Modular Office - Counter Height Desk Base

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Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 09/04/2019 - 12:50
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Build your own counter height desk or project table - or turn it into a mega desk for four!  This easy to build plan features two large drawers and an open shelf.  Pair with a straight countertop or an island top to create your ultimate workspace.  Step by step plans with diagrams, shopping and cut list by

Matches our Modular Office Collection of plans.

desk for four island with storage

Photography and original design by Monty742

Joinery Recommendations

There are many different ways to assemble this project. I recommend using a Kreg jig and 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws for most of the joinery, and adding all the trim pieces and 1/4" plywood backs on with an 18 gauge brad nailer.

If you don't have a Kreg Jig yet, you can use 2" self tapping screws (try SPAX or similar) for assembly, or even 2" brad nails and wood glue.

Finishing Raw Plywood Edges

This project uses plywood.  The front edges will be rough and need to be finished in some way.

If you are painting, you can simply fill the edges with wood filler, and then sand until smooth, repeating if necessary.

If you are staining, edge banding is recommended.  It is fairly inexpensive, and is just ironed on with a household iron.  Use a razor knife to trim excess off and sand with the rest of your project. Edge banding should be applied before assembly.

You will only need to finish the front edges of the sides and shelf.  

Dimensions for counter height desk pbteen mega desk
Base dimensions as shown. Countertop can be made larger - minimum size recommended for adequate legroom shown


Shopping List


  • 1 strip of plywood 15-1/2" x 8 feet long PLUS 1 piece 15-1/2" x 16-1/2" (for two bases, buy one 4x8 sheet and rip into strips 15-1/2" wide x 8 feet long)
  • 1 - 1/4" plywood @ 48" x 48"
  • 1 - 1x2 @ 12 feet total needed
  • 1 - 1x3 @ 6 feet long
  • 1 - 1x6 @ 10 feet long (can be cut in half for transport)
  • 1 - 1x10 @ 3 feet long (for the drawer faces)
  • 2 - 14" euro style bottom corner mount drawer slides (the white ones)
  • 2 knobs or handles
  • Either 1-1/4" pocket hole screws OR 2" self tapping wood screws OR 2" brad nails
  • 1-1/4" and 3/4" brad nails


  • 10 feet of 3/4" thick x 24" wide edge glued project panel or similar
  • 4 feet of 1x8 boards
  • 4 - 1x2 @ at least 5 feet long
  • 4 - 1x4 @ at least 5 feet long
Cut List


  • 2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 33-1/4"
  • 1 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 16-1/2"
  • 1 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 18"
  • 2 - 1x4 @ 16-1/2"
  • 3 - 1x2 @ 16-1/2"
  • 1 - 1/4" plywood @ 18" x 34"
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 15-3/4"
  • 2 - 1x3 @ 15-3/4"
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 19-1/2"
  • 2 - 1x3 @ 19-1/2"


  • 8 - 1x6 @ 14"
  • 2 - 1/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 14"
  • 2 - 1x10 @ 16-1/4"

OPTIONAL MEGA DESKTOP (minimum size for adequate legroom)

  • 2 - 3/4" thick x 24" wide edge glued project panels @ 55-3/4"
  • 2 - 1x8 @ 24"
  • 4 - 1x4 @ 55-3/4"
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 55-3/4"
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 57-1/4"
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection


Step 1

Rip plywood into strips 15-1/2" wide by 8 feet long. Preferred method is a table saw but you can also have your home improvement store make the rips for your, or use a circular saw and a guide.

It is very important that your plywood rips are exactly the same width.

Cross cut the plywood rips with a circular saw.

Attach the 1x boards with 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws (preferred) or you can use 2" self tapping screws or 2" brad nails and wood glue.

Step 2

Add the shelf and the remaining 1x2 board.  The measurements on either side of the 1x2 should be 9-1/2" for the drawer face to work out in later steps.

Step 3

Attach desktop to the top.  You can simply use 1-1/4" brad nails and glue to attach.

Step 4

Cut the 1/4" plywood with a circular saw or table saw.

Attach to the back with 3/4" brad nails and wood glue.

Step 5

Add the side trim with 1-1/4" brad nails and wood glue.

Step 6

Add the front and back trim with 1-1/4" brad nails and wood glue.

Step 7

Build the drawer with either pocket holes or 2" screws or brad nails and glue.

Attach bottom with 3/4" brad nails and glue.

Build two drawers.

Step 8

Install drawer box inset 3/4" (to allow for the drawer face) from the front edge of the plywood using the drawer slides.

Center the drawer face on the drawer with even gaps all the way around and attach with a couple of 1-1/4" brad nails, avoiding areas where hardware is to be added.

Remove the drawer and further secure with a couple of 1-1/4" screws from the inside.

Install hardware on the drawers.

Step 9

For the optional desktop, there are many ways to build.  

This is the minimum size we would recommend for adequate legroom.

We recommend joining the 1x8 to the project panels with your Kreg Jig, but you can also just apply glue along the edge seams between the 1x8 and project panels, and then use 1-1/4" brad nails and glue to attach the 1x4s at the back.

Step 10

Trim the outside edges of the desktop out with 1x2s, attached with glue and 1-1/4" brad nails.

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