Concrete and Wood Desk Organizers

2 Materials
4 Days
I love experimenting with concrete and wood. I've definitely had some failures, but without experimenting I wouldn't have gotten these gems. I love how these two different desk organizers turned out. They're both different and serve slightly different purposes. One works best as a planter and pen holder and the other is great for holding pens and Post-its. With slightly different wood lengths or concrete hole sizes you have a bunch of great ways to customize your own project.
There are two options to start. The first is to slide a piece of wood into the side of a milk or orange juice carton. I cut the cedar board to be the exact width of the carton and cut a hole in the side of the carton that was the exact height of the cedar board.
The second option is to build a box to hold the concrete out of coated MDF to perfectly fit the size of your wood tray. In this photo, the clamps are holding on sides to the tray. I glued the sides on first for this model. I also coated the inside corners of the box with silicone so the concrete didn't leak into the cracks.
On both models I put small screws into the wood that would be covered with concrete (inside the box or carton) to give the concrete something additional to bond to.
Then, pour the concrete into your forms. I used concrete countertop mix. For this model, I pushed a plastic cup into the concrete when the form was about half full and then poured the rest of the concrete around it. This will create the hole for holding pens/pencils or a plant.
Another option, that I used for the other model, is taping off one end of a toilet paper roll and pushing it into the concrete to make the hole. Whatever you use to create the hole in the concrete, but sure to tape it down so the drying concrete doesn't push it up and out.
This is how the concrete looks after drying. This is the milk carton mold model. Because this was just a flat board into the milk carton form, I added rails to the cedar board afterwards. I simply used wood glue and clamps. I cut 45-degree angles on the ends of each rail for a unique style, but feel free to be creative here.
Part of the wood had chipped and it had some unique imperfections, so I decided to run with it. I used a Dremel to rough up much of the wood edges. I cut dozens of grooves into the wood and it also left a burned look.
This is the finished product, after my work with the Dremel tool.
I sprayed the entire piece (both wood and concrete) with a clear lacquer to finish it off.
This model was great for holding pens or pencils and Post-its.
This is the other finished model. This is the one that had an MDF box frame for the concrete and had rails already glued onto the edges of the wood plank before pouring concrete.
The hole made in concrete with the plastic cup ended up being the perfect size for a fake plant.
Which model do you prefer? The cut and burned Post-it holder or the "cleaner" plant holder with a full tray? I'd love to hear your opinions. And, if you give it a try yourself, I'd love to see the alterations you make and your own unique styles. Post photos in the comments! Follow me on Instagram at   @woodyworking for more simple woodworking DIY or home improvement projects. Happy building!

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Frequently asked questions

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  2 questions
  • Jeanne Allo Achille Jeanne Allo Achille on Feb 14, 2020

    Could plaster of paris work?

  • Tish Tish on Feb 05, 2021

    Did you *jiggle* the mold for the concrete to make sure you got the air bubbles out or did you just do a slow pour? Or... did you want a rough look to go with your almost “shou sugi ban” look of the wood?

    And, don’t you just love your Dremel? 😍 I can’t live without mine! I also want to thank you for a post that’s coherent with perfect grammar and spelling... concise, clearly written, and humorous. Keep up the good work all around! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽


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2 of 35 comments
  • Doug & Dianne Doug & Dianne on Feb 14, 2020

    What a unique idea and what a great gift this would make for people who work in an office or even for a home office.

  • Zeze Zeze on Feb 06, 2021

    Awesome idea!! This will make a great gift..thanks for sharing.