To build your desk you’ll need the following materials:
- Sander (I used my $20 cornet-cat sander. It did the job, but I think an orbital sander would have been better)
- Clamps (not sure of the cost, we had some in the garage)
- Brackets or Krig Jig
- Power drill
- Wood stain
- Sealant + brush (I used Polyurethane)
- Strong hands to help you with moving the wooden top once it is assembled (that thing gets heavy!)
- Table legs
Step 1 – Pick out your wood.
This might be the most important part of the process. If you want a solid surface, then you should stay away from pine, which is a softer wood and will dent easily even with a pen mark. Maple wood is a good strong option. I’ve seen some tutorials that used butcher block, but the price tag on that was also very high. Our goal was to make it simple and cheap so we just bought four 2″x6″ 10-feet boards at Home Depot for $5.77+tax each. You get 2 free cuts per piece of wood. I was losing my patience at check out, though, because our cashier could not understand how a 10 foot board after 2 cuts could generate three pieces of wood (we took the extra pieces so we could test the stain on them). Since these boards are not truly 2″x6″ and more like 2″x5.4″, with 4 boards our desk length came out to be a little short of 22″. Also get extra pieces that you will use to connect all the boards together.
Step 2 – Lay it all out.
We laid everything out exactly how we wanted the grain of the wood to look.
Step 3 – Clamp and connect.
Okay, I think this is where we went slightly wrong. We clamped the boards from the sides, which didn’t really straighten the boards. So in our end result our top surface is not completely flat.
To avoid that, try clamping the extra pieces of wood along all the boards. Kind of like that (the blue things represent the clamps :P):
Also, we were recommended to use a Krig Jig, which would help with keeping the boards straight as well. We used simple brackets to connect the boards instead. To avoid the wood splitting, pre-drill the holes before putting the screws in.
Step 4 – Sand.
Make sure to sand everything well, even the bottom, we don’t want you getting splinters! Use 225 or 125 grit. The stronger the sander the easier and quicker this step will be, but it just depends on what you have in your toolbox.
After sanding, use a damp cloth to wipe all the dust away. Dust blower works really great too, especially for the seams. Let the wood air for a little bit.
Step 5 – Stain (if you don’t want to stain, skip to Step 6).
You can choose to stain your wood or not. If you’re using cheap wood like us, then you probably want to stain it. I chose a mixture of two colors, MinWax Classic Gray 271 for the first coat and gray undertones, and MinWax Espresso 273 for the main color. Staining is my favorite part, it’s so easy and peaceful!
You may stain both the top and the bottom, which will require more work; we just stained the top.
Make sure to wait 4-6 hours between stain coats. I used a wide brush to put the stain on, and an old rag to wipe away the excess.
Step 6 – Seal.
If your wood is too pretty to cover up with a stain, then just seal it. Sealing helps protect your wood. If you got butcher block, it might be already sealed, I am not too familiar with it, so ask your salesperson.
I used two coats of Polyurethane, and waited about 12 hrs between the coats. Make sure to sand each coat with 225 (or finer) grit and wipe with a damp cloth to make sure your surface is smooth.
Step 7 – Assemble and use!
This is the funnest part! Since we designed an L-shaped desk, we made it in two pieces and assembled them already in the room because they would not have fit in the stairway as one. Also the pieces were super heavy, so it was easier to bring it up into the room. We used brackets to connect the two pieces together.
Our table legs are from Ikea. They were only $4.00 a piece and I liked them the most! I mean $20 for a full set of legs! You can’t beat that!
There you go! You have yourself a solid wood, hand made, made in America (almost, or wherever you may be) desk made precisely to your specifications!
Our total cost on this was about $65: $25 for the wood, $20 for the legs, $12 for the brackets, and $8 for 1 can of stain. We had everything else in our garage/toolbox inventory. It took 2.5 days to complete.
Overall I am extremely happy with the results. It fits perfectly in our space, it’s very solid, and I love how the stain turned out. I only wish the surface would be flatter, and we may redo the top eventually learning from our mistake, which would only require another $25 for the wood, and a couple of days of labor and love.
Hope this helps! If you made a desk yourself, please share! I love seeing new ideas!