DIY Desk

DIY desk

As you may remember me mentioning before, my quest to find a simple desk for my studio (well, “studio”, who am I kidding?) has been laughable. I searched far and wide and couldn’t find a single thing that was both affordable and/or small enough for the tiny space up in our loft I’m using. Everything was too large, too many drawers (don’t need ‘em), or just plain hideous (lots of glass and veneer-covered particle board). Ever since Silvia shared her DIY coffee table with hairpin legs, I’ve been wanting to make one myself. It hadn’t occurred to me until recently that you could buy taller, three-rod hairpin legs for something like a desk or dining table. Thus a dream was born inside my head of the perfect desk. I ordered the legs in raw steel (they came eight business days after ordering) and we had a piece of pine cut at the hardware store. I sanded the edges smooth and then stained it with Minwax Polyshades in Antique Walnut. I didn’t do the world’s greatest job staining it, but it’s nothing too noticeable. When the hairpin legs came, they were covered in grease, something I wasn’t expecting. I had to spend a long time cleaning them, and then finally Will screwed the legs in for me and we were ready to go. The whole thing cost me just a little over $100, was incredibly easy to make, and I also have stain leftover. It’s super sturdy yet pretty lightweight so it won’t be a pain to move. I’m extremely happy with the results and excited to get down to making jewelry on it!

Next up, when our furnished sublet is up and we have to get our own furniture, I definitely want to make a dining table in the same style! I think a round one would be beautiful.

DIY desk

DIY desk


  1. says

    that is SO awesome! i don’t see why you shouldn’t make all your own flippen furniture.

    also, just goes to show you should never underestimate the versatility of a piece of raw pine from the hardware store. i have done the same a few times – only with trestle legs. you also don’t feel too bad about messing things on it (eg: paint, coffee mug stains…) because you can simply sand it down and re-stain if you really need to.

  2. says

    I love it! So simple yet pleasing. I have been wanting to use hairpin legs for something, and you have inspired me to make a new craft desk myself! I already have one, but it’s too bulky for my taste now. Great job!

  3. says

    It looks awesome and I bet you feel so great! Geoff built me a table once too but we had to use some plain legs from Ikea — these hairpin ones are awesome.

  4. says

    This is incredible! Incredible in that it’s gorgeous and looks so easy! I’ve been searching in vain for a new laptop/writing desk forever and stumbled across all the same problems. I think you’ve just solved it for me. Hurrah!

  5. says

    Lurker here- but my two cents as a metallurgist- the legs were coated in grease to prevent any oxidation during shipping, if you want to keep them rust-free you might want to apply a coat of something clear to keep them in their beautiful current condition.

    It is a truly beautiful desk, great job.

  6. says

    The Maiden Metallurgist – thank you so much for the tip, I’m clueless! I kind of like the oxidized look, but I think a coating is not a bad idea anyway.

    And thank you everyone else for your awesome comments!

  7. says

    Turned out great! I don’t think I ever would have thought of something like that. Thanks for sharing about the legs, that’s a really good idea!

  8. says

    Oh my goodness! I love your desk. Thanks for sharing your hairpin-leg resource, I have visions of my dream dining-table coming together now!
    You are my DIY-icon.

  9. says

    Looks great! (I also took a cue from your nail polish recommendation and got my first bottle of Essie (in Mango Bango)). I found your blog pretty recently, and I’m already full up with inspiration! Thank you for sharing all the great photos!

  10. Siri says

    I am incredibly impressed with your desk!! I’ve never been a huge fan of hairpin legs, but for some reason, yours make me think about them in a new way and I love them!! Congrats on a job very well done :)

  11. says

    beautiful! Isn’t it such a great feeling too, to work on a surface that you put together yourself? We put our coffee table together with the same thoughts in mind and I love it daily :)

  12. Maureen says

    I love the desk, but am more interested in the peg board where you can hang jewelry. I’ve been envisoning a DIY project that looks just like this to organize necklaces. Did you make this? I love the gold pegs. Keep up the good work!

