How To Make + Finish a DIY Wood Desktop

A DIY wood desktop can be a beautiful and functional addition to any workspace. It can provide a natural, warm feel that is perfect for a home office or a study. Making a wood desktop may seem daunting at first, but with a little patience and some basic woodworking skills, it can be a rewarding project that can save you money compared to buying a pre-made one. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making and finishing a DIY wood desktop.

Materials Needed:

  • Wood planks
  • Sandpaper (120, 220, 320 grit)
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Table saw
  • Planer
  • Wood router
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane or another type of wood sealer
  • Brushes or rags


Step 1: Choose the Wood Planks

The first step in making a DIY wood desktop is choosing the wood planks. You can use any type of wood you like, but hardwoods such as oak, cherry, or walnut are the most popular for their durability and beauty. The wood planks should be straight and flat, with no visible knots or warping. You will need to calculate how many planks you need based on the size of your desktop. Consider the thickness of each plank, and the total width and length of the desktop.

Step 2: Cut and Plane the Wood Planks

Once you have the wood planks, you will need to cut them to the right size and plane them to an even thickness. A table saw and a planer are the best tools for this job. Use the table saw to cut the planks to the desired width and length. Then use the planer to create an even thickness. If you don’t have access to these tools, you can use a hand saw and a hand plane, but it will be more time-consuming.

Step 3: Glue the Wood Planks Together

After cutting and planing the planks, it’s time to glue them together. Apply a generous amount of wood glue to the edges of the planks, and then clamp them together. Use enough clamps to ensure that the planks are tightly held together. You may want to use some scrap wood to distribute the clamping pressure more evenly. Let the glue dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 4: Sand the Wood Desktop

Once the glue has dried, remove the clamps and sand the wood desktop. Start with a coarse 120-grit sandpaper to remove any excess glue or rough spots. Then use a finer 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. Finally, use a very fine 320-grit sandpaper to give the desktop a smooth finish.

Step 5: Router the Edges

To give your DIY wood desktop a finished look, you can router the edges. A wood router is a tool that allows you to create decorative edges on the wood. You can use a simple round-over bit to create a soft, curved edge, or a more complex ogee bit to create an ornate edge. Take your time and go slowly to avoid making mistakes.

Step 6: Stain the Wood Desktop

After routing the edges, it’s time to stain the wood desktop. You can use any wood stain you like, but a natural color that enhances the wood grain is a good choice. Apply the stain evenly with a brush or a rag, and then wipe off any excess. Let the stain dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 7: Seal the Wood Desktop

The final step is to seal the wood desktop with a polyurethane or another type of wood sealer. This will protect the wood from moisture and scratches, and it will also give it a beautiful shine. Apply the sealer with a brush or a rag, making sure to cover the entire surface evenly. Let the sealer dry for the recommended time on the label. Then lightly sand the surface with a fine grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots or bubbles. Repeat the process of applying sealer and sanding until you reach the desired level of sheen and protection.

Step 8: Install the Desktop

Once the sealer is completely dry, your DIY wood desktop is ready to be installed. Choose the appropriate hardware and attach the desktop securely to the base. Make sure the desktop is level and stable before using it.

Tips and Tricks

  • Always wear protective gear, such as safety glasses and a dust mask, when working with power tools or sanding wood.
  • Choose the right type of wood for your project, taking into account its durability and appearance.
  • Take your time and measure twice before cutting or gluing anything.
  • Use clamps to hold the wood planks together while the glue dries.
  • Test the stain on a scrap piece of wood first to ensure the color is what you want.
  • Apply the sealer in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Don’t rush the process – allow enough time for the glue, stain, and sealer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Making a DIY wood desktop can be a fun and rewarding project for anyone with basic woodworking skills. With the right materials and tools, you can create a beautiful and functional workspace that will be the envy of your friends and colleagues. Remember to take your time, be patient, and always put safety first. Good luck with your project!

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