Introduction: Stand Up Desk With a Secret

Like many other people, I was forced to start working from home. I have a bad back and a stand-up desk really helps me during the day to keep moving. I have one at work, but unfortunately nothing at home. I recently decided to purchase a base online and decided to make the top to look like an actual desk with drawers. I was trying to make this quickly and also saw the Instructable’s Work from Home Speed challenge was going on (entering on last day!). I just need to tidy up all the cords still :)

Step 1: Design It

This is a bird’s eye view of the design. The top middle portion will be empty for all my wires / modem / stand-up desk controls. The two on the top left and right will be secret drawers. The bottom middle space is for my keyboard and the bottom left/right are for additional space for supplies.

I decided to build the desk out of 1 sheet of plywood walnut because of cost and to try and keep the weight down. My particular base can handle 256lbs of weight but didn’t want to come too close to that number. It’s 50” across by 23 1/8” wide. A normal sheet of plywood is like 60lb depending on the type. I used about 3/4 of a sheet. Add hardware, drawers and computer and I was under the weight limit.

I did post my material cut list. I would personally build to your preference and use this as a guide. I did move fast in trying to complete this so I can't say 100% sure the numbers are perfect. So again, build as you go :)

Step 2: Prep the Base

With the increase demand for stand-up desks, I was only able to find a white base. Because I really needed something, I decided to purchase it anyways and try to paint it black with a poly overcoat. It’s alright but does chip if I hit it too hard.

This particular base supports up to 256 pounds. I purchased it from It's the DROP LIFT 2.0 SIT-TO-STAND DESK.

I went with this because they were selling them at a ridiculous price. I paid $140 with free shipping and no tax after a coupon code at the time. I'm not sure if they'll run something like that anymore due to demand.

Step 3: Cut the Pieces

Here I cut out the main pieces of the desk. Because I wanted the grain to flow down the sides (water fall cut), I cut the first 4 pieces at a 45 degree angle (top/bottom/sides). The additional pieces would be support inside the desk.

Step 4: Edge Banding

Since I was using veneer plywood, I needed to iron on edge banding. There are many different ways to add banding such as using hard wood for the edging to hold up from abuse, but none of the solid walnut I had matched the veneer so I continued with the iron on.

Step 5: Start Assembling the Interior

I used wooden tenons for my joinery, but wood glue (for 45 degree angles) and/or other joinery method would work too such as biscuits, pocket holes, splines etc. I framed in the drawers which gave the desk added support within the interior.

Step 6: Make the Drawers

Next, I moved on to making the drawers. I used ½” birch plywood for the sides and bottom. I used rabbit joinery to connect them. I used 3/4" poplar for the draw fronts as well.

I then decided to test fit the drawers with their draw slides. I also did this before putting it together as drilling those holes for the slides would be been extremely hard given the narrow space with the top on.

I used left over business cards as my spacers for the drawer fronts to make sure everything was equal. After attaching them to the drawers with screws through the back to the fronts, I stained them with a black dye.

Step 7: Glue Up

Next, I glued up the desk. Due to how I built it, I needed to glue and assembled it all at once. Practicing with a dry run beforehand is a must to make sure everything goes according to plan.

Step 8: Adding Finish

The desk was finished with lacquer. I sprayed on about 6 coats to build up a nice level of protection. Be sure to use lacquer in a well ventilated area!

Step 9: Secret Drawers

The side drawers are concealed with magnetic latches. Only when you put the magnet in the right spot will you be able to open the drawers. So that I didn't have any holes in the grain, I had to glue on the fronts to the drawer first. From there, I was able to pull the drawer out and drill screws on the inside to grab and hold the fronts.

The dark wood really helps to conceal the seam. If you don't know its there it's pretty hard to notice which is what I was going for :)

Step 10: In Action

Work From Home Speed Challenge

Grand Prize in the
Work From Home Speed Challenge