Leaning Wall Ladder Desk

leaning ladder desk
| Print this plan

DIY leaning wall ladder desk - how to build your own leaning ladder desk out of all 1x boards.  Easy tutorial by ANA-WHITE.com

leaning ladder desk
leaning ladder desk
leaning ladder desk

Hello, Happy Friday!!!

I'm writing to you today from a brand new desk that I built last weekend!

I live in a small space, without the luxury of having a dedicated office.  So I needed a desk that would maximize storage and functionality, in the smallest possible footprint.  

This desk does it.

I've been using it for about a week now, and can't even express how much I love it!!!  The desk area is just big enough for my monitor, keyboard and mouse - no clutter can accummulate there!  And will all the diffrent sized shelves at different heights, I can keep all my stuff organized and within easy reach.  On the lower larger shelves, I keep my recycling basket and printer, the next level of shelves is baskets to hide all my electronics and cords and a few books.  Moving up, I keep more books, a receipt collection bucket.  On the shelves just above the moniter the mail, pencils and office accessories end up - it's too high for the baby to get into and too narrow to clutter with other stuff.  The top shelf is pretty much decor and seldom used items.

I built this desk on Saturday, working here and there, as much as I could with kids and no babysitter.  It took me a few hours to build and stain and clear coat.  Then on Sunday I assembled the desk and brought into the house.  That took another couple of hours.  So about five hours total - not bad!

The reason this was such a quick and easy build is all of the shelves are just 1x boards.  The top shelf is 1x6, the next shelf is 1x8, then 1x10, 1x12 and the bottom shelf is two 1x8s.  I didn't have to rip plywood or edge band or anything like that - just cross cut and go!

I put together a video that shows all the steps here -

And here's the steps for those of you who can't watch video -

I cut all of my boards with a compound miter saw.  For all of the shelves and the back, the length was the same.  So what I did was set a stop block on my saw for all the cuts of the same length.  Then I can just set my board on the saw, with one end butted up to the stop block and cut away.  There were alot of cuts, so this made things go much faster.

Also, after I cut all of the shelf sides, I then just set my saw to a 22-1/2 degree angle (I picked this angle because it is a set point on my saw, but you could use any angle) and nipped off one corner of all of the shelf side trim pieces.  I didn't even measure, just made a pencil mark on my saw of where the end of the board needed to sit, and then just cut.  This softened up the corners of the project and added a nice design element.


The legs are cut at a 5 degree angle at the top and bottom.  But this won't sit flush with the wall.  So I took a speed square and marked square to the top 5 degree angle and cut off the backs with a circular saw so there is a 2-1/2" area on the backs of the legs that is square to the wall.  Watch the video - this all is explained and shown in it.



Then I just went to work building shelves.  I nailed my sides and ends on - you must use glue when nailing.  The nails will not hold out without.  



Here's all my shelves built.  The wider width shelves are two 1x8s, I did pocket hole them together on the bottom just for security.



I stained all of the pieces with Varathane Early American, wiping on with a paper towel.



Then I sprayed on Watco Lacquer to protect the stained finish.



Now time to assemble!  First thing I did was attach the backs to the legs.



And then leaned the legs with the backs up against a wall and clamped the shelves in the right positions and screwed them on.


And that's it - new desk system in a weekend!



The plans for this desk follow (if this is the homepage, click READ MORE below), and you can find the leaning ladder bookshelf plans here!

Have a great weekend, 

XO Ana



leaning ladder desk
Dimensions shown above


Shopping List

Shopping list for DESK ONLY


1 - 1x8 @ 8 feet long

1 - 1x6 @ 31" long

4 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long

Common Materials
1 1/4 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
Cut List


1 - 1x6 @ 31"

3 - 1x8 @ 31"

3 - 1x3 @ 31"

2 - 1x3 @ 6-1/4"

2 - 1x3 @ 8"

2 - 1x3 @ 15-1/4"



2 - 1x3 @ 76-1/4" - both ends cut at 5 degrees, parallel, long point to short point measurement

2 - 1x3 @ 32-1/2"


Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Build all of the shelves first, attach backs, then sides.  Use 1-1/4" nails or staples and wood glue.

Step 2

Cut the top corner of the legs off, leaving a 2-1/2" space that is square to the top of the legs.

Step 3

Attach back support to top of legs, matching square cut from step 2.

Step 4

Lean the project up against the wall in its final postion.  Place remaining 1x3, level with the floor (will NOT be square to legs) and screw in place.  

Step 5

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Sun, 08/09/2015 - 12:11

This is definitely my next build for our home office.  The hubs just started working from home so I'm definitely going to spend more time in the garage ;)  and he needs a new office!  Win-Win!  Thanks Ana!


Tue, 06/28/2016 - 18:04

I love this desk and it would fit perfectly in a niche in our house.  However, we have a dual monitor set up, and a slightly larger space to fill.  Would it be possible to make 2 of these, and attatch the two large pieces in the center with four smaller shelves flanking it, two on each side?


Sat, 04/04/2020 - 13:31

Currently in the process of building from this plan and trying to figure out the angle of the legs has been super frustrating, we cut them at 5 degrees and it’s entirely too far from the wall and the instruction really offer no insight for cutting them so we are just winging it at this point, I would definitely recommended adding some sort of tutorial or section of the video showing you cutting the legs or what exactly you did..