Adventures in Desk-Making

I don’t know about all y’all, but there’s something ever so gratifying to me in finding a solution to a problem that costs very little in resources.

My problem for months was that I had sacrificed sewing my sewing table in order to make room for computing space. My nerd cave isn’t huge, but it’s big enough that the idea of introducing a wee desk that would accommodate my writerly needs  and free up space for my sewing needs was not out of the question if I could find the right piece.

After months of fruitless shopping and searching and coming across beautiful Victorian writing desks that were perfect, but far out of my price range, the idea finally dawned on me to do this:


Hells to the yes I did convert my trusty, old baker’s rack into a computer desk!

And it’s built for a tall lass because I’m a tall lass and I built it.

And it’s totally adjustable.

And it already had its own footprint in the room.

And it was cheap ($24 in materials).

And it was stupidly easy to put together (even if it took me three months to complete).

And it’s perfect. I am so chuffed about this thing.

And now the grammar police are going to come after me for all of those sentences beginning with and.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to do something similar:

What you need:

  • 1 baker’s rack
  • 1 piece of MDF board
  • 2, 1/4-20 x 1.5″ bolts
  • 2, 3″ washers
  • 2, 1″ washers (because the hole for the 3″ washers is bigger than the nuts that come with the bolts)
  • 2 nuts that fit the bolt
  • Some kind of paint primer (I used gesso because I have gesso)
  • Paint (I used acrylics from my massive collection of acrylic paints because I have a massive collection of acrylic paints)
  • Varnish
  • Paint brushes

What you do:

  1. Measure the inside dimensions of the shelf you’ll use for the base of the desk and add enough for overhang because this will be a desk and you want plenty of room for all of your desky things plus not so desky things like lip balm and a flask and a million coffee cups and plants. I made mine 30″ x 33.5″ because I like to have a good distance between my eyes and my displays and lots of room between me and the shelves under the desky bit for cumbersome legs.
  2. Cut the MDF board to size. Home Depot (and many other a-lumber-carrying store) does either three or four cuts for free – it was hard to tell because their signage was contradictory, but you should really only need two cuts.
  3. Prime the board with your primer (or gesso). Don’t be a dolt like me and use an art brush for doing this. It took forever, but I was really excited, so I did that, but you’re not silly, so don’t.
  4. Paint the board. Ok. You can totally not do anything to the board, but I highly recommend it because colour is a lot nicer than plain MDF brown-grey. I wanted something fun and colourful because, if I had my druthers, the whole world would look like Rainbow Brite barfed on it, but not too precious because the desk is going to be covered in stuff anyway. I just puttered around with colours that I really like and came up with this:



  1. Varnish the board. At least two coats.
  2. Be patient and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, k?
  3. Measure where you’ll put the bolt holes. These will go at the back of the desktop. Mine are 4 inches in from the sides and 4.5 inches in from the top.
  4. Drill your bolt holes. Depending upon the kinds of bolts you buy, you may need to counter sink them. More anti-dolt advice: when counter-sinking in MDF, make really bloody certain that your drill is going in the correct direction. MDF is tough shit and it gets messy if you don’t.
  5. Re/position your shelves so they’re comfy.
  6. Set your new desktop atop its supporting shelf.
  7. Push the bolts through the holes.
  8. Align the washers so they each grab two rungs of the shelf, like so:


  1. Screw on and tighten the bolts.
  2. Enjoy your new surface!

I’m so stoked to have this project finished and to have flexible, but dedicated spaces for my tools/toys. I’m also really stoked that the whole putting it together experience was really positive. The (male) friend I called with my “OMGIHAVEANIDEALETSGOPROJECTSHOPPINGNOW” didn’t quite get my vision, but stayed out of my way. The hardware dude at the Home Depot I consulted with a “I’m not really too sure what I need, but can I share my vision and maybe you can give me some guidance?” was way on board with hearing me out, acknowledging that my plan would work and even sounded excited about it. The lumber-cutter dude addressed me the entire time and not my (male) friend. Even the guy I bought the counter-sink from got a bit giddy just because I was answering my own questions. I’m not about to give them hero cookies for treating me like a human being or anything, but I’m so used to girding my loins just to be heard in these situations that I feel they deserve a bit of a shout-out, at least.

But mostly, I have a perfect new computer desk! Squeee!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Awesome. I totally 💙💚💛💜💖 your desktop, swirls and colours ftw! Also yay for construction girl power, and being recognised as such. Woot!


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