Introduction: Plywood Desk for Double Home Office
OK, so here is the problem: My wife and I suddenly have to work from home. This wasn't even an option before and with an apartment of five bedrooms and four kids we actually don*t have a room for it. Only option: our bedroom. With all the chaos that comes with a bunch of kids, we have tried to keep our bedroom as tidy as possible. The idea that we would have to turn this room into an office was a little nightmare for me. So I decided: If we put a desk in there, it should be two things:
1. It should look really nice and incorporate some design elements that will make it seem like it was only built for this room.
2. Everything that is on the desk while we work needs to go into drawers in the evening, so that the bedroom becomes a bedroom again.
The solution: this plywood desk with flat but very large drawers and rounded feet that take up a shape already existent in our room.
Our house is insulated with straw-bales and the inside is plastered with clay. All the corners of the clay plastering are rounded. So I measured the radius of these corners and used that as the basis for the design.
Here is a video about the process:
Ok, let's get started!
The desk is made from one sheet (2,5m*1,25m) of 18mm birch plywood. Only other supplies are drawer-slides and a couple of 15mm plywood pieces for the drawers.
Here is the Link for the CNC:
Step 1: Cutting the Plywood
The first thing to do is to have a good look at your plywood sheet and decide where your desktop is going to be cut out. It's the only piece where the surface is visible, everything else will be cut anyway.
I cut out this piece first, for my desk it was 70*176cm. Since cutting a whole board on the table saw can be tricky, I cut it a little oversize first and later cut the real dimensions.
After that I cut out four pieces of 77+31cm. These are the pieces that go on the cnc (in my case an x-carve) and later make up the four legs, leg support plus sides of the desk.
Then it's time to cut 2cm strips of plywood for the back and the sides.
The dimensions are as follows:
Backpanel: four pieces 2* 136cm (width of the desk minus 40cm)
the front consist of two drawers 60cm wide and a centre piece 16cm wide (width of the desk minus 40cm minus drawers)
so: eight pieces 2*60cm for the drawers, four pieces 2*16cm for the centre front.
Last you will need to cut ten pieces 37cm long to make a panel out of which to cut rounded corners.
Ok, everything cut: let´s use the cnc then.
Step 2: CNC-Cutting Side and Leg Elements
The table has a top 18mm, then four "layers" of 18mm all around, so this adds up to 5*18mm= 9cm. I wanted the desk to be about 72cm, so I decided to make 38 pieces for each leg, so that I had enough spares. I ended up using 34 pieces, so my desk is a total of 34*1,8+9=eg need 38 pieces of 18mm, adding up to 70,2cm. I kept four pieces so that I can still make it higher if I want to.
So in total we need four U-shaped pieces for each side of the desk, eight in total and 38*4= 152 leg pieces. Additional the legs need an L-shaped support, which is made form the cutout left after the cnc is finished (you can see it on the picture, it needs rounded edges, which I did with a round-over- bit) because otherwise the small cutout doesn`t fit properly). All of these pieces I put on four sheets of plywood each 77*31cm. For each board the x-carve needed 3 hours, so in total it was used for twelve hours. I used this time to do other projects and glue up the front and backpanels. Plus, after the first one was done, I cleaned the edges and so on...
Step 3: Gluing Up Front and Back Panels
This is a straigth forward job.
Lay out the 2cm wide pieces and glue them together.
I actually cut these longer originally and cut them to final size after they were glued up. It makes a much cleaner cut, then trying to get them lined up perfectly.
Also, while the CNC keeps cutting you can sand these really flush.
Step 4: Making Drawers
Another thing that can be done while letting the CNC cut out all the leg and side pieces is to make drawers.
I did it in a very simple way and used some 15mm plywood I had lying around and simply glued up the drawers so that there was enough space for hidden drawer slides at the side. There is a hundred ways to make drawers, depending on what tools you have. I use my old lamello for this.
Step 5: Gluing the Side Panels
When the CNC is done you can glue up the two sidepanels. It is absolutely crucial to be very precise here, because otherwise it will be difficult to fit in the L-shaped leg support. I found it easier to glue two at a time and then glue two and two together once the glue was dry (I only have a foto of the first i did, where I glued all four pieces together at the same time.)
Step 6: Gluing Up All Side, Back and Front Panels
So after you have glued up all the individual panels it's time to glue it all to the underside of the desk top.
I added four pieces of 15mm plywood that go from front to back and to which the drawerslides will be attached. again I used lamellos, but you can also use just glue or even pocket screws (in this case you have to be really carefull not to go through to the top of the desk...would be a shame)
I layed everything out and attached it with clamps to make sure everything really fit. Then I only took off the part I was preparing and gluing on, instead of taking everything off and then glueing everything on at once.
I also tested if the drawers fit in... just in case.
Step 7: Attaching the Leg-support
Once the actual desktop plus sidepanels are done, the next step is to attach the L-shaped leg supports.
I wanted to be able to take the legs off, so I decided to use screws here.
The L-shaped leg support fit very snug into the resees in the corners of the sidepanels, so I only used one screw to attach them to the desktop.
This could be done in a lot of different ways. I made small round pieces with the cnc in which I hammered small t-nuts and then glued them under the L-shaped leg support. Then I drilled a hole and sat a small screw in.
Step 8: Yeah: Making the Legs!
Now this is the step you'll be waiting for: glueing up all those 150 pieces together to make those nice looking legs.
Important: The first piece should only be glued to the legsupport, NOT TO THE SIDEPANEL!!
Otherwise the leg wont' be detachable.
After the first one is on, it is all straight forward. Put glue on, press on. Sometimes I needed a hammer to get them tightly down, and very often I used a clamp to press them firmly on to the legsupport.
This is a really rewarding job!!
When all four legs are done you can turn the table around to get a feeling for it. when I did this I decided it was a little bit too shaky. So I added two strips of 2cm plywood next to the leg support. Make sure to only glue these to the leg, not to the sidepanel. After that the table was really stable.
Step 9: Attaching the Drawers
you could do this step before doing the legs or after, it doesn't really matter. How the drawers are attached depends entirely on the sliders you use. I can only recommend to use high quality sliders!
Step 10: Adding Rounded Corners to the Legs
This is optional, but I think it makes the table look so much better.
I cut two circles on the cnc and then cut out the leftover of these circles into eight pieces, that I then glued to the legs. Again be careful not to glue them to the sidepanels, remember those detachable legs!
I started with clamps, but this is a much easier job with good tape.
Step 11: Making Things Even More Round
So until now everything is round except your desktop. I cut it rough with a Japanese hand saw and then used a router with a flush-trim-bit.
When that is done it is time to round over all edges. I used a big radius round-over-bit on the top, and a small one for everything else.
Step 12: Sanding and Finish
Time to sand!
I used a belt-sander to get everything flush and then sanded everything, including the top, by hand afterwards.
I wouldn`t recommend to use anything too rough and powerful on the rounded legs, because you`ll never get it looking so round again, once you've taken off to much... better by hand.
After everything is really nice, take a cloth and clean the whole desk.
Then use whatever finish you prefer.
Since it is going into our bedroom I decided to use just linseed oil. Looks nice, I think.
Step 13: Now: Go to Work!!
Ok, so that was that. I really enjoyed building this and I am super happy about it. I am going to do a couple of smaller tables for plants in the same style soon....
Now we can both work from home, without ruining our nice bedroom...
If you need any help with the CNC files, let me know.
First Prize in the
Work From Home Speed Challenge