Intro: Ultimate Computer Desk With Walnut End Grain Trim
Everything about this desk was scrutinized for maximum efficiency and beauty. If you're busy and need to get work done, this desk is for you! It will last a lifetime! Links below are affiliate links.
Optional cut list with detailed measurements available for sale on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/619977053/ultimate-computer-desk-instructions?ref=listing_published_alert
- Three pieces in an "L" (corner) configuration: 2.5' x 7', 2.5' x 6', and a corner section.
- Gorgeous walnut trim (end grain on one side) with a 7/8 inch round over that won’t hurt your arms
- Indestructible countertop laminate surface
- White & walnut is a gorgeous color combination... a timeless classic
- Lightweight (torsion box core is awesome)
- 2 inches thick and very rigid (will not flex or sag)
- No leg obstructions (slide from one end to the other without bashing your knees)
- The surface is keyboard height (ergonomic... less strain when typing)
- Guaranteed not to: rust, bust, collect dust*, wrinkle, crack, or peel.
Power Tools Used
- Table saw
- Table saw accessories (optional): feather board, cross-cut sled, picture frame jig)
- Brad Nailer
- Air Compressor (for brad nailer)
- Router with ¼" chuck (handheld or flush trim)
- Router bits with ¼" shank: Flush trim and 1/8" round-over
- Router Table that has a Router with ½" chuck (Brand: Triton Model TRA-001)
- Router bit with ½" shank: ⅞" round-over
- Belt Sander (handheld)
- Belt Sander (benchtop) (optional)
- Disc Sander (benchtop) (optional) You likely won't need this tool.
- Jointer (benchtop) (only needed if you're working with rough sawn lumber)
- Biscuit Jointer with #10 biscuits (optional)
- Thickness Planer (12” or larger) (only needed if you're working with rough sawn lumber)
- Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks approx: $10
- Drill/Driver (only needed to secure the cable management system. Glue alone may suffice)
- Band saw or Scroll saw (both optional. Used for cable management. In a pinch, you could use a jigsaw)
Pocket Hole Jig with the drill bit (brand: Kreg) x1 approx: $129 (Only needed for cable management system)
Miscellaneous Tools Used
- Chalk line reel (optional)
- Bar Clamps
- Paintbrush (for contact adhesive)
- ¾” plywood (Full sheet: 4’x8’) 1 or 2 sheets. (1 sheet if you don't need to make desk legs, 2 sheet if you will be making the desk legs.)
- ⅛” hardboard (Full sheet 4’x8’) x2
- ⅜” plywood (Full sheet: 4’x8’) x2
- White Countertop Laminate (Full sheet: 4’x8’) x3 (you’ll have a lot of unused material… but you must buy 3 full sheets) approx: $120/each
- Solid Walnut (1” x 10” x 48”) x5
- Brad Nails (size 1 1/4") approx: $5
- Wood Glue (16-ounce, brand: Titebond II) x2 approx: $10
- Super Glue & activator (CA Glue, brand: 2P-10) approx: $20
- Contact adhesive (brand: Wilsonart 600) (x2) approx: $11/each
- Pocket-Hole screws size: #8 1 1/14" (brand: Kreg) approx: $9
*Just kidding. It will collect dust... haha
Step 1: Inner Core
Break down the full sheet of 3/4" plywood into three sections. Follow the cut list PDF https://www.etsy.com/listing/619977053/ultimate-computer-desk-instructions?ref=listing_published_alert
Cut strips to 1.5 inches wide on a table saw. Repeat 28 times.
Cut strips to length. Follow instructions on the PDF [link above]
Assemble the strips on a flat surface. IMPORTANT: The plans use a more accurate and easy to assemble half lap joinery system rather than the harder to assemble less accurate butt-joints shown in the photo.
Connect with wood glue and brad nails.
Step 2: Sandwich the Inner Core With Hardboard and Plywood
Cut 1/8" thick hardboard and 3/8" thick plywood slightly larger than the tables. (approximately 4 inches larger overall... two inches per side)
Apply wood glue to the underside of the frame (or apply the glue to the hardboard if you trace the frame's location with a pencil like I did in the photo), place the hardboard on top and secure with brad nails.
Trim material with a jigsaw. Cut close to the edge but not on the edge. Leave about a 1/4" overhang.
Use a handheld router with a flush trim bit to cut the surface material flush with the plywood base. The bearing should be at the bottom (as shown).
You will save a lot of time and hassle later if you mark the underside of the desk where these plywood inner core members appear. I used a combination of red marker (not shown) and blue chalk lines. This way you can drive screws into these areas to secure the table base/legs and secure the cable management system with the knowledge that you will hit solid wood.
Repeat the steps above for the table surface but use the 3/8" plywood.
Step 3: Apply the White Laminate Countertop Material
Cut the countertop material slightly larger than the desk (approximately 4 inches larger overall... two inches per side)
Apply contact cement to both surfaces. Let it sit until it becomes tacky to the touch. (approximately 15 minutes)
Apply a second coat around the perimeter... that's the most important part!
Use dowel rods or small strips of scrap wood to separate the two pieces. Ensure they're lined up properly.
Remove the rods/strips one at a time, starting at the center, and press downward. The bond will be INSTANT and irreversible!
Use the same router with a flush trim bit to trim the laminate flush.
Step 4: Mill Solid Walnut
Use the table saw to cut rough-sawn walnut into strips approximately 3.5" x 12".
Use the jointer to ensure two edges are 90-degrees.
