Modular Office - Narrow Open File Base

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/22/2010 - 22:21
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A complicated storage desk system is broken down into simple, modular pieces, that you can tackle, one project at a time. This open base unit has a matching drawer plan and features easy storage, and most importantly, perfect structure for putting a desktop on.

You can view the entire collection of plans in the Modular Office System here.

Special thanks to Anne at Get Your Martha On for sharing her amazing photos of this plan.

21" Wide x 30" Tall x 16 1/4" Deep


Shopping List

1 – Sheet of 3/4″ MDF or A1 Plywood cut into 1×16 boards (You will only need about 1/2 sheet)
1 – Sheet of 1/4″ MDF or plywood (for the back, you will only need a piece 31″ x 21″)
1 - 1×2 Boards
1 - 1×3 Boards
Wood Glue
Wood Filler
2″ nails (for pnematic nailer)
1 1/4″ nails (for pnematic nailer)
2″ Wood Screws (for A1 Plywood) or Drywall Screws (for MDF)
Finishing Supplies

Common Materials
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

1 – 1×16 @ 19 1/2″ (Top)
2 – 1×16 @ 29″ (Sides)
2 – 1×16 @ 18″ (Shelves)
1 – 1/4 Plywood @ 19 1/2″ x 29 3/4″ (Back)
1 – 1×2 @ 18″ (Top Inside Trim Piece)
1 – 1×3 @ 18″ (Bottom Inside Trim Piece)
2 – 1×2 @ 15 1/2″ (Top Side Trim Piece)
2 – 1×3 @ 15 1/2″ (Bottom Side Trim Piece)
1 – 1×2 @ 21″ (Top Front Trim Piece)
1 – 1×3 @ 21″ (Bottom Front Trim Piece)

Cutting Instructions

This project calls for a "1x16" board. If you go ask for a 1x16 at The Home Depot, they are going to tell you there is no such thing. In an effort to simplify plans, create reuseable scraps, and to conserve materials and minimize cuts, most plans that I design use standard width boards. Because we need a deeper width board than a 1x12 for a desk, we simply create 1x16s by ripping plywood into 15 1/2" widths, 8 feet long. You will see most commonly 1x16s and 1x24s because this conserves the most plywood when ripping. You can also rip MDF or join 1x6s to create 1x16 boards. The exact width isn't as important as all of your boards matching in width.

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

Work on a clean level surface. Always wear appropriate eye and ear protection. Always use glue. Predrill and countersink your screws. Avoid fastening MDF within 1″ of edges. Measure and mark out your joints prior to fastening. Check for square after each step. Keep outside edges flush.


Step 1

Build the Box. Begin by fastening the shelves to the sides, as shown above. Then fasten the top to the sides. Use the screws and glue.

Step 2

Back. Fasten the back to the bookshelf using the 1 1/4″ nails and glue.

Step 3

Inside Front Trim. Fasten the inside front trim, top and bottom, as shown above. Use the 2″ finish nailers and nail through the sides, and top shelves into the edges of the inside front trim, top and bottom pieces.

Step 4

Side Trim. Lining up with the front edge of the shelves and top, fasten the side trim pieces, bottom and top in place. You will need to use the 1 1/4″ nails and glue. Make sure you fasten the top side trim piece to both the top and the sides. This will reinforce the side joints.

Step 5

Step 6

Composition as shown


Betsy (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 03:01

Ana, I don't know if you realize how many lives you are touching. Since I found your blog, I check it 3 or 4 times a day, just in case you update it with more wonderful plans or pictures! Thank you for taking the time away from your busy life to make our lives better. You are an angel! I'm saving your plans to my jump drive everyday so I don't have to worry about ever losing them! Thanks again for everything! Betsy

Barefoot Books Liz (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 03:06

You have so many fabulous ideas here. Now I just need a bigger home to fit all the new planned furniture in!

erika (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 05:09

Wow, I think this is just for me!! I've been stalking your blog for a week trying to decide what plan to use for my kitchen desk...woo hoo - love this!!!

Tara M (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 05:15

Thank you! Thank you! I wait eveyday to see what I can use to plan my dream office! These plans will really help in my layout. Will you pretty please do a corner desktop???

Annalea (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 06:16

I love it. :o)

Matter of fact, with measurement modifications and these adorable file folders, I could build a miniature filing cabinet for little stuff, like recipes, addresses, stamps, etc. Wouldn't that just be too adorable? In hot pink, on top of the Bedford collection? ;o)

Laurie (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 07:57

Excellent! I'm pretty sure this is the desk I'm going to build for my youngest son once the warmer weather gets here. Thank you so much Ana!

sseebeck (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 08:04

Ana I love your blog I went out the other day to buy a mitre saw and ended up having to return it as it only cut through 4.5" wood. I should have read your tool post first but found it after I returned the saw. Have you ever used a radial arm saw? I came across a few while looking up miter saws and after reading a bit about them they seem to be pretty flexible. From what I have read it can rip boards do crosscuts mitre cuts dadoes (I don't even know what these are) Rabbets (I know that one I thought that may be handy for making picture frames) bevels and complex miters as well. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this particular tool.

Yolanda (not verified)

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 08:36

I am absolutely loving this collection. I have a big plan brewing in my head to convert half of the walk-in closet in our master bedroom to a craft/workspace for me and the versatility of these pieces would work wonders. I have a feeling this is going to be our big summer project.