Learn how to build a desk using old desk parts from a thrift store. In this desk repair project we show how to patch and paint as well as some woodworking to make this a functional modern desk that’s ready for technology. At this time, when desks are so hard to buy, the transformation of an old thrift store desk could be your best solution. This is our entry to the #RocklerDeskChallenge
Desk Video Series:
1 – Simple Desk Plans – https://youtu.be/60p8jVBAviU
2 – How to Build a Desk from a Coffee Table – https://youtu.be/oaXsUZeq-tI
The project starts with cleaning off all the surfaces of the desk. It’s important to remove any oils and contaminants that could prevent the primer from bonding to the surface. Once everything is clean, it’s time to glue up any broken parts and patch where needed. After the parts are sanded down and vacuumed off, they’re ready for painting.
The top to this desk was damaged beyond salvage, so I build a new desk top surface. I used 3/4 inch birch plywood with solid maple edging. Gluing the edging on was a bit of a challenge as my woodworking clamps are only 4 feet long. I ended up having to nest two together to reach each end of the desk top. Once the glue was dry I planed down the edges to make them flush with the plywood. The last step was to us the router to add a decorative profile on the edge of the desk top in 2 passes.
I build a front apron with a gentle curve in it. To accentuate the curve, I added a beaded edge which provides some shadow lines. I cut the bead with a router and then rounded over the bottom edge with a spokeshave. I sanded everything up to get it ready for primer.
Instead of replacing the back apron, I added a courtesy panel (named for the function of hiding the underside of the desk if a woman is wearing a skirt while sitting at the desk). I set this in 2 1/2 inches from the back of the desk to future proof the desk. This space allows for a monitor stand to be added in the future to make efficient use of the desk surface. I also drilled a large hole in the courtesy panel to allow for cables to be connected to a power bar in the future, similar to what we did in our Simple Desk Build video.
With all the parts build and prepared for painting, it’s time for the fun part – spray painting with an HVLP sprayer. The primer was thinned down to the right viscosity for painting and I applied 2 coats of primer on every surface, with 3 coats of primer on the desk top as I wanted to take extra care that it would be smooth. After sanding everything down, I then sprayed 2 coats of paint on the desk. I sanded the drawer fronts and the desk top, and then added a 3rd coat of paint for additional durability of the desk.
One of the challenges of using plywood and solid wood is that the materials behave differently. Solid wood moves with changes in humidity – it’s expands when humidity is high in the summer and it shrinks when humidity is lower in the winter. Plywood is dimensionally stable so it doesn’t move. To prevent the solid wood from breaking due to seasonal wood movement, I installed loose angle brackets at the back to allow the wood to move while still holding the top to the body of the desk.
Here are some related videos that provide more details:
How to Cut Curves in Wood – https://youtu.be/j4fGIFoqhzc
Dust Collection Fundamentals – https://youtu.be/-c2YyFw7g1U
Miter Saw Dust Collection – https://youtu.be/2SfgSIekuos
What is Wood Movement? –
Wood Glue Types for Woodworking – https://youtu.be/aRYNAlbBDUg
Tools & Supplies Used:
Fuji Spray HVLP Sprayer – https://amzn.to/3iKHs39
Shellac Stain Blocking Primer – https://amzn.to/3iOs5qk
Retractable Blade Knife – https://amzn.to/36T9JCb
Vivo Monitor Stand can be added – https://amzn.to/31ZslgF
Note: purchases made with these links help fund our video production work
PATREON – To support our Fixing Furniture video work, consider a monthly contribution at https://www.patreon.com/fixingfurniture
See the tools we use in our workshop and the tools we recommend: https://www.amazon.com/shop/homeimprovementwoodworking
🇨🇦 Canadian link – https://www.amazon.ca/shop/homeimprovementwoodworking
This video is hosted by Scott Bennett, Owner of Wooden It Be Nice – Furniture Repair in Brooklin, Ontario, Canada. http://WoodenItBeNice.ca