Stained Wood Top With Pipe Dream Legs Desk




This is a relatively simple and quick project to do. It took me less than a day (minus drying time of the top coat, but more on that soon) and I couldn't be more thrilled with it. All in all, expect to pay some good money for the pipes – mine cost around $150 total. I added a couple of extra steps to make mine pop, but do what you want.

Here's what you need:

1 Top Board (Mine is 1" x 24" x 56". You can get these at Lowes, HomeDepot, Menards etc. and they come in all sorts of sizes. I'd have preferred at 62" but my space didn't allow.)
1 2" x 45" Board (Optional! This is to add strength to top.)
5 8 x 1" Screws (Optional! For screwing the above board to the top.)
1 1/2" x 48" Pipe (the back length pipe)
2 1/2" x 18" Pipe (the side length pipes)
10 1/2" x 12" Pipes (the legs)
2 4" Pipes (the horizontal decorative pipes that come from the front legs)
6 1/2" Flanges (to attach to the top)
8 1/2" Tees (to attach the back pipe and side pipes)
4 1/2" x 1 1/2" Connector Pipes (for in between each set of tees)
2 1/2" Elbows (for decorative turn on the front and also, added strength)
4 1/2" Caps (for the feet)
24 10 x 3/4" Screws (for attaching the legs to the top)
Assorted Acrylic Paint (Optional! If you want to use color to stain your top as I did, buy away! Otherwise I think a nice dark stain, or nothing at all looks nice as well. I just tend to like color.)
Water (for mixing with the paint)
Tape (Optional! For taping off areas for your stain.)
Razor Blade (Optional! For creating an indention where you want your stain to stay – along the tape lines – so it doesn't bleed.)
Wood Burner (Optional! For burning any design on it that you'd like.)
1 32 Oz. Box EnviroTex Lite Pour On High Gloss Finish (Optional! This product can be bought at HomeDepot and Michaels for sure, thought I imagine it's elsewhere as well. This creates a high gloss hardened top that is wonderful. It fills in cracks and creates that solid top that I wanted. Now that I know it exists, I plan on using it on everything.)
Screwdriver or Drill (for attaching the legs to the top)
Monkey Wrench (for tightening your legs when your hands just wont do!)
Tape Measure (If you're as precise as I am, you'll want to get your legs the same length, which isn't always the same amount of turns.)
Square (To make sure that your legs are all in square with each other.)
Level (Again, if you like your things precises, you'll want a level to make sure it's, well, level!)

That's it! I know the list looks daunting, but half of it is optional. I hope you enjoy my first ever Instructable!

About the Design:

I am one of more varied tastes. My father is a custom woodworker, and my mother is an artist. I love the look of so many designs that when picking a desk, I can never choose. The pipe dream legs give my desk an industrial look that I've always been a fan of. Metal and wood just go together for me.

The top, while simple in assembly, was my place to get a little creative. I chose six bright and vibrant colors because I'm a huge fan of the bold and bright. (Yellow is my favorite color.) I had lots of ideas, but decided to stick with solid even spaced stripes to give a little bit of balance to the chaos that lots of color can bring. (Though I think next time I'll splatter paint it!)

The wood burned design is supposed to look like a large depiction of a circuit board. I own a custom software development company, so computers and technology are my bread and butter. I chose to incorporate the solid, stable and geometric look of a circuit board with my bold bright colors to give my desk the same contrast I often find in myself. Wherever there is chaos, there must be an equal amount of order, and that's what I find my personality often brings. :)

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Step 1: Assembling the Top

If you've bought a prefab board like I did, you shouldn't have much work to do with it. It should be pre-sanded, pre-glued and ready to go. Unpackage it and set it aside.

Optional: Adding the 2" x 45" board for strength

  1. Measure about 3" from the back of your top and make a horizontal mark. Do this four or five times across the length of the top.
  2. Place your board in line with these markings.
  3. Center the board by taking the length of your top minus the board length, then halving that number. For example, my top is 56" long and my board is 45" long. 56 - 45 = 11. 11 / 2 = 5.5". Both ends of my board are 5.5" away from the outside edges of my top.
  4. Drill 5 screws spaced evenly along the center of your board.

Step 2: Assembling the Legs

  1. Screw one cap onto one 12" pipe. Repeat four times. Measure the length from the bottom of the cap to the top of the pipe to make sure all four are the same.
  2. Screw one tee onto the top of the 12" pipe from above. Repeat with each leg. Measure the length from the bottom of the cap to the top of the tee to make sure all four are the same. At this point, it doesn't matter which direction the tee faces unless it pleases you aesthetically one way over another.
  3. Screw one connector into the tee. Repeat with each leg. Again, measure the length to make sure they're all the same height.
  4. Screw one tee onto the connector. Repeat with each leg. Two of the legs should have the bottom tee facing one way, with the top tee facing 90° to its left. (i.e. if the bottom tee is facing North, the top tee should facing West.) The other two legs should have the bottom tee facing one way, with the top tee facing 90° to its right. (i.e. if the bottom tee is facing North, the top tee should be facing East.) Again, measure the length to make sure they're all the same height.
  5. Screw one 12" pipe into the tee. Repeat with each leg. Again, measure the length to make sure they're all the same height.
  6. Screw one flange onto the pipe. Repeat with each leg. Finally, measure the length of the make sure they're all the same height. Remember/write down this number.

