Sam Jacoby

A Desk That I Made

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One week at summer’s end, I decided I should have desk. No glue. No screws. One piece of 4 × 8′ birch-veneered plywood. It’s kept tense by the tight-fitting angled notches that hold the boards together—though the cables in the back don’t hurt.

Some crude plans are below.


This is the basic first-sketch that I followed. A lot of things changed while building the thing, so beware. Because I didn’t cap the ends of the central section, it’s not rigid, so I put in cable cross-stays on the back to make it stable (it’s still fairly wobbly — no fasteners!). I took out a chunk of the top part of the legs, to create the three-layered system above.

Desk Plans

Desk Plans
The stains are shellac. I love that stuff.

Here’s the 4 × 8 birch-veneer plywood board, specc’d out to be cut. I had the guys at Home Depot do all of the big cuts — which they did, albeit, messily. I did the rest with a cheap-o (cordless!) circular saw.

Desk Plans

This is the tricky part, the detail of the leg-surface connection. The basic angle I calculated was 68.2°, which worked out reasonable well. If it’s too shallow, your legs could bow—too steep, and well, you’ve just made a more-or-less regular desk. Oh, and I beveled the bottom of each leg so that it stands flat—but that you’d do automatically.