Project tutorial

DIY Desk With Storage Cubbies

Project cost
6 hours
Estimated time

A good desk can help you stay organized and on track. Luckily, all you need to build your own is a cabinet and some stock materials. The drawer-free design offers ample work space on the desktop, the storage cubbies above for books and writing materials, and a opening below that perfectly accommodates a laptop or filing needs. Paying bills and checking emails should be much less grueling from here on out. (This article originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author // Jenn Largesse. Photos // Laura Moss; Allison Dinner.)

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  • 1/2" x 4' x 8'
  • 1 x 3 x 3'
  • (2) 1 x 2 x 8'
  • (2) 3/4-inch Molding - Get 6ft.
  • (4) 29-inch Legs
  • Acrylic Sheeting - 27" x 48"
  • Small Stock Cabinet for the Hutch
  • (4) 1/4 x 5 Lumber for the Slots
  • Hardboard (sized to the cabinet)
  • 1-inch Brad Nails
  • 1 ⅝-inch Brad Nails
  • 1-inch Screws
  • 2-inch Screws
Step 1

Cut the Parts

Cut the desktop, back, sides, 1 x 3 apron, 1 x 2 cleats, and cubby pieces to size. Cut the cabinet’s door into shelves for the hutch, as per the cut list. Use a utility knife and a straightedge to trim the acrylic top to size.

Step 2

Install the Cleats

Lay the back, side, and apron pieces flat. Set the cleats on edge and position them flush with the top and sides of the flat pieces, as shown. Secure the cleats with glue, followed by 1-inch nails through the plywood and into the cleats.

Step 3

Assemble the Cubby

Glue and nail the cubby’s top and bottom pieces between the shorter side pieces. Nail a 1 x 2 strip across the back of the cubby, flush with its bottom edge, to keep contents from sliding out.

Step 4

Attach the Base

Position the legs 1 inch from each edge at the corners. Glue the back, sides, and apron in place, their cleats flush with the inner faces of the legs, as shown. Drive 1-inch screws through the cleats and into the desktop; use 2-inch screws to go through the cleats and into the legs.

Step 5

Attach the Cubby

Glue the cubby to the underside of the desktop between the apron and the leg. Secure the cubby with 1-inch screws driven through its inner faces into the apron cleat, and 2-inch screws into the leg. Turn the desk rightside up.

Step 6

Trim the Desktop

Cut molding to size, mitering the corners. Place the acrylic on the desktop, and position the molding so that its top edge is flush with the acrylic surface. Secure the molding to the desktop with 1⅝-inch nails spaced a few inches apart.

Step 7

Make the Hutch

Turn the cabinet box on its side and nail through the top and bottom to secure its shelves as vertical dividers. Glue and nail shorter dividers to one horizontal shelf cut in Step 1. Nail it and the other shelf into place in the hutch.

Step 8

Trim the Hutch

Cut trim to size, mitering the corners. Nail trim to the top and bottom edges of the hutch’s front and sides. Nail hardboard to the back of the hutch. Attach self-stick cabinet-door bumpers to the hutch’s underside before placing it on the desktop.

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