How to Make a File Cabinet Desk

A simple desk, consisting of two file cabinets and a work surface can be whipped up quickly. This style is economical and very mobile, perfect for an apartment or dorm room.


If desired, drill a large (1 1/2 inch) hole at the rear of your plywood desk top to allow plug-ended cords and other computer wires through to the electrical outlet or computer.

  1. Planning: Decide where your file cabinet desk is to be used. One of the beauties of creating your own desk is that you have the option to break from traditional desk size.

  2. Decide how your desk will be used. Will it be just for sitting and writing letters, doing bills, etc., or will it be for supporting a computer, monitor, printer and other office items? Or, perhaps it will be for a sewing machine, or other hefty items?

  3. Finish the desk top:

  4. Using a small, round object, draw a radii on the two front corners and cut them with the jig saw.

  5. Sand the plywood desk work surface; all edges, radii, and both sides in preparation for paint or stain.

  6. Clean the sanded plywood with mineral spirits and a cloth to remove all dust.

  7. Apply paint or stain followed by polyurethane and allow to dry.

  8. Once the finish is dry, lightly sand the work surface with fine sandpaper, and apply 2nd and 3rd coats as necessary.

  9. Place the two file cabinets in the location of your desk, approximately 58" apart, outside to outside, with their backs about 1" away from the wall.

  10. Place a piece of double-faced tape on each corner of the top of each file cabinet; peel off backing strip.

  11. Gently position your plywood desk top onto the file cabinets; taking care not to let it too close to the double-faced tape before it is in its exact position. Ensure equal overlap at both ends, with 1 1/2 inches in front and 1 inch in the back. Press down firmly.