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I Built A Goddamn Writing Desk With My Bare Hands And You Can Too

The first rule of desk club is make your own goddamn desk.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Ernest Hemingway once said: "Boy am I drunk." If you ever wonder why you're not a famous writer, the answer, my friends, is talent. But also the lack of a goddamn writing desk.

If, like me, you're a goddamn writer who just moved into a tiny east London flat, you'll need a new desk. If, like me, you have no money, your options are thus: Scour vintage markets for an overpriced but ultimately shitty desk, concede the last vestiges of your soul and visit Ikea, or build yourself a goddamn writing desk.

I did the last one. And I'm going to show you how. I'm not a desk expert – I'm barely qualified to sit at one – but you can think of me as the Gary Busey of desk-building: I have no idea what’s going on and Jennifer Garner is afraid of me.

Get some timber.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

There are several ways to get timber, depending on how broke a goddamn writer you are: You can find it, forage it, steal it, or get something vintage from Etsy, which most of you will want to do because you're all goddamn hipsters.

I don't have time for that shit, so I bought mine from a shop.

I bought redwood, because that's what they had. I learned that the name redwood is a lie. I suppose it has a reddish quality if you squint, or have blood in your eyes, but it's mostly beige/yellow.

Because I have a tiny flat and am overly judgmental, I need a fairly shallow desk. I opted for two lengths of redwood that I could fix together to make a desktop 450mm wide. That's 45cm, or just wide enough to catch my falling tears as I fail at life.

Sand that shit.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

The man at the shop cut the wood for me, and the ends of the wood were all rough from the saw. You can leave them rough, or you can take this shit seriously and fucking sand them.

If you can't be bothered, it's like Rodney Dangerfield famously said, “You should have gone to Ikea, jackass".

Here is a macro photo of a sanding block.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

My camera has a macro setting; isn't that cool? I got this sanding block from my local DIY shop – it has many different sides, like my ex, Julie. All of them terrible.

By which I mean they each have a different grade of sandpaper. It's helpful if you're the kind of person who walks into a DIY store and cries, because it covers every sanding-related base.

Screw it.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

My dad once told me, "Get your giant fucking head out of the way, I can't see the TV."

Similarly, the two planks of wood need fixing together. I'd recommend both glue and mending plates. You can try using love and kindness, but love never held anything together and kindness is one bus stop before communism.

This is my electric screwdriver.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

It's called a Bosch because that's the noise you make when each screw goes in. "BOSCH! Screw you, life! BOSCH! Screw you, Julie!"

You can try to use a manual screwdriver if you prefer but your forearms will burn like a motherfucker and you'll quit after one.

At this point I realised I'd forgot to glue it, so had to undo the screws again.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

This is the wood adhesive I used. It says it dries harder than the wood itself, but I was once told I could be anything I wanted if I believed and that didn't come true, did it?

Apply a thin layer and press the planks together. You can use tape to hold the planks in place while they dry. Wipe off any excess glue with a damp paper towel. Do not sniff.

Here are the two planks joined together.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Isn't that swell.

A desk without legs is just some planks of wood on the floor.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

You can try to make legs, but you will suck at it, and your desk will wobble. You should buy legs. I found these on Etsy.

Are these the right screws? No. Is that a problem? Yes.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

These are drywall screws and I bought them at 11pm from a shop that mostly sold canned goods. These are not the screws you are looking for, and will almost certainly result in the catastrophic failure of your desk, and many, many casualties.

Before you sue me for wrongful desk, please make sure you buy actual legit wood screws.

I used them anyway.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

I spaced the legs 20mm from the edge of the desktop, and attached them using the shitty screws I will spend the rest of my life regretting. Like goddamn Julie.

If the underside of your desk looks a bit of a mess, like this one, it doesn't matter. Literally zero people give a fuck about what the underside of your desk looks like.

Flip that glorious bastard over and stand it up.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed


Is it level?

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

According to Photoshop: Yes!

Wax the fuck out of it.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Sand the desktop lightly to remove any excess glue, scuff marks, pasta stains, tears, or doubts about your masculinity, then wipe it clean.

I'm coating mine with wax because I can't be bothered to stain or varnish it. You can do what the fuck you want with yours.

This is the polishing cloth I used to apply the wax.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

I didn't need to take a picture of it, but I wanted another excuse to use the sweet macro function my camera has.

Rub the wax in a small circular motion until you've covered the whole of the surface and edges. Leave it to dry for 30 minutes, then polish it with a clean part of the cloth.

You can apply more layers of wax for greater shine but honestly I couldn't be bothered.

Put Apple products on it.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

No goddamn writing desk is complete without a MacBook, iMac, or other Apple product to truly show that you are indeed a goddamn writer and that this is a serious goddamn writing desk for serious goddamn writing.

Upload pictures of your goddamn writing desk to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Tinder.

Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Congratulations, you are now a man. Apologies if you didn't want that for your life. Crack open a beer, oppress some people.

It's amazing what you can do with your bare hands and a little untamed masculinity. And an electric screwdriver. And shitty screws.

The desk cost me around £100 to make (timber £25, legs £60, glue/screws/wax/cloth £15). I could have made it more cheaply but no one ever avoided writing the next great novel on a cheap, shitty desk.

If your desk doesn't look this good, that's too bad. We can't all be the Gary Busey of desk-building. BOSCH!

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