Now that I have a plan for my shack layout and the stations I will have, it’s time to begin construction. As I explained last month, I’m not much of a woodworker, so I need to be realistic about what I can pull off. I spent some time looking at DIY desk plans and became interested in the black pipe desks that seem to be trendy right now. These often use recycled distressed wood which couples nicely with the vintage industrial look of the pipe. For me, the biggest advantage is the simplicity of the build. I assume that the legs and risers are the hard part. Using pipe means I can get a perfectly measured and rigid stand for a desk top with minimal difficulty – like building with Lego, right?

Above is a sample project. My desks will be made to the size specifications of my drawing which calls for four units, each two feet deep. Three of them are six feet long and the last is four feet long. Every one of my desks will have a one foot deep upper deck which runs its length. The legs and risers will all be made from half inch black pipe, tees and flanges.

I found these pine boards at Lowes Hardware. They come in 3/4″ thickness already cut to the exact length and width of my drawing. SCORE! It would be nice to find and used distressed recycled wood, but I don’t have a source for that, nor do I have a way to cut straight lines. This pre-cut stuff will do nicely for my needs.

To complete the effect, I will experiment with some stains. I want to go for a darker look, similar to the sample pic above.


I found some iron-on wood veneer to go along the edge of the board. I decided to try this as it seemed like it would be a nice touch to make my desktop feel a bit more polished. It required that I cut it to size, with some overlap, bond it using a hot iron, then trim and sand. It turned out pretty good and does achieve a nicer look along the edge of the desk, but in retrospect it probably wasn’t worth the extra effort.

After some experimentation I wound up with a finish I liked using MINWAX all in one. I gave the boards two applications using an old rag to rub in the stain.

After the boards were stained it became obvious that a sheet of 3/4″ pine wasn’t going to stand up to a lot of weight without sagging. I needed a rigid frame underneath the desktop. I bought some inexpensive 2×4 framing lumber and built box frames a little smaller than the pine desktops. Each frame also has a center brace. The whole thing is screwed to the black pipe stand underneath, and the pine desktop floats on top. This has worked out beautifully. The weight of the desktop prevents it from moving during normal use, yet I have been able to make fine adjustments to the positioning of the desktop without having to move the stand – AWSOME!

Categories: Projects

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