I recently saw a video where a guy used a sheet of MDF (medium-density fibreboard) 3/4″ and used it as the top for a workbench. In addition to his workbench he was able to add additional plywood so he could have storage. Somehow I came across the same piece of MDF at 3/4″ thick.
For the time being I held onto that sheet of MDF until recently. Some family of mine just moved into their new place and one of the things needed was a desk.
To start the project I had the original MDF board and purchased the following pieces make this new desk:
- 6 2 X 4’s, FYI: only 4 are needed. I needed extras for another project
- 1 sheet of plywood 1/4″ 2′ X 4′
- 1 sheet of birch plywood 24″ X 48″
The birch plywood was $10, the 1/4″ plywood I already had.
Total costs of everything is shown at the bottom.
From a previous project I made I used the dimensions as a guideline for this desk. The overall dims could not exceed 35″ X 23″ 30″. Since I had to use the dims from the MDF as my foundation, I actually lucked-out. The overall dims on the MDF board were 42″ X 22″. So by making one cut and eliminating 7″ I was able to start this project.
My only downfall with the MDF board was the condition of the top that had multiple stains and wasn’t able to fully sand them out. This is why I purchased the birch plywood and would use this as a (overall) cover.
With all 3 pieces now cut including the legs it’s time to assemble the frame. I wanted to make the top of this desk to completely cover the entire frame including the legs. In addition to that I’ve taken the measurements to free up 1″ to the top of the desk so it’ll be easier to lift, which you’ll see later on.
Prior to assembly of any/all pieces I needed to countersink the screws prior. I chose the Ryobi brand of countersinks because I can pre-drill and countersink at the same time, saving lots of time. As an added bonus these come with titanium bits and also included is the adjustable wrench, to adjust the height of the bit. They also come in 4 different sizes #6, #8, #10, & #12.
Once the legs are attached to the frame, the next step would be to install the plywood.
FYI: The plywood used is a 1/2″ thick sheet for the bottom of the storage.
I’m sure you can see where this project is going now!!! After the plywood was installed, I flipped the desk over and added the MDF board. To finish the top I added the (1/4″) birch plywood .
NOTE: After adding the combined height of the MDF and the birch plywood it came out to exactly 1″. So 29″ were used for the legs giving me an overall height of the desk to 30″.
In order to lift the top of the desk hinges were needed. If you notice I have 2 sets of hinges, one set for behind the desk to lift, and the other set of hinges for the inside. The set for the inside, unfortunately, weren’t working right for me so I only utilized the hinges for the backside.
Also, if you remember earlier I mentioned of leaving a 1″ gap on the frame. As you can see in the 3rd picture that 1″ excess of the top will help with the lifting of top more freely.
These pictures here show the added braces I installed. These will help prevent of the shifting from both left and right as well as any shifting front to back.
FYI: I made my own pocket holes for these on both top and bottom of the braces when installed. My apologies for not showing pics on these.
Now that I have the lid open, I wanted to add the storage space of different sizes. On to my 4th 2 X 4″ I took the inside measurements and placed them in order. The main thing to keep in mind is take measurements between each brace so they’re completely even with one another.
Since I grabbed the idea of this desk from a workbench I figured it would only be fitting to add some tools just to give an idea of what kind of storage space we’re working with.
Although not shown, I sanded everything down using 150 grit sandpaper and finished with a 240 grit.
FYI: the top of the project (birch plywood) already came pre-sanded. Only needed 150 grit to start.
For the frame and legs I used limousine black and the Minwax #233 English Chestnut for the top. Always remember to use the pre-stain prior to staining.
So far so good!!!
The part of the MDF that looked the worst was used on the inside. However, not thinking that when you open the lid all of the markings/stains are completely visible. Since I had some more paint leftover I went ahead and painted the entire (inside) part of the lid.
As long as the lid is down the inside of the storage area won’t be visible. I figured I’d go ahead and leave this part as is since it’s completely brand new wood with no markings/stains.
Of course the last and final step is a couple coats of a clear coat finish. I highly recommend the Minwax Polyurethane gloss because of its distinct coating with all indoor projects.
FYI: For an even smoother finish, I recommend using 400 grit sandpaper and do a light sand (by hand) in between coats.
I’ve really enjoyed working on this project because it’s more than just your typical desk. The addition of extra storage space makes a significant difference when working.
- 2 X 4″ $3.64 ea. X 4 = $14.56 ( I know I purchased 6, but for this project only 4 are required)
- 1/4″ birch plywood $10
Total cost on materials (out of pocket) was roughly $25.
Below are some of the other costs associated, however these I already had and are priced accordingly from Home Depot:
- The MDF board 1 sheet of 3/4″ 2 X 4′ averages out to $16 a sheet
- The plywood 1/2″ plywood 2 X 4′ sheet averages out to $13 a sheet.
- Black limousine paint sample size bottle $5
- Minwax stain & pre-stain $5 ea. total of $10
So I’ve actually managed to save roughly $45, plus other costs (which I NEVER include) of screws, paintbrushes & paint sticks.
Please feel free to comment as I’m open to any/all suggestions.