Is it just me or is furniture hard to get your hands on right now? My son wanted a new desk for his computer room, where he goes to school (and games). We found one he liked on Pottery Barn. It’s one of those modular style desks that you can customize with different pieces.
Fortunately for my wallet, it wasn’t available. I went in search of a corner desk DIY to try. I found several and decided with the help of my handyman, who wielded he saw, it was doable. I’m also taking part in a hop with other talented bloggers today all sharing their building projects (click the link to skip to that).
Below are the details of the desk plan and the process. All told, it took two days. One for the building and a few hours on different days for the sanding and staining.
corner desk plan
As with any building project, the first step is always to measure. Always twice like the saying goes: measure twice, cut once. This is my measurement for the space and the top of the desk. I can’t live without a bullet journal.
I wanted to make the sides of the “L” deeper than 20 inches. That didn’t work because the deeper the sides get, the smaller the corner edge gets. I can’t stress how important accurately measuring is before you start building. Measure the chair height, measure the chair width, measure where outlets are, etc.
Supplies for the corner desk
My supplies all came from Home Depot and Target. I’ve linked to them here.
- 4’x8′ poplar plywood. Poplar wood is supposed to stain better than the other woods that were available. I had them cut the sheet of wood into two 4-foot squares.
- Three 1.5″ x 1.5″ poplar balusters.
- Three corner braces.
- Wood glue.
- Wood screws (1.5″)
- Two bookshelves – these are from Target and they come in three finishes. I like drawers, but some people in my family don’t seem to close drawers. Is this a teenager thing? Shelves fit the bill because they are also much easier to assemble.
- Wood trim – I chose a simple trim. We used 2 – 8 foot pieces.
- Espresso Stain – I used a water based, gloss that is Poly + Stain. Two small jars was enough to stain the desk and all the parts three times.
- 400 grit sand paper and hand sander.
- Finish nail gun with finish nails.
The project required a table saw, which I don’t own. My handyman made all of the cuts for me.
Step 1 – Cut Desk top
The size of your corner piece will be dependent on the depth of your two side pieces. This is the formula that worked for me.
- Step 1: Cut a 38″ square.
- Step 2: Cut two side pieces that are 20 inches x 36 inches. You can change the 36 inches to something smaller or larger, but don’t mess with the 20 inch depth.
- Step 3: Lay the pieces on the ground. Draw a diagonal line on your 38″ piece at 20″.
- Step 4: Lay the pieces on the ground to make sure the fit is right.
Step 2 – Attach Legs and brackets
The sides of the desk have the support of a bookshelf. You can build the bookshelves, but I wanted to save time with this step so I purchased two shelves for $20 each.
The corner piece of the desk is supported by metal brackets, panels of wood on the underside (we used 10 inches x 15 inches) that attach to the sides and triangular supports. If you can fasten the corner to a wall you might be able to do without one of these supports and use the wall for stability. My desk is going up against windows so I needed the desk to stand alone.
- Cut three 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch balusters.legs to the same height as the bookshelves. My bookshelves are 30 inches high.
- Cut support pieces of wood out of the scraps to line the back sides of the corner piece. Our support pieces were 3/4 inches x 3 inches x 36 inches (to leave room for a 1.5 inch leg at each end).
- Drill pocket holes in the support panels to attach to the top. This step is optional, but it feels more secure. My trusty handyman, Grant, said that the wood glue is even stronger than the screws.
- Attach the legs first with wood glue and then with a corner bracket.
- From the back side of the corner piece, add screws that go through the support panels and into the legs.
Assemble sides of desk
I have a small house and I knew that a desk as large as this would need to be brought inside in pieces. We drilled holes for the bottom supports and left them unattached. When I brought the desk inside, I just needed to attach a few screws to the bottom.
- Mark off where the bookshelf will attach to the bottom with a pencil.
- Cover the area with wood glue and set the bookshelf on top.
- You can pre-drill the holes on the bottom of the support piece that will attach the corner to the sides. These last screws can be added when you get the desk in place.
- Repeat this on the other side.
Optional step – The bookshelves are open on the back side. I was imagining lots of things getting shoved through the back. We added scrap wood to the back of the bookshelves to make it harder for things to fall out the back of the desk.
Flip the pieces over and make sure they fit together. This is what the desk looks like without trim. We decided at this point to add cross brace pieces between the legs in a “V” shape using more scrap wood.
add trim to the front of the desk
I wanted to trim out the front edges of the desk. This isn’t a required step, but I thought it would look more finished. Figuring out the trim pieces for the sides was pretty simple since the angles were 45 degrees. The corner angles are a bit more complicated. As always, it pays to measure twice and cut once.
We measured the angles for the trim pieces in the drawing below. I learned from Grant that you should get a little more trim than you think you need. He also taught me that undercutting the angles and trimming them until you get them exactly right is the best thing to do for the tricky angles.
Attach the trim using a nail finish nail gun and finish nails.
Sand and Stain
The next step in the process is to sand and stain the wood. I sanded lightly with a hand held sander using 400 grit sandpaper. I purchased a stain + poly combination product. After the first coat it looked pretty bad. I sanded lightly again and applied a second coat. It looked better. I decided to do it one more time.
Each time I sanded it was a very light sanding which took only about 15 minutes. I like to apply the stain with foam brush and wipe after with a lint free cloth.
As I mentioned, this piece was too large to put together and then move inside. We moved the three pieces into the room and then screwed it together. The only screws left to add were on the underside of each support piece.
Other Building Projects
I mentioned at the top that this is a building project hop. Let’s see some of the other building projects.
Easy Heavy Duty DIY Garage Shelf – Chas’ Crazy Creations
DIY Farmhouse Coffee Cup Stand – The House on Silverado
Building a Hallway and Closet into a Storage Room – Grandma’s House DIY
How to Make a Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround – Shiplap and Shells
DIY Outdoor Bench – Life at Bella Terra
How to Install a Wood Trim Accent Wall – Health Home & Heart
Easy Bird House Plans – Kippi At Home