This is a tutorial for making a versatile wall mounted desk. The idea behind the design is to have a desk that can easily be set at various heights and angles, while also being very easy to fold flush to the wall so that the space is freed up and can be used for other things. This is so because I live in a very small room and I have to make the most of all the space available. However, even in a large rooom, it is always useful to be able to free up some space when not using the desk. The desk measures 100 x 80 cm, which is ideal for working with most common paper sizes, but the dimensions can be easily modified to suit your needs. This is a CNC router project so if you don't have direct access to one, you can take your materials and the design files to your local makerspace or CNC shop to get them cut.
The design has a 30 cm height range with 5 cm increments within which it can be set flat or at various angles, depending on the use. Because it is completely wall mounted, the height range can be set at any level just by changing the mounting height. In my case, I decided to place it such that the maximum height is at 115 cm which is a comfortable working height for a standing up tall person, and the minimum height 85 cm, which suits me well to work in a seated position. Additionally, I decided to make 3 wall supports so that I could mount it in 2 different places, but this is optional.
The desk features 2 slim but spatious drawers plus a space to store cutting boards underneath (the cutter kind, not the kitchen kind). The back most transversal support is taller so that this storage space retains a backwards slope even when the desk is ser down so that the cutting boards remain evenly supported and don't wrap.
If you like this project, please consider giving it a vote on the CNC and Tables & Desks contests, and don't hesitate to drop a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.
Step 1: Tools / Materials
- CNC router with minimum 120x90 working surface.
- Orbital sander or some other sort.
- 3+ clamps.
- Hammer drill.
- Table (or handheld) router with rounded or 45 degree bit.
- Hand level.
- 90 cm x 100 cm x 18 mm ply.
- 110 cm x 50 cm x12 mm ply.
- 65 cm x 75 cm x 3 mm bare MDF.
- 106 cm x 86 cm x 15 mm Formica covered MDF (preferably white).
- 1 m 3/8" steel tubing.
- 9 big screws + washers and anchors.
- 4 2" x 1/4" screws with connector posts.
NOTE: the materials used don't have to be those exact sizes, as long as the pieces fit.
Step 2: CNC Machinig the Wooden Pieces
To ensure a proper fit in all the joints, we must first machine and sand the wooden pieces, and then measure their final thickness and adjust the joints on the MDF to this. All the 18mm pieces are to be cut with a 1/4 bit, and the 12mm pieces have a groove that must be done with 1/8" bit, but the rest of the cut should be done with a 1/4" bit too.
Step 3: Sanding and Chamfering the Edges
Once you have all the wooden pieces, you need to thoroughly sand all the faces that will be exposed in the final product. Sand to your liking, but I personally like a veery smooth finish on wood, particularly if it is going to be manipulated.
Once you sand all the faces, proceed to filleting or chamfering the edges (fillet means rounding and chamfer means at 45 degrees). After doing this, also lightly sand those edges so that they are smooth. Be careful when doing this as to only do it on the edges that are actually going to be exposed on the final product, so not the joints nor the edges with joints. Also, remember to do it in the drawer's handle from both sides, and also on the bottom sides (it has to be done before assemblying or you wont be able to do it.
Step 4: Assemblying the Drawers
Once you have all the pieces sanded and chamfered, it is time to glue up all the drawers and other pertinent pieces. Remember that the drawers also have 2 wooden strips that must be glued on the sides flush to the top. The supports for the drawers also feature these, but flush to the bottom.
While you are at it with the glue, also remember to glue up the wall supports as these are double thickness (36 mm). It is very important that the supports are properly aligned when glueing, or they will be useless. To ensure this, I addes some 3/8" pieces of tube in the holes. Later on you should add a tube to each one to serve as support for the screw, but for now 2 per support will suffice.
When assemblying the drawers, be sure to add the bottom, as this cannot be done later. The bottom MDFs are a bit small to ease aseembly, so don't rely on them for the squareness of the drawer. After glueing everything use a known 90 degree corner to square the drawers.
Step 5: Adjusting the Joint Tolerance
Once you have sanded everything to your liking, measure the final thicknesses of the pieces and adjust the drawing of the MDF cover accordingly. This is very important to ensure a tight and strong fit.
