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Build a Custom Desk

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

What You’ll Need:
• 1 sheet 3/4-inch hardwood plywood
• 1 sheet 1/2-inch 7-ply plywood
• 1/2 sheet 1/4-inch ACX plywood
• 25 feet 3/4-inch edge banding
• 5 feet 1/2-inch edge banding
• 1 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch solid oak or fir, 2 pieces, each 8 feet long
• 3/4-inch solid oak, at least 6 1/2-inches wide and at least 10 feet long
• 2 1/4-inch screws
• 1 1/2-inch screws
• 1-inch screws
• 3/4-inch screws
• Wood glue
• Masking tape
• Sandpaper
• Pure tung oil or polyurethane finish
• 2 drawer pulls
• Tools
• Table saw or circular saw (adult use only)
• Crosscut miter saw (adult use only)
• Drill
• Two 4-foot clamps
• Screwdrivers
• Tape measure
• Carpenter’s square
• Clothes iron
• Safety glasses

To begin, download a list of cuts you will need to make before assembling by clicking here.

Follow these woodworking tips:

Always wear safety glasses and make sure all safety guards are in place before using power tools. Ask an adult to help you with power tools.

Wood glue
Apply a thin, even coat of glue to both pieces of wood. Clamp glued pieces together.

Carpenter’s square
Always use a carpenter’s square for right angles.

Predrill with 1/8-inch bit. To keep from drilling all the way through wood, put masking tape on your drill bit marking screw length from the tip.
Stop drilling when the tape meets wood. Enlarge hole 1/4-inch deep with a 1/4-inch bit. Screw each screw all the way in, making sure the head goes inside the wood (countersunk). Wipe off excess glue with a wet rag.

Edge banding
Edge banding comes in a roll with heat-activated adhesive. Edge banding is applied to all exposed plywood edges and provides a neat, finished appearance. You can use a clothes iron to heat edge banding. Keep the iron clean by placing a sheet of paper between the iron and the banding.

What You’ll Do

Note: Understand all instructions before beginning. Ask an adult to help you with power tools.

Step 1.  Assemble module frames
Place frame facedown. Screw corners together and attach gussets with screws and glue. Connect frame by screwing and gluing frame connector in place.

Step 2. Build drawer and shelf modules
Screw and glue frame into drawer module. Screw and glue shelves into shelf module. Attach back and desktop cleats to both modules.

Step 3. Build drawers
Ask an adult to use a table saw to cut a groove 1/4-inch deep and 1/4-inch wide in the front and sides of both drawers for the drawer bottoms. Glue and screw the front, sides and back together on both drawers. Slide the bottom of both drawers in place. Do not glue the bottom. Insert the drawer into the desk and center the drawer front. Make sure all drawers slide smoothly and fit neatly in place. Glue and clamp the drawer face onto both drawers. Repeat this process for the secret drawer.

Step 4. Connect the two modules
Screw and glue the module connector board to both modules as shown.

Step 5. Attach legs and trim
The legs and trim are screwed in place from the inside. The trim should cover all exterior screw holes. The long front trim piece should help hold the modules in place until the top is attached.

Step 6. Assemble keyboard tray and tray rails
Screw and glue the keyboard tray together. Screw the keyboard tray rails in place from the inside.

Step 7. Attach the top
Position the desktop evenly on the modules. Screw through the cleats into the bottom of the desktop. Sand all visible surfaces with 220-grit sandpaper and apply a finish of your choice. Screw in drawer pulls.

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