How to Build a Rolltop Desk

Written by ezmeralda lee
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Rolltop desks were first introduced in the 1900s and are still used to this day. Rolltops generally have stacked shelves on both sides of the desk, as well as drawers and compartments toward the top of the desk. The main attraction of a rolltop desk is the rolling wooden slotted cover that covers the majority of the desk. These desks can be affordable to build and will last a long time. The best and most efficient way to build a rolltop desk is to purchase plans for one, along with all the parts.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wood glue
  • Finishing nails and screws
  • Prebuilt desk pieces
  • Wood stain

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  1. 1

    Lay out all pieces before constructing the desk. Make sure that all the pieces have come with the kit. If you want to stain the wood for the desk, it is best to do so now. As an alternative, you may stain the desk after it has been assembled. However, it may be more difficult this way.

  2. 2

    Begin assembling your pieces from the ground up. The bottom of the desk is essentially a normal rectangle desk with a backing. Start with the backing of the desk. Attach the side pieces to the backing using wood glue. Then use the wood finishing nails to ensure that the pieces stay in place.

  3. 3

    Place the other wooden panels in the appropriate spot, parallel to the panels that were just placed. Be sure to leave enough space for the drawers. Glue and nail the trackers inside the two panels for the drawers.

  4. 4

    Build the drawers using wood glue. Attach the handles with screws to the front of the drawers. Be sure that they fit between the boards.

  5. 5

    Attach the curved shaped wood pieces to both sides of the desk. Glue and nail. Place the sliding door in the grooves of the curved shaped wood. Ensure that it slides. Then add the top of the desk and the back of the top. Glue and nail. Add the essential cubbies for storage. Build the shelves by gluing and nailing them in between the curved shaped wood.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to read all instructions that may have come with the cut wood. Also, be sure to use wood glue to ensure that your desk will hold. If you decide to sand your desk, sand it by hand to get an even look.
  • When building a rolltop desk, take into consideration that the wood glue and nails will only hold so much. Be sure not to get any wood glue on your skin, eyes or in the mouth, as wood glue is toxic.

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