Step 3: Finishing the Front Legs

  1. Take two of the four legs aside. Make sure they are not the same type of tee combination. (One NW leg and one NE leg.)
  2. Screw one 4" pipe into the top tee. Repeat with the other front leg. Measure the distance from the outside of the tee to the open end of the 4" pipe and make sure both legs are the same length.
  3. Screw one elbow onto the 4" pipe, ending with the open end of the elbow facing up toward the flange. Repeat this with the other front leg. Again, measure the distance to make sure both are the same.
  4. Screw one 12" pipe into the elbow. Repeat this with the other front leg. Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the pipe to make sure both are the same height.
  5. Screw one flange onto the pipe. Repeat this with the other front leg. Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the flange and compare to the measurement of the floor to the top of the other flange on the leg. Make sure both the two measurements for the same leg, and the two legs are the same height.

Step 4: Attaching the Legs to Each Other

  1. Screw the 48" pipe into the top tees of both of the back legs.
  2. Screw one 18" pipe into the bottom tee of the back leg. Repeat with the other back leg. Measure the width from the outside of the tee to the open end of the pipe to make sure both measurements are the same.
  3. Screw the open end of the 18" pipe into the bottom tee of the front leg, making sure that if the front leg is a NW tee, the back leg should be a NE tee, and vice versa. Repeat this with the other two legs. Measure the finished length and verify that both sides are the same length.
  4. Verify the squareness of your legs using a square. Twist and pull where necessary. I checked the square of just about every joint, so go crazy!

Step 5: Attaching the Legs to the Top

Note: If you wish to stain/paint/prettify the bottom of your desk, do so prior to this step. I quickly and simply tested out my staining but it's nothing worth bragging about. If you forget, no big deal, you can either unscrew the legs, or go around them.

  1. Flip the top so the bottom side is facing up.
  2. Flip the legs so the caps are on top and the flanges are on the floor. Place the legs on your desk in the rough spot that you want them.
  3. Measure the distance from each side to the back flanges, tweaking and moving the legs when necessary. Do the same with the front and back measurements. (I chose to rest my flanges against the back edge of the desk so as to give myself more room in the front. Depending on the size of your top, this may not be necessary, or you may want to do this as well. Your call!)
  4. Once your satisfied with the placement of your back feet, screw them down using the 10 x 3/4" screws.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the front feet, placing them where you'd like/centered on the top.
  6. Flip it over and viola! You have a desk on pipes!
  7. Make level by using a level on the top, and turning the caps on the feet up and down to prevent shakiness or unevenness.

If you have no desire to stain/burn/finish your top, you're done. Congratulations and thanks for reading! If you are planing on beautifying your space, continue on.

Step 6: Optional: Staining the Top

  1. Flip your desk back up on it's feet and admire for a few seconds. Isn't it pretty?!
  2. Tape off any stripes/sections you wish to stain.
  3. Run your razor blade along the tape line. This indents the wood and decreases the likelihood that the stain will run under the tape.
  4. Mix one part paint color to two parts water in a bowl. This will give your stain color a vibrant look while still letting any wood grain/patterns show through.
  5. Brush or rub the stain onto your wood, making sure to cover your area fully.
  6. Let the board dry, then repeat steps 2, 3 and 5 with any other areas you didn't get in the first go around.

Step 7: Optional: Wood Burning the Top

  1. Draw any designs you wish to burn onto the top in pencil.
  2. Using the universal tip that looks like a chisel, burn all lines into the design.
  3. Using the shading tip, shade/fill in any areas you want to be dark.

Step 8: Optional: Apply High Gloss to the Top

  1. Make sure your desk is in a dust free area, and can be left there for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. Level your desk using a level and shims under the legs to give yourself the maximum chance of a flat surface once you're done.
  3. Quickly, wipe off any dust/dirt/hair that might have settled on your desk.
  4. Prepare the high gloss finish as their instructions state and apply to the top of the desk. Make sure to work quickly and try not to worry too much about light marks you make when spreading it, they'll even out. Coat each edge and watch for drips.
  5. Let dry the specified amount of time from the instructions before moving, touching or using your desk.

Congratulations! Your desk is awesome and it's done. Enjoy it. Thanks for reading!

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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 8

    I love the desk. How did you get the epoxy to not run off the edges?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Looks really nice. I'm planning to make a dining set but with a rustic looks on it. By the way, what do you call those round flat metal piece at the end of the pipe where you put the screws to hold the timber? Thanks

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The round flat metal piece that attaches the pipe to the timber is called a flange. :)

    Good luck with your rustic dining set! Make sure to post a picture here so I can see it. It sounds very interesting! I love a good rustic look.


    4 years ago

    Beautiful! I love the depth the clear coat gives it! Although you encouraged folks to use their own ideas for the top, could you please share the story behind your specific design and colours? I'm sure there is one. It adds character to the table. I would love to see a drawing and/or close up picture. Thanks

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much! I will absolutely add a small "about the design" in the intro section of my Instructable.

    I'm a co-owner of a small software development shop in Missouri, so the wood burned design is actually meant to look like a large representation of a circuit board. The colors are all colors of the rainbow – I adore lots of bright colors and can never choose just one. I have a passion for the bold color and my desk just makes me smile whenever I look at it. :)

    PS: This is what it looks like with my full setup. :)


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you for your extra info! I wondered if it was a stylized circuit board, but I wasn't sure. Thanks again!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Well thank you! I thorough enjoyed making it an already have 10,000 ideas for the next project! I'm glad you like it.

    Ooo the table turned out so pretty, I love your color choices. Thanks for sharing your awesome build with us, hope we get to see more in the future!

    1 reply