  13. says

    that is so so awesome and design spongey of you! great work! i love how it came out and i think the dining room table would be oh so chic!

  14. says

    this is a fabulous idea and it looks great! love the hairpin legs. the wood is really pretty too. nice work. i am inspired. the desk in my office/studio is a vintage one that i bought at an estate sale and refinished, but it’s too small. i need a bigger work space.

  15. says

    oh wow! i am so excited to see this post. we have an antique dining table that folds down small enough to feed 2 or expands long enough to feed 10, but all the folding and unfolding, not to mention our completely uneven wooden floors, makes me really hate the table. i have been dreaming for years of having a primitive type table, just long and plain yet beautiful–room enough to throw big dinner parties or for the kids to spread out and do homework.

    all the ones i have ever seen have been inordinately priced. insane. i would have NEVER thought to do something like this. i know tons of people have already said that, but i am seriously grateful to you for this idea. i am totally going to do this!

    (side note: did you see that is featured in real simple this month? i bet it’s b/c of all the press you gave them…)


  16. says

    ah! i have been dreaming about hairpin leg tables myself, only i want a little pair of bedside tables–this makes me want to put hairpin legs on everything! thanks for the info about i hadn’t found them in my internet travels.

  17. Angie says

    Could you by any chance let us know where you got the tabletop? I’ve been to a few big name hardware stores (Home Depot being one), and none of them can give me a solid piece of wood that is more than 15″ wide! All I’ve been finding is plywood, butcher block (too expensive), and solid wood that is only 3/4″ thick. Help! :)

  18. says

    Sorry for commenting on such an old post – but did you get the raw or stainless steel legs? My boyfriend and I are making a dining room table with hairpin legs and can’t decide which ones to get. Also, it was brought to my attention that a man who makes hairpin legs works for my brothers company (making these legs is his side business) – and what do you know, you got your legs from him! Small world.

  19. says

    Hey Ashlae – I wrote that I got the raw, but it’s probably lost in my massive rambling up there:) That’s why they’re covered in grease, as they’re raw steel and it’s to protect it from oxidizing.

  20. says

    Sometimes I am so out of it – I read through it twice trying to see which legs you got, but was so excited that I, apparently, didn’t even read it properly. Raw legs bought! Thank you :)

  21. Tom says

    Hi! I love this table and will be trying my hand at it soon. I’ve never bought lumber before and was wondering what’s the size of the desktop you chose? I’m curious about the thickness, too. Thanks!

  22. MW says

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so I hope this wasn’t already answered:
    What was the thickness of the pine that you used? And what was the height of the legs you purchased? Thanks!

  23. Diane says

    Forever fab! Where can I get these legs? Who did you purchase them from? I want to order the exact ones NOW! I was given a slice of a walnut root for a wedding present (don’t ask). This is it! My one shot to do something with it.

  24. Genie says

    I got so excited about this post, I went and ordered from too! Just a warning to those also ordering from this place expecting prompt delivery.. I put in my order and it didn’t get shipped until 7 days later.

  25. says

    Nice job, I’m inspired to make this for my sewing table—thank you! Just want to ask which hardware store you purchased the wood cut from, I’ve called a couple of the bigger places, and so far that say they only sell 2x4s of pine…?

    • says

      Home Depot. It’s a fairly small piece of wood, I actually have since remade the table with a larger piece I had Home Depot cut for me.

  26. kishante says

    Hi Kate,
    I am absolutely in love with your desk. Great job! I was wondering exactly what kind of wood did you use? You said you got it from home depot,but what did you ask for? Im completely clueless when it comes to wood, but i just have to make this desk. Thanks for your help.

  27. kelly says

    hi kate! i’m working on a hairpin leg coffee table this weekend. wanted to check if you ever did anything to treat the legs. or if you’ve had any issues with rusting since you made this. THANKS!