Step 6: CNC Machining the MDF Cover and Assembly
Now that the joints are adjusted, everything is ready for the final assembly. Before glueing up everything, check that all the pieces fit snugly in their place. Remember that the transversal pieces are different and that the taller one goes on the back. This is so that, when the desk is set down, the cutting board holder retains a slight backwards slope and the cutting boards remain evenly supported. Remember to let the glue set for a few hours before manipulating the desk.
Step 7: Finishing the Wood
Once the glue is sufficiently dry, finish up any sanding details and add a surface finish to the wood. I used an oil/wax coating called Osmo because it is eco friendly and durable, but you can use anything you like or have in hand. For an extra smooth finish, let the coat dry, do a very light sanding with a fine grit, and add another layer of the chosen finish.
I left the edges of the MDF unfinished because I like how it looks, but be sure to do a very fine sanding to the Formica edges, as they can be ver sharp.
Step 8: Drilling the Mounting Holes
Now everything is almost ready to mount, but the wall supports still need some extra holes for mounting. I decided to mount them with 1 screw at the bottom and 2 at the top, for safety. The exact location of the holes isn't critical. Just make sure to not hit the perpendicular holes. In order for the head of the screw to be hidden, first drill a 3/4" hole about 1 cm deep, and then a 3/8" hole all the way through. Aim to drill them as straight and centered as possible, preferably with a drill press.
Step 9: Mounting on the Wall
Now for the final part, mounting onto the wall. This step is easy, but it must be done carefully to ensure everything works as planned. To begin mounting, we must first definewhere on the wall the supports must go. For this, first place one of them wherever you desire, making sure with a hand level and a tape measure that it is at the correct height (dependant on the range you want) and perpendicular to the ground. Once in position, mark the top and left edges with a pencil and set it down. Now proceed to marking the spot for the second support. Using the hand level, extend the top line about 90 cm and mark a line at a distance equal to the distanc ebetween the desk's protrusions + 2 mm. Now align the corner of the second support to that spot and set it perpendicular tothe ground using the hand level. Again, mark the top and left edges.
Once the locations of the supports are defined, itis time to mark the positions of the mounting holes. Because the holes on each support might be displaced, first choose which support will go where and don't mix them. To mark the holes, place each support on it's position and push a pencil through each hol, it should fit snugly.
With all the holes marked, it is time to drill them with a Hammer Drill. When doing this, be sure to go deeper that the screw will need, and try to be as spot on as possible. I strongly recommend making a paper envelope and sticking it below the holes before drilling to catch most of the dust.
Finally, add washers to each screw, add screw anchors to each hole, and begin screwing in each support without tightening yet. The hole on the wood is intentionally made thicker than the screw so that minor adjustments to position can be made so, if the screws pulled the supports slightly, force them back to alighnemt and tighten the screws in place. Once tight, they will remain aligned.
Step 10: Add the Steel Barrels
before mounting the desk on the supports, add pieces of 3/8" steel tube inside all holes to reinforce them and make them work properly as hinges. Leave the ones on the supports about 1cm short to accomodate the connector post that holds the screw.
Step 11: Add the Drawer Latch Peg
finally, to ensure the drawers don't fall out when the desk is set down, we must add some latch pegs. To do this, remove the drawers and drill a 5/16" hole on the bottom back of the side supports. Reinsert the drawers and, using a pencil mark the position of the holes with respect to the drawers when closed. Remove the drawers and drill on the marked position.
To secure the drawers in place, close them and insert the pegs from the sides, it should be a snug fit.
Step 12: Using the Desk and Conclusions
To mount the desk, first anchor it to the supports on the top and, using these as hinges, lift the desk and place the wooden cross between it and the supports, securing it withthe corresponding screws as you go.
So far the desk has worked as intended, it is very easy to change heighs or set down, and the range is suitable to use sitting, standing, and ind different positions. The drawers are very practical and don't get in the way of the legs. Overall, it feels very firm and strong, and also makes the room look very spatious even when the desk is set up because of all the empty space underneath it.
I feel the design is well proportioned, ut feel free to tweak the design for your needs. If you like this project, please consider giving it a vote on the CNC and Tables & Desks contests, and don't hesitate to drop a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.