Hidden Desk Apothecary Cabinet

console table that converts to desk
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Here's how to create an office or desk system anywhere!  The beautiful cabinet is actually a desk with hidden stools!  

This is a free woodworking plan to build your own console table that converts to a desk system.  The free plans include step by step diagrams, shopping and cut list and lots of photos by ana-white.com

console table that converts to desk
console table that converts to desk
hidden desk ideas
console table that converts to desk

Hi everyone!  Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Spring is finally here in Alaska, and I can't wait to start working on projects outdoors.

Last fall, my sister started Home Schooling her two school-aged children.  Without an extra room in her home to dedicate to homeschooling, the kids were doing their homework at the dining room table.

This dining table, to be exact (you can find the plans here).

But there is no storage in the dining table, so the children had no where to store their school supplies when school is not in session.  

So my sister and I decided that she needed a console or buffet or something on the far wall to add storage to the dining room.  Something ....

Before I get to what we came up with here, allow me to share a few plans that have come about from a sister brainstorming session -

Two sisters, visiting from thousands of miles away, were involved in the invention of the laundry basket dresser.

And another sister was part of the 2x4 garage shelving design,

That sparked the design for my closet.

Good things happen when sisters with messy kids and storage needs collaborate for sure.  So our homeschool problem ...  what if we built a console table that was beautiful and looked amazing in the dining room -

But it had a secret.  It was not even a console at all?  

It was actually a desk.  That some of those drawers were actually the back of stools.  

And some were actually drawers that could store laptops and books and pencils.

And it could all get neatly put away by little kids in seconds.

My sister has been using this homeschool desk for several months now, and describes it as "amazing".  Her children easily keep their homeschool work organized and even the first grader can quickly push her stool back in, describing the process as "easy".  

This wasn't the easiest build, mostly because of all the hidden drawers, but when done, so worth it.

Here's how it was made - 

The cabinet is just plywood construction with 2x2 legs and framing everywhere except for the front where 1x2s were used.  The stool legs double the 1x2s on the front, making the front look like it is made with 2x2s.


You have to be pretty straight and square building because of all the drawers, so what is pretty easy does take more time because you have to be precise.

Then I just made two stools out of 2x2s, using a Kreg Jig to build them.  

For the stool backs, I attached the false drawer fronts to 1x2s with pocket holes.  One thing I do regret here is not using a hardwood for those 1x2 legs.  I don't like that the stool back legs are 1x2s.  

That's the stool back and the stool done.

Then I just used 2" screws to attach the stool to the stool back.  

I later cut the back stool 2x2 legs off with a jigsaw.

Up until this point, I wasn't really sure if this idea was going to work or not.  

And it does.  

After putting all the drawers in and attaching the drawer faces (plans below show you how to do that) 

We wiped on one coat of Rustoleum Golden Oak.  

Over that we applied a clear top coat of Rustoleum Triple Thick Poly.

I can't even believe how beautiful it is - especially since it's made from 3/4" AC plywood (used for construction) and 2x2 and 1x2 furring strips.  

So happy to be able to share the plans with you below.  But please, please, please - DO NOT tackle this as a first project.  Or second.  This is a more advanced project, and when you count all the drawer slides, an expensive one, and I just wouldn't feel right about someone investing in all the materials and then having trouble building.  If you are new to building, pin to your build list and tackle when you are ready.

Enjoy the plans!

XO Ana + Sisters

console table that converts to desk
Dimensions shown above


Shopping List
  • 1 sheet 3/4" plywood ripped into strips 15-3/4" wide x 8 feet long
  • 1 sheet of 1/4" plywood for drawer bottoms
  • 7 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long
  • 7 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
  • 1 - HARDWOOD 1x2 @ 12 feet long
  • 2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
  • 2 - 1x8 @ 8 feet long and
  • 1 - 1x8 @ 4 feet long
  • 5 - 1x4 @ 8 feet long
  • 18 - cup bin pulls (I got mine from D.Lawless)
  • 5 - 18" drawer slides (I use Liberty Euro white ones available at Home Depot)
  • Also recommend nail on plastic glides for all bottoms to allow stools to slide in easily.
Common Materials
2 inch screws
3/4 inch finish nails
1 1/4 inch finish nails
Cut List


