For the first time in my life, I built a piece of furniture from scratch—a simple desk with drawers. And the best part of it? Definitely, the fact that it has drawers! Three of them! This girl is pretty darn proud of herself, to say the least. My experience in woodworking projects? Only small pieces like this wooden tray.
Why build a desk and not just buy one? I mean, it is the year 2021, and the price of wood is something ridiculous! Well, it all began with my youngest daughter’s room makeover. The room is small, and the young lady needed something very specific. I get it! When it comes to workspace, I also need to have just the right space.
So, let me tell you the story of how I built a simple desk with drawers.
What I had to work with and what she needed:
- The room is small, so the desk couldn’t be too deep
- She is a young artist with many other hobbies and needs room to spread out, so it had to be a longer than usual desk
- Drawers to store her artwork and supplies would be a great bonus
- The price of wood is through the roof, so I had to come up with an alternative
- Ideally, she preferred a dark wood finish, so I had to find an alternative to that
Was this mom up for the challenge? Heck yes! After overthinking it for several weeks, building it about 29 times in my head, as one does.
The “how-to” part of the title might be a bit misleading. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a rookie at this. Just a mom who built stuff. Not always because I enjoy it so much, but rather to solve a problem. Like a small budget or needing something that doesn’t exist (yet). If it’s fancy technical drawings with precise measurements you need, this is not the post for you.
What I can do, is explain the train of thought of someone who is winging it until it works. There are, however, ladies who are excellent at technical drawings and build furniture like pros. I’ll link them at the end of the post.
Where to begin when building a desk for the first time?
Look to the pros. Measure other desks and find out what the average height of a desk is. That is a good starting point. From there on, you can determine the length of the legs for the desk.
Another critical factor is legroom. I knew I wanted to incorporate drawers in this design, but you don’t want your work area too high or too little space to move your legs freely underneath the desk.
Those two factors will determine how high your drawers can be. In this case, I only had 4 inches to work with. I intended to use that 4 inches to the max. That meant no casing around the drawers. They had to be floating.
These are the things I tried to figure out in my mind before I actually started. The most important decision was what material to use.
Solid wood would have been too expensive. Even plywood didn’t quite fit into my budget. That basically left me with MDF. I considered using a veneer layer but, in the end, decided to dust off my paint technique skills and finish the MDF to look like wood.
- One sheet 8 x 4 feet (¾ inch thick) MDF
- Five 2 x 4 studs (generally used for framing)
- Three pairs of drawer slides
- Three pieces of hardboard with one side in a white melamine finish
- Wood glue
- Kreg jig pocket Screws
- Wood filler