How to Build a Computer Desk from Scratch

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 21, 2022
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If you are a DIY lover but not a DIY expert, just looking for simple DIY projects to practice then you are at the right place. In today’s article, I will help you to learn how to build a computer desk from scratch.

The computer desk we are going to build is not fancy in looking. It is a strong computer desk that can carry a high load and has an industrial look.  The desk is made of concrete and has shelves in the legs for making extra storage space.

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Required Raw Materials

  1. Olive oil
  2. Concrete mix
  3. Water
  4. Silicone caulk
  5. Concrete sealer

Required Tools

  1. Melamine board (for concrete mold frame)
  2. A mini Circular saw
  3. Measuring tape
  4. Drill
  5. Screws
  6. Painter’s tape
  7. Level
  8. Hardware cloth
  9. Concrete mixing tub
  10. Hoe (for mixing the cement)
  11. Orbital sander
  12. 2″ x 4″
  13. Mason trowel
  14. Plastic sheeting

Steps to Build Computer Desk from Scratch

Step 1: Making the Mold

The basic step for making the mold is to make the side pieces and bottom of the mold. You have to cut the melamine board according to your measurement for making the side pieces and the bottom part of the mold.

The measurement of the side pieces should be the summation of the thickness of the melamine board and your required thickness of the desk.

For example, if you want 1½-in. thick counter the side pieces should be 2¼-in.

Two of the side pieces should be the same length for the convenience of attachment and the other two pieces should be 1½-in. longer for the convenience of overlapping the other two sides.

After cutting the side pieces drill holes at a height of 3/8-in. from the bottom edge of the side pieces and also drill holes in the ends of the sides. Along the edge of the bottom pieces line the side pieces. To prevent the splitting of the wood drill holes through it. Then screw all four sides and wipe the inner side to clean the sawdust.

Now place the painter’s tape around the inner side of the edge. Do not forget to keep a gap for a bead of caulk. The caulk goes up along the corner seam as well as the inside edges. To remove the excess caulk smooth it out with your finger and let the caulk dry.

After the caulk gets dried take the tape away and place the mold on a flat surface. It is important to make sure that the mold remains leveled on the surface. To prevent concrete from sticking to the mold coat the inside of the mold with olive oil.

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Step 2: Mix the Concrete

Bring the concrete mixing tub and pour the concrete mixture inside the tub. Pour a small amount of water into it and start stirring with a stirrer until it earns consistency. It should not be too watery or too hard.

Then pour the mixture into the mold. The mold should not be filled with the concrete mixture fully rather it should be half-filled. Then smooth the cement.

There should not be any air bubble inside the concrete. To remove the bubble operate an orbital sander along the outside edge so that the air bubbles go away from the concrete along with vibration.

Cut the wire mesh and there should be a gap of ¾-in. size between the inside of the mold and it. Then place the mesh in the center position above the wet mold.

Prepare more concrete mixture and pour the mixture over the mesh. Then smooth the top surface and remove the air bubble using an orbital sander.

Press the board across the top of the mold to smooth and level the concrete using a piece of 2 × 4.  Do this step cautiously as it can get a bit messy.

Let the concrete dry. It will take a couple of hours to get dry. With the help of a trowel smooth it out. Then cover the mold with plastic and let it dry for 3 days.

When it will get dry well remove the screws from the mold and pull the sides off.  Lift the countertop to its sides and pull the bottom away. Then sand off the rough edges to make it smooth.

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Step 3: Building the Legs of the Desk

You need a pencil, measuring tape, a large piece of paper (or scrap wood), pine boards table saw power planer, jigsaw, drill, hammer and nails or nail gun, wood glue, wood stain, and/or polyurethane (optional)

It is very important to determine the dimensions and angles of the legs at the initial stage. Yes, it is completely your choice to determine the height and width of the leg. The legs should be strong enough to take the load of the concrete.

For instance, you can keep the height of legs 28½-in and the width 1½-in and the bottom 9 in.

Take the pine board and cut 1½-in. strips from it. Cut these 1/16 of an inch larger than your requirement so that you can end up with 1½-in after sawing.

Cut the top and bottom of the eight leg uprights to length at an angle of 5 degrees. Then cut the four-shelf supports and cut the four desktops supports to 23 in. length.  To make the shelf and table support sit flat cut a 5-degree angle along one long edge of each of these support pieces using the table saw.

Marking out the notches in the legs that you cut for making the support for shelf and table supports cut it out using a jigsaw.

Now glue and nail the supports into the leg uprights. Everything should be kept square that is what to be ensured. Then cut a piece with the table saw for joining the two upper supports with an angle of 5 degrees on each of the long sides.

Then cut the shelf according to the measurement. Using the power planer smooth the edges and glue and nail the shelf in place and let it dry.

When it will get dried make it smooth by sanding. Then determine the distance of the leg pieces. You need two cross pieces to fit between the tops of the legs to secure and give support to the two sets of legs.

For example, you can use 1×6 pine board and can cut the two pieces at 33½”x 7¼”

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Step 4: Attaching the Legs  with the Concrete Desktop

Smear the silicone caulk to the support boards where the concrete top will sit. Then setting the concrete desktop on top of the silicone apply the sealer to the concrete. Before applying sealer read the application direction written on the can of the sealer.

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Final Thought

It is a wonderful DIY desk project that does not cost much. But yes, you need several days to complete this project since concrete needs several days to settle. It is indeed a good DIY project for men.

You must be careful of the consistency of the concrete mixture. If it is too hard or too watery then its quality will degrade soon. The measurement of the mold and the leg pieces should be done carefully.

You must use hardwood for making the leg pieces because the leg pieces should be strong enough to carry the load of the concrete top of the desk.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.
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