My dream desk - parts 1-3/6

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Project by jamsomito posted 05-20-2018 01:44 AM 1543 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was waiting to post this until everything was done, but I’m trying to work it in between projects and it’s just taking me years. So here’s the completed portions so far. Note I’ve been dabbling in woodworking for over a decade, but only the last 2 or 3 years since I bought our house have I had space to start building out a workshop and getting serious about the hobby. A lot of this was a learning experience.

I’m breaking this project out into phases as follows. To date, I’ve finished phases 1 through 3.
1. left, center, and right surfaces (with makeshift legs/base)
2. monitor shelf
3. height adjustable legs for center section
4. printer cart
5. cabinets under right-hand section
6. curio case / cabinets under left-hand section (TBD)

I work from home unless I’m on a customer site, and another couple hobbies of mine are photography and computers, so I spend a LOT of time at this desk. It needed to be big because I handle big plan sets for work, and one of my pet peeves is having something in my hands and nowhere to put it down temporarily. I need storage underneath too. I also have some back issues, so I knew I wanted it (or a section of it) to be height adjustable for different chair positions and the option to stand and return to sitting once in a while. And lastly, it needed leg room. Lots of leg room. With no leg posts or cords or anything in the way so I can stretch out.

My current situation wasn’t cutting the mustard.

I got inspiration for the shape from this computer setup I found and saved an image of probably 15 years ago. A good search turns up thousands of results and I sadly cannot find the originator to credit them. But here it is:

Theoretically there are 3 work areas – one on the flat spot on the right, main one in the middle, and another on the long section to the left. For my room, I had to mirror the shape, and I expanded it a bit for a little more room. Here’s my original sketch.

First I made a cardboard template. I made about 15 iterations of this before settling on a shape. Lots of freehand, which involved more erasing than drawing.

Then I transferred that to plywood and got all the edges smooth with a drum sander on my drill. I got really giddy at about this point.

Made some make-shift legs/bases out of 2×4’s.

Laminated the top panels

Scraped the glue and sanded smooth, then took it to a local guy with a 36” oscilating drum sander to flatten them all. I took a pic, but I don’t want to post it here for his sake, not sure he’d like that.

After they were flat, I rough cut with a jigsaw, then finished up with a big template bit in the router using my plywood template.

Bottom and rear edges got a 1/8” roundover, front edges on top got a 1/2” roundover.

Finished with 3 coats of water based poly to keep the maple as white as possible. Put it all together, and I am simply thrilled. see project pics at top


The shelf was made from scraps from the main desk top. It was a game of tetris finding just enough to cover the shape I needed. Otherwise it was more or less the same process as the desk tops. Cut the template out of plywood, laminate the maple boards, rough cut with jigsaw, and trace template with the router. 1/2” roundover on the top front edges, 1/8” roundover everywhere else. I flattened this one myself with a belt sander though. It’s not as flat as the desk surfaces, but good enough for me.

Since I was using scraps, I had a few end-grain butt joints so I strengthened them with some biscuits and made sure a good long-grain butt joint spanned the “gap” on both sides. Worked great.

I just screwed 8 IKEA desk shelf feet into the bottom and plopped it on the desk surface. This one turned out really great, I’m super happy with it.


I put a ton of research into the height adjustable legs. In the end I went with a set from Uplift Desk. Overall I’m happy with them, and I’ve got them up and down at least twice every day. Working great so far.


I’m really, really happy with this. It fits all of my needs. It was a learning process, but to me it just tells a story. It’s well built, solid, spacious, fun, and ergonomic. I can’t wait to finish this up, but unfortunately it’s moving at a snail’s pace. Next project is the printer stand – I’ll post it when it’s done!

9 comments so far

View therealSteveN's profile


5757 posts in 1345 days

#1 posted 05-20-2018 04:39 AM

Looks like it is coming along nicely. Love the build pics, keep them coming as you progress.

Don’t sweat the time, between time for the little Man, work and whatnot it will happen. Always remember, Haste makes Waste.

Thanks for posting.

-- Think safe, be safe

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3637 days

#2 posted 05-20-2018 01:16 PM

You did a very nice job on this desk. The design is very creative and I like it very much.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View BB1's profile


1639 posts in 1619 days

#3 posted 05-20-2018 02:50 PM

Nice job. Great to be able to customize to fit the space and how you plan to use it.

View jamsomito's profile


547 posts in 1197 days

#4 posted 05-20-2018 03:19 PM

Thanks everyone.

A couple things I forgot to mention. I’m tall so I didnt want any kind of stretchers or drawers underneath the surface where I would bump my shins or knees on, which is why it’s just a flat top. I really wanted it as open as possible.

I went with 5/4 hard maple as it’s indiginous to my area and as hard and strong as was economically feasible. The finished thickness is about 1-1/16” thick. So far I’ve had a lot of weight over a pretty wide span on the center section and I don’t have any noticeable sag. It’s working great. I have had some movement over the large surfaces but that was expected and not a big deal.

View sras's profile


5456 posts in 3900 days

#5 posted 05-20-2018 03:35 PM

Nice! The design is very well laid out – looks great too!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View swirt's profile


5225 posts in 3743 days

#6 posted 05-21-2018 01:49 AM

Great looking arrangement. Thanks for all the build photos.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24790 posts in 3876 days

#7 posted 05-21-2018 02:09 AM

That is really nice when you can build a desk just line you want it for you needs. That is a great build and I like your process with the templates of cardboard.

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3180 days

#8 posted 05-21-2018 03:16 AM

Very creative, who cares how long it takes. It is about the journey and yours has been adventurous.
Nice work, look forward to seeing the final product.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View grg3's profile


5 posts in 2536 days

#9 posted 06-04-2018 11:25 AM

Great job! Enjoy!

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