DIY child's school desk

Writing the article the other day about creating a study area for a child's bedroom, and the many enquiries I receive about desks, got me to thinking about making a desk for a young child, or a teenager for that matter. So here is my take on making a reproduction flip-top school desk.


I am taking my inspiration for this project from the renovation hardware desk shown above and below. Although this desk is designed for an adult I have scaled down the design so that it is the perfect height for a child. However, you can make this school desk for anyone simply by adding extra length to the legs.


1 of 380 x 728mm - base
2 of 210 x 380mm - sides - angle to be cut
1 of 102 x 728mm - front
1 of 210 x 800mm - back
2 of 400 x 400mm - flip lids
1 of 150 x 684mm - desk support
1 of 190 x 768mm - foot board
4 of 32 x 500mm PAR pine - legs
2 of 44 x 44 x 400mm PAR pine - feet
4 x 44 x 44 x 10mm PAR pine blocks - feet supports

4.5 x 45mm cut screws
4 butt hinges and 16mm screws
Pattex No More Nails adhesive


Drill / Driver + assorted bits
Counterink bit
Jigsaw and clean-cut blade
Orbital or random orbit sander + 120- and 240-grit sanding pads
Tape Measure and pencil

Note: It is important to drill 3mm countersunk pilot holes when joining the sections together.


1. Before you start to assemble glue some small 44 x 44mm blocks onto the bottom of the cross-pieces so that they have time to dry before you attach everything together.

2. You will need to cut an angle on both side sections. The back height is 210mm and the front height is 102mm. Draw a line from back to front and cut with a jigsaw.

3. The sides are secured to the base with a gap at the back and a 20mm overlap at the front.

For some reason pine is not manufactured to a standard width. You will find some pine that is 18mm thick and some 22mm thick. Whatever thickness you have you need to allow for this when fitting everything together. The pine we used was 19mm, so there was a fair amount of sanding to be done at the end of the project.

4. The front fits into the overlap at the front and is secured through the sides with a couple of screws along the front into the base.

5. Place the back on top of the base and attach by screwing through the back and into sides.

6. The back support needs to be cut to shape. Draw a line down the centre to split into two 75mm wide portions. On one section measure and mark at 75mm and cut a 45-degree angle.

7. The legs are attached to the desk support. Make sure the desk support is placed in the centre of the leg (widest part) - see below for more details.

8. Add a bead of Pattex No More Nails to the bottom of the remaining two legs before attaching to the feet. Both the front and back legs are 80mm in from the edge.

Below is how the completed under-section should look once assembled. 

9. Place the desk top on the base. The desk top overhangs the legs by 80mm and there is approximately 5mm overhang on the sides.

10. Apply Pattex No More Nