Building a Double Desk, Part 2: Finishing the Desktop

Written by dad - One Comment

The other day I started describing how to build a double desk on the cheap. In that article, I provided an overview of why I decided to build desks for our boys as well as a shopping list. Today I’m going to start talking about how I put things together…

I should start by saying that I designed the desks to run lengthwise along a wall, such that the boys will end up sitting side-by-side.

My first step was to prepare the 24 x 80 desktop for finishing. I thus put it on sawhorses in the garage and sanded the edges to smooth them out. I also ran the sander over both surfaces using a high-grit sandpaper to smooth out any irregularities. I then measured the length and depth to double-check it and cut the corner trim to fit, complete with mitred ends to make the pieces fit together nicely. I ended up with two shorter sections for the sides and one longer section for the front.

Once I had the trim cut, I laid it out on the desktop to get it positioned properly. I then ran a bead of carpenter’s glue down the back of it, clamped it down, and nailed it in place. Once the trim was secured, I sanded the mitre joints to even them out and then moved on to the hole for the grommet. I positioned this hole by finding the midpoint along the length of the desktop, then lined up the hole saw such that the hole would end up being a couple inches in from the back.

The last little bit of woodworking involved cutting the quarter round trim to fit. The untrimmed back edge of the desktop is ultimately destined to be butted up against the wall, so the quarter round will serve to ‘finish’ that edge against the wall. I started by measuring the length of the desktop from the inner edge of the trim on one end to the other. I then cut (and sanded) the quarter round trim to fit the length of the desk.

Next up, finishing the wood. Once I had the major woodworking done, I rubbed everything down with a tack cloth. I ended up doing three coats of polyurethane on the upper surface (and trim) and two coats on the underside. Between coats, I sanded the finish lightly with high-grit sandpaper and then rubbed it down with a tack cloth to remove the resulting dust.

Jumping ahead a bit, here’s a closeup picture of one of the mitred corners on the finished desktop (the different colors along the front and side are a lighting artifact):

At this point, the desktops were done and ready to be deployed. In the next installment, I’ll go through the installation process with numerous pictures.

See also:
How to Build a Double (or Single) Desk on the Cheap, Part 1
Building a Double Desk, Part 3: Installing the Finished Product

Published on September 14th, 2007 - One Comment
Filed under: How To
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