4 min read

Build an office desk!

Build an office desk!

I've almost finished crafting this beautiful desk for my daughter who will use it at school this year.  Inspirational thanks to my friend and idea guru Robin who found this on Etsy and suggested it to me.  🙌

Concept

I had to come up with my own detailed ideas since the Etsy site is just for buying the finished product.   I chose to use the concepts from my first project, the green patio table.   Pocket holes on the underside of the desk surface hold scaffolding wood together (along with generous glue).  No holes are visible in the finished product because they are on the underside of the desktop.

Here's a link to the Etsy site for this item.

Buy List 💰

  1. Scaffolding board - actual size is about 1.5 inches x 9 inches.   Need at least 15 feet of boards so that there are three lengths of 5 feet in the end.  I chose two pieces that were 12 feet long and asked the store to bisect them.  So I had four 6-foot pieces to bring home.
  2. 2x4s - four or five  8-foot pieces.   These are for the legs and the cross-support.
  3. Pocket screws - 2.5 inch
  4. Wood screws - 2.5 inch
  5. Wood glue
  6. Long clamps (two)
  7. Pre-stain conditioner
  8. Stain
  9. Spar Urethane

Cut List

My desk uses 3 of the scaffolding pieces.   I cut them to 5-foot lengths after picking the 3 best out of the 4.  I was going to use the table saw for these cuts but it was too unwieldy.  So I carefully made nice straight cuts using my circular saw.   I use my speed square to give a nice straight edge for the circular saw to ride alongside.  Hold the speed square in place with your left hand. and drive the circular saw with the right.

For the legs, I cut the 2x4s with the miter saw.    The Etsy desk uses metal legs.  I chose to simulate this with the 2x4s by making a square where each side is about 27 inches.  

  • need four pieces of approx.  27 inches that will be the top and bottom of the square
  • and four pieces for the vertical parts of the square.  These will be about 24.5 inches long, depending on the overall height you choose.    I went with 29 inches overall, so the leg cuts calculate to 24,5 inches.

Lastly, I cut another 2x4 to serve as horizontal support that will connect across the back legs.  This stick is about 54 inches.

Assembly 🪚

Desktop

For the desktop, pick the best 3 sides out of the 4 pieces.  Then turn them over to make the pocket holes.    I used this pattern:

The underside of the desktop showing the pocket hole pattern

Before you screw the pieces together, apply glue in between the boards,  Add it to both boards and try to keep the glue from getting on the desktop if possible.   If it's messy on the top of the desk, then sanding can get a lot of the glue, but the stain really looks different atop glue.  

The screws provide some clamping but use the long clamps to apply the needed pressure for the glue to take.

The desktop with long orange clamps. And blue clamps to the workbench.

Legs and cross support

I used wood screws and glue to connect the 4 boards of each square.   The screws are hidden because I drove down through the top and bottom pieces into the legs.

We got legs. We know how to use them. 🎶

With the legs done and the top just resting on them, I wondered about stability since I am not going to glue the legs to the top.  I cannot glue because I need to transport, assemble, and someday disassemble in my daughter's place.   So the cross support solves this concern.  It will connect across the back legs.    I made 2 pocket holes on each side, just like the patio couch.  

At this point, I have the desktop, the 2 leg squares, and the cross support.  These will stay separate so that I can assemble them at my daughter's place.

Finish

I'm in the finishing process with these steps:

  1. Sanding.  I want the desktop to be super smooth.  So with my orbital sander, I have made several passes.  I used 40, then 120, then 240, and finally 300.  The rest of the project gets some sanding but is not so detailed.
  2. Vacuum and tack cloth to remove all the sawdust.
  3. Pre-stain conditioner.  Apply with a  sponge brush or a paintbrush.  This stuff is noxious so use a mask or respirator
  4. Stain.    Apply your favorite colors with a T-Shirt.  I will go with Provincial for the top and Black for the legs and the cross support.
  5. Spar Urethane.   This stuff really gives the project a beautiful wrap-up.   Apply with a sponge brush or paintbrush.  For the top, apply additional coats until you are satisfied.    Interesting tip:  after the first coat is dry, consider some light sanding.  It will look like the piece is ruined, but the next coat fills it all in magically for an even nicer finish.

Delivery 👍

On moving day, I will bring the finished pieces and assemble the desk on site.  The first step is to connect the cross support to the legs.    I will drive pocket screws on each side of the cross support, into the legs.  Two on each side.   Then with the desk upside-down, I will drive wood screws through the top piece of the leg squares, into the desktop.  No glue since I someday need to disassemble.    And that's that!

This week's quote 🗯

We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.  - John F. Kennedy