Desk design

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Forum topic by Ajisfild posted 11-09-2016 02:38 PM 926 views 2 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 764 days

11-09-2016 02:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: desk plywood joints joining question

Hello all!
I saw that absolutely perfect desk on pinterest the other day. Problem is, it is only manufactured by a small studio in the USA and having it delivered to Russia will cost a fortune so I figured why not just try making a replica myself. As I’m fairly new to woodworking I have quite a few questions though.

I’m currently drafting up the parts and the main question I have is tabletop to legs connection. Forum rules say to only post my own materials so it seems like I can’t attach the original desk, but here’s what I have at the moment:

The bottom version is what the original table seems to be like, and while I like the way it looks on the finished thing I’m not quite sure how much weight that version will be able to support as it usually makes more sense to support horizontal elements from the bottom so i made the second and the third drafts.

Any thoughts on what would be the best solution? The intended material is plywood

11 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2580 days

#1 posted 11-09-2016 04:37 PM

Dowels or loose tenons, if that is what those are, will not work on plywood because the layers may separate under stress. You’ll want to use a dado or cleat to support the full thickness of the top.

-- Rick M,

View Ajisfild's profile


4 posts in 764 days

#2 posted 11-09-2016 06:12 PM

Thank you! I’ll skp the tenons. Something like this then?

Would it be alright to end the joint an inch or so before the end of the board in case of the top one or would it have to go all the way through?

View bondogaposis's profile


5088 posts in 2552 days

#3 posted 11-09-2016 07:58 PM

Would it be alright to end the joint an inch or so before the end of the board in case of the top one or would it have to go all the way through?

That is the way I would do it. Perfectly acceptable joinery and more visually pleasing, plus it eliminates the risk of tearout on the front of the side board when cutting the dado.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Tony1212's profile


250 posts in 1935 days

#4 posted 11-10-2016 05:02 PM

Of your two new options, I think it would depend on what the triangular end caps are made out of.

If the ends and the desktop are plywood, I would use the second option, as it would give the greatest support for the ends of the desktop and you will be showing a lot of the endgrain (sidegrain? plys? whatever…) anyway.

If the ends are to be made of of a solid wood, I would use a modification of your first option. I would just cut a stopped dado (just like you have in the picture) in the end cap for the full width of the top and not worry about tenoning the top. It is faster and stronger, though if your dadoes aren’t tight, there may be a bit of a gap.

But that is just how I would approach each situation. 5 + 5 = 10. But so does 6 + 4. You do it whichever way makes you happy.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View CaptainSkully's profile


1602 posts in 3759 days

#5 posted 11-11-2016 01:48 AM

While I appreciate very much your adherence to the forum rules, we all post pics of furniture we find online to discuss joinery, etc. Your drawings are great too. That’s a great way to understand the joinery you’ll be using.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Ajisfild's profile


4 posts in 764 days

#6 posted 11-11-2016 07:26 AM

The sides are supposed to be plywood too, but none of it will be visible in the end as it will be veneered; here’s the original desk (thanks for telling me I can post it!):

(Laura desk by Phloem Studio)

I’m still not sure whether to pick a version that looks like the original or the one that seems more stable, I’ll probably have to render it to see if I like the look but I need to think up all the other parts first. And actually, what would be the benefit of using solid wood for the sides? Is it a noticeably better option?

View rwe2156's profile


3171 posts in 1681 days

#7 posted 11-14-2016 01:13 AM

Stylish desk, but with many stylish furniture, often structure takes a back seat.

I think you will have an issue with the top sagging and the drawers put limitations on support.

I would suggest a couple options. First, put a third support leg which would extent between the drawers. Second make the top of a double layer of plywood (1 1/2” thick) and in addition, make the support arms a bit wider.

The joinery would be grooves and splines. I would to 3/4” into the plywood.

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

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2580 days

#8 posted 11-14-2016 05:36 AM

I don’t share rwe’s concerns but I think the design lacks elegance. Easiest improvement would be match the grain on the sides but an even better improvement would be make the legs continuous all the way up like these examples.

Click for details

-- Rick M,

View TravisH's profile


627 posts in 2135 days

#9 posted 11-14-2016 11:40 AM

View Ajisfild's profile


4 posts in 764 days

#10 posted 12-07-2016 08:40 AM

Had to take a break from the project but finally finalized it for the most part, taking all the advice into consideration.

The desk is not big, it’s approx 40” x 24” so I thought thicker plywood would hold the shape, I really would rather not add extra legs. I did think up an option of an extra beam though. The problem with this one is the drawers would lose that extra length that would allow them to be opened fully. I also made a little preview of veneering, the actual veneer is likely to be way more muted then that though, definitely not as contrast.

@TravisH, unfortunately those details show the drawers, not the part I was concerned with. It does have sides on other pictures but they use tenons and I stayed away from that idea in the end.

Some of the new concerns: I’m wondering if they will be alright if I make the sides stick out less on the bottom, coming up to squares or so. I’m also wondering if having the sides so cut up would weaken the structure. And regarding the actual making, if I cut out full holes for the joints from thinner plywood and then glue them to full parts rather then cut dados, would it be much weaker?

Another thing is, would it be somehow possible to add a push to open mechanism to the drawers without having metal bits sticking out from the sides? I can’t hide them on the bottom cause of the angle, but I saw this thing where nothing is visible:

(the project:

and it says this drawer is spring loaded, so I assumed there’s a way.

I’m still figuring out how to use the back for wire management for it to be accessible and how to make the front element of the drawers from plywood, but really hope to start making it soon!

View mahdee's profile


4021 posts in 1968 days

#11 posted 12-07-2016 11:55 AM

Tes, google push to open mechanism. The concept is very much like the push button pens. For something regarding the picture you provided, maybe a mechanism like cd player might work better but you would need electricity for that.


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