Industrial-Chic Desk

By Marcie McGoldrick

This desk was made with a frame of oneinch black steel pipe and oak plywood. For a more finished look, we covered the exposed edges with iron-on wood-veneer edge banding.

You can also see our instructions for a table and storage unit.

Tools and Materials

1-inch black steel pipe (Four 6" pieces, four 8" pieces, two 10" pieces, two 18" pieces, two 24" pieces)
8 floor flanges
4 end caps
6 T joints
Drill with 3/16-inch bit
3/4-inch screws
One 54-by-11-inch 3/4-inch-thick plywood shelf
One 54-by-31-inch 1 1/2-inch-thick desk top (see below for how-to)

  1. Download assembly plan. Assemble both sides of desk according to side view of plan. Connect threaded pieces, but do not yet fully tighten (you want a little give until all pieces are connected). Lay both sides next to each other to make sure they're straight and the same length. Adjust as needed.
  2. Connect the sides with 48-inch middle pipe.
  3. Place desk top over frame so that flanges are 1 inch in from sides. Drill shallow pilot holes into desk top through each hole in flange; then drill in screws.
  4. Repeat step 3 to attach shelf.

Steel pipe, from $3.25; black malleable iron threaded T joint, by Mueller Global, 1", $4.50; black iron cap, by LDR Industries, 1", $2; and oak plywood, 3/4", $45 for 4' by 8' sheet; homedepot.com. Standard chair, in Black, $325, schoolhouseelectric.com. Spectrum rug, in Yellow, $2,400, abchome.com. Desk lamp, in wood and iron, $495, hausinterior.com. Wire storage basket, $28, medium; wire wastepaper bin, $45; brookfarmgeneralstore.com.

Stability Tip

If you prefer a more stationary work surface, substitute the end caps at the base of the legs for floor flanges, which can be secured to the floor for added support.

Desk Top How-To

Tools and Materials

Two 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood, 3/4-inch thick
2 sawhorses
Plywood saw (or circular saw with fine-tooth or metal saw blade)
Wood glue, such as Gorilla Glue
4 C clamps
8 small wood scraps
Heavy books
Sandpaper, various grits
Iron-on edge banding, 1 1/2-inch thick (optional)
Edge-banding trimmer (optional)
Iron (optional)
Wood stain or sealant (optional)

  1. Cut plywood sheets to desired size, good side down. (You can also have pieces cut for you at most lumberyards).
  2. Place 1 piece plywood on sawhorses, good side down. Squeeze zigzags of wood glue all over surface of plywood; then skim to create a thin, consistent layer on entire surface.
  3. Stack second piece of plywood on top, good side up, making sure edges align.
  4. Clamp together corners of plywood with C clamps. Place small pieces of wood where clamps meet plywood to protect surfaces as clamps tighten.  To evenly weigh down top, place stacks of books on top. Let dry overnight. (Don’t worry if glue squeezes out from between layers.)
  5. Sand exposed edges until they’re smooth and free of any dried glue.
  6. Optional: To finish exposed edges, apply edge banding according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Optional: Stain or seal surface as desired.
  8. Attach to finished desk base according to instructions.

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