It’s been a while since I’ve shared build plans with you guys so I spent some time over my Thanksgiving break preparing the modern desk build plans that I designed and built for season 6 of the Instagram Builders Challenge.
I went with a mix of wood and a faux metal look that I achieved using Rustoleum soft iron spray paint.
I also lucked out and got a butcher block oak countertop from ikea for $20! It’s usually way more than $20 so for the plans you’ll see that I’ve designed it with ripped down 2×6 boards for the top. Since the top was oak I used oak for the pieces that were stained.
I opted for pine for the pieces that were spray painted to cut down the cost. The entire desk can be made in pine if you want to cut down the overall cost and I’ve designed the plans for pine boards so keep that in mind if you change the type of wood you use.
Below is a view of the finished desk from the front. What do you think? She’s beautiful, isn’t she?
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(3) – 2×6 x 96″ boards
(5) – 2×4 x 96″ boards
(2) – 1×6 boards
(3) – 1×2 boards
(1) – 1×4 board
(1) – 2’x4′ plywood sheet (1/2″)
(12) – 2″ Screws
(4) – 1 1/4″ Screws
(90) -1 1/4″ brad nails
(32) -2″ brad nails
(52) – 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws
(105)- 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
Cut List – Modern desk build plans
*Note that to achieve the finish that I used I actually stained and applied polyurethane to the wood components and spray painted the painted components prior to assembling the desk. Scroll down past step 22 to see how I finished the pieces if you want the same look for your desk.
Make two of the legs shown below. You will need one for both the left and the right side of the desk.
Drill pocket holes into the top and bottom boards as shown. Then use wood glue and pocket hole screws to attach the top and bottom to the front and back of the desk legs.
Drill pocket holes into the bottom of the center support desk leg and attach it to the front and back of the desk leg using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
For the top of this leg I used wood glue to attach it to the front and back legs and clamped it overnight to get a secure joint. If you’re short on time and cant wait for it to set for several hours you can use a few brad nails to attach it as shown below.
To make the bottom shelf, first drill pocket holes into the 1×6 board and then attach the two 1×6 boards using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Then, drill pocket holes into the the top of the two short trim 1×2 boards as shown below. You will need these pocket holes to be accessible after you attach the 1×6 boards as shown in the photo a little further down in this post so be sure to keep that in mind.
Attach the trim pieces using wood glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails.
In the picture below you can see where I’ve placed the pocket holes in the short trim pieces. Note that I used biscuits to join the two center boards (that’s why you don’t see pocket holes there).
To make the top, drill pocket holes into the ripped down 2×6 boards and attach using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Drill pocket holes into each of the 1×2 boards as shown below. Be sure to only do this on one side of the boards.
Then, attach the 1×2 boards to the underside of the top as shown below using wood glue and 2″ screws. Be sure to align the 1×2 boards so that the pocket hole side is on the inside of the desk.
To make the face frame, first drill pocket holes as shown below. Then attach the boards together using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
For the drawer section, drill pocket holes into the 1×6 boards as shown below. Note that one of the 1×6 boards needs to be ripped down to 4 1/2″ to get the overall length to 21″
Rails are needed to install the drawer slides in a later step. Attach the rails as shown below using wood glue and 2″ brad nails.
This step is very similar to step 7 but the dimensions are slightly different. Drill pocket holes into the 1×6 boards as shown below. Note that one of the 1×6 boards needs to be ripped down to 4 1/2″ to get the overall length to 21″
Attach the rails as shown below using wood glue and 2″ brad nails.
Drill pocket holes into the two back 1×2 supports.
With the top upside down as shown below, attach the left leg to the top using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Attach the left drawer section wall using wood glue and pocket hole screws. You will drill pocket hole screws into the top and both sides of the leg. Remember that you are working with the desk upside down. Note the alignment in the second graphic below.
Align the left drawer section wall to be flush with the front and back legs so that there is 2″ between the outside of the desk and drawer section wall.
Align the face frame so that it is flush with the back side of the front leg. In other words, inset it 3/4″ from the front of the desk
Attach the 1×2 face frame to the right leg using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Attach the center leg to the face frame using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Just like step 11, attach the right drawer section wall using wood glue and pocket hole screws. Attach it to the top and sides of the center leg. See note on alignment below*
Remember to align it to be flush with the inside of the center leg (2″ from the outside of the center leg as shown in the graphic below)
Attach the first of the back supports to the left and center leg as shown in the graphic below.
Then, attach the second back support as shown in the graphic below.
Attach the right leg using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Attach the bottom shelf to the left and center legs using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Attach the drawer slides to the four rails per the manufacturers instructions. The space that you have to work with is tight so I HIGHLY recommend getting a Palm Impact Screwdriver if you don’t already have one. It’s very difficult to work in such a small space without one. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Build drawer boxes that will fit into the opening and fit with the drawer slides. Since drawer slide requirements vary based on manufacturer, the dimensions of the boxes may vary depending on which slides are used.
To build the drawers, a simple method would be to use 1×4 boards for the front back and sides and some 1/2″ plywood for the bottom. You can attach them using wood glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails as shown above.
Install the drawer boxes per the manufacturers instructions. You’ll want the front of the drawer boxes to be flush with the front of the face frame.
Attach the drawer fronts to the drawer boxes using 1-1/4″ screws. Align them so that there is a 3/4″ gap all around each of the two drawer fronts.
Attach the drawer pulls using the hardware that is supplied with the pull handles.
How to match the finish that I used
Sand all pieces first with 120 grit paper and then with 220 grit. Use wood filler if needed at joints to get a smooth finish.
Since I didn’t apply the same finish to the entire piece, I built the components that I could ahead of time and then applied stain and polyurethane or spray paint to the components. Below you can see that I finished the top, bottom shelf, side walls, face frame, back supports and drawer fronts with early american stain and polyurethane.
For the legs, I used soft iron spray paint by rustoleum. Don’t be a dummy like me, be sure to prime your legs before you spray them. I think I ended up using 6 cans of spray paint when it was all said and done. Priming first would have significantly cut down the number of spray paint coats that I needed. I also sprayed the pull knobs to match the legs.
Here is a close up of the two tone finish. I just love the look of early american stain with soft iron spray paint. If you remember, I’ve used this before on my Ikea forhoja hack.
And here is the final desk.
I couldn’t be happier with how this desk turned out. When my husband and I finish our basement we’re going to build him a proper office down there and then this desk will go in one of our guest bedrooms. My plan it to make nightstands to match the desk along with a headboard to complete the set.
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Happy building friends!
I absolutely lover this thanks for the plans !
You’re welcome Shellie.
Just curious, what system do you use to create your plans?
Hi Emily. I use the free version of sketchup for all of my plans.
Thanks for sharing this! All the best!