No-glue, no-cut solid wood desk

I need to upload these to share them elsewhere, and, as it turns out, I never did a blog entry about my desk/table I made.

On building a proper desk. Everyone needs a proper, sturdy and spacious desk. In my opinion that’s about a 3′x6′ desk. I actually built the entire thing upside down in the parking lot behind the house/quadplex I live in. Building furniture from scratch in your backyard is a good way to meet your neighbors! My no cut, no glue wooden guitar stand how-to has been very successful. This project was done in the same fashion – all the cuts were made by professionals for free at the hardware store – I simply took it home, screwed it together and painted on th finish. You could easily follow these same instructions and make an 8′ no cut, no glue dining room table for your cabin in the woods just the same.


More below the cut…

The top of the desk is simply two pine 2×12″s (LUMBER – CHEAP… $12 each), 12′ long each, cut in half to a length of 6′ (leaving you with an extra 6′ 2×12″ for a future project(!)) Actually this is another one of my famous “no cut, no glue” projects. Yes, I had everything cut to measure at the hardware store(!!). So you have three pine planks, which are then screwed to a 2×6″ plank cut (positioned in the “vertical” orientation) a couple inches short of the three 12″ planks placed next to one another. I used L shaped brackets to connect the first and third to the 2×6″, but not the second. This makes sense in a second if you think about it (keep in mind we’re building this on an uneven parking lot surface/spare flip flop).

So we attach the 1st and 3rd planks to the 2nd using 6″ steel mending plates, four total, spaced about 2′ apart from each other. Screw the planks together using the mending plates on a semi-flat surface; I used a flip flop to “level” the planks as best I could, which it turns out is “good enough”. The first and third planks are positioned flat to the 2×6″, and then the 2nd plank is positioned flat to the first and third planks. Finally you attach the second (middle) plank to the 2×6″s on either end of the table and you end up with a squared, unskewed table, built upside down in the uneven parking lot!


Legs are simply purchased from the hardware store. I went with the fancy type and they were about $10 a piece, which litterally doubled the cost of the project, but give the table the impression that it wasn’t just assembled in the parking lot last week.

Legs are screwed into the 2×6″ crossbeams using L brackets, and then secured with 4″ mending plates. Surprisingly sturdy, and not wobbly in the least. I’ve been using this desk daily since July and haven’t had a single problem with it. I should probably reassert how sturdy the 6″ mending plates are and how much they lend to the table. Each plank is 6′ long, from one end measure 2 feet, mark, measure two more feet, mark. At each mark is where you place your mending plate, 3″ of steel screwed to each plank. The result is a very, very sturdy structure that you could use for a front door. These mending plates provide the backbone for the table and the legs are simply there to keep it from falling to the floor. When I move I’ll simply unscrew the 2×6″ crossbeams from the top and leave the 2×12″s attached via the mending plates.

The table is finished in Minwax oil based stain called “red mahogany”, which, if you let it cure properly before using, is a very durable finish. I let it dry 24 hours before bringing it indoors, and there are red mahogany colored marks on all the doorways. There’s a wear mark from where I rested my hands on the edge of the table while typing, but the wear occured in the first month of use and hasn’t grown/faded any more since. I suspect you really need a good month’s worth of cure time before you introduce any great amount of moisture/palm sweat. I place my optical mouse right on the finish and have zero problems with wear of the finish there either.

I should point out that this is also a “no sand” project. The finish does a good job of filling any small gaps and creates a very smooth, sponge-wipeable finish for cleaning. Also by not sanding, the wood has a lot more character and gives the table a very rustic, antique feel to it.

Total cost including mending plates, tabletop lumber, and legs was less than $120. This beats the hell out of buying a table from Ikea for double the price, as not only is it made of solid wood, but sturdy 2×12″ pine wood. You can dance on it, pound your fist on it, lay a lit cigar on it and not worry that it’s going to crack from the stress or surface irreparably marred.

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1 Response to No-glue, no-cut solid wood desk

  1. Heather says:

    I love your desk! After searching through other websites and searching on craigslist forever, I googled images under solid wood desks and this caught my eye. This is exactly what I want in my home. Great work and thanks for the inspiration.

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