DIY Projects

Building a Walnut Desk

Remember the very first project that dragged on throughout our initial home renovation? Our beloved office that I love to hate and hate to love?

Well, we recently made more subtle changes in there, including (another) paint color change, and the addition of a custom desk that Dan built. The previous gray that was on the walls had too many hints of green for Dan’s liking (and I’m pretty sure the color before that had too many hints of blue, or maybe it was purple, I can’t keep up).

But on we go, because this post is really about the custom walnut desk that Dan built.

Dan watches a lot of YouTube channels and follows a bunch of craftsmen on Instagram, which is usually his starting point for finding a few designs for inspiration, meshing them together, and adding his own twist to make them his own.  The design of this piece followed a similar path, and ended with a hand sketch of what the desk would turn out to be.

This desk has the lines and simplicity of a modern design, with the functionality and storage of an antique letter desk. I like to think of this design as a good mix of who we are – with Dan typically taking the modern route, while I usually lean toward a more antique look.

The secret to this desk is that while the legs are made from solid walnut, the top of the desk was finished in walnut plywood, and the drawers were made from birch. This helped to save on material cost, and the plywood allows for more wood movement in the top without having to worry about expansion/contraction.

After a trip to his favorite lumber yard, the first step in this build was to simply cut all the pieces to size – walnut legs and plywood top finished in walnut veneer.

The legs were then built into large squares using wood glue, dowels, and lots of clamps.

From there, Dan assembled the rest of the frame that the desk top would sit on.

To give this currently modern-looking desk a bit of that antique letter desk touch, Dan added a back shelf and also added three drawers to the front. Once these details were added, Dan secured the top to the initial leg frame.

Because the lines, wood grain, and color already stand out in this walnut desk, all that was needed was a few layers of poly to bring this desk to life.

But before this desk was complete, Dan couldn’t resist adding more modern to the design by incorporating an unseen, wireless charger. As much as I pick on him for his modern tastes, I have to admit this feature is pretty cool (and comes in handy too).

And there you have it. One of Dan’s most impressive furniture designs to date. And now the focal point of our office. Maybe one day, we’ll figure out the rest of the decor in that room (or at least decide on a paint color).

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