I’ve been wanting an L-shaped rustic desk with black pipe legs for my office (I have very specific tastes!). This will be my new home to organize all my projects and write my blogposts so it had to be fun and inspiring. I found several desks on-line that would have been perfect. BUT! they were very expensive. The desks that are available on Etsy and elsewhere have pricetags from several hundred to over $1000. Too much for me to spend, especially when I was quite sure I could make one myself for a fraction of the cost.
Here was my inspiration…
to bring some life to this drab (throw everything over there because you can’t see it from the kitchen) corner of my office…
My original thought was to make a fixed-L shape desk, with one arm measuring 6 feet in length and another 4 feet long. These measurements were perfect for one corner of my office. However, after a lot of thought, I decided that two seperate desks would be the most practical. When placed in the room, they would give the appearance of one L-shaped desk, but when my decorating whims change, I will be able to seperate the two desks and move them around the office, or even a different room. I will lose some leg space at the corner but I can compensate by using the corner for file storage etc, instead of seating.
I started by building the desk tops using four 1′ x 8″ by 6′ select boards for each one. I used my miter saw to trim two feet off the boards for the four foot long desk and also to make sure the six foot boards were square and even. I found that the boards were not all exactly six feet long and most required at least a bit of trimming. Once I had the correct lengths, I attached the boards to each other using pocket holes made with my kreg jig and wood glue.
The boards are actually 3/4 inch deep so I used the 3/4″ setting on the kreg jig and 1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws. Even though they are sold as 1″ x 8″ boards, they actually measure slightly less than that in width and depth. Keep this in mind when planning your project.
Each top measures 22″ deep after assembly.
After I assembled the tops, I sanded them using my orbital sander. I started with a 120-grit sheet and followed that with a 220-grit sheet. Once the wood was smooth, I wiped the sawdust off using a tacky cloth. I stained them using two coats of Minwax Early American stain, allowing them to dry for a full 24-hours in-between coats. Then I applied Minwax satin polyurethane to give the desks a nice finish that will hold up to everyday use. I applied 2 coats of polyurethane with an natural bristle brush and sanded lightly with 320-grit sandpaper in-between coats, again allowing 24-hour dry time between coats. After the second coat was dry, I lightly “sanded” the desks with #0000-grade steel wool.
Once the tops were complete, it was time to turn my attention to the black pipe bases. I tried to draw out and plan my base on paper, but the best way to figure out what I needed was to go to Home Depot and basically build the base on the spot. This took a while (about 30 minutes) but was well worth it. I knew I wanted the desk top to be 29 or 30″ tall and that they were 4′ and 6′ long. I was able to get exactly the types and amount of pipes and fittings I needed (well almost…I did end up with 8 extra pieces that I was able to return to the store for a refund. Not sure how that happened but I’ll blame the 9-year old who was my helper that day).
The black pipe is very dirty and plastered with price stickers. All that had to come off prior to assembly. I will warn you, it is a dirty, difficult task that isn’t a whole lot of fun. I used heavy duty rubber gloves, Zep Heavy Duty Citrus degreaser, Goo Gone, and lots of old rags. This is definitely an outdoor project.
Once the pipe was clean, I began assembling the bases. This went pretty quick and I was able to tighten most of the joints sufficiently by hand.
Once the bases were assembled, I attached the floor flanges on the bases to the desk tops using flat head phillips screws (#12 x 3/4″). It took some patience to make sure everything was square and level. The nipples and caps on the bottom of the legs were an easy way to level the legs.
I love how the finished desks look and function in my office. I am so happy with how they turned out!
(makes two desks, one 4′ desk and one 6′ desk, both 22″ wide)
- Four 1″ x 8″ x 4′ Select Board
- Four 1″ x 8″ x 6′ Select Board
- 1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws
- Wood Glue
- Wood Stain and Polyuerethane
- Eight 3/4″ black floor flanges
- Eight 3/4″ black caps
- Twelve 3/4″ x 2″ black steep pipe nipples
- Eight 3/4″ x 24″ black steel cut pipe
- One 3/4″ x 36″ black steel cut pipe
- One 3/4″ x 48″ black steel cut pipe
- Twelve 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 3/4″ black pipe Tees
- Four 3/4″ x 12″ black steel pipe nipples
- 32 flat head phillips screws, #12 x 3/4″
$115 for the wood
$238 (!!!!) for the black pipe and screws
$40 for cleaning and staining/finishing supplies (approximate)
Total cost: $393
This project cost me much more than I would have originally expected. However, if I had bought the desk, it would have cost me double or triple what I spent. Black pipe is much more expensive than I realized. One way to trim costs would have been to use 2 x 8s or common board for the desk tops. This would have probably save $50 – $75.
- Circular or miter saw (to cut wood, but can have Home Depot employees do it if you ask nicely!)
- Kreg Jig
- Orbital Sander
- Pipe wrench (optional)
- Misc. sandpaper/brushes/degreaser for staining wood and cleaning black pipe