Building a Floating Desk

6 Materials
1 Week

We started our 5 year remodel project in July 2016. One final corner had not been the living room.....where I wanted a floating desk! It was a non-operational wet bar (all plumbing had been cut away under the house many years prior to purchase). This 'bar' had served it's purpose with the lid down and front doors closed, as a location for my heavy HP printer, paper storage under the top, and additional storage below. Since this was the only area of the house we had not plugged entry/exit holes, I suspected this was where my 2020 mouse issue emanated was...found a little nest of chewed paper under the bottom shelf. Those critters had been crawling up the old pipe holes to enter the house. One problem solved! So after visiting YouTube University, I was armed with ideas! But there was still the problem of finding storage for 5 drawers in the old roll top.

LR fireplace, wet bar to right

The wet bar served as my printer stand for the last 4.5 years, with storage for ink and paper below.

Wet bar, totally non-functioning

This is a photo of the wet bar with the cabinet open. The sink had long been disconnected prior to our purchase. I disconnected and removed the sink and fixtures from the cabinet, removed the cabinet top and both doors, then used a sawz-all to saw the cabinet in half for easy removal.

Wet bar removed

Easy to see the prior water damage to the wall and floor from the leaking sink. I treated the old mold with bleach. Cut a new piece of flooring from the removed cabinet wood and sealed two of the the three holes with steel wool and expanding foam. The last hole will be the access for the computer internet wire from under the house. I used dry wall mud to even out the edges where the paint ridge existed. Years of painting left a raised ridge that sanding wouldn't touch. After mudding the walls twice, sanding, using Kilz, and painting, I was ready to start installing the floating shelf.

Installing floating framework

I kept the old lid for the wet bar to use as the bottom shelf for the desk, it was already the perfect size! I located the studs on the front and back wall, and then cut 2 x 4s to the height of the lower shelf to rest and level the 2x4 frame work on the walls, then screwed into the studs with 4 inch decking nails. I had to buy Tapcon screws to put the 2x4 into the brick work on the left. I still have a bruise on my chin where the screw tightened up and the drill kept going, giving me a right upper cut to the chin. Ouch! I installed two 2x4s stacked to attach to desk floor to and the top, giving myself room to create slide out drawers for the inside of the desk.

1st coat of bartop epoxy

I found a Veteran on FB Market that created beautiful wooden flags from white pine. I'm a retired Air Force CMSgt, and loved the idea of seeing the flag as our desk top! He created it to the exact size needed to fit the frame. He kept the blue field the same size as a 30x60 flag, which reduced the dimensions of the stripes. To overcome the 'short' look of the stripes, I installed a mirror on the right side of the desk top to 'artificially lengthen the stripes! Worked perfectly! This is the 1st coat of poured bar top epoxy to give the wooden desk top a working surface. I used painters tape coated on the inside with vaseline so the epoxy did not stick.

Flag desktop with bartop epoxy

2 poured layers of bartop expoxy dried and cured provided a 1/4 inch clear top for the flag. I lightly sanded the edge to take the point off, and sanded the area where the epoxy came through the boards that were not totally sealed/glued 100%. Lesson learned, I should have used a wood putty on the back side to seal the seams prior to using the epoxy.

Top installed

When I had the top made, I asked for an additional board to be stained to hide the floating boards....then decided to make it larger to house 2 drawers. The next photo shows where the board ended up.

Shelves installed with industrial pipe

I have 3 shelves installed in front of the Living Room bay windows, which house my collection of 9 huge violets that bloom year round with the wonderful southern exposure. I created the support for those shelves with industrial iron pipe, and wanted to continue the theme with these shelves. I have curtain rods arriving this week that are also industrial iron pipe in design.

So the extra board was installed in the back side (or top) of the flag. I failed to consider getting cables and cords through the desk and didn't want to cut the bar top expoxy or the flag. I cut a circle into the extra board for wires or cords to come up from the bottom, or go down to a power strip. I used my oscillating saw to cut a portion of the 2x4 directly below this hole to fish wires and cords through without impeding the drawers. Just a reminder, look closely at the now installed mirror on the right wall.....doesn't it lengthen the stripes!!?

Installing under shelf lighting

I wanted lighting that didn't take up room on the desk top, and opted for an 18" LED wired fixture, which I attached to the bottom of the first shelf. I hid the wire along the pipe with a cable tie.

Desk storage area

I had to reduce the junk in 5 drawers in a roll top desk to fix into 2 sliding drawers inside the floating desk. If I hadn't used it in 2 years, it was tossed. I purchased a white pine board (1x4x6) to create the front door for the desk. I used the piano hinge from the wet bar lid to attach the door to the bottom of the desk front and the door, then installed a magnet latch on the left front to ensure it stayed up when closed. I checked with the Vet who made the flag and purchased matching red stain for the front door.

drawer storage in desk

I installed one 30 inch drawer (R side) and an 18 inch drawer (L side) to hold papers, pencils, staples etc. I had one set of good ball bearing drawer slides, and purchased one more to install under the 2 drawers I fashioned from left over wood projects, and spray painted gray. Installing the drawer slides was probably my least favorite part of the project!

Finished desk

The final project without the draft chair, which arrives this week. I'm considering putting one more shelf area under the lower shelf to house envelopes, cards, etc. I so loved the storage nook on the roll top desk, not quite ready to give that up yet! I'll wait for the chair to arrive before posting this project. You can see where the printer ended up, in the wood storage cubby of the fireplace (kind of handy!)

Chair came in ($120 with tax from Sears) and a $20 desktop handy wood shelf for mail, address books, and index cards. Project almost complete... have to admit to wrapping the internet cable around a drill bit trying to enlarge the hole to fit the RJ45 clip back through the hole when relocating the computer to the desk. So many lessons learned..note to self, don't do that again! So after calling AT&T to schedule a home visit from a technician to fix it, I decided to view YouTube university. 2 videos viewed, a trip to Lowes, and $32 later I honed my skills on replacing the clip on a now relocated internet wire (kit included RJ45 clips and a crimper tool) saving myself $68 more for an AT&T service call. Now the project is done!

Suggested materials:
  • Flag desk top $250 custom made   (FB Market)
  • LED under cabinet light, two 15" shelves, industrial iron pipe   (Lowes)
  • Paint, stain, door handle, magnet closet closer, 2 sets drawer slides   (Lowes)
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