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Modern Desk DIY

Hello all!  Yesterday I revealed the home office makeover I’ve been working on for months and today I wanted to share with you how I built the massive modern desk I designed.  My husband previously had a L shaped desk and has mentioned to me numerous times that he wanted a “U” shaped desk.  Of course, this presented itself as a challenge to me, so I had to make it happen.  Take a gander through the project, but don’t worry I’m having some plans drawn up soon.  Until then if you have questions ask away!

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

When I say “modern desk”, I mean I wanted it to have a 60ish, Don-Draper-y sort of feel.  I was inspired by this amazing desk from my friend Iris Nacole.  After deciding on the shape and style I talked to my husband about drawers and cabinets.  Since his last desk looked like this all the time, he thought the cabinets and drawers were just places for things to collect and not be seen.  So, he decided he didn’t want any.  I did construct the top in a way that would allow for a drawer to be added later in case he changes his mind on this one.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I’ve used this craft board before on my home bar build and I love it, so I decided to go with it again. It’s constructed with a beautiful grain that makes it easy to get that butcher block look even if you don’t have the equipment to make it yourself.  I love that the strips of wood are all a little different and it’s super smooth, but you can still see some grain and knots.  Plus the edges look a lot nicer than plywood.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I started by  measuring the space and finding the biggest sized boards I could find that would fit.  I laid them out in a way that looked like it was going to work, allowing enough space for the chair to swivel around in the middle.  I thought the front side could be a little smaller and the back a little longer, just to give it a little more interesting look.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I wanted the front to have that thick, box-y look so I originally thought I would do this with thick cubby-like shelves underneath.  But, once I got to thinking about it, I thought 12″ might be too much for the space between your knees and the top of the desk.  I started reading online and I was right, the distance needs to be 5″ at most.  So, I decided to leave a longer space on either side and raise the middle up a bit.  This way, he still has room to stack his papers and journal articles.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I constructed it all using a bunch of pocket holes wood glue.  Have I mentioned I love my Kreg jig? Like I said before, Jamison from Rogue Engineer is going to be writing up some plans for this desk soon, so I’ll update then!

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I used a 2×4 under the shorter part to add some support.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Next I attached the bottom shelf of the shorter part.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Then I basically just laid the top on using pocket holes hidden underneath. I actually had trouble getting into the tight little space.  In hindsight, I would build this whole desk upside down.  But, since I was sort of figuring it out as I went, I had to work it out. I ended up getting a flexible drill bit holders to get back into the areas the drill was too big to get into.

Then I added some boards to give it a little more support.  I cut the boards a little shorter to allow the cords from the computers to run inside the desk, but behind the support boards.  I also thought these little support boards would be perfect if I wanted to add a drawer in later.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

The last thing I did before staining was that I added some holes along the back side to hide all the cords from the monitors and lamp.  I hate seeing cords. The cords now run down into those holes and behind the supports I added in the last step. I also stained it in Minwax Special Walnut.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Next, it was time to add the legs.  I thought hairpin legs would look cool and help me achieve that modern desk look, but since I needed a lot of legs to hold this massive thing up, I couldn’t find any hairpin legs I could afford.  So, I went with these some cheap wood legs. A lot of them – 14 to be exact!

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I also bought some cheap attachment plates, and attached them to the bottom.  I used 4 under each of the longer ‘cubby” spaces on both end.  I put three legs in each of the other two corners.  This is supportive enough, but still lets him roll all the way around in his chair under the desk.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I had to shave the leg parts under the cubby parts down a bit.  I just took the screw out of the legs with some pliers and a towel, cut the legs down and then drilled a new hole, sanded it down and then reattached the screw with a wrench and nut.  To get a similar look to the hairpin legs, I spray painted the legs black and then used a couple of coats of the protective coating.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

I did have to call in some friends to help move the desk.  It wasn’t too bad to move, but once we got it into the office, I had to attach all the legs and that part was a bit annoying.  The guys had to stand and hold it while I got them all screwed in and leveled off.  Because there is a total of 14 legs, that took a little time than anticipated.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

So, I was able to get the stuff my husband wanted out of his new modern desk and the style I wanted.  Success!  And now I’m ready to move out of this office and onto the next room.  Just have to decide what it is going to be.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Get all the details on the home office remodel HERE.

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

As always, thanks for following along!

April

Modern Desk DIY

Modern Desk DIY - Uncookie Cutter

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18 Comments

  1. This is so awesome! I was hoping someone would come up with a good way to replicate the look of that desk since I have only seen it come up for sale once since I got it. You’ve done an amazing job creating a functional and stylish space for your husband! He sure looks like he’s enjoying it already!!

    1. I loved the desk you picked so much but couldn’t find it for sale either on the website. Thanks so much for the inspiration and the kind words!

  2. April, this is incredible! I love the size, the natural look, the faux hairpin treatment on the legs… wow!! How much would you charge to come to Ohio and teach me to build things like this!? So awesome!!

    1. I don’t, I basically just pieced together the boards using pocket holes in the shape I wanted. This was made before I started drawing plans :). I just attached the hairpin legs to the bottom. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. I love this desk. I want to remake it with some slight modifications that will work better for me. What are the sizes of the panels you used? Also, where do you get them?

    1. Thank you! I’m not sure of the exact size, but I got those panels at Lowes, near the 1x lumber. My husband loves this desk and it’s held up well – no problems! If you make it, I’d love to see. Come back and share a pic!

      1. I’ll be happy to show you when it gets done, but the panels I’ve found at Lowe’s and elsewhere are narrower than yours looks. Are my eyes deceiving me? Would you mind sharing the dimensions of the desk? You can probably tell, I’m not a construction engineer.

        1. Hello! Sorry again, the blog has definitely had to take a backseat this year. I just measured and each panel is 2’x6′. Hope that helps!

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