Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DIY Desk Tutorial

DIY Desk Tutorial

Happy Winter all! I have brought some of my woodworking inside - under tarps of course in order to fill the time that my kids are home sick and school is closed due to snow. So here is my latest build, my very own desk that I put together from items almost exclusively from The Habitat for Humanity Restore. Total cost of build was $115. It will go beautifully in the new home my boyfriend and I are building (new construction). When I heard about the cost of a kitchen side desk/ homework center built in... I just about died - yet that was using granite. So I headed out to the local Restore to see what I could find and create, it didn't take long for my vision to come together.

Here's what I found at the restore:

$30 base cabinet- used? maybe- it looked like they had a whole bunch
of cabinets similar to these. 
So, after seeing this cabinet and a few upper cabinets, I asked to speak to the manager to see if he would allow me to go "into the back" where they store all of the items they have not yet priced or sorted through. Read: this is the BEST place in the whole store! It's a GOLDMINE! I often grab things and haggle with the pricing - cutting out the process of pricing and moving the items- I figure I am doing them a favor. :/

So there I found these base cabinets - brand new with drawers! Eek! I got it for $15!

Brand spankin new! 

Next, Time to find a top- Found bamboo flooring for $15. 5 pieces of 5 inch tongue and groove flooring. Don't have a pic of this in the Restore. 

Brought them home and unloaded: 

21 inch wide base cabinet.

12 inch base cabinet

Next, after doing more measuring and examining etc., 

I noticed 

A) The bigger cabinet with the door was 3 inches less in depth (18 inches)  than the one with the drawers (21 inches deep) and 
B) The kick plate they gave me was way too small to fit the base area so, I would have to do something about that. 

First, I had to build a 3 inch frame spacer for the rear of the wide cabinet to ensure both cabinets were 21 inches deep. I cut scrap plywood in three inch sections with my circular saw. 

Then I assembled the frame and used my kreg jig and wood glue and made pocket holes to join then attached to the back of the cabinet - I tried to make this frame as flush to the cabinet as possible. 

Assembling frame.

Used wood glue and 90 degree clamps to make frame.

Fitting to back of cabinet

Adding to the back of cabinet through pocket holes.
Used 1 1/2 inch kreg jig wood screws.  

Great! Now both cabinets have same depth! 

Next, the top. I decided the piece had to be under 5 foot 3 inches since my wall is 5 foot 4 inches long. 

I had to cut a piece of plywood for the top- I had a scrap piece of 3/4 inch plywood laying around. I cut it to 63 inches long x 22 inches wide, used my circular saw and a guide (clamped 1x2). 

Fitting Nicely. 

Next for the top, I measured all of the flooring and had to cut the ends to size to fit the plywood perfectly, I used my compound miter saw to do this. 

Next, I cut the back and front pieces to fit flush. I used my table saw to rip the flooring, the back piece needed to be cut so it was straight and flush and the front piece needed to be cut down to fit flush. The other 3 flooring pieces are normal 5 inch size.

Dry fitting flooring to top. 

Next, I brought the pieces inside and finished building. 

First thing, the kick plate. This is the one they gave me at the restore- too skinny- so I cut my own out of scrap wood- I had scrap 1x10's that I cut to exactly 1x6 inches. 

Too small. 

Cut the 1x 10's to fit the kick plate, it needed to be 6 inches wide. 

And nailed to the frame. 


Then I started painting..... I used Sherwin Williams Classic Light Buff. 
To match the cabinets that will be going in our new kitchen. 
How did I color match you ask? 
Easy I uploaded my image to sherwin-williams gadget on their website called "chip- it" and they gave me a match chip like this. 

Our Cabinets
After chip- it- Boom color match Classic Light Buff. 

Satin sheen - only needed a quart. 

Laid cabinets on side and pained with a roller. 

After two coats.
 Next, I assembeled and attached the plywood top to the cabinets.

Pre-drilled all holes around the base frame. 

Added 1 1/2 inch wood screws at every side there was an actual frame. 
Next, The flooring:

They were precut - so I just used my favorite flooring adhesive Chemrex cx948 and wood glue.

 Then, I added each precut bamboo flooring piece one by one.

And clamped, clamped, clamped. Leaving overnight to dry.

You can never have too many wood clamps!

Next, I used my Annie Sloan soft wax in "clear" over my paint to seal the paint better and give a nice sheen to the cabinets. I used a rag to wax on - and wax off.

Wax on. 

Wax off. 

Then, I added all of the pulls using a template that I made out of cardboard. I drilled two holes 4 inches apart and used as a template. 

I heart these pulls- here is a link to them on Amazon
Pack of 5 for 23.99! 

Next, The edging. A technique I have never done before. I ordered black walnut veneer edging in 1 1/4 inch from etsy, because I felt the color was the closest to the bamboo flooring. Though I had to order 50 feet of it!!! It comes in a roll and was unfinished but I fixed that later on. 

So you cut a piece that is about an inch too long on either side and you iron it on on the cotton setting. The iron heats the adhesive and adheres to the wood. It was fast and awesome. I want to venner edge everything now!!

Then you take a razorblade and carefully cut off the excess straight and steady.

Next for the front side. That was easy too. 

After attaching all sides I used some paste wax to sort of "wetten" the edging since it came unfinished, it gave it some extra sheen. It will need a few coats.

The edges made the desk look clean and finished. I love how it turned out. 

Here are some glam shots. 

Hope you love this build as much as I did. Drop me a line and don't forget to like me on Facebook. 



  1. Looks awesome! Congratulations! I did a pantry-redo project but I'm not happy with how the countertop turned out over the past two years. I like your use of bamboo flooring. What did you use to "wetten" then edges on the edging?

    1. Oh! And very cool! I have not seen the use of the "I'm not a robot" checkbox where you don't need to type a word or phrase. What did you use to use the checkbox?

    2. I used paste wax to "wetten the edges with a rag. May need a few more coats but I did not want to poly the edges. May need another coat. It's less dull now and looks part of the bamboo. It worked nicely.

  2. I have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in my town as well.

    They have AMAZING stuff !

  3. My favorite part is the top! I've used hardwood flooring for table tops a lot, but none of them looked this good!
    great job.

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