    • says

      It’s funny you should ask because just the other day I noticed my legs were rusting! I rubbed them down with olive oil on a cloth and that took it off. I have some renaissance wax I use for my jewelry that I want to rub them down with. I would definitely give them a good rub down with olive oil though after you clean the grease off. I failed to do that. But it was really unnoticeable and didn’t look bad, I just didn’t want the rust to rub off on peoples clothing. Good luck! I wanna see how it turns out.

  28. Nikki says

    Is 2 years after the original post too late to ask a question? haha. I am just starting this project – legs have been ordered, desktop has been purchased. I’m a little skeptical about the wood I purchased because it’s only 3/4 and has kind of a ‘layered’ look to it – hopefully it turns out alright. Anyway, questions:

    -For the Minwax, did you use gloss or satin?
    -Did you sand any of the surface besides smoothing the edges? Like a ‘finishing’ sandpaper or anything?
    -How far in are the legs? Did you have to purchase the screws or will the legs come with them?

    I would rather learn from your experiences if possible – thanks so much for sharing!

    • says

      Hi Nikki – this was so long ago I don’t remember exactly, but I think I used satin, and yes, you sand the surface before with raw wood sandpaper. I don’t have the desk anymore so I can’t measure it, but where you put the legs is up to you. On this one I think it was a couple inches in, I’ve since made two other desks that are in more because the wood is larger so there was more room for me to fit in between them. It’s up to you! Good luck.
      ps. I almost always use 3/4″ plywood as well (that’s what plywood is, layered wood) for other projects, so you’re fine.

  29. Brooke Ashley says

    I also have a question about this table! Wondering if you could tell me the dimensions? It looks like the perfect size for my space so I’m very curious. Thanks!

    • says

      I don’t have this desk anymore as it was made years ago, so unfortunately I don’t have the dimensions! Make whatever fits for your space or you can find the size wood for, what size I made doesn’t matter for your needs as the legs will accommodate most desk sizes.

  30. Ashley says

    I LOVED this desk! I ordered hairpin legs to make an entryway table and upon receiving them I also found that they were covered in grease. What did you use to clean them?

    • says

      It was so long ago I don’t remember, but I want to say vinegar or rubbing alcohol? You could use dish soap as it cuts grease, just make sure to dry them off really.

        • katsi says

          Linseed oil – purchased at hardware stores is best bet for any iron related rust – you can use a 3M brand or compatible scratchy pad – (purchased in cleaning supply aisle at store) – scour the leg slightly – then add the linseed oil. Rub in and rub till all rust is gone, the shine will stay and you can also wipe off residual oil leftover. People who use tools regularly use linseed oil as an anti-rust help for those hammers, screwdrivers, saws, wrenches and other tools, as rust gets in the way and reduces the sharpness on saws especially along the notched blade edges. ;) You don’t have to worry once all is wiped down properly as to staining on clothes, if you are careful.

  31. says

    Hi Kate, I hope you’re not tired of fielding questions years after your post–I see that I’m the only 2014 commenter here. Haha. I’m not terribly handy and didn’t want to mess up or take on a project bigger than myself, but I was wondering how you “screw in” the legs into the plywood? Do you have to drill through the table to prepare a space for the legs? Or do you literally just have screws that just screw the legs directly to the wood? And if so, do the legs come with the screws? Thanks!

    • says

      No worries, Vivian! People email me about it all the time so you’re not the lone 2014 question asker:) I’ve made desks with these legs four times now and I’ve found the easiest way to do it is to lay the legs down on your wood and mark the holes with a pencil, and then either pre-drill holes with a drill bit just slightly smaller than the screws you want to use (they aren’t included, make sure they’re 1/4″ shorter than the thickness of your wood) and drill where each screw will be just a little bit to help start the screws, or line your screw up and hammer the tip in a bit before you start drilling.

      Good luck!

  32. Shirley Lam says


    I love your desk! I too have been looking for a simple desk that was no longer than 30″ long and could not find anything. In Hawaii, I feel that we are limited even with buying a nice solid wood. I have my hairpin legs and still looking for a piece of solid wood to make my desk. Let me know if you have any suggestions. But I think you did an awesome job on your desk and the staining looks flawless!


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