DIY Counter Height Desk System

Don’t let power tools intimidate you.  Once you start to use them, they get really addicting really fast.  My first build was a few years ago: a simple cupcake stand for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  Y’all, I had no idea what I was doing when I first started. But the sisters at Shanty 2 Chic, Ana White and a ton of other Pinterest contributors all had tutorials that taught me about the wide range of tools out there and different building methods, and here I am four years later with over half of the furniture in our house coming from my makeshift garage workshop.

Rule #1: Don’t let power tools intimidate you.

Rule #2: Be safe.  Always wear protective gear and be aware of your surroundings during a build.

That said, here is the tutorial for building the L-shape desk system I made for our home office. This has a lot of steps, but is a really simple concept and easy to build. The entire desk is built out of 2x4s making it super sturdy and inexpensive!!! The system is made of two desks that move independently of one another.  As both pieces are built exactly the same way (except one desk is 12″ shorter length-wise than the other), this tutorial is for the longer desk piece in this system.  To make the second desk piece, subtract 12″ from all lengthwise measurements.  Your width and height pieces will remain the same.

The dimensions of this desk are 60″ l x 20″ w x 38 1/2″ h.

This is a modification of this desk I found on Ana-White’s blog. Be sure to check out her site. She’s an incredible inspiration!

DIY Counter Height Desk System

What you’ll need:

2x4s
2 1/2″ pocket hole screws
Kreg Jig
Miter saw
Drill
Clamps (right angle and C)
Orbital sander
Paint/Stain of your choice

 

Start by building the sides of your frame.  I cut two pieces of 2x4s at 37″ each (these will be the legs) and one piece at 13″ (this will connect the legs).

DIY Counter Height Desk

Using your Kreg Jig (or mini in my case), drill four pocket holes into the 13″ piece of 2×4.  Clamp this piece in place between the two 37″ 2x4s and connect with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

DIY Counter Height Desk

Each side will resemble an upside down U.  Next, cut another 13″ piece of 2×4 for each of your side frames and connect them via pocket hole screws.  I placed this piece 12″ below the top of the frame.  Once connected, you will have one piece resembling an A (see below).  Repeat this step to form the other side of your frame.

DIY Counter Height Desk

Here is where your right angle clamp comes in.  You can do this without one, but you will definitely need an extra set of hands.  Measure and cut two 57″ pieces of 2×4.  These two pieces will complete the apron of the desk.  Drill two pocket holes in either side then, using your right angle clamp, connect the front and back aprons to the side pieces from the previous step.

DIY Counter Height Desk

Finally, cut a third 57″ piece and connect it to the back side of the frame using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.  Again, I chose to place mine 12″  below the top of the frame.  The key is to ensure these secondary supports line up with their counterparts on each side.  Once you’ve connected this piece, your frame is finished!

DIY Counter Height Desk

Now on to the fun part: the planked top! I used my miter saw to cut 6 2x4s down to 62″ lengths which gave me a 1″ overhang on either side of the desk. Once they’re all cut, drill four pocket holes evenly spaced on the back side of each 2×4 and lay them out topside down, side by side.

DIY Counter Height Desk

You can use a straight edge clamp to hold all six pieces together or, rather than buy one, you can use C-clamps and connect two at a time.  Either way, connect them with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws pocket hole screws and repeat until all six of your boards are connected as one piece.

DIY Counter Height Desk

The final step is to connect the top to your frame.  Using your kreg jig, drill one pocket hole on either side of the front and back of your frame (that’s four total).  Line the top of the frame with wood glue. Lay your planked top flat, bottom side up, turn your frame upside down and center it over your top. Put 2 1/2″ screws through those four pocket holes you drilled in the frame to connect the frame to the top, and your desk is built!

Fill in your pocket holes with wood filler and then sand down the entire thing to give it a smooth finish.  If you are staining your desk, this will help the wood to take the stain more evenly.  Finish your desk with the paint or stain of your choice.  I chose Rustoleum bright white enamel for the frame (super easy to wipe down) and mixed Minwax Weathered Oak and Classic Gray to stain the top.

DIY Counter Height Desk

Now sit back and enjoy your creation!

DIY Counter Height Desk

DIY Counter Height Desk

DIY Counter Height Desk

DIY Counter Height Desk

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  We’d love to know how yours turned out!

Jess Signature

 

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