How to Build a Desk with Drawers

A desk without drawers is like a shirt without a pocket.

Nice desk
People who need a desk with drawers also need a filing drawer or at the very least a pencil drawer in the knee space. Desks built for computers have a keyboard tray in the knee space so that when the keyboard is not in use, it is hidden between the two drawer sections underneath the top of the desk. .
Veneer gives the solid-wood look

Place the 24x70x¾-inch plywood on a worktable. Cut the veneer strip into four pieces; two at 72 inches, two at 26 inches. Place one of the 26-inch strips on one of the 24-inch edges.

Hot iron

Heat the strip with a hot iron to activate the glue on the back of the strip. Work your way up and down the strip slowly; the goal is to get a good bond to the edge of the plywood.

Knocking the top and bottom edges off

Once it has cooled, fold the excess over the corner of the plywood to get an even break. Repeat this process on the other three edges. Knock the excess off the top and bottom edges with a sanding block. For more on how to apply iron-on edging, check out "Installing Iron-on Edging" in the resources below.

Marking the drawer cabinet space

Measure and make marks at 2 inches and 21 inches from the 24-inch edges. Place the framing square on the marks and draw lines across the grain. This indicates where the filing cabinets will secure to the plywood top.

Securing the drawer cabinet to the top

Remove the drawers from the two cabinets, turn them upside down and place them on the lines to ensure they fit within them. They will be flush with the front edge of the top. Make any adjustment necessary, then remove them and apply glue to the area where they will be installed. Place the cabinets on top of the glue and secure them with the drywall screws. Clean excess glue with a damp cloth.

Keyboard tray

Next, install the keyboard tray according to the manufacturer's instructions. Set the desk upright to check its height. If it is too low for you, go to the next step.

Optional Legs

Draw a line 1 inch from the edge around the perimeter of the bottom of the cabinets. Next, draw the pattern of the leg in the corners of the lines. For example, if the leg is 3 inches square, then draw a 3-inch square. Mark the center of the square and drill a pilot hole with the 1/16-inch drill bit for the legs and screw them in place.

Things You Will Need

  • 1 piece 24x70x¾-inch plywood
  • 1 strip of 1-inch-wide veneer tape, 204 inches (17 feet) long
  • Iron
  • Sanding block
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Framing square
  • 1 two-drawer filing cabinet 22x19x28¼ inches (unfinished)
  • 1 three-drawer filing cabinet 22x19x28¼ inches (unfinished)
  • Wood glue
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 1¼-inch drywall screws
  • 1 computer keyboard tray
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • Legs (optional)


  • Heat veneer edging slowly, but be careful not to burn the wood with the iron. Clean excess glue with a damp cloth. Dampen the veneer strips with a sponge if they are brittle.


  • Do not leave power tools unattended in the presence of children. Do not stain or paint the desk in an unventilated area. Do not trim veneer with a knife as it may cause it to split.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.