A Simple Desk

In March of 2020, when everyone in the family was told to stay home for remote work, and remote learning, we found ourselves with a need for some desks. That first weekend, I built myself a standing desk. I had a nice adjustable one at the office, but since I was not at the office, and expected to be back soon, I slapped together some rough 2x4s and 2x3s along with an MDF board I had and presto. A standing desk. Completely unfinished other than a roundover on the top and some sanding. Bare wood. Quick and dirty, but it worked. I didn’t even stop to take pictures, just get it built so I could keep working. Thankfully my wife took a a few pictures to show a co-worker.

My younger daughter worked at the dining room table for the remainder of the school year. Come the new school year, it became clear that she was going to need a desk. Previously she had not wanted one in her room. Just didn’t have a need for it, but circumstances had changed. Together we looked at places for it, and taped out the dimensions on the floor so she could see how it would fit. Then I set about making it.

Test fitting the desk before applying any finish

This was not going to be heirloom furniture, it simply had to be functional, and quick. The legs are 2x3s sanded smooth, but not milled in any way – my shop wasn’t really functional at this time. I used 1×3 FJ pine as stretchers, attached with pocket screws. I also added a lower set of stretchers to give it more stability, and some crosspieces from front to back to keep the top rigid. The desktop was the remaining piece of MDF that I had in the house, meaning no trips out of the house for materials on this project. A roundover was added, along with small 45 degree cuts to soften the corners, and lots of sanding to be sure there were no sharp edges anywhere. Lastly, a mouse hole was cut in the top for monitor and power cords. The desk got a coat of white primer, and two coats of semigloss white to match the trim in her room. The top got 3-4 coats of heavy duty polyurethane (leftover from our wood floors) and that turned out to be a nice finish for it. I sanded it carefully between coats and wiped it clean with alcohol after sanding. A year later, the finish has held up well. Looking back, there are certainly things that I could have made nicer, but speed was the goal and hers turned out much nicer than the one I had made myself. The longest part of the project was letting the coats of poly dry.

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