Modern work desk – DIY (Watch Video)
This week I was asked by my friend to build a modern work desk for him. I thought of making this desk with pine, mdf and plywood. The desk will have a small drawer and a shelf.
I start to make the legs of the work desk first. Each leg is made of 3×1 inch Pine strips. Two pine strips will be finger jointed to make one leg.
The sides of the pine strips are cleaned and made straight on the table saw. The wood has bend in it. I will correct it when I make the legs.
All the legs are give thorough sanding with 80 grit sandpaper. This will remove all imperfections and make the wood smooth. You can see the difference on the wood after sanding.
To make the finger joint I start marking every inch on one side of the leg. Then I transfer the marks to the other leg. Using a square make the job easier. I also marked alternatively on where to cut and leave to make the finger joint.
Based on the marking made I start to remove material. I don’t have a dado stack so I just make several passes to make the finger joint. I sneak up on the mark first and then begin to remove the material in between. I just had to repeat this on all eight legs sides.
I dropped some fevicol glue on each of the finger and spread them on all the sides. Then slowly started sliding one side into the other.
By very gently tapping the mallet on the sides I was able to get joint right. Because the wood was bent I used some clamps alternatively to hold everything tight until the glue dried.
After the glue dried the legs were passed through the table saw. This cleaned the glue squeeze out and the finger joints. Without changing the fence distance I ran the other side of the leg too on the table saw.
Now the finger joints look super good.
All the legs of the modern work desk had to be of the same height. So I stack the legs on a miter sled and cut them carefully.
Now to join these four legs and make a frame I had to cut couple of more strips of pine. After cleaning the wood strips I split them into equal halves on the table saw.
To attach these strips and make the frame I drilled some pilot holes before attaching them to the leg. I drilled holes on the shorter side piece too.
Then with glue and screw I attach to – what will be the, top end of the table. It will all make sense once I finish it. And that’s the last piece of the frame.
I cut some more pieces of pine to make the leg rest of the modern work desk. It is going to be a cross design so I need two pieces.
Using the 45degree sled I cut ‘V’ shape into the leg rest pieces. This ‘V’ shape would fit between the legs snugly.
For better feel I round the edges. Be careful about the direction of rotation and feed the wood into the router.
The round over left a small mark so I sand it down with orbital sander.
At the point where the leg rest crosses to make an ‘X’ I wanted to make a half lap joint. So I cut through half the width on each piece.
To attach the leg rest to the legs I used L-brackets. This scrap piece of plywood will make sure I set the L-bracket at the same distance in all the legs. These L-brackets are make of steel and take the 70kg weight.
I position the two cross pieces to make the leg rest. With a little adjustment the half lap joint fits perfectly. Using screws I joined these leg rest to the L-brackets.
Also where the half lap overlaps I drove in a screw to keep the joint strong.
To give more strength to the leg frame I drive in some screws from the side of the leg into the cross pieces. I first drilled a pilot hole, counter sunk it and then screwed in.
Then I took some fine saw dust to hide the hole. I filled the hole with saw dust and glue till it was little over the surface. Then after it dried I sanded it down flush.
Modern work desk – I make the drawer next.
First I cut the side piece. Then drill some holes to attach the L-Bracket. These L-Brackets then get screwed into the sides of the frame.
To make the other side I cut two piece of plywood to size. Then glue them and clamp it together.
The reason for two pieces is because this goes in between the legs. And for the slider to come out the full length, it needs to clear the leg.
Now I can add the bottom. I draw a line to drill the holes and then attach it on the underside with glue and screw.
I closed the back with another scrap piece of plywood. With that the box for the drawer is ready.
Now I can attach the sliders. I used a spacer to raise the slider a bit and then screwed it into place. I did the same on the other side too.
In places like these we can use the scrap pieces of plywood laying around.
I made the drawer by holding the sides in place before I screwed it together. I used glue and counter sunk all the holes.
To create the bottom piece I cut some 6mm plywood. Then drew some line where I need to drill. I attached it with some glue and lots of screws.
Now the drawer can go into its place. I pull out the extendable part of the slider and screw it into the drawer. The drawers works perfectly.
To make the face plate I used another scrap piece. Then cut some veneer and stuck it using 3M tape. Then I trimmed out the edges on the table saw.
To cover the end cuts I used hard wood strips. I stuck them with glue and brad nails.
Before I attached the face plate I put some double sided tape. This held the face plate in place when I pulled the drawer out. Then I screwed it in place from inside.
I drilled some holes to put the pull knob in place. I attached it with the screws that it came with.
Modern work desk – Making the shelf.
I had cut MDF to make the shelf and wanted it to be covered with some veneer. So I used 3M tape and cover the edges and inside of the veneer. Covering the edges is very important so that the veneer does not tear out later.
Then I trim the edges on the table saw.
The studs with which I am going to attach the shelf came with these open ends. I mark the place and then drill holes to attach it with nut and bolt.
Then these steel studs just screw on the end caps.
Now I keep the shelf on the stud and mark where to drill the hole. Then using the forstner bit I drill a bit larger hole. This gives me a little bit of play to adjust the shelf if required.
Using the given screw heads I tighten the shelf.
The other side of the shelf is attached to the leg with L-brackets.
Modern work desk – Making the table top.
The base of the modern work desk’s table top is made of MDF. I cut some pine strips from which I am going to mill even thickness of pine strips. And its going to be a lot of them.
The important point to remember is that all the pine strips need to be of the same thickness.
I stick these strips to MDF using wood glue and brad nails. I followed the bricks pattern that mason’s use. This gave me a nice order to follow. I made sure to leave no gaps between each strips. This would give a clean look when done.
Still because the pine was bent it did have some gaps which I was able to hide with glue and saw dust. This saw dust I was able to collect when I sanded the legs earlier.
While that dried I grind down the nails that had shot on the other side of the MDF. I dint have a shorter nail with me so I just used what I had and grounded it later.
This was so much fun do it.
All the strips that I stuck earlier were hanging out unevenly. So using a straight edge I trimmed out on all the corners.
Now to trim the edges of this table top I used some red coloured wood. This wood was very dense so had a difficult time cutting it.
Then I rounded of just one side of the red wood.
Using the 45degree sled I cut the pieces to length and attached it to the table using glue and brad nails. For the back side I cut it into two pieces to leave a small slot in between for the wires to pass. Incase if I want to use a desk lamp.
I covered the edges of the MDF with smaller strips of the red coloured wood. I glued them in place and held it with some painter’s tape until it dried.
I painted the underside of the top with white paint. I keep the rest of the frame on the top.
I attach the frame by first drilling some pilot holes, counter sink them and then attaching it with screws. I did not use glue for easy access. I did the same on the other longer sides of the frame.
For the side with the drawer I could not use the same method. So I used L-brackets to attach the frame to the table top.
Before finishing the wood I gave the entire table a good sanding with 220grit. I curved the edges too while sanding.
Then used Asian paints Touchwood to finish the table.
Before the second coat I sanded again with 320grit.
Finish the wood is the best part of the entire work. I gave the same treatment for the legs too but this was much better to show on camera.
With the table is ready. I wanted the table to look simple but entirely made with hard wood. Oh! By the way my friend was very happy to see his new table.