Which wood to buy?

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Forum topic by Pcmaker posted 09-18-2015 04:52 PM 619 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 407 days

09-18-2015 04:52 PM

I’m sort of new to woodworking and I want to build an L-shaped desk for my computer. I have all the measurements and the plan to make it.

I’m going to be getting the wood from Home Depot. I want it to look like a store-bought computer desk. The design is very simple.

My questions are:

-What type of wood should I use? Something that I can get from Home Depot. I don’t want to get plywood since I don’t want to take the chance of it splintering when I’m cutting with circular saw.

-What type of finish should I use? I want it to look like darkwood like most executive computer desks. I also want it to feel smooth like wood laminate and not “sticky.”

-i want to round out the front top of the edge, which type of (inexpensive) router and router bit should I get?

5 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile


2541 posts in 1681 days

#1 posted 09-18-2015 10:10 PM

Pc, you didn’t mention the tools you have available, but I am guessing that you don’t have a table saw, jointer or thickness planer and maybe not any hand planes. The job will be difficult without the basics.

You mentioned that you want a dark desk so that would either be walnut, for example, or some “white” wood that will need to be stained to the color of your choice. I don’t know what woods are stocked at your local HD, mine has some maple, red oak and white wood, I think. None of the woods you buy there will be square; the only wood that is square is the wood you make square. Making anything out of wood that isn’t square will be challenging.

Ply can be cut with a high-angle, negative hook blade to minimize chipping and you can score the cut mines to also minimize chipping. I mention this as an option for you to consider to get a surface that will be flat. Then you will need to edge band the ply to hide the edges.

There are a number of finishing stains you might use to get the color you want; Minwax is one manufacturer and there are others. Whatever you decide to do for a finish, test it on scrap first to be certain that it is what you really want before applying it to your project.

Search Amazon for routers and take your pick, Porter Cable generally gets good reviews. I would buy a Whiteside quarter round bit, which will be a little pricey, but worth it. You will need to select the radius that matches your vision.

There are many youtube vids available to help you. Watch a bunch of them and come back here with your additional questions. Good luck.

-- Art

View rwe2156's profile


2128 posts in 905 days

#2 posted 09-18-2015 11:46 PM

Youre best bet it plywood, but you won’t find a suitable quality at HD.
You’ll have to locate a hardwood dealer or a similar place that carries quality hardwood plywoods.
You can use any kind of dark stain and cover with several coats of polyurethane.

Rip cuts will not be a problem, but xcut tear out can be eliminated by making a scoring cut with a marking knife.

You will need a cutting guide for your saw.
You will need to make grooves, too, so a router will be a necessity.

Just about any router will do.

Edge banding will be an important part of the project as will learning to do dados and rabbets.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View esmthin's profile


77 posts in 605 days

#3 posted 09-19-2015 04:22 AM

You should try poplar. My Home Depot carries it and I’ve built a few projects out of it. It is technically a hardwood so it has some nice working properties. As for the dark color, you should would have to stain it. I use Minwax dark walnut stain. This has given me good, dark results. The finish I use is just a simple brush-on varnish, it’s really easy to just apply with a foam brush. Put on 4-5 coats, because it will get some abuse, making sure to sand at 600 grit in between coats to knock off the high spots. In my opinion I don’t think you should get a router yet. I would start with a small block plane, which is a better beginner option and much cheaper. You can get even smoother results than with a router in some cases.

-- Ethan,

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2238 days

#4 posted 09-19-2015 04:33 AM

Don’t buy furniture grade lumber from the big box stores. Don’t buy furniture grade plywood from big box stores. Find a specialty hardwood supplier, and avoid the regret of poor quality lumber.

I feel poplar is too soft for a desk top, unless it is topped with glass. A ball point pen will dent poplar pretty easily.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View TheFridge's profile


5683 posts in 910 days

#5 posted 09-19-2015 04:56 AM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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