Fold down desk

A Neat Quiet Place To Sit

Wouldn’t your work from home life be a lot better if you had a desk in a dedicated workspace? Not that there is anything wrong with sitting at the kitchen table with your laptop, but sometimes we just want to feel a little more organized. I have the perfect solution for you. It requires no floor space and even more, it serves a dual purpose. This is a project anyone can make at any skill level and you can complete it with one tool, a power drill. Allow me to introduce this awesome wall mounted desk, the perfect piece for those teleworking days or for kids to do their homework.

My passion of the month is to complete something I began long ago, a comfortable place to sit and share my projects with you. While we have sofas, chairs, and dining tables, none of them screamed, “sit here for hours and type until your heart’s content.” I wanted to create a space of my own, which for the handy person in me, translates to build a desk. We don’t have a dedicated office space and our dining room table is high bistro table. I prefer to have my feet firmly planted on the ground while I work.

That’s when I set out to build a wall-mounted murphy desk. I stumbled across my ideal project over at anawhite.com. I planned on making a few modifications to fit my needs and hang in my bedroom.

This desk was the first project I made after a long hiatus from woodworking. It is the perfect one to reignite my appetite for all things wood. I was excited to jump in and do this. I forgot to take photos of the along the way, however, I snapped a few to share.

Fold Down Desk

Here we go…  I used a 1″ x 4″ x 10′ pine wood board, purchased at my local big box store.  My personal rule of thumb is to purchase enough extra stock in case you make a mistake. I make one or two on at least every project.

1. Making Your Cuts-Part 1

To begin, cut the pine to your desired dimensions. In the below photo, I listed the order in which I assembled my pieces. You will want to do it this way so you’re not trying to wedge a piece into a tight spot. For my wall mounted desk, I opted to not extend piece 4 over to piece 1 (pictured below). I like the idea of a partial floating shelf, this is completely optional. Matter of fact, you can position the shelves wherever they best suit your needs. My only requirements were to have space to place pens and pencils and a spot for my tablet.

Before assembling the desk, it’s best to sand all sides of your wood. I  used an orbital sander, with 150 grit sandpaper to quickly get the job done, you can also use a sheet of sandpaper folded in half. A Google search on how to long to sand with an orbital sander will vary greatly. I like to spend about 30 seconds in one area before moving on to the next. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. You want to go more by feel, does the wood feel even and smooth after you’re done? Are there any visible dips? There is definitely a way to sand too much of the surface which can result in an uneven joining of pieces.

DIY Desk Dimensions

2. The Glue-Up

To assemble, any decent wood glue will work. My favorite wood glue is Titebond I used bar clamps and corner clamps, like these to assemble the back of the desk. If you do not own any clamps, in a pinch you can use heavy duty paint tape (definitely not duct tape) to hold the pieces together until the glue dries or use a few 2″x7″ bricks to apply pressure. Concrete bricks are surprisingly inexpensive, you can get them for under a dollar apiece. I have also used heavy duty resistance bands (similar to those used in physical therapy). After clamping the wood together, you should see some of the glue ooze out of the joint. A damp lint free cloth or old t-shirt can be used to wipe it clean. Alternatively, you can allow the glue to dry for about 30 minutes and scrape any excess off with a razor blade, chisel or similar tool.

Titebond

 

3. Making Your Cuts Part 2

The table portion of the desk is the easiest and the most exciting part of the project. You get the see the desk actually start to come together. For the table, I used a sheet of half inch plywood, cut down to size at the hardware store and a 6′ piece of fluted crown molding cut on my miter saw at 45-degree angles.  If I had to do this project over again, I would not use this type of molding, as it was difficult to stain in the crevices. Sometimes your miter angles might not fit snuggly. If you run into this issue, take a teaspoon of sawdust and add 3-4 drops of wood glue. Press this mixture into your gap. Once dry, you can sand it down and stain it. It could be possible that your saw needs to be recalibrated, here are some handy tips on how to make adjustements

 

If you don’t have access to a miter saw there are a few alternatives:

  1. Most larger hardware stores have a hand saw and miter box in the lumber department for customer use, remember to bring your measurements with you.
  2. Purchase an inexpensive miter box and hand saw.
  3. Consider not using miter angles and use butt joints cut at 90-degree angles.

After the sanding the plywood with 150-grit sandpaper I glued a thin sheet of polyethylene to the top using spray adhesive. I opted for this option rather than painting the surface as I wanted a smooth surface that could be cleaned easily. Polyethylene sheets can be purchased in sheets of varying sizes at your local art store and depending on the thickness can be cut with scissors or a sharp blade (exact-o-knife).

DIY desk polyethylene

 

I then applied the molding to the plywood using Titebond I clamped it down for a few hours. When I ran out of clamps I placed paint tape in some and let it bond overnight.

DIY Desk Miter Gap Fix

4. Finishing touches

It’s time to make this baby shine and add those finishing touches. For the next step allow me to introduce you to a woodworkers best friend (one of them at least), edge banding. Edge banding is a thin sheet of wood also known as a veneer that is used to cover unsightly edges of wood, like those you see in plywood. If you notice that at least two sides of any wood have a rough edge, this is called the end grain. It feels rougher to the touch and doesn’t accept stain very well. This can be solved with a few strips of edge banding. It’s sold in rolls of different thicknesses and can be ironed on. It gets better, edge banding is sold in many different wood types, pine, birch, maple, and even melamine.

I used edge banding on the front facing sides of my project, all the sides that are visible. I also used it on the edges of the plywood. There will be a little overhang after the edge banding is applied, this can be trimmed with a blade or a small tool called an edge band trimmer.

If you’re new to finishing wood, gel stain is a fail-proof product. I completed this project using General Finishes Gel Stain in Java to match my headboard. Gel stain is a thicker than oil-based or water-based stain. Gel stain is incredibly easy to use. It quickly transforms a project and is great for refinishing projects with little prep work. I applied two coats using a soft cloth and allowed to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Lastly, I put a coat of General Finishes Gel Top Coat on for shine.

Java Gel Stain

Once everything was dry I drilled holes for the hook and eye set on both sides of the desk, being careful to check the spacing between the hook and eye before drilling the holes. Next,  I drilled holes for the chain, you may need to drill a small pilot hole before attaching the chain and screw to the desk. The last step is adding the hinges, I used 2-2″ hinges and 1-11″ piano hinge.

5. Frame It Up

This fabulous wall-mounted desk would be perfect without the molding, since its there, it’s screaming for a cute photo or classic artwork to be placed inside. In order to make this happen, you can create your own original piece or build the dimension of the desk around your favorite piece.  I used a piece of double-sided scotch tape to affix it to the plywood. And a sheet of acrylic plastic (not pictured). Lastly, I hung the desk with d-rings. My desk is height is suitable for sitting. You can also hang it at a height for standing desk. These little guys are phenomenal at holding heavy loads. Voila! You’re done!

DIY Desk Closed

 

Let me know in the comments if you decide to take this project on. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Be Great. Live Passionately.

 

 

 

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