How to Make an Old-Fashioned School Desk

Written by meghan mcclain
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How to Make an Old-Fashioned School Desk
You can build an old-fashioned wooden desk at home. (desk handle image by Joann Cooper from

You can build an old-fashioned wooden desk that is not only beautiful to look at but also functional. You can build this desk in a few steps using materials that you may already have available. Any wood or materials that you do not already have around the house are available at any local home and garden store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Two pieces of 1-inch by-6-inch wood measuring 10 feet long
  • Circular saw
  • 0.227kg. of 1 5/8-inch wood screws
  • Power drill
  • 3/4-inch plywood measuring 2 feet by 4 feet
  • Measuring tape
  • 2-by-4-inch board measuring 10 feet long
  • Carpenter square
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood filler
  • Wood stain
  • Medium paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Cut one of the 1-by-6-inch pieces of wood to 34 3/8 inches, cutting a 45-degree angle on each of its corners using the circular saw. Cut an additional piece to 32 7/8 inches, but leave the edges on this piece straight.

  2. 2

    Cut two more pieces of the 1-by-6 to 19 inches long. Cut one end of each at a 45-degree angle, leaving the other ends straight. These pieces will become the sides of the desk.

  3. 3

    Attach all four of the pieces from the previous steps with the power drill and the wood screws. The piece measuring 34 3/8 inches will serve as the front, the piece measuring 32 7/8 inches will be the rear, and the two 19-inch panels will become the sides. Use the carpenter square to ensure that all angles are at 90 degrees and that the desk is a perfect rectangle.

  4. 4

    Cut the 3/4-inch plywood into a 38 5/8-inch-by-20 1/2-inch panel with the circular saw. Connect this panel to the frame that you made in Step 3, using the wood screws. The back of this panel should be flush with the back of the frame and any overhang should be facing the front. Use the tape measure to ensure that all overhang is even on either side.

  5. 5

    Cut the piece of 2-by-4-inch wood into four separate legs, each measuring 28 1/2 inches long. Cut three bottom brace pieces from the 1-by-6-inch wood: a back piece, measuring 34 3/8 inches with a 45-degree cut on each end; and two side pieces, each measuring 19 inches with a 45-degree cut on the back end and a straight cut on the front end.

  6. 6

    Lay two of the legs created in the previous step out onto a flat surface 10 1/2 inches apart. Measure 2 1/2 inches up from the bottom of each of the legs and place a mark there. Attach the 19-inch sides and bottom brace to the two legs using wood screws. The 45-degree angle should be facing the back and the straight cut overhang should be in the front. Repeat this process for the other set of legs.

  7. 7

    Connect the two leg assemblies from Step 6 to the top panel using wood screws. Attach the 1-by-6-by-34 3/8-inch bottom brace at the mark made on the legs in the previous step.

  8. 8

    Fill all holes and uneven spaces with the wood filler and sand any rough edges. Stain the desk using wood stain and a medium paintbrush.

Tips and warnings

  • Research widely used woods from older times to make the desk appear more authentic.
  • Paint the desk instead of staining if you prefer.
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves while using power tools.
  • Paint or stain in a well ventilated area to reduce harmful fumes.

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