Computer Desk From 1 Sheet of Plywood

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This attractive and functional computer desk is built using only one sheet of plywood and 14 cuts which makes it an easy and affordable desk that can be built with a few tools.

You can stain and finish it to reveal the the natural wood grain, paint it any color you'd like or mix painting and staining as in the black and maple desk example shown right.

The desk provides ample space for your computer and accessories as well as storage space for books, paper and other items you'll want to have handy while working on your computer. All this from just a single sheet of plywood!


48"W x 33 1/2"H x 23 15/16"D

What You'll Need



Make sure you understand how to use all the tools properly and follow all safety precautions.


Please note that if making the desk out of 4 sheets of 2' x 4' plywood that some of the dimensions will be slightly different. Quarter sheet dimensions are in parenthesis when they differ.
  • (1) 48" x 23-15/16" Desk Top (48" x 24" one whole quarter sheet)
  • (2) 26-1/8" x 23-15/16" Sides (24" x 26-1/4")
  • (1) 46-1/2" x 12" Apron (46-1/2" x 12-1/4")
  • (2) 46-1/2" x 1-11/16" Front (46-1/2" x 1-1/2")
  • (1) 48" x 10" Shelf
  • (1) 21-5/8" x 12" Storage Side
  • (2) 21-5/8" x 11-7/8" Storage Bottom and Storage Shelf
  • (2)10" x 5-7/8" Shelf Sides (10" x 5-15/16")
  • (1) 10" x 11-7/8" Paper Tray (11.5" x 10")
  • (4) 1-3/8" x 5-7/8" Paper Tray Supports (2 will be 7/8" x 5-7/8")

Cut Plan

You can either cut the desk out of one full 4' x 8' sheet of plywood or 4 2' x 4' quarter sheets of plywood. If you're using quarter sheets I'd recommend the formaldehyde free PureBond 3/4 in. x 2 ft. x 4 ft. Maple Plywood which can be shipped directly to your home from and is eligible for free shipping.

For either full or quarter sheets the cut plans assume a maximum kerf (cut width) of 1/8" so it's important to use a thin kerf saw blade. The Freud Ultimate Plywood Saw Blade is a good choice for a thin kerf blade that will minimize tearout and splintering when cutting plywood.

Full Sheet

If using a full sheet of plywood, break down the sheet into three smaller sections by making the 2 cross cuts highlighted in red. First make the 48" cut, followed by the 26-1/8" cut. You can also break down the three sections further. The 48" and 26-1/8" section can be cut exactly in half (23-15/16 accounting for the 1/8" kerf) but the last section is not exactly in half (24")

Quarter Sheet

You save a little bit of money by buying one full sheet but it might be more convenient to purchase 4 quarter sheets instead. The smaller sheets are easier to transport and you can even have them delivered to you for free. If you're picking up the plywood you could have the store make some convenience cuts for you but the quality and accuracy of the cuts will depend greatly on the condition of the blade and how good the person operating the panel saw is at making accurate cuts. These convenience cuts are not guaranteed to be accurate.

General Instructions

It's important to know how to use all your tools and follow all the safety recommendations. This project consists of simple cuts but it's important to make sure to measure and cut each piece carefully. Square cuts in the plywood will make for a stronger desk. It's not necessary to glue the desk together as the pocket screws will provide sufficient strength and allow you to disassemble the desk at a later point if necessary. You will need to cut and assemble the desk first, then it is highly recommended to break it down again for finishing.

Step 1

Cut out the Desk Top, Sides, Storage Side, Storage Shelf, Storage Bottom, Apron and Front. Apply veneer edgebanding to all edges of the Desk Top, the 2 long edges of each Side and the front edges of the Storage Shelf, Bottom and Side.

Decide which side you'd like the storage to be on, the left or right, then choose that Side piece and the Storage side and drill a series of holes part way into the insides of the plywood for the shelf pins using either a piece of peg board or a shelf pin jig.

