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Is 4/4 too thin for a desktop

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Forum topic by PhillipRCW posted 06-27-2017 07:50 PM 924 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PhillipRCW

475 posts in 1286 days


06-27-2017 07:50 PM

I’m looking at making a desktop out of either Curly maple or some crazy colored poplar. I found a great deal on 4/4 in both. The base is going to be a cantilevered set of legs with a stretcher running across the back. Threaded inserts in the desk top with slotted holes in the legs. Is 4/4? too thin for a long term desk top though? I don’t want it looking too clunky, so I want to avoid going all the way to 8/4. Has anyone had any issues with doing a top this thin?

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.


14 replies so far

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jmartel

7950 posts in 2172 days


#1 posted 06-27-2017 07:56 PM

Depends on how big it’s going to be and the base design. Most likely yes without both a front and back stretcher, though.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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Loren

10476 posts in 3670 days


#2 posted 06-27-2017 08:01 PM

Maple is plenty strong in 4/4 if you’re
worried about the desk sagging. While
it’s true shelves do sag under the weight
of books, shelves are commonly only 12”
deep or so and books are quite heavy.

The poplar is probably fine too. It has
less beam strength than hard maple but
it’s still sufficient for a flat desk top that
won’t sag under modest weight, imo.

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UpstateNYdude

917 posts in 2005 days


#3 posted 06-27-2017 08:20 PM

Unless you’re planning to added 200lbs or more to it, or someone is also using it to sleep on, I think you’ll be fine. If a 3/4” laminated MDF desk from Staples can hold the two armed monitor stand with 24” screens, 27” iMac and two servers on it I have at work, I’m pretty sure 4/4 or even after planing 3/4 maple can more than handle the job.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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magaoitin

246 posts in 971 days


#4 posted 06-27-2017 09:01 PM

Functionally 4/4 Curly Maple is plenty strong for a desk top. In our commercial cabinet shop we use 2 sheets of 3/4 MDO for all of our reception desks and transaction counters, and a lot of these span 8’ between vertical supports/legs/sides.

In my opinion the toughest part of using a 4/4 top is that it appears thin and insubstantial, regardless of how strong it is. Once you scale the overall mass of the desk it might appear too thin, but that will all depend on how you design the legs/sides.

If you are really worried about weight you can always build a sub-top that is stepped back in from the edge of the Maple top by, say 6”. Depending on the leg/side design no one would ever see the sub-top.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

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PhillipRCW

475 posts in 1286 days


#5 posted 06-27-2017 09:43 PM

Thanks for the responses everyone. I was a pretty confident the thickness would work for a smaller desk, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience that would sway me. I thought about adding an additional border piece all the way around to emulate a thicker desk, but then I want to chamfer that. I just like the look. But it’s hard to pass up 4/4 maple and poplar for just over a dollar a bf. They only had a small amount left so I bought it up. I’m doing 12/4 for the cantilever legs and I’ll add a small taper to the feet and top to lighten the feeling a bit.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

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Aj2

1420 posts in 1820 days


#6 posted 06-27-2017 09:57 PM

Wait a minute are we taking a full 1 inch 4/4 or the nominal 4/4 that’s sold to the weekend warrior.

-- Aj

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PhillipRCW

475 posts in 1286 days


#7 posted 06-27-2017 09:59 PM

4/4 from a lumber yard, not the Orange box.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

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Holbs

1878 posts in 2051 days


#8 posted 06-28-2017 12:13 AM

is 5/4 or 6/4 an option if 4/4 has any concern?

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter

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Kelly

2039 posts in 2966 days


#9 posted 06-28-2017 01:13 AM

I enjoy doing things some say can’t be done. I’ve made bookshelves using 3/8 ply and they didn’t sag across 36” fully loaded. When done, I could see I could have don the same with 1/4”.

Those “stretchers” mentioned are the clue to building a table or desk you could walk on. If it were a table, you’d have an apron around it that supported table dancing Grandma Nell. Narrow (e.g., 12”) kitchen shelves support a lot of glass, if you put stiffners on the front or back. Of course, do both and you could park your truck there (okay, maybe not).

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Woodknack

11763 posts in 2402 days


#10 posted 06-28-2017 01:18 AM

4/4 is fine. My dining table is 4/4 mahogany.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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PhillipRCW

475 posts in 1286 days


#11 posted 06-28-2017 01:43 PM



I enjoy doing things some say can t be done. I ve made bookshelves using 3/8 ply and they didn t sag across 36” fully loaded. When done, I could see I could have don the same with 1/4”.

Those “stretchers” mentioned are the clue to building a table or desk you could walk on. If it were a table, you d have an apron around it that supported table dancing Grandma Nell. Narrow (e.g., 12”) kitchen shelves support a lot of glass, if you put stiffners on the front or back. Of course, do both and you could park your truck there (okay, maybe not).

- Kelly

I’m doing the stretcher to mount my power strip and help with cable management. It will have a small ledge that will match the overhang of the top. I’m confident with the overall base design, but I was wondering if anyone had any reasons why 4/4 wouldn’t work. I’m going to try to build it over the long holiday weekend. I’m off early Friday through next Wednesday so I should have plenty of time.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

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Bluenote38

259 posts in 410 days


#12 posted 06-28-2017 04:15 PM

It isn’t so much that you actually need more than 4/4 for desktop support but… Think how people will use it. Fill the pedestal drawers with 50-60lbs each then lift it by the top, sit on it, stand on it, pile a lifetime of books on it, stack furniture on it for the move to a new home. 1” might survive but most examples that are 80+ years old are 1-3/8” to 1-3/4” And many might see the next century.

-- Bill - Rochester MI

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PhillipRCW

475 posts in 1286 days


#13 posted 06-28-2017 06:19 PM



It isn t so much that you actually need more than 4/4 for desktop support but… Think how people will use it. Fill the pedestal drawers with 50-60lbs each then lift it by the top, sit on it, stand on it, pile a lifetime of books on it, stack furniture on it for the move to a new home. 1” might survive but most examples that are 80+ years old are 1-3/8” to 1-3/4” And many might see the next century.

- Bluenote38

This is going to be my personal desk. Small recording microphone, laptop, extra monitor, small drawer underneath for pens and paper. I have a few filing cabinets for other stuff. I think my wife might put her cricut on the top just to get it off the dresser. I’m thinking 30” x 60” desk top.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

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Andybb

1013 posts in 625 days


#14 posted 06-28-2017 07:56 PM

Are you worried about it sagging or twisting? 4/4 won’t sag. Are these 4/4 boards you’re going to joint, or a 1” thick slab?. As long as it’s dry and stable a slab won’t twist. You should be fine either way.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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