A desk, they are available in all sizes and for different applications.
You can use them as a simple writing desk, as a computer desk, a desk where the kids can do their homework, or as a homeschool desk, as we needed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
I wanted to build a desk for the last two reasons, but I also had a few conditions.
- It had to be easy to build, even for someone new to woodworking.
- I wanted to use as few tools as possible and the tools I was already using had to be able to be replaced with tools that every handyman has at home.
- It had to be low cost, strong, and beautiful.
In this blog, I’ll show you how to make a writing desk even without a DIY experience.
But I hear you think, why the hell should I make a writing deck myself.
When we all had to work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, the children also needed a place where they could do homeschooling.
Because the threat lingers overhead, a lockdown can resume at any time.
With this desk, everyone has their own workspace at a low price.
Making this writing desk will save you a lot of money.
When I add together the cost of the wood, screws, dowels and wood glue, I come to a sum of barely $20.
Compare this with the prices of a writing desk in the store, then the choice is quickly made.
On top of that, you will have a lot of fun making it.
You can make this writing desk in an afternoon without taking the drying times of the wood glue into account.
Thanks to the free plans you can download in this blog and the step-by-step instructions, anyone can make this writing desk.
Let’s dive into this blog, I’ll show you how to make this writing desk yourself.
Watch the video here
Before we start building
To prepare you for building this project, I have made a few handy lists.
In addition to a few personal protective equipment that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this jig.
* Safety is always your own responsibility!
Materials I used for this writing desk
(power)Tools I used for this homeschool desk
How to build a desk step by step
Step by step, I will explain how I built this writing desk and how you can build it too.
As you saw in the video above, I occasionally use power tools or smaller hand tools to build this writing desk.
I understand that not everyone has these tools available, so I will suggest alternatives throughout this blog. This way you can make this writing desk with a minimum of tools.
Step 1 | Preparation
Check the dimensions on the free plans that you can download below and transfer them to the wood.
For ease of work, I made the boards about 5 cm (2“) longer than the actual dimensions on the plans.
Later I will show you how to adjust this and what the advantage is to make those boards longer.
Cutting all the pieces
Now that the boards are not yet connected, it is easier to sand them smoothly at this point.
For sanding, I first used P80 grit followed by sanding with P120 grit.
An alternative to this orbital sander is sanding by hand or with a sanding block.
You can easily make a sanding block yourself by turning the sandpaper around a block of residual wood.
Are you planning to make multiple projects and do you want to make a decent sanding block? Then be sure to watch my video, The ultimate hand sanding block.
If you want to know more about how to determine the right sandpaper for your project, be sure to check out my blog: The perfect sandpaper grit guide for woodworking.
Everything you need to know about sandpaper can be found in this article. It will no doubt give you a better understanding of the proper use of sandpaper.
There is also a FREE downloadable guide available to help you determine the right sandpaper grit.
Step 2 | Making the tabletop and legs
Now that all the pieces for this writing desk have been made, we can attach them to each other to form a full tabletop and legs.
I’ll explain how to do this.
The way the tabletop and legs for this writing desk are made is identical.
I explain how to make the tabletop of this writing table, after which you can make the legs with the same steps
Place the parts for the tabletop side by side on your workbench.
These should not be perfectly aligned.
Remember that we made it 5 cm longer at the beginning.
When this part is glued later, it can be cut to size.
To make sure that you can replace the parts correctly later, you number the parts.
You also mark this place where you want to place a dowel.
Do this by drawing a line over the two parts that will be connected.
This way the holes for the dowels will be straight across each other and you will have a perfect connection.
Take the boards apart and use the doweling jig to make a hole.
That hole should be the same diameter as your dowels.
Make a hole on each mark you made.
You can use the free plans as a guide for knowing where to place the dowels.
You can easily make a doweling jig yourself.
That way, the holes you drill for placing dowels are always accurate and you get a perfect connection.
Watch my video, make a doweling jig yourself, to see how I made mine.
After making the dowel holes, the parts can be connected.
For this, I use wood glue in combination with dowels.
The dowels hold the parts in a perfect position while the glue dries. In retrospect, we have a very strong connection with this combination.
Place all parts in a glue clamp and apply the glue.
After applying the wood glue you can place the dowels.
Hammer the dowels halfway into the board.
When the dowels are in place you can now connect the boards together and tighten the glue clamps.
If you do not have glue clamps, use tensioning straps to put pressure on the wood glue.
You can also make a construction around this part and stretch the boards with wedges.
I made the glue clamps that you see in the pictures myself.
Do you want to build this too? Then watch my video, King size wooden clamps.
Don’t just use any wood glue for your projects!
To find out which different types exist and for which applications they serve, check out my blog Understanding Wood Glue + 8 awesome tricks you should know. Here you will discover everything you need to know about wood glue.
Cutting to length
After a few hours (in my case overnight) the wood glue is dry and the tabletop and legs can be removed from the glue clamps.
Remember I recommended cutting the boards a little longer, now is the time to level them.
By doing this now, all boards will be exactly the same length.
This prevents one side of the leg from getting longer than the other and prevents the writing desk from swinging when you work on it.
To cut the tabletop and legs to length, this was easily done on my table saw and crosscut sled.
An alternative to this is, again, the handsaw.
Mark a straight line with a pencil and speed square and saw away the excess wood.
Now that the parts are ready, they just need to be prepared for assembly.
Because I wanted to be able to disassemble the writing desk later, I did not use wood glue during assembly.
Instead, I made the connections with dowels and pocket holes.
In the same way as when marking the points a dowel had to be placed for the connection of boards, you can make marks for the connection between the tabletop and legs.
Place the tabletop and legs next to each other and mark by drawing a line across the two parts.
With the doweling jig, you can now drill the holes for the dowels.
Note: when connecting the boards you had to drill a hole on the short side of the wood.
This time you need to drill one at the bottom of the tabletop and the hole directly opposite it must be drilled at the end of the leg.
You can use screws to make the connection stronger.
Because I wanted to place my screws invisibly, I used pocket holes. You can see where I made the connections on the free plans.
Unfortunately, I don’t immediately have an alternative to the pocket holes, but I can recommend the pocket hole jig R3 Jr from Kreg.
It’s cheap to buy and once you’ve worked with pocket holes you’ll want to work with it more.
I think this is a very useful investment.
Step 3 | Assembling
The final step is to assemble the writing desk.
Because of all the good preparations that were taken in the previous steps, it is a matter of connecting all the pieces tightly.
Mounting the legs to the table top
You can start this last step to build a writing desk by attaching the dowels in the provided holes at the bottom of the tabletop.
Note: do not use wood glue in this complete last step if you want to take the writing desk apart in the future.
You can now slide the legs over the dowels.
Use a hammer and lightly tap the leg against the tabletop.
After placing the legs, you can ensure the connection by screwing a screw into the pocket hole.
This will tighten the connection and ensure that the legs are securely mounted to the tabletop.
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Reinforcement of the legs
To make it even more solid, the two legs will now be connected with a board.
Measure the distance between the two legs.
I did this by pressing one side of a board against one leg and marking the distance to the second leg onto the board.
The more accurately you do this, the firmer the writing desk will be.
You can now cut the board to size.
I used my crosscut sled for this, but you can again use the handsaw as an alternative.
Place the board in the correct place under the table.
Check with a square for the perpendicularity of the legs to the tabletop.
Now place all screws in the pocket holes and screw everything tight.
Your writing desk is now ready for use.
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I want to hear from you
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Would you make changes to the idea?
Do you have pictures of your writing desk that I can share on my social media?
Let me know in a comment below this blog.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration
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