Introduction: Great Looking, Inexpensive Computer Desk

When looking for a computer desk for my home office, I couldn't find anything that was reasonably priced and met my needs. All of the nicer desks I was looking at were at least $1200 or more and weren't exactly what I was looking for. I also didn't see a lot of instructables for desks, so I decided to build one and set myself a budget of $300.

The desk consists of four pieces.
- table top
- 3 drawer cabinet (writing supplies, computer cables, etc)
- 2 drawer file cabinet (drawers are sized for hanging file folders)
- printer cabinet

I chose to build it this way because it is easy to transport, and it can easily be shifted around to a new room if I chose to move at a later time. I also chose a fairly simple construction, no crazy joinery, and tools that every basic wood shop would have.

- 3 (4'x8') sheets of 5/8" mdf (I would have liked to use maple veneer plywood, but its about 3 times the price)
- 2 (4'x8') sheets of 1/8" mdf or hardboard
- 1" brad nails
- 5/8" brad nails
- wood glue
- wood filler (for nail holes)
- 5 pairs of roller tracks for the drawers
- 7 drawer handles
- 1 pair of cabinet door hinges
- 1 gallon of primer
- 1 gallon of paint
- brushes and rollers

Feel free to build as many or as few cabinets as you need to suit your application. And if you build one post some pictures!

Step 1: Necessary Tools

I wanted to post this instructable using common tools. These tools are very common and for the most part inexpensive. Chances are if you don't have all of these tools, your neighbour will be able to help you out.

The tools I used were:
-table saw
-miter saw
-tape measure
-adjustable square
-paint brush and roller
-brad nailer
-cutting pliers
-drill bit and driver
-palm sander

Step 2: Cut the Pieces

Using a table saw, cut all of the pieces to size.

Laying out your cuts effectively will save you a huge amount of time in the end. I would recommend that you make all your table saw cuts first, then trim the pieces to size on a miter saw. On top of making it easier and faster, it will also save a lot of material.

Programs like cutmaster2D allow you to type in the dimensions of the pieces, and it will figure out the best way to lay out your sheets.

The pdfs show the pieces and dimensions.

Step 3: Assemble the First Cabinet

Here is an exploded view of how the pieces go together.

The pdf also has dimensions.

Step 4: Assembly Continued

With glue and a brad nailer assemble the cabinet.

Build the box first, then attach the middle braces, and the top and bottom trim.

The two drawer, and three drawer cabinets are almost identical, other than the spacing of the drawers.

Step 5: Printer Cabinet

The printer cabinet is almost the same as the two and three drawer cabinets, with some minor differences.

- there is no bracing for drawers,
- there is a bottom piece for the printer to sit on (which is braced from the bottom)

Step 6: Build the Work Surface

The table top I built is 8' x 2' which fits my office nicely. 2' is plenty room for a keyboard and flat screen monitor to fit.

Use the table saw to cut strips of mdf to build the interior of the table top.

Glue and brad nail the structure together for a thick and strong, but light table top.

Step 7: Build the Drawers

Here is an exploded view of the drawer, along with the dimensioned drawing.

Step 8: Build the Drawers (continued)

The drawer construction is fairly simple.

Assemble the four walls of the drawer by gluing and brad nailing a simple butt joint.

Mark the overhang of the drawer front to ensure that it is centred before gluing and nailing. Nail from the back, so you don't have to spend time covering the nail holes later on.

The final step is to glue and nail the bottom of the drawer (1/8" mdf).

Step 9: Printer Door

I built the printer door to look like two regular file drawers.

Cut two drawer fronts as well as a strip for the middle, and attach them to make it look like a drawer front.

Step 10: Fill the Nail Holes and Sand the Corners

Fill the nail holes with wood filler, and sand off the excess once dry.

It is also a good idea to take a sander to the hard edges to round them just a bit.

Step 11: Prime and Paint

The mdf is pretty porous so it will take a few coats to completely cover. I would recommend at least two coats of latex primer before two final coats of paint.

If you have access to a spray gun you will get a better finish, but using a roller and a brush works just fine.

Step 12: Attach the Handles

Take some time to choose the right hardware. The handles you choose will really set the look of the whole desk.

The handles I chose were the most expensive part of the desk, at about $80 for all of them, but to me they were worth it!

I used a cardboard template to mark the holes of the handle. I cut a notch in the centre of the template, measured the centre of the drawer front, and drilled through.

Step 13: Drawer Tracks

Screw the rollers onto the drawer bottoms.

Then screw the matching pieces to the inside of the cabinet.

Step 14: Put Everything Together!

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