Another Cheap Easy Desk -- 1 Sheet of Plywood and 1 2x3 (or 2x4)




About: 30 something IT guy, raising a brilliant son to carry on my tradition of messing with people

I needed a smallish desk for a space in my bedroom to last the 8 months or so until I move. I could have done this better, and made it more long lasting, if I'd used 1 1/8" plywood instead of 1/2" MDF, but it's good enough.

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Step 1: I Needed a Desk...

It was raining out, and my garage is so messy that I dare not photograph it, so I didn't build this out of a single sheet of plywood and a 2x4, but I could have. Instead I used a 2x3 that I had in the garage and 4 precut sheets or 2'x4' MDF at 1/2" thick. I needed a desk for the bedroom, because I was tired of not having one. I also wanted it to be something that I wouldn't mind throwing away in 8 months when I move 2500 miles or so, since it's crazy expensive to transport heavy/large things that far.

Step 2: Sorting Out the Legs

I measured for a desk surface 31" from the ground (most people will want 30", but I like being different.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

Then, with my wife's help, I glued and screwed the "back" into the "top" and then the "legs" to the back/top assembly. Then I took the 2x3 and screwed it in at the back across the bottom, to keep it together while it's moved, and one across the middle under the desktop, to keep it from flexing. These might not be necessary if you used better joinery and thicker stock. If I were doing this to keep, I'd have used 1 1/8" birch plywood and only needed the one on the bottom.

Step 4: "finish" Work

I should have used my old standby for wall mounting and use a piece of baseboard molding screwed into the vesa mounts on the monitor and screwed into the back, but instead I used a mounting arm that I had left over from something else to mount the 22" LCD I got for $150 from Best Buy on Black Friday and then I put the rest of the computer stuff into place. I'm going to buy a KVM later tonight to hook up my laptop to the big screen/keyboard/etc also.

It took more time for me to find where I put the box of screws than it did to assemble, and cost $25 for the desk (I'm not counting the LCD mount, because I'd not have bought that if I didn't already have it, and it could have been mounted cheaper. I did specifically mount the back like that so that I wouldn't have to make any holes in the wall to hang the LCD. I'll probably get something I can use as a whiteboard for the back and sides, because I really like whiteboards.

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    13 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I may drill holes once I figure out where i want things to go. I've bought a KVM now, so the keyboard and mouse wires go up to the monitor and then over the back to the kvm (they didn't reach before) and though there's a dell linux server pictured, i do mostly use the monitor w/ my powerbook. :) and this is mdf, so no stain. it's only to last until i move cross country, but if i rebuild it there, you can bet on a nice walnut or teak stain

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, just came across this looking for something else - nice work :)

    Can I make a couple of suggestions for your final version?

    -Yep, drill holes for cables.

    -Replace the lamp with LED back lighting behind the edges of your monitor - you are an IT guy after all! :) (wasn't so readily available in 2008)

    -To strengthen the front of the desk and prevent bowing, add a strip of wood for support underneath the front and or a facing piece (which will make it look more substantial/expensive too). Incidentally, if you use plywood, facing pieces and hide the sandwich layers and give it a more professional look.

    -If you like the look (it is a bit old school), maybe cut the sides on a diagonal, sloping from the top of the back down to the desk at the front. Install a hatchback-style lid with appropriate hinges and latches to keep it open, which hides your gear and or could be a drafting table when closed.. ;)

    Keep up the good work ;)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Don't know if you tested it, but how much weight can it hold? I've been thinking about making a desk seeing as I can't find one I like and this sorta fits my design, just want to make sure it will hold everything before starting this sort of construction project.


    11 years ago on Step 4

    Check out melamine-faced shower board for the whiteboard. It's not as durable as a real ceramic on steel white board, but it costs less than $15 for a 4x8 sheet at Lowes or Home Depot. If that's way more than you need, Home Depot has a 2x2 piece for $5, or get a 2x2 sheet of plexiglass, lexan, or glass. Google "homemade whiteboard" for more info. For a bulletin board, do another section with cork liner ($10 for 2x4) or cardboard wrapped with burlap and batting. PS - Nice instructable! I like the carrel style - great way to keep my kids from fighting instead of studying.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 4

    Good idea with the shower board -- i've used that in the past, but I'm still not sure if I want a whiteboard or cork or what on this. I've added a shelf, 8" off the desk top, just touching the bottom of the suspended screen, and that's both stabilized the slight side to side motion and given me a place to put my stuff :)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    looks more like my couch in my room than a computer desk, hah. nice, very nice i have to say, i think when i get the time and money i will buy the wood and build one. -gamer

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    It's hard to tell scale in the picture, but I can see where you're coming from on the couch comment :) you have to remember that the "legs" are four feet tall, and the "seat" is more than 2 1/2 feet off the ground :) Now that I've had this desk almost 18 hours, I'm starting to think that I need to build a couple of shelves or something... maybe one across the top over the monitor for speakers and an under counter lamp, and then I'll see from there.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This looks really nice, but I think, it is one of those desks where you would like tape up photos or achievements, because alone, it is just a reguler desk! Nice Job! ~Shifrin

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, i think there will be a lot taped up... i took the pictures as i was building it and still need to buy a chair, so it's in a state of waiting to be useful. :)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, if you decorate it like that it would be awesome! Btw, Favorited! ~Shifrin


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wow... that looks great! I might do this if I can, great job! +1 rating. (added to favorites)