Guy Working at Desk

How to build a compact home office desk with MDF or plywood

Get the home office set up you want with minimal investment!

A desk always comes in handy at home. Be it for a freelancer who works from home, or for your kids to do your homework at, or simply to have a separate work area where to place your laptop, a desk is always a good addition at home. Many make it a point to have a compact desk in one corner of their living room, or in a kids’ bedroom, or else set up a small room to serve as a study or work area.

However, when it comes to buying a desk, there is often a problem. Readymade desks tend to be quite costly, and apart from that they will not be according to your wishes and specifications. You may wish the desk to be of a particular size, or with drawers or in-built shelving. So, why not try to build one yourself. It does not require any expert woodworking knowhow in reality. Let us go over how to build a compact home office desk with cut to measure MDF or plywood. Both materials are really affordable and quite easy to work with, even for a beginner DIY.

Different types of sandpaper grit. Image credit: Design Sponge

Getting Started

Start off by measuring the area where you intend to place your desk. Decide how big or small you can make it, according to that space, and your needs. Then start to gather the materials that you will be needing. As a general rule of thumb a sheet of MDF or plywood measuring 48 by 20 inches should be enough for a desk. You will need two adjustable wood trestles, wood screws and paint too. As for tools, a circular saw will come in handy for cutting. The first step will involve cutting the desk top. Since this is a desk, and probably you may want to fit cables through it, bear in mind the need of cutting a suitably sized hole on the top.

After having cut, sand the wood. This is important as long as you have not purchased pre-cut and pre-finished wood panels. To save time a power sander will come in handy, but if not you can simply use a sandpaper. 40-grit sandpaper is ideal if the wood requires stripping and resurfacing, whereas 80-grit is more suitable when it comes to smoothing out imperfections. Afterwards, 360-grit sandpaper can be used for further smoothing it prior to staining.

Finishing & Painting

Now you can move on to the painting stage. The trestles and the desktop will often look better if they are painted, especially since the edges will be visible and appear a bit untidy. Make sure to choose a color that will complement the furniture in that room. Wood stain is ideal if the wood is unfinished. Spray paint is considered to be the easiest option, but some people prefer traditional paint. Regardless of your choice make sure to do it as neatly as possible, and more than one coating is generally recommended for best results. In that case allow the previous coating to dry well before applying the subsequent one.

Now, set up the desktop on top of the trestles, in a way that the bar is slightly upwards, and the two trestles are placed evenly, allowing about 3 inches from either end of the desk’s top. Check to ensure that it is level. Now all it takes is screwing the top in place. Make sure to use wood screws that are suitably long. They need to be long enough to go through the top and into the trestles. As a general rule of thumb it will be enough to use 3 evenly spaced screws. For additional security and sturdiness you should use four corner brackets that can be screwed into the desk’s top and the adjustable trestle surface.

MDF Paint & Sealant. Image credit: Fine Woodworking

At this point all you need to do are some finishing touches. Use wood putty that complements the color of the paint or stain. With the wood putty you will be able to fill in the areas where the screws were inserted. Finally touch up with some paint.

This is one of the easiest ways to build a desk. The trestles render the job much easier, and they are ideal since they can allow you to adjust the height of your desk according to the individual’s needs. So it is definitely the best way to build a custom desk for everyone at home! And it will be really affordable to build it too! Not to mention the fact that you will be able to choose the style and color you prefer, as well as the size that will bets fit your space.