Step 2

Arrange the desk top and legs on the floor with the good faces facing out. Drill 5 pocket holes on the inside tops of each leg. The first hole towards the front should be about 1" in while the one towards the back should be about 1/2" in to accommodate the front strip and modesty panel (apron).

Align and secure each leg to the bottom of the desk top using 1-1/4" pocket hole screws. Make sure the sides are attached square to the top. Using the right angle clamp helps a lot.

Step 3

Attach the front strip flush to the front of the desk using 4 pocket holes with 1-1/4" screws on the back to attach to the sides and 3 3/4" corner braces with 1/2" flat head wood screws to attach to the top as shown below.

Step 4

Drill holes for pocket screws in the Storage Side and Apron (modesty panel) as shown. There is also a pocket hole going from the inside of the Storage Side into the Front which is not visible. First attach the Storage Side. Use the Storage Bottom as a guide to determine how far away it needs to be from the Side of the desk. Note that the Storage Side will butt up against the Front piece but will not extend all the way to the back of the desk.

Once you've attached the Storage Side, attach the Apron using pocket screws into the Sides and Top and from the Storage Side into the Apron. The Storage Bottom and Storage Side have the same depth, use the Storage Bottom as a guide on the opposite side of the Storage Side to press the Apron against so you screw it in straight.

Remember, the Apron will not sit flush with the back of the desk. Here's a rear view.

Step 5

Attach the Storage Bottom using 1-1/4" pocket holes as shown. If you're installing the optional leveler feet do so now.

The main part of the desk is now complete.

Step 6

Cut out the components for the Shelf. These include the Shelf, 2 Shelf Sides, Paper Tray and Tray Supports.  Apply veneer edging all the way around the Shelf, on 3 edges of the Papery Try (not the edge touching the side), on the 2 short edges of each Side and on the 2 long edges of each of the Tray Supports.

Begin shelf assembly by attaching the two Shelf Sides to the Shelf Top using 1-1/4" pocket hole screws as shown.

Step 7

Drill 1 pocket hole in each of the tray supports to attach it to the top. The pocket holes should be on the inside of the support. Use the Paper Tray butted up against the side where you'd like to install as a guide to determine how far away the Supports should be. The tray supports should be evenly spaced 1.5" apart with the two end pieces flush with the edges of the Shelf Top.

Step 8

Now attach the paper tray at the midpoint of the sides and supports to split the space evenly using 1-1/4" pocket hole screws as shown. 3 into the Shelf Side and 1 into each Tray Support.

Step 9

To prevent the shelf from sliding around on the desk but still be able to easily remove the shelf at a later point if desired we'll be using 2 shelf pins to anchor the shelf to the desk.

Begin by placing the shelf on top of the desk and aligning it flush with the sides and the back of the desk top. Using a pencil, mark a vertical like halfway into the shelf side extending down into the side of the desk top as shown.

Use a square to transfer the marking onto the desk top as well as the bottom of the shelf side. Measure in 3/8" on that line and mark it. Using the shelf pin drill bit drill a hole into the top of the desk as well as the bottom of the shelf side. Do this on both ends for a total of 4 holes, 1 in each shelf side bottom, and two on the desk top. 

Take your time and be very careful with these measurements so they line up properly. Once you have all 4 holes drilled, fine tune them by slightly deepening or widening the holes in the Shelf Sides. Finally insert a shelf pin in each hole on the Desk Top and slide the Shelf onto them.

Step 10

Your desk is now complete and is ready to be finished with either primer/paint or stain/polyurethane or a combination of the two. It will be easier to finish some sections if you take the desk apart first. Just follow these directions backwards to take everything apart. Then follow the directions on how to put all the pieces together again.


  1. Great use of single sheet of plywood, virtually no waste.
    Tip: At HomeDepot a single sheet of 3/4" is half the price of 4 quarter sheets, plus HomeDepot staff will do 2 free cuts on their table saw. Go figure.

  2. how much weight do you think the bottom shelf can hold? I'm thinking of putting my printer or PC on it.

  3. Hi, Tom which software do you use to make the 3d models and cutting plans? Thanks.