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How-To Projects | August 7, 2020

Build the Ultimate Learning Station: DIY Kids Desk

Let’s face it, we’re all unclear on what this new school year will bring. What is clear is that our kiddos—whether they’re back in the classroom or learning virtually—need a way to stay organized at home that’s not the dining room table. This DIY kids desk is the perfect size for elementary aged kids with plenty of space for learning and playing! Our favorite feature is the hidden storage cubby where supplies (and distractions) can be stowed away when it’s time to focus.

Follow our step-by-step instructions to build your own!

THINGS YOU'LL NEED

Materials

  • 3/4" x 4' x 8' Plywood*  
  • 2" x 2" x 36" Board* 
  • 3/8" x 36" Wood Dowel 
  • #8 x 1-1/2" Flat Head Phillips Wood Screw 
  • Sandpaper**: 150g, 220g & 320g 
  • Drill Bits: 3/8" & 1-1/4" Hole Saw 
  • Wood Glue 
*Board Dimensions are “nominal.” Actual dimensions are smaller due to lumber industry standards. Cuts are actual length.
 
**Starting grit will depend on board surface condition, a rough surface will require starting with a coarse grit first.

LUMBER CUT LIST & LAYOUT GUIDE

Trim down the length of the 2”x2” board to 25-3/4” – this will be your hinge.
 
For the remaining pieces, measure and mark your desired cuts on the 4’ x 4’ plywood sheet and cut down as follows:
  • (2) – 23” x 24” (side panels)
  • (1) – 24” x 19-5/8” (bottom panel)
  • (1) – 24” x 5-3/8” (back panel)
  • (1) – 24” x 4” (base support)
  • (1) – 24” x 3-1/4” (top panel)
  • (1) – 24” x 2-1/2” (front panel)
  • (1) – 23-3/4” x 18-1/4” (desktop)
We recommend wearing safety glasses when operating power tools.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1

Cut all material using the Lumber & Cut Sheet Layout Guide. Group the 24" panels together, so you’ll only have to cut (1) panel. Leave about 2" of scrap at the ends. Create a fence using the straight board and clamps to help guide the edge of the circular saw. 

Start by cutting the small boards. Clamp the panel to a sturdy support—measure the height, then clamp the fence in the proper position. Next, cut the desk’s front panel; note that the top edge has a 10º angle to match the desktop slope. Set the circular saw base to 10º, but before you cut, make sure the distance from the blade to the fence is accurate. FYI: All other cuts are 90º, so be sure to adjust the fence accordingly.
Step 1

Step 2

Mark cut lines on the (2) 23" x 24" side panels and the location for the hinge pivot hole. Follow the measurements in the diagram. Use your 1-1/4" hole saw to drill a pivot hole and then draw a 1" radius circle on all (4) corners. Cut along circle with a jigsaw. Do the same on the second side panel.
Step 2

Step 3

Follow the diagram to mark where the countersink holes go. Drill 3/16" deep holes in all locations. You'll plug the holes later in Step 19. Repeat Step 3 on the second side panel, making sure the countersink holes are drilled on the OPPOSITE side.
Step 3

Step 4

Take the 24" x 5-3/8" back panel and mark where the countersink holes go. Be sure the holes are 3/8" from the edge and 6" apart.
Step 4
Using the countersink bit, drill both panels making sure the holes are 3/16" deep. Take the 24" x 3-1/4" front panel and mark the same spots as the back panel. This time drill the countersink holes on the short side of the 10º cut.
For the desktop, follow the diagram for the countersink holes. They need to be placed 1-16" off the edge.

Step 5

To make the hinge, you’ll need to cut off the round ends of the dowel. Draw lines from opposite corners to make an (X)—that way you can locate the center. Do this on both ends. Next, place the arbor bit on the 1/8" hole of the hole saw. Drill into both ends of the dowel as straight as possible. The saw should bottom out on the inside of the bit at 15/16" deep.
Step 5
Outside of the dowel, mark a line 15/16" around both ends. Use the hand saw to gently cut away the outer material—be careful not to cut into the round ends! 
Drill a 3/8" hole approximately 1/2" deep where the previous hole was drilled. Take the 3/8" dowel rod and cut (2) 1/2" long sections. Apply glue to the inside of the hole and place dowel in the hole. Apply pressure, so that it’s flush with the end. Do this on both ends. Now take a utility knife and sandpaper to clean up the ends. The finished length of the square part should be 23-7/8" long.  

Step 6

Place the hinge underneath the desktop—the countersink holes should be facing up. Offset the square part of the hinge 5/16" from the back edge. (This centers the holes to the center of the hinge.) Make sure there’s equal distance from each side edge. The square part of the hinge should overlap the sides of the desktop by approximately 1/16". Attach with #8 1-1/2" wood screws. From here on out, all attachments will be made with these screws.
Step 6
Align and attach the back panel to the bottom panel. Then, align and attach the top panel to the back panel—and the front panel to the bottom panel.

Step 7

To assemble the (2) storage compartments, draw lines for the bottom and back of the compartments on both side panels. Then draw the line that represents the back of the bottom support on the inside of both side panels. Got that?
Step 7
Match up the compartment to the lines on the side panel and attach. 
Now do the same with bottom support and attach.
Insert (1) round end of the desk top hinge into the pivot hole.
Then align the pivot hole on the other side with the desk top hinge. Finally, line up the compartment to the remaining side panel and attach.

Step 8

Take the 3/8" dowel rod and cut it into 3/16" sections. Glue and plug the rods into all countersink holes. Let glue dry and then sand all raised plugs, so they’re flush with the surface.
Step 8
You’re almost finished! Check that the desktop will stand on its own it its full upright position. 
SAFETY NOTE: Be sure to close the desktop slowly. To avoid getting pinched, keep fingers clear of the back slot and sides.

TIME TO LEARN & PLAY

Now you’re ready to sand and finish. Paint or stain the desk to your liking—we recommend choosing a fun paint color to get the kids excited to use their new workstation!
Desk is complete—high fives all around! Going back to school is so much better when you #DoItWith HART.
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