Introduction: Make a Drop-leaf Bureau / Home Office

About: Easy and affordable DIY projects and ideas.

Practical and affordable if you make your own, this drop-leaf bureau is perfect as a workspace or home office and would look good in any room in a home. Made using MDF, you can finish the drop-leaf bureau in your choice of colour and finish for a modern or shabby chic piece.

See cutting list - you will also need:
Wood glue
16mm screws
4 x 35mm screws
5 x 50mm screws
120- and 240-grit sanding pads
2 flap hinges
3 butt hinges
Paint tinted to colour choice
Clear acrylic sealer or antique wax
Spray gun or paintbrushes
6 knobs or handles and screws
Drill/Driver + assorted bits
Countersink bit
Jigsaw + clean-cut blades
Orbital sander
Tape measure and pencil

All sections are joined with pre-drilled pilot holes using a wood bit 1mm smaller than the screw size. Countersink all holes to accommodate the size of the screw head. It is important to drill pilot holes in all boards, especially where joining horizontal and vertical sections together, to prevent the board from splitting. Unless otherwise specified, pilot holes in all boards are 50mm from the edge.

Step 1: Cut, Assemble and Attach Feet

1. The feet for the drop-leaf bureau are cut from blocks of SupaWood using a jigsaw. The sections are then glued together as shown below.

2. It's best to start with this first so that the glue is dry when it comes time to assemble. For sanding it's handy if you have a Dremel MultiMax sander, or sand the curved areas by hand.

3. Attach the screws to the base using wood glue and 4 x 35mm screws.

4. Here you can see how the feet are mounted onto the base.

Step 2: Assemble From the Centre Outwards

5. For many projects it's far easier to work from the centre outwards, adding on each section. For this drop-leaf bureau we are starting with the shelf unit. Measure and mark the centre line on the shelf sides and use this to attach the centre shelf in position.

6. The next step is to make the individual shelves. Both shelves have a lip that is 12mm in from the edge. This lip is a stop for the drawer fronts that are fitted into the shelves. Measure and mark a line 12mm from the edge and use this as a guide for mounting the lip by screwing through the top of the shelf as shown below.

7. The first shelf if mounted to the base of the centre shelf unit that you made in Step 5. Measure in at either side to ensure that the centre shelf is exactly in the middle before joining the sections and flush with the back edge of the shelf.

8. On both side sections measure and mark up from the bottom at 704mm. Pre-drill and countersink at this mark for attaching to the first shelf. Attach both sides to the first shelf with 5 x 50mm screws - bearing in mind that the centre shelf unit is flush with the back of the shelf and back edge of the sides.

Step 3: Add Base

9. Now you can attach the bottom shelf by measuring and marking at 348mm on both sides.

10. Here is the project with the centre shelf section and shelves attached.

11. Attach the base to the bottom of the assembly, allowing a 16mm overlap on both sides. This overlap allows you to drive screws into the side sections with ease.

12. Base assembly attached to cabinet.

Step 4: Finish Cabinet Assembly

13. To finish off the top attach the top frame so that it is flush with the front edge of the side sections and over the top of the centre shelf unit.

Secure the top in place by driving screws through the top into the front panel, sides and centre shelf unit.

15. Here is the top frame and top in place.

Completed assembly.

Step 5: Sand, Paint and Finishing

I am always overwhelmed by instructions and these tend to put me off very quickly, but I can honestly say that this was an easy project. If you have everything cut to size and 'measure twice' to avoid mistakes, assembling the cabinet should take no more than an hour.

Sand and Paint

The next step was to sand and paint the unit. It's important to sand the cut edges so that they are nice and smooth - before painting. I also use a Bosch PFS 65 spray system for all my furniture projects. It's quick and easy and gives a professional finish. For most projects I use Plascon Polvin, tinted in a specific colour, and then either given a coat of clear sealer or antique wax. The cabinet was sprayed prior to fitting the flap-down door, which was sprayed separately. The drawer fronts were also spray before assembling the drawers.

The flap-down hinges and butt hinges were installed to the door and cabinet frame and the assembled drawers inserted.

Don't forget to pop onto for more inspiring DIY project ideas for your home.

Organization Contest

Participated in the
Organization Contest