Lay the wider jointed side on the bed of a surface planer and run it through enough times to bring the opposite side parallel and to a thickness of 7/8" inches.
Use the table saw to rip each piece to 3 inches wide. Place the jointed end against the table saw fence during this operation to ensure the rough end is parallel.
CONGRATULATIONS! All four sides of your boards are exactly 90-degrees from each other! It's hip to be square... or, umm... rectangular. Haha
Step 5: Thin Walnut Trim
Set the table saw fence to 7/16". Optionally use a feather board to increase accuracy. Rip each board in two. Take two passes flipping the board after the first pass. Be sure to keep the side that was against the fence in that same orientation.
After the above operation, it's very likely that the width of both pieces are not identical. If the width is different, cut one additional time on the table saw. Move the fence slightly closer to 3/8" and repeat the process with all boards. You now have many boards that are exactly the same 3/8" thickness.
If needed, clean up the boards with one pass on the jointer. Remove any tool marks by lightly sanding each surface with benchtop belt sander.
Trim the edges on a table saw with a cross-cut sled.
Step 6: Apply Walnut Trim
Apply the trim to 3 sides of each table with wood glue. Ensure extra walnut material is both above the table surface and below... you'll route this flush later. You have three options to clamp these pieces in place while the glue dries: Use CA glue with accelerator only at the ends of each board (see photo), use physical clamps, or use blue painters tape. I personally like the CA glue method!
Remove the extra walnut material with the router. WARNING: You must hold the router at an odd angle. Wear safety equipment... especially a face shield.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to understand which way the router bit is spinning and avoid "climb cutting" as this can cause unexpected movements which may cause considerable harm to you. Seriously... routers are no joke. Tip: I used a permanent marker to draw direction arrows directly on my router so I could better understand the direction the bit would spin. It's totally ok to write on your tools. Trust me... nobody will care your tool has arrows drawn on it. BE SAFE!
Clean up the ends with a manual chisel (not shown).
Two sides of the desk, the sides that do not connect to the corner piece, should get a 1/8" round-over on these thin solid wood strips. Do this with a handheld router.
Step 7: Thick End Grain Trim
Cut the walnut stips you prepared in a previous step in half... approximately 1.5" wide.
Glue the strips together like you are making a cutting board. Use bar clamps and wood glue. Let it dry overnight.
Use a cross-cut sled to cut these into strips 2.5" wide. The final size will eventually be 2" (the thickness of your table).
Clean up one edge using a table saw jointing jig. Remember this edge! Mark it with a pencil if needed.
Install the fence on your table saw 1.25" from the blade. Place the jointed edge with the pencil mark (from the item directly above) on the fence and rip the extra material away. You'll have many pieces at exactly 1.25" thick. This will be the final size of this dimension.
The length of the board doesn't matter at this point... you'll eventually glue them up end-to-end.
Step 8: Add a 7/8" Round-over to the Trim
IMPORTANT: In this step, you'll route away a huge 7/8" round-over. Remember, the width of this cutting-board like trim is only 1.25 inches! That means at the end of the routing operation you will only have a tiny 3/8" of material touching the router table surface while almost one inch will be off the table. That small amount of wood touching the table could cause the workpiece to easily twist unpredictably and get away from you, possibly taking your fingers with it and into the spinning router bit! The solution is to increase the size of 3/8" area. Rather than have extra expensive walnut hardwood that you would eventually cut away and discard, instead, do the following:
Use hot glue to join strips of cheap scrap lumber to the walnut boards.
Using a 7/8" round-over bit installed in a router table, remove a small amount of material at a time. Take approximately 10 passes per board raising the bit just a small amount each time! Do NOT force the material into the bit. Find the proper speed so the bit does the work without burning the wood.
Use a chisel to remove the temporary scrap lumber. Ideally, it's an old beat up chisel.
Bring the final dimension to size on the table saw. It should be 2 inches in height. Remember... that's the thickness of your table. 2 inches! Your table will look big and strong... because it will be big and strong!
Step 9: Install Thick End Grain Trim
Optional: Cut slots with a biscuit jointer in both the table and the thicker trim pieces. Apply with wood glue using one the methods described in step 6.
If the trim is too long, use a manual saw to remove the excess.
Clean up any rough tool marks with a hand held belt sander.
THE TABLE SURFACE IS DONE! Woooo!!!
Step 10: Cable Management & Legs
Use a bandsaw or scroll saw to cut the pattern on 3/4" thick plywood. This pattern is available on the cut list file for sale on Etsy.
Drill a single pocket hole in each section and screw it to the underside of the desk. Be sure to place these where there are pieces of the plywood core on the inside of the desk surface. Notice that I marked those areas with red marker. If you did not mark these locations in an earlier step, use either the measurements on the plans or use a stud finder to locate these hidden plywood pieces.
Assemble legs like the image shown. Use only wood glue to join the pieces. Paint whatever color you’d like. Perhaps paint them black!
Step 11: Assemble and Enjoy Your New Desk!
Connect the desk pieces to the vanity plates with pocket holes. There are many ways to connect the corner piece. Screw a 3 inch wide strip of plywood to act as a lip (or shelf) to the underside of the table. Rest the corner piece on this shelf and attach with screws. Instead of this technique, you could also use dowels or flying tenons.
Enjoy your new desk!
Remember, to get exact dimensions and even more build details, buy the cut list/instructions on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/619977053/ultimate-computer-desk-instructions?ref=listing_published_alert