A reception desk is part of the overall first impression that a client forms when walking into an office space. While many options for reception desks are available commercially, you can make one of your own from furniture-grade plywood using basic woodworking tools. Designs for these desks vary in style; however, the main features include a high back and sides to project an authoritative image and also hide the clutter that is on and underneath the desk such as papers, electronic devices and wires. A basic reception desk can be adapted to suit many different styles by the choice of materials, finish and added details such as moulding.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 3/4-by-18-by-36-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panels, two
- 3/4-by-36-by-96-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panel, one
- Flush trim wood screws, one box
- Screw gun
- 3/4-by-18-by-96-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panel, one
- 3/4-by-18-by-28-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panels, two
- Edge banding
- Flat iron
- Banding trimmer
- Wood filler
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Wood finish
- 24 1/2-inch high by 14 1/4-inch wide by 18-inch deep filing cabinets, two
Place the two 3/4-by-18-by-36-inch hardwood, furniture-grade plywood panels parallel to each other so that they are approximately 96 inches apart. These are the sides of the desk. Place the 3/4-by-36-by-96-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panel perpendicular to the sides. This is the back of the desk. (The back of the desk is the side that faces visitors to the office.)
Drive screws through the back side of the back into the edges of the sides to fasten the back to the sides. Space the screws every six inches.
Measure up 28 inches from the bottom of the sides on the inside face. Mark the measurements. Place the 3/4-by-18-by-96-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panel between the sides so that the bottom edge of the panel is on the marks. This is the desk surface. Screw through the outside of the sides into the ends of the desk surface to secure it in place. Space the screws every three inches.
Drive screws through the back side of the back of the desk into the back edge of the desk surface. Space the screws every six inches.
Measure in from the inside edge of the sides 16 inches. Mark the measurements. Place one 3/4-by-18-by-28-inch hardwood furniture grade plywood panel parallel to the sides underneath the desk surface at the marked measurements. These are the support panels.
Screw through the desk surface down into the top edges of the support panels. Space the screws every six inches. Screw through the back of the desk into the back edges of the support panels. Space the screws every six inches.
Iron the edge banding onto the exposed edges of the plywood as directed on the edge banding packaging. Edge banding is a wood veneer that irons onto the unfinished edge of plywood to provide a finished edge for furniture applications.
Run the edge trimmer along the sides of the plywood that has edge banding applied to it. This will shave off any imperfections in the edge banding leaving a flush edge.
Fill in the screw holes with wood filler. Allow the filler to dry. Sand the filler so that is completely smooth and flush with the plywood surface.
Apply a wood finish to the desk. Allow the finish to dry before handling.
Place the completed desk in the final position in your office. Slide the two filing cabinets under it at opposite ends of the desk, leaving space in the middle for the receptionist's chair.
Tips and warnings
- Add moulding to trim out the back and sides of the desk to provide a more elegant finish for offices that have ornate traditional styled furniture.
- Wear eye protection while woodworking.
- Apply the wood finish in a well-ventilated area.
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