You can build a desk with limited experience and only a Dremel, and a screwdriver. A hardware store should be able to cut your wood.
I wanted to replace my desk with a much larger wooden one. I have almost no building skills and am surprised this desk hasn't fallen over yet. This is inspired by the saw horse desks that I have seen on Instructables. I also have no other power tools, so I wanted to test what my seldom used Dremel was capable of.
This cost around $100 - $120 to build because I keep adding to it. You can probably save money by shopping around or using reclaimed wood.
The basics you will need:
4"x4"s (four: measure the length you want for a desk, tip: 3 feet is taller than you'd think... oops)
a desk top (one: this could be a huge cost savings if you can find a door, plywood, or build your own out of many pieces of wood)
small steel corner braces (many, I found Stanley brand at Lowes, tip: probably don't need galvanized... I hope not)
This instructable allows you to be creative. You can always use other size wood members, the ones I have listed appealed to me and seem to work well. Arrange the wood members and steel braces in any configuration you want. This is my way of getting out of writing very accurate details.
Step 1: Legs
I would have bought simple legs from Ikea if they were local or shipped to Alaska.
Instead, I built some out of 4"x4"s and 1"x4"s
Arrange two parallel 4"x4"s and two parallel 1"x4"s perpendicular to the 4"x4"s
Drill four pilot holes into the wood members (I guess this helps prevent wood splitting with screws)
Put together with screws
Are 4 screws too many? Should you sand at some point? Probably.
Step 2: Attach Table Top
This desktop is a 2'x6' laminated project pannel. You can find these at some hardware stores, I got mine at Lowes. I chose this because trying to build one by myself would have been a disaster.
Arrange the legs and drill pilot holes through the pannel and into the 4"x4"s
Put together with screws
You could probably attach from the bottom using steel braces (see third photo for example). Using screws from the top down, my desk ended up being stable. I later added steel braces underneath, to be safe.
Step 3: Adding Storage
Additions to this simple desk were shelves.
Using four lenghts of all thread (threaded steel rods), nuts, and washers you can create shelves.
Drill four holes into the desk top pannel
Run the all thread through
Using the washers and nuts, lock the all thread into place
Drill holes into another wood member and slide this onto the all thread
Using the washers and nuts, lock new shelves into place.
This is neat because you can hang a shelf above or below the desk very easily. The height can be adjusted very easily. My lower shelf supports a power strip. For the weight of a power strip, I could use the smallest diamater all thread. These four pieces of all thread can make many shelves above and/or below the desktop.
Tip: try to align the holes accurately to avoid difficulty arranging the shelves.
Step 4: More Storage
I got bored today and wanted to add more shelves to the desk. I bought two 18" lengths of 1"x8" wood and some more steel braces. When I initially built this, I didn't arrange the legs at the edges of the desk, this allowed me to put in deeper shelves today.
Measure and mark where the shelves and braces will end up
Drill pilot holes into the 4"x4"s and under sides of the 1"x8"s
Attach the braces to the 4"x4"s and 1"x4"s (I used four braces per shelf, for stability)
Put the assembly together
I stapled a yard of fabric to the under side of the desk top, ran it behind the shelves and stapled it to the under side of the lowest shelf. The 1"x4"s holding the 4"x4"s together act as a backing to these shelves, so arrange them accordingly (see the shadow in the attached photos).
Step 5: Stain or Paint and More
I stained the top of the surfaces and the edges of the upper shelf, only because it was easy to access. You may want to consider doing this before assembly. I had to do all of this in my apartment, so I have lots of sawdust to vacuum. It was a fun project. I learned a lot and was able to be somewhat creative in a skill that I have no real experience.
Hope you like the instructions. I can make edits if you need/want more clarification.
ahollenbeck made it!