Oak slab desk out of plywood

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by jonlan posted 01-15-2018 08:25 PM 619 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jonlan's profile


72 posts in 2174 days

01-15-2018 08:25 PM

One of the projects Im currently working on is a set of built-ins that include a desk. The cabinets will all be painted but the actual desk top I want to make out of oak and stained. Now the desk section is going to be big (6 feet wide by about 3 feet deep) so making it out of solid oak isnt feasible from a cost perspective. I also want the desk slab to look like it’s at least 2 inches thick. Typically, when dealing with plywood, I would just use another piece of solid wood as front trim to conceal the edge of the plywood. But since this will be stained, and oak has such an obvious grain, I think you’d likely see the line where the plywood and front trim piece of oak meet if they were just butted up to one another.

So I was thinking about how to do this and was wondering if mitering the two pieces together into the front corner would work. The two pieces being the top piece and then a smaller front piece of oak plywood. If I could get the plywood not to tear, that seems feasible. I suppose the front piece of oak trim could be solid oak too making at least one of them easier to cut on a 45 degree angle for the miter joint.

Anyone have a better idea on how to achieve the look of a solid slab?


4 replies so far

View Steve's profile


2647 posts in 1869 days

#1 posted 01-15-2018 09:16 PM

Could you put some oak boards on top of the plywood, then hide the edges with the oak trim?

Maybe some 1/4” or 1/2” boards?

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1669 days

#2 posted 01-15-2018 09:33 PM

Check out this Charles Neil video:

View Kazooman's profile


1540 posts in 3239 days

#3 posted 01-15-2018 09:36 PM

Are you wedded to the oak idea? It might not be the best choice for a desk surface (don’t ask me how I know this).

The open porous grain structure of oak creates some issues. Unless you completely fill it you can have problems writing on a single sheet of paper. It’s like when they ask you to sign a credit card slip on a textured counter surface. You can fill the grain, but then you might encounter issues with the staining. Using some sort of desk blotter for a writing surface sort of defeats the look of the oak.

As far as the mitered edge idea goes, I don’t think it will work. You would have to keep the sharp 90 degree corner at the edge to keep the plies from showing Not even a tiny round over would be allowed. Not a user friendly desk edge.

How about making the front piece out a actual 2” stock three or four inches wide. Then it won’t look like a thin edge banding. You could then make the field of the top out of oak veneered plywood. You could consider cutting that into strips and alternating the grain pattern to make it look like glued up boards. Or use thinner oak boards on a plywood base as suggested above.

View Kazooman's profile


1540 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 01-15-2018 09:57 PM

One additional thought. What is your break point on the cost? 3’ X 6’ X 2” is 36 board feet. Around here 2” oak is about $5.00 a board foot. Is $180 (give or take) too much for the budget. With allowance for cuts, etc. $200 should cover it.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics