How to Build a Built-In Computer Desk

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Build a Built-In Computer Desk
Create a built-in desk in an alcove for a seamless work space. (desk and table lamp with journal with Asian design image by nextrecord from Fotolia.com)

Space is sometimes limited in a home or apartment. When that is the case, a creative approach needs to be taken when setting up a home office. A small alcove or closet can be converted into a work area by adding a built-in computer desk. You can frame the desk into the opening to create a functional work area that maximises space.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Dimensional lumber, 2-by-4 inches, 96 inches long
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Mitre saw
  • 1 box 3-inch wood screws
  • Screw gun
  • Level
  • Furniture-grade plywood, ¾-by-48-by-96 inch
  • Table saw
  • Course, medium and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Edge banding
  • Flat iron
  • Edge trimmer
  • 1-by-4-inch dimensional hardwood board
  • Wood finish
  • Poly brush

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the depth of the alcove.

  2. 2

    Measure and mark the dimensional lumber to cut four boards to fit into the alcove depth. These are the side frame boards. Use a mitre saw to make the cuts.

  3. 3

    Insert the side frame boards into the alcove. Place one with a 4-inch side flat against the floor against each side of the alcove. Screw the boards in place with evenly spaced wood screws approximately 3 inches apart.

  4. 4

    Measure up from the floor 28 inches and mark the sides of the alcove at the measurement. Place one side frame board with the 4-inch face flat against the wall and the top edge level at the measurement marks on each side of the alcove. Screw the boards in place.

  5. 5

    Cut two boards to fit into the width of the alcove between the side frame boards. These are the back frame boards. Measure with the side boards in place to ensure that the correct measurement is taken for the top and bottom back frame boards to fit between the side frame boards.

  6. 6

    Place one back frame board between the bottom side frame boards with the 4-inch face flat against the floor. The board should be against the back wall of the alcove. Screw the board in place. Measure up 28 inches from the floor. Mark the measurement on the back wall. Place the remaining back frame board with the 4-inch face flat against the back alcove wall and the top edge aligned level with the 28-inch mark. Screw the board in place.

  7. 7

    Measure the distance from the top face of the boards that are on the floor to the bottom face of the boards that are 28 inches up from the floor. This is the support board measurement.

  8. 8

    Cut six support boards from the dimensional lumber using a mitre saw. Place one board between the top and bottom boards at the front edge on both sides of the alcove. Place one board between the top and bottom boards at the back corners of the alcove. Evenly space the remaining boards between the bottom and top boards against the back wall of the alcove. Fasten the supports in place. Use wood screws evenly spaced every 3 inches.

  9. 9

    Measure, mark and cut the plywood to fit into the alcove's width and depth. Cut the plywood with a table saw. Sand the edges with progressively finer sandpaper. Use a sanding block to ensure that the edges are completely smooth.

  10. 10

    Apply edge banding to the front edge of the plywood panel. Follow the application directions supplied with the banding to apply it using a flat iron. Trim the top and bottom edges of the banding with an edge trimmer so that they are flush with the top and bottom plywood surfaces.

  11. 11

    Slide the plywood panel over the dimensional wood framing inside the alcove. Drive screws through the panel into the edges of the framing boards. Space the screws every 6 inches.

  12. 12

    Measure the front opening of the alcove. Measure, mark and cut the 1-by-4-inch dimensional hardwood board to fit inside the opening. This is the apron for the desk surface.

  13. 13

    Place the facial board into the opening of the alcove. The facial board should cover the front edge of the plywood. The top edge of the facial board should be flush with the top surface of the plywood.

  14. 14

    Apply a wood finish to the built-in desk. Allow the finish to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Insert filing cabinets under the work surface
  • Wear eye protection when working with wood. Apply wood finish with proper ventilation.

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