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How to Build a Reclaimed Wood Office Desk (page 2 of 2)

With some time, basic tools and a little hard work, you can build a reclaimed table. Go industrial by adding a set of vintage cast-iron adjustable table base legs.

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Office Desk Area
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty



Assemble the Top

Set biscuit joiner depth to #20. Lay the four best planks out on a flat surface and arrange them in final position. With a pencil and working across two boards at a time, make a mark at every 8" point along the seam of two boards. After marks are made, use the joiner to cut the biscuit slots at each location. Align the reference mark on the tool (similar to circular saw) and hold the top plate firmly flat against the board. In one smooth motion, plunge the tool until it hits the stop.

Note: Do not cut joints on outside edges of first and last board.

After all slots are cut, stand each board on end and coat the edge of jointed side with wood glue. Next, coat the biscuits with glue. Insert biscuits in one side only of each board, then insert glued biscuits in the empty joint of the next board. Assemble planks in order until the top is complete. Don't worry about small gaps. Next, carefully lay the top down and attach pipe clamps at roughly 1' intervals. Slowly tighten each pipe clamp in a consistent fashion until the gaps disappear*. Small amounts of glue can be removed when dry; scrape up any puddled glue with a plastic putty knife. To minimize sanding later, avoid working glue into the top of the wood. Let the top set overnight.

*DIY Tip: Do not over-tighten the pipe clamps, as the top will eventually bow. Clamp a cross piece of 2x4 (perpendicular to the planks) before fully tightening the clamps to keep planks flat during the drying process.

Once the top is dry, remove the clamps from the top and check for relative flatness to the assembly. Use a small hand-held planer or razor to remove any dried glue. Mark each end 1/2" in from the shortest board and make a clean perpendicular cross cut.

Prepare the Base

Cut the remaining 2x8 into four equal pieces roughly 2' long. Bevel two pieces at 45 degrees with a circular saw. Flip the top over and, if the boards are relatively flat (remember the biscuit joiner ensured the tops would line up), attached the base right to the top. If not, or for a more secure assembly, plunge route a pocket for the unbeveled pieces you just cut. Do this roughly 1' in from each side. Mark the location by squaring the board and tracing around the perimeter. Plunge route 1/4" at both locations. Coat the pocket with a thin layer of wood glue. Tack this piece in place with 2" finish nails. Do the same for the beveled pieces.

Center the metal table legs on this base and mark the center of the mounting holes. Using a long pilot bit, drill perpendicular to the board and through the top. Choose carriage bolts 1/16" smaller than the mounting holes for the legs. Using a bit 1/16" larger than the carriage bolts, drill down through the pilot holes. Install the legs and loosely tighten the carriage bolt nuts. Ask a helper to hold the top while you tighten each nut. Only tighten until the top of the carriage bolt slightly pulls into the top.

Finish the Top

Once the legs are secured, rip down a reclaimed 1x (or additional 2x) for edge banding to cover the end grain. Do this for the two end sides with a square cut. Glue and shoot on with 15-gauge finish nails. Sand the top or leave as-is. To accentuate the existing wood tone, apply a clear furniture wax or polyurethane.

Wood Desk Project

Make Desk Drawer (Optional)

Approximately 16' of reclaimed 1x4 will be needed to create a 24" x 12" drawer.

Start by making the drawer box. Cut two pieces at 22.5" and two pieces at 12". Cut one piece of 1/2" plywood to 22.5" x 10.5". Fasten the box sides to the drawer bottom with wood glue and 15-gauge finish nails. Next, cut one piece at 28". Add wood glue and finish nail to the front of the box with the overhang equal on each side.

Install 12" drawer slides to each side of the box. Measure the full width (including the slides) and cut one piece of 1x4 to this length. Cut two more pieces to 14" long. Glue one end of the two 14" side pieces and, on a flat surface, finish nail through the face of the third piece (back). Flip the table over and align the box so the 14" side pieces are 1" back from the edge and centered on the long side of the desktop.

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