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Reply by Rick M.

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Posted on Custom desk required - my first woodworking project?

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Rick M.

3788 posts in 983 days


#1 posted 638 days ago

You can build a suitable desk with either a biscuit joiner, dowels or Kreg Jig but you have to match tools and materials. For example, any of them will work with plywood or solid wood; but screws do not hold well in particleboard or mdf. I bring up particleboard because if it were me, I would consider using 1” particleboard for the top instead of 3/4” plywood. Why? Because particleboard is cheaper, lighter, easier to work and more rigid (it’s what preformed kitchen countertops are made from). In fact, I would consider using a preformed countertop as they are inexpensive, rigid, come in a variety of lengths, have a nice finished top and are sometimes used to build cubicle desks.

Biscuit joiners are great tools but I feel they were oversold some years back. Many people bought them who didn’t really need them (me included). A good one will cost ~$200 and a cheap one will aggravate you to death or worse, be useless. You can build shelves with a biscuit joiner and it is a very good tool for working with particleboard but I wouldn’t buy one unless you have other projects on which to use it.

Dowels are supposedly stronger and I can believe it but I’ve never used them. From other discussions I gather they can be difficult to align properly without a somewhat expensive jig.

Kreg Jigs are simple, quick and have a multitude of uses. After buying one I rarely use my biscuit joiner. I don’t know that I would rely on them to hold a desk together though.

I think you need a more specific plan/drawing before recommending one or the other of the above.

Tools you’re sure to need:
Wood Glue
Square
Saw (Not a jig saw. I’ve never built a project yet where I didn’t need a saw)
Drill (if you buy corded, go ahead and buy a hammer drill. They only cost a few dollars more and sometime down the road you’ll need it for something. They can be switched between regular and hammer)
Pencil
Measuring tape/yardstick/ruler

Maybe or Probably
Clamps (depends on the design, screws can often be used instead)
Sandpaper (probably)
Screws (I like self tapping deck screws. Drywall screws will work but are brittle and they do snap off)

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