Make a simple computer desk or craft table for around $50.
Step by step directions to make a very strong, very simple, and very cheap computer desk or table. This is perfect for a kids bedroom or nook area. This same idea can be scaled up to a large desk but follow these plans and you'll end up with a 40 inch by 22 inch desk.
Materials NeededThe materials needed for this project should be easy to find at any home improvement store. We'll be making this desk out of 2"x2" Douglas Fir lumber.
In terms of building you'll need some tools as well. I highly recommend a miter saw for straight cuts (see Ryobi 10 Inch Compound Miter Saw Review). A corded or cordless drill with philips bit as well as a small (1/8" is good) bit for pre-drilling holes is recommended.
- 5 of 2"x2"x6' lumber
- 1 of 2'x4' MDF (1/2" or thicker)
- Small box of 2.5" screws (deck screws work well)
- Tube of Liquid Nails
- 4 of nail on feet
Step 1: Cut MDF Top
Using the 24"x48" piece of MDF cut it down to 40" long by 22" wide. This can be done with a table saw if you have one or a simple jigsaw.
Once cut, sand all the edges down so they're smooth. Then put a small radius on all the sharp edges. This way, when your arms and hands are resting on the top they won't have sharp edges digging into them.
I also sanded down the two corners that will become the front side of the desk. This will lessen getting poke when walking by or otherwise having eyeballs get poked out.
Step 2: Paint Top
Since we're trying to build this desk quickly, now is a good time to go get a coat of primer on the desktop. That way, the primer can be drying while we're working on the next step.
The key to painting MDF is to find a well ventilated area without any wind. Go for even spray lines that slightly overlap the previous one. Make sure all edges get sprayed with two coats as these will soak in a lot of paint.
Step 3: Cut Base Wood
While primer/paint is drying, let's start cutting the wood for the base. Anytime you have a new piece of lumber square the end by cutting off a thin off one end. Don't trust that the end is already square.
Since I could only get decent pieces of 2"x2" wood in 6' lengths (rather than 8' or 10') I used a total of 5 pieces of 2"x2"x6' doug fir. Don't buy the cheap furring strip wood, you'll want something of a good quality that's also straight.
Here are the sizes I cut from each 6' piece:
Piece 1: 38", 27"
Piece 2: 38", 27"
Piece 3: 27", 17 1/4", 17 1/4"
Piece 4: 27", 32 3/8"
Piece 5: 14 3/8", 14 3/8"
Step 4: Assemble Base
Base assembly is pretty straight forward. You'll first make a rectangle using the two 38" long pieces and the two 17 1/4" pieces. Using liquid nails and 2.5" deck screws you'll make a square. Always predrill your holes to avoid splitting. Be sure to read How To Square Up Framed Boxes first.
Step 5:Add Legs
The legs will sit inside each of the four corners of the rectangle you assembled. Each leg will be secured by two of the 2.5" deck screws.
Leg connection detail
One screw will go in from each side of the rectangle as shown above. Predrill your holes here as well. To avoid two screws hitting each other, drill one slightly lower than center and the other slightly higher than center.
The remaining 32 3/8" piece and two 14 3/8" pieces will be horizontal bracing to make the legs strong. There exact height isn't critical but lower is better so place them around 5" up off of the ground. Predrill then liquid nail and screw them in.
Step 6: Paint Base
For the base, you can either spray paint or brush paint on. If you have plenty of spray paint and a decent place to spray then go for it. In my case, I had extra latex house paint so I brushed it on. This works fine for the base where a perfectly smooth surface isn't needed. Two coats will be needed here but the top of the base (where the desktop will sit) doesn't need paint.
Step 7: Finish Up
With all of the pieces painted it's now time to attach the desktop to the base. You could do this with brackets or simply screw the top to the base which would allow you to remove the top (possibly to replace or repaint if needed). For my needs, I simply glued the desktop down with a bead of liquid nails on the top of the base. Let it dry for a day or so and you're good to go. Simple, easy, strong, and cheap.
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