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Jackie Hausler from haus2home is showing us how to make a custom DIY desk, proving custom doesn’t equal costly.  For just under $75 and using an existing filing cabinet, follow these plans to have the desk you thought only lived on Pinterest.

How to Make a Desk With a File Cabinet

I’ve always heard to be successful, one should “dress the part.” I’m going to go ahead and say that I think having a beautifully organized space to work in has got to be one of the most underrated elements of having a successful workday. So, I’m going to take the liberty of saying that your office should dress the part too.

It’s true. Switching up and improving your workspace can have a significant impact on your productivity. Today I’m going to show you how to build your very own DIY desk around something you probably already have for all those pesky papers: a filing cabinet.

A filing cabinet obviously helps keep organization under control, but it also creates a perfect anchor for one end of the desk I’m about to help you make. These plans will cost you less than $75 and will restore your faith that custom doesn’t equal costly.

Let’s get started!

Here’s the drawing of what the desk will look like in the end. A bit of Albert Einstein madness going on with the drawing, but you get the idea.  🙂  I’ll be giving you the measurements I used, but these plans are totally customizable to your space and your needs!

For this project you will need:

  • A filing cabinet
  • Sander
  • Paint
  • Paint sprayer/paint brushes
  • Wood: 6 ft x 2ft  (for desktop)
  • Wood: 6 ft x 11 ½  inches (for desktop upper tier)
  • Wood: (4)   11 ½  x 7 inches (for desktop upper tier supporting planks)
  • Wood: (2) 2 ft  x 20 ½  x 30 inches  (for sides of base frame)
  • Wood: (1) 2ft x 20 inches (for shelf of base frame)
  • Wood: (1) 1 x 3 x 20 inches (for front support of base frame)
  • Wood: (2) 2 x 6  x 20 inches (for back support of base frame)
  • Drill
  • Saw (or have the wood pre cut at your local hardware store)
  • Measuring tape
  • pencil
  • Wood screws
  • (22) inch L brackets

Step 1: Cutting Your Wood

To kick this project off, you’ll need to start the wood construction of the desk. If you chose to not have all your wood pre-cut at your local hardware store, you will need to use your saw and do so now. I find that it’s easiest to cut all the wood for the entire project at once. f you are following our measurements, see the listing above. Remember, always measure twice and cut once!

If you are following our measurements, see the listing above. Remember, always measure twice and cut once!

Step 2: Creating the Base Frame

Using the two identical pieces of wood for the sides of the base frame (ours measured 30 inches high) and a third piece for the shelf of the frame, attach the three pieces together using L brackets and wood screws. It’s a good idea to use a small level to make sure it’s perfect! An extra pair of hands helps too.

Note: It’s always a good idea to pre-drill holes before inserting screws so that the wood doesn’t split or crack!

Once you are done with this step, it should look like this:

To make the structure stronger, attach two pieces of wood for the back of the frame.  The two wood planks will go in between the two sides of the back of the frame (top and bottom) and will be secured with wood screws from the side of the frame.

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I also added a third piece of wood that was a 1 x 3 for the front of the base frame.  Instead of screwing it in with screws from the side, I decided to use L brackets on the inside.

When you are done, you should have a completed frame that looks like this:

Step 4: Assembling the Desk Top

Your next step will be to start constructing the top of your desk. Using your sander, give both 6 ft slabs of wood a good sand on the top and edges.  This will ensure that you will have a smooth surface, and the paint will apply like a charm.

Next, locate the four pieces of wood that are identical (seven inches in height) for the desktop upper tier support and attach them to both tiers of the desktop using…you guessed it…wood screws and L brackets.

Step 5: Painting

Now as you can see from the photos above, I got (just a TAD) excited to use my new Wagner paint sprayer. But essentially, whenever your wood is sanded and prepped (clean and free of dust!), give it a couple of thin coats of paint.  Be sure to wait for the paint to completely dry in between each coat.

Step 6: Assembly

After getting some help cleaning from my lovely (and tiny!) assistant, the desk was ready to be assembled in its new space. I put the three pieces of the desk (filing cabinet, base frame and desk top) in the space and attached them with the last of the L brackets. Viola!



Have questions or comments about this project? Leave them below! I would love to hear from you!

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About the Author

Jackie Hausler

Jackie Hausler seeks to inspire creativity in the name of reclaiming, reusing and upcycling. With each project, she walks followers through do-it-yourself projects, shows how to give old items a new chance at life, and teaches ways to be eco-friendly and live a green lifestyle. She believes making your house a home doesn't have to be expensive to be beautiful and is passionate about accomplishing that while being kind to our earth. Jackie is the founder of the home and lifestyle blog Haus2Home.

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