DIY Countertop Desk
Look around any office, modern or old-fashioned, and you'll find that they all share a common piece of furniture: the desk. Whether you are writing, drawing, crafting, or computing, you need a sturdy surface to work on. Desks range from the small and cheap variety, to the massive executive desk costing thousands of dollars. You can assemble your own attractive and functional DIY desk from a kitchen counter top and a pair of bases of your choosing.
For your desk, you'll need a space about six feet long and about 30 inches deep.
Determine the ideal height for the desk. Most desks range from 28 to 32 inches tall. Keep in mind that if you intend to use a computer at the desk, you'll want the top at a good height for typing on the keyboard. The Princeton University Environmental Health and Safety department recommends that you place the keyboard at a height of 23 inches to 28 inches for proper ergonomics.
Finding an acceptable countertop for the desk may require a trip to your local home center or cabinetmaker. Most home centers sell pre-made counter tops in a variety of sizes, colors and materials. A good choice for a desk is a pre-made laminate counter top with a chipboard or particle board base. Stone and synthetic stone desktops are attractive, but heavy and more difficult to attach to the rest of the desk. You should choose a counter top that is between four and six feet long.
Kitchen cabinet bases are usually made for a final height of 36 inches, which is too high for most people to work at comfortably while seated. Bathroom vanity cabinets are made for a finished height of 33 inches and may be acceptable for your use. Two-drawer vertical file cabinets usually range from 24 to 28 inches tall, and are an excellent choice for a computer desk.
If you select kitchen or bath cabinets for the bases, you can purchase mounting kits for the countertop. If you select a pair of file cabinets for the bases, you can secure the counter top with 10 one-inch L-shaped brackets and 20 short (1/4-inch or 1/2-inch) wood screws.
The bases should be placed at the ends of the countertop. Remember to leave enough room between the bases for your legs. Place the bases so that there is enough overhang at the ends and back to accommodate the brackets you will use to attach the top to the bases.
Place the counter top on top of the bases and adjust all three carefully so that the counter top is level and the arrangement of bases and countertop is pleasing to you.
Secure the counter top to the bases. If you purchased hardware for attaching the counter to cabinet bases, follow the supplied directions. If you are using metal file cabinets for bases, align two brackets on each side of the bases so that the legs of the brackets are flush with the sides of the bases and the underside of the counter top. Attach the L-shaped brackets to the underside of the counter top using short wood screws. Double-check the length of the screws before starting to make sure they will not pierce the laminate. Use a single L-bracket at the back of each file cabinet to ensure the desktop won't slide forward. You can also secure the L-brackets to the file cabinets for a more secure attachment, but take care that the fasteners don't extend so far into the file cabinet that they will interfere with the drawers or with file folders in the cabinet.
After assembly, carefully move the desk so that it sits against a wall so the counter top can't slide backwards.
- If you prefer a taller working height, but plan to use the desk with a computer, you can purchase a keyboard drawer to fit under the desktop so the keyboard is at the proper height.
- If you want to run computer cords through the desktop, you can use a hole saw and a plastic insert from the hardware store to make a tidy pass-through for the cables.
- Test the assembly carefully to make sure the desk top won't slide off of the bases.
Frank Miler began writing professionally in 2003. He has published articles in "Claims" magazine and "Fire Findings." He holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
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