Thursday, March 21, 2013

Our DIY Wood Plank Desk

A week ago I discovered a great salvage/lumber yard near our house and picked up a huge rough cut wood plank to sand, stain, and cut to size for our office desk. As shown below, the plank was very rough, gray and weathered looking in certain areas from light exposure, and stained from the metal stand it had been stacked on.

First we cut the plank into two pieces to fit the dimensions of our desk, then set to work sanding it with the electric hand sander. One edge was live, meaning it still had the bark, and we decided to keep the natural edge, but sanded it down considerably to get a smoother, rounded surface.

After several hours of sanding with finer and finer grade sandpaper, our plank was looking pretty decent and we were ready to stain it. We tried out a few stains on a piece we had cut off, and decided on Golden Oak from Minwax. Before staining we pretreated the wood with several coats of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Pre-staining helps prevent streaks and blotches by penetrating the wood to promote uniform acceptance of the final stain. Our plank is pine, a soft wood that is notoriously difficult to stain evenly, so we slathered the pre-stain on liberally before applying the Golden Oak with a rag and quickly wiping it off.

After our planks were stained and dry we finished them off with several coats of polyurethane, sanding between each application. Here's how they looked when complete:

We picked up an IKEA Finnvard base to use for the desk legs, and Josh did a mini IKEA hack by shortening the depth of the base to fit under our plank. The base got a few coats of polyurethane, then we were ready to put it all together in the room. Here's how it looks right now, all uncluttered and clear. I am sure we will have papers, cords, and all manner of other items cluttering the space before long, so I snapped some pictures right away while it still looks clean and presentable!

There are a number of things we still need to finish in the room, including the molding along the ceiling, finding a lamp for the desk, installing shelves on the wall, finding a comfy but stylish office chair, and adding the french doors, but for now I am pretty happy just to have a dedicated office space in the house! I'm hoping that the days of mail, bills, magazines, and to-do lists scattered all over the dining table are over!

For those of you interested in trying something like this yourself, I've included the cost breakdown below:

Solid pine wood plank, salvage yard - $50
Finnvard table base, IKEA - $30
Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, Home Depot - $12
Minwax Golden Oak Stain, Home Depot - $8
Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane, Home Depot - $11
Metal bracket for support under right side of desk, Home Depot - $7
Qty. 2 Ekby Valter birch self brackets, IKEA - $8
Total: $126

You will also need the following tools (we had these already so they didn't factor into our cost):
Electric sander & sand paper
Foam brush to apply the pre-stain
A few old rags for staining
Electric saw
Drill & drill bits or a screwdriver


  1. How clever and it looks really good. Actually it looks a lot better than some of the stuff you can buy.
    Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. your study is absolutely wonderful! i'm so impressed with all the work on the lovely desk, wall shelf, ceiling (gorgeous!) and paint color. seeing your "before" and "after", i think of Rumplestilskin spinning straw into gold :). so transformed! ox

  3. Looks great guys! A $126.00 desk is a bargain which looks a lot better than many desks for much more. Love what you are doing downstairs. Can't wait to see it!

  4. That is incredible! I had no idea a plank of wood like that had such potential!

  5. Claire, how did you guys shorten the depth of your FINNVARD trestle?

    1. I wish I could remember. This was 3 years ago now, so unfortunately I can't remember how we did it. My apologies!

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