  • 1 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-3/4" x 69" (top)
  • 4 - 2x2 @ 15-3/4" (end trim)
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 72" (top front trim)
  • 2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-3/4" x 30" (sides)
  • 2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-3/4" x 32-1/4" (dividers)
  • 4 - 2x2 @ 34-1/2" (back legs)
  • 3 - 2x2 @ 22" (back supports)
  • 4 - 1x2 @ 34-1/2" (front trim)
  • 6 - 1x2 @ 22" (front drawer trim)
  • 4 - 1x2 @ 3-5/8" (front trim)


  • 4 - 1x3 @ 18"
  • 4 - 1x3 @ 19-1/2"
  • 6 - 1x8 @ 18"
  • 6 - 1x8 @ 19-1/2"
  • 5 - 1/4" plywood @ 21" x 18"
  • 8 - 1x4 @ 21-3/4" (drawer faces)
  • 3 - 1x2 @ 21-3/4" (drawer faces)


  • 4 - 1x2 @ 30-3/4" - USE HARDWOOD (stool legs)
  • 12 - 1x2 @ 22"
  • 10 - 1x4 @ 22"
  • 2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-3/4" x 17-1/2"
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 20-1/4"
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 23-1/4"
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 14-1/2"
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 12-3/4"
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander


Step 1

There's alot of different ways to build the cabinet, ultimately I decided building the top first was the way to go just because the top is the most visible and should be prioritized. Drill 3/4" pocket holes around all four sides of the top plywood piece. Drill a 1-1/2" pocket hole on each end of the 2x2 end trim. Then attach 2x2 sides and front/back with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws.

Step 2

Next the sides and dividers. Drill 3/4" pocket holes along top, front and back edges. Also drill 3/4" pocket holes along bottom edge of sides (not needed on dividers) Assemble with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws and glue, hiding pocket holes on insides. It is very important that these pieces are placed square to the cabinet, to avoid issues with drawers.

Step 3

Drill a 1-1/2" pocket hole on top of all the 2x2 leg pieces. Drill 1-1/2" pocket holes on each end of the 22" long 2x2 pieces. Build the back frame first, then attach to the back of the cabinet.

Step 4

Drill a 1-1/2" pocket hole screw on one end of bottom trim pieces. Attach to plywood sides and back.

Step 5

Step 6

Attach 1x2 trim pieces to front with 1-1/4" brad nails.

Step 7

Build drawers to fit opening and drawer slides. These drawers assume drawer slides need 1/2" clearance on each side and are bottom corner mount euro style drawer slides (the white ones). Make sure drawers are built square. NOTE: Larger drawers are 1x8 construction.

Step 8

Install drawers in lowest position that will be covered by drawer faces (see next step) using drawer slides.

Step 9

Attach drawer faces with 1-1/4" nails and wood glue to the drawers. NOTE: It may be easier to attach hardware before attach drawer faces to boxes.

Step 10

Use 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws to build stool backs. Use glue at all joints. NOTE: Use hardwood for the legs to increase strength.

Step 11

Build stool using 1-1/2" pocket holes and 2-1/2" pocket hole screws. Hide pocket holes on top (to be hidden by stool top) and bottom (hidden on underside). Attach stool top with 1-1/4" nails and glue.

Step 12

Attach stool to back with 2" screws and wood glue.



Tue, 01/15/2019 - 06:37

As the commenter Above mentioned, many of the steps are missing. I would really like to complete this project, I love it so much! Are the full plans available somewhere else? Thanks again for all your hard work creating these plans for us, Ana.


Tue, 01/15/2019 - 06:52

Actually now that I look at it further, maybe this was all the steps needed and the additional steps mentioned in the plans were a mistake?