designer who works from home. In my spare time, I am the resident handyman and an amateur builder/maker. I am drawn to building wood projects with a modern twist, although I try to learn…

I love looking at modern furniture, especially Scandinavian-inspired wooden pieces with white accents. For this project, I wanted to make a computer desk for my wife that will match a pastel-colored steel cabinet. I also wanted to discourage clutter, so there will be no drawers, but incorporate extended functionality that is lacking from most work desks in the market. The design was inspired by something I've seen before, but I remembered
it costing thousands of dollars, so I decided to build one for myself. The desk or table will have a hidden cable management system and a dry-erase surface on the desktop. Since the desk is sizeable (30-in x 60-in), I wanted the legs to be removable, so I can move it to another room, or transport it if needed.

Step 1: Dimensions, Materials and Starting the Project

Materials list

I used actual, not nominal dimensions, and prices are rounded off to the nearest dollar

3/4-in. primed hardwood plywood, 4x8-ft. - $50

Poplar square 1.5-in. x 1.5-in. x 36-in. (6 pcs) - $23

5/16-in. x 2.5-in. standard hex bolts - $16

0.75-in x 3.5-in. x 8-ft. primed pine board - $12

3-in. corner brackets (8 pcs.), flat L brackets & mending plates - $10

Assorted screws - $6

5/16-in. x 1-in. threaded inserts for hex bolts - $2

1.5-in. x 48-in. Bright Nickel Continuous Hinge - $10

0.75-in. dowel - $3

Adhesive Veneer edging - $7

27 oz. white gloss Dry Erase kit - $20

1 qt. clear wood stain - $8

= = = = = = =

TOTAL: $168

Table top material can be substituted with a cheaper board finished by a darker wood stain or a MDF topped off by a primed, but thinner panel.

Cutting the pieces is straightforward. For the legs, I cut to an angle 6 degrees off-center for stability. I had the 4x8 pre-cut to my desktop dimensions at Home Depot, and I used a miter saw to cut the rest of the pieces.

Step 2: Drilling and Attaching the Fasteners

Since I decided that this table can be taken apart & transported, I chose standard hex bolts as my main fasteners that pass through the wood material to a threaded insert.

I used two fasteners; a 5/16-in. standard hex bolt and a 1/4-in. round head bolt

I used a diameter guide to mark the exact position of the holes. I then started with a pilot hole that's 2 sizes smaller than my bolt. If the board needs to be attached to another, I clamped both together before drilling through the second one. I put a drop of machine oil on the bolt, then used a power driver to drive it.

Then I drove a threaded nut to the second board. Earlier, I stopped drilling half an inch less than the nut's length, so it can embed itself the rest of the way.

Step 3: Assembling the Pieces

I purposely let the bolt heads show since they lend a nice industrial counterpoint to the soft wood texture.

I added the corner brackets, attached by a 1/4-in. x 1/2-in metal screw. The shallower depth makes sure that when I drive the screw all the way, it doesn't create a bump on the desktop surface on the other side.

When faced with alignment issues with the bolts, I drove them a few turns at a time slowly until the joint closed up.

The cross-brace for the legs were placed higher to make room for the metal cabinet that will partly span under the desk.

I placed the mid-beam support further back to correspond to the placement of the main load, an iMac desktop computer.

Step 4: Adding the Back Compartment

The back compartment will house the power strip, desktop backup drive, and hide the cables.

I could have used the extra primed board for the flooring, but I used a particleboard instead since it is hidden from view anyway.

The back compartment was put together by mending plates & flat L brackets. I used flat-head screws and put glue in the holes where they go for added adherence.

I used a bright nickel continuous hinge for the door, and drilled an inch-sized hole in the middle in lieu of a drawer pull.

I added an opening for ventilation, and improvised a cover out of a gutter leaf screen.

Step 5: Painting the Dry-erase Area of the Desktop

I sanded the entire desktop surface, scored the border with an awl (so the paint edges will be clean-looking), and blue taped it.

I applied 3 coats, adding 30 minutes to the labeled drying time to be sure. According to the label, the Rust-Oleum Specialty White Gloss Dry Erase Kit is best for single use.

I let it dry overnight, scored the border again, before peeling off the tape.

Step 6: Working the Desktop

I added a shoe base moulding on the underside of the desktop to blunt the edges.

Drilling the grommet hole, I started with 2 small holes to insert the jigsaw. I smoothed jagged edges with a Dremel.

I used an adhesive veneer edging to hide the plywood cross-section.

There will be 4 dowels standing on the dry-erase area. They serve as a divider or a slot to place phones sideways for charging.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

I added the power strip and hid the cable by running it through insulated pipe clamps.

Step 8: Finished Project and Product in Use

I hope you enjoyed my Instructable as much as I enjoyed making this project.

Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Third Prize in the
Tables and Desks Contest 2016

First Time Authors Contest 2016

Participated in the
First Time Authors Contest 2016