Build my Desk. I love it.

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 20:10
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A modern architectural statement, that opens up to reveal storage and a keyboard tray. The desk that I used to write this very blog.

So here's the deal on being a Twice-A-Day Blogger, Do-It-Herselfer, Mom, Furniture Plan Designer, Part Time Waitress, Maid, Secretary, Dry Cleaner, Nurse, Accountant, Babysitter, Whole Foods Cook, Landscaper, Carpenter, Dishwasher . . . you know all the roles we play do - when it comes to me working on a project, it could be a while until the project is actually completed.
You know that I'm working on an office in my home, what we are starting to call "Mom's Room," and I've actually made big progress.  The major pieces of furniture have been built.  But being that I live in remote Alaska, accessories and decor are extremely difficult to come by.  So I have not had an opportunity to take pictures of my furniture "plated."  (It's like serving food from the pan or plated - it always looks better plated).  But in all reality, I may never be 100% finished with my office.  And many of you are anxiously waiting on plans.
My office desk is inspired by West Elm's Chunky Conosle Table.  Only I had such difficulties with the West Elm design because I live in a home of just under 1200 hard earned square feet - and I'm not about to waste two of those square feet on the hollow design.
So I put a keyboard tray in the top portion. You could also just build this top portion and place it on top of sawhorses or any other legs system to get a functional desktop.  I really like this idea . . . any takers on plans?  Just don't forget that the desktop is 5 1/2" tall, and you would need to make your leg system shorter to accommodate.
And I thought the legs would make great storage for books, envelopes, or maybe even someone could put a CPU tower in there (you would have to make the legs slightly wider to fit a CPU).

The results? A super functional desk with a lower keyboard tray (the keyboard tray is perfectly lined up with the armrests on my comfortable AND stylish chair) and a eye level monitor.  I ended up putting the desk in the closet because closets in my home just store things we never use.
In messy piles. Yes, this is the same closet, with a little white paint on the trim and no doors.
I cannot even describe to you how much of an improvement on my neck, back and my mouse elbow the new desk has done - but you can see the results of the design improvement.  This room was our junk drawer room before.  And now it's on it's way to becoming my office.
Now I want one in hot pink! I've already painted mine three times, so that's not happening, but I would love to see yours in hot pink!
Overall Dimensions are shown above. I choose to use standard sized boards in this design so that you could use pine boards for a rustic look, use scraps, or have MDF cut into board sized dimensions (as I did). The desk is narrow when closed, console sized. So if you like lots of room for more than just using your computer, this might not be the desktop for you.


Shopping List

6 Frameless Full Overlay Euro Style Hinges like these
3 – 1×12, 8′ Length
1 – 1×6, 8′ Length
1/4″ plywood for the backs or another 1×6, 8′ Length
2″ nails
1 1/4″ nails
Wood Filler
Wood Glue
Paint or other finishing supplies

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Cut List for the Desktop
2 – 1×12 @ 47″ (Tops and Bottoms)
4 – 1×12 @ 4″ (Ends and Dividers)
1 – 1×6 @ 47″ (Face)
1 – 1/4″ Plywood @ 5 1/2″ x 47″ OR 1 – 1×6 @ 47″ (Back)
Cut List for the Legs
4 – 1×12 @ 24 1/2″ (Sides of Legs)
6 – 1×12 @ 4″ (Tops and Bottoms and Shelves)
2 – 1×6 @ 24 1/4″ (Leg Faces)
2 – 1/4″ Plywood @ 5 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ OR 2 – 1×6 @ 24 1/2″ (Backs)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

I’m so glad I built this piece before presenting the plans. Because when I went to attach the hinges, there was now where for the drill to go! So we had to do some tricky angle drilling to get the hinges in place, and I’m still wishing I could adjust my hinges properly. To avoid this, you may wish to paint in the areas where the hinges are being placed before assembling the desk (so you aren’t like me, with Grace’s tiny watercolor brush, painting around hinges). And we will put the hinges on before we put the tops on in these instructions.
As always, work on a clean level surface. Use straight boards. You can cut a sheet of MDF into 3 1×12 strips and 1 1×6 strip for the drawer faces (make that 2 1×6 strips and you can also use MDF for the backs instead of going out and buying 1/4″ plywood). Be safe. Remember, you can click images for a larger view.
Building the desktop is essentially the same as the legs, expect the size and the desktop has two “shelves” to the legs one “shelf.” So I will just be giving you basic diagrams for the desktop with instructions for the legs.


Step 1

Or shelves for when you assemble the legs. For the desktop, use 2″ nails and glue to fasten the dividers to the bottom, as shown above. Also do the sides, but place your shelves in any desired position to accommodate your needs.

Step 2

Ends and Hinged Front
Start by attaching the ends, just as you did the partitions, shown above in green. Keep outsides flush. Then attach the face with the hinges only on the insides of the partitions, with the face flush with the bottom and the outsides of the desktop. Notice that the top will overextend 3/4″. Do this for the legs too, except choose your bottom and line the face up with the bottom (it will be just shy of the top to give the desktop room to open).

Step 3

These hinges are surface mount and are extremely easy to install and work great. They are my fav.

Step 4

Lay the top on top of the desktop and fasten down with 2″ nails and glue. Do this for the legs too.

Step 5

Step 6

Finishing and Assembly
Dry fit everything and make sure that the top will open correctly without rubbing against the leg faces. If this is the case, simply trim the tops of the leg faces until the desktop face opens smoothly. You can remove the faces from the hinges and paint each piece individually. Fill nail holes with wood filler and sand well. I used a cabinet sized roller to reach into the units with paint. On assembly, I used 1 1/4″ screws from the insides of the top of the legs into the underside of the desktop to keep everything in place.
I just wanted to add that I have never had a desk I loved so much, I’m adamant about using coasters on. I

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Aubergine (not verified)

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 21:43

if you weren't using it as a all the time desk it would look so cool with a matching bench same plan just 50%

Ana as always your stuff is stunning thank you for sharing we are all grateful.

Heidi (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 04:39

I love this desk! I may have to tackle this with my husband as our first attempt at building furniture.

Jennifer (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 05:59

This is really cool! I just love the simplicity of it.

Hmmm... If anyone is in the market for a new computer, the Dell Studio Hybrid would fit inside the legs of this perfectly - just make sure to cut out openings in the back for ventilation. :)

It's a really small, narrow desktop. I have one hooked up to my TV downstairs and most people can't even tell it's a computer!


Natty (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 07:24

Ditto on the bench idea. I would use this as a vanity. The storage is perfect for small baskets filled with all my make-up and stuff. you could also change it to have a locking hinged top with a mirror on the inside so you could open it up and get ready and then close it up and everything is tucked away. :) So, I've got ideas, now I just need the nail gun :P

Pat (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 10:11


Are you going modern on us Ana? (LOL)

I love it ! ...especially the storage concept. My condo is just 950 sq feet. So I know what you mean.


Vanilla Comfort (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 10:20

I've been thinking about this desk ever since you first shared pictures, and now that you've planted the idea of hiding the CPU tower I'm sold. I have a small, short and thin CPU tower so I think it will fit just fine. I would love to hide the modem, router, and all the wires too. I'm just not sure how the modern design will look in my living area. I love the look though, so I might just go for it!

Allie (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 19:46

Ana, I haven't gotten around to saying it yet, but: THANK YOU so much for your site, your plans, and your time. I love this site so much. I am so excited to build this desk and so much more. This plan in particular is fantastic for hiding all my office things from my inquisitive toddler! Lol! THANK YOU!!!

Allie (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 19:47

Oh, and I love the coffee and end tables linked in this post! YES, make plans for them... if you have time! lol