A DIY Desk That Can Organize Your Life

Ben Uyeda from HomeMade Modern shows how easy it is to make a multi-tasking desk for small living spaces using just a single sheet of plywood.

In a small apartment, a desk is used for many things. It’s often more than just a workstation. It can double as a craft table, a dinner table for one, a make-up station or vanity and a place to store unopened bills. With the flip desk, I set out to create a small, simple desk designed for multi-tasking.

Supplies + Tools

3/4” PureBond Plywood 4’ by 8’ Sheet
Available at Home Depot
Purebond uses a formaldehyde-free technology to make plywood that’s better for your family and the environment. It promotes healthy indoor air quality due to its proprietary, soy-based adhesive (instead of potentially hazardous urea formaldehyde). Traditional plywood contains a lot of glues and adhesives that can off-gas formaldehyde into your home.

Pre-Made Table Legs
Available at the HomeMade Modern Store
I used 28” tall, iron hairpin legs; but almost any pre-made table or desk legs would work for this project. For a cheaper alternative, IKEA has a set of 4 pre-made table legs for $14.

Hinges
Available at the Home Depot
I used simple cabinet hinges from Home Depot for the flipping desktop lids.

RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill
Available at Home Depot

RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw (with Plywood Blade)
Available at Home Depot

RYOBI Orbital Sander
Available at Home Depot

1. Pick Your Plywood

I selected 3/4” Purebond Birch veneer plywood, but any 3/4” thick sheet of plywood will work. There are a lot of different options and this desk could look really cool with any of them. I had one of the nice Home Depot associates cut the top and bottom of the desk for me. This saves time and also makes it much easer to get the plywood home.

2. Cut the Plywood Strips

Use a pencil to mark out the strips of plywood to be cut. Clamp the plywood to a work table and cut the strips with a circular saw. If you’re using a RYOBI Circular Saw with a laser guide, affixing a guide fence isn’t needed because you can just follow the pencil lines. I used a plywood blade for my circular saw to reduce the amount of tear out for each cut.

3. Cut the Strips to Length

Once you have turned the leftover plywood into a bunch of strips, mark out the design on the bottom of the desk and start cutting the strips to length. Cut the pieces for the front side of the desk first. You’ll have just just enough plywood to make the desk and some small pieces with gaps for the interior walls of the desk cabinets.

4. Screw the Strips

Screw the strips together one at a time using 1 1/4” long screws. You’ll need to vary the screw locations to avoid bumping into screws on a lower layer of plywood.

5. Mark the Top

Use a pencil to mark the cut lines for the desktop and use your circular saw to make the cuts.

6. Screw the Hinges to the Lids

Screw the hinges to the underside of the desktop lids.

7. Mark the Hinge Locations

Place all of the desktop pieces in their proper positions before setting the lid into place and marking the outline of the hinges with a pencil.

8. Cut a Recess for the Hinges

Set your circular saw cut just about 1/8” deep and cut grooves in the desk to allow the hinges to sit flush. Make a series of cuts with the circular saw and then remove any remaining pieces with a chisel.

9. Screw in the Lid into Place

Screw the hinges to the desk to affix the lid to the desk. You may not get it perfect the first time, so just place two screws at first and then test opening and closing the lid to make sure it’s properly aligned.

10. Screw on the Top Pieces

I screwed the remaining top pieces into place with 1 1/4” stainless steel finish screws. They’re more expensive but look much nicer. I marked the screw locations prior to screwing to make sure I had uniform placement.

11. Sanding

I used 220 grit paper on my RYOBI Orbital Sander to lightly sand the top. I used 100 and 220 grit paper on the sides of the desk.

12. Screw on the Legs

Gently flip the desk over and screw on the legs. You can use longer screws where the leg holes align with the stacked up strips, but make sure to use 3/4” screws for the holes that align only with a single layer of plywood.

13. Get Organized

I made some interior partitions for the cabinets out of leftover 2×3 scraps and paint stirring sticks, but you can choose to leave the cabinets open. To make the partitions, I clamped together two 2×3s and cut grooves into them. The paint sticks fit into the grooves. I also drilled some holes into the 2×3s for some handy cylindrical compartments.

14. Finish

I painted the underside of the small compartment with chalkboard paint and used double stick tape to attach a mirror to the underside of the larger lid.

Options:
I envisioned this desk as a combination home office and makeup station/vanity but it could easily work for a variety of different uses. I also drilled holes for running laptop power cables through the compartment and desktop.

Good luck making your own Flip Desk and please tweet photos to @benuyeda or email photos to ben@homemade-modern.com. For more detailed instructions on this an other DIY projects, check out homemade-modern.com.

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