DIY Desk from Stock Cabinets ~ Woodland Office
Check out my desk that was built with stock cabinets to see how it was done!
1. To start I had to measure out the space, draw up some plans, and decide what I’d like to see in the space. This only took me a month…. :/ Pinterest is great for inspiration (make sure to follow me!). My goal was to have a computer on one side of the desk and my sewing machine on the other, with plenty of open space to work on projects. This required a bigger than average space for my chair so that I could move between sides. I went with two 30″ wide standard base cabinets. I picked them up at Lowes for $100 each. One was damaged just slightly so I talked them into a discount. Another concern was that my desk was going to sit right below a window so I needed the whole contraption to be under 33″. This would require me to cut the toe kicks off my cabinets to lower them, as well as ordering a countertop without a backsplash. There are many options for countertops but laminate was the right choice for me and the space.
2. Once I purchased my materials and got them home, (which by the way, was the biggest ordeal out of this whole project) I took the doors and drawers off, taped off the wood, then stained and finished my cabinets. I used a water based stain and polyurethane from Rustoleum. They worked like a charm! I also considered my Pottery Barn distressed paint technique but decided that I wanted the room to have nice warm wood-on-wood tones.
3. Using a hole boring attachment, I drilled some holes in the back of the cabinets to run cords. After 5 years of embarrassing hack jobs, I finally invested $15 in a package of hole boring attachments. I don’t know what I was thinking before. If you’re a DIY’er like myself, they’ll pay for themselves in sighs and head shakes.
4. My next step was to cut the toe kicks off of my cabinets to lower them 4.5 inches. Toe kicks are exactly 4.5″ high and luckily these doors still had enough clearance to open and close without them. I measured and then used a jumbo T-square to draw a nice straight line.
5. Using a jigsaw with a laminate blade, we cut off the toe kicks then double high-fived at how well the project was turning out! We put down strips of painters tape over the cut lines before firing up the jigsaw to prevent it from tearing up and splintering the wood.
6. We then cleaned up the edges and cord holes with a sanding sponge and tidied up the room a bit.
7. Next, we arranged our cabinets in the room according to the length of our countertop and placed some pieces of painters tape on the floor as guides in case we accidentally nudged them. Then we decided to attach our front piece in order to get exceptionally clean seams. We measured the distance between the front faces of the cabinets and then cut the front piece to fit. I used an 8′ piece of 4″ wide red oak that I stained to match the cabinets.
8. Using these nice little brackets, we pre-drilled pilot holes and then screwed the front piece to each face of the cabinet. We also used L-shaped brackets behind the board to give the bottom stability.
9. Next we built a ladder-like structure out of 2×3’s to fit the space like a glove. We attached it to the cabinets using some long screws through the sides. We also used some short screws to attach the ladder structure to the front face piece. This counteracted the slight bow and made things extra sturdy.
10. Last but not least, we attached the countertop and hardware; there are some great instructional videos online for this.
Last minute tips for the desk-building-DIY’ers out there:
– Always pre-drill pilot holes before screwing anything. It makes all the difference and ensures your wood won’t crack, warp, and that you won’t drill right through the face of your cabinet.
– Always use a sanding sponge to lightly sand your wood before painting or staining, and then in between coats. This will take your project from homemade to professional.
– Spend an ample amount of time planning and drawing your project before heading to the hardware store. Make sure to plot out what tools, hardware, finishes, and small accessories you will need in advance. It will save you so many headaches and eye rolls from your building partner.
– Always recruit a partner for a project like this. <unless you have talents that I don’t have.
– Invest in the right tools, like hole boring attachments and the proper blade for a jigsaw. Or the jigsaw…
– Clean up and vacuum as you go. It makes the project more bearable and allows you to locate pieces and tools much easier. And if you’re working inside like we were, it’s less saw dust tracked through the house.
– Get creative. Wander around your hardware store and look at items not for what they are but for what they could be. Were the brackets that we used meant for this…? I have no idea. Are you supposed to cut toe kicks off of kitchen cabinets? Not typically. But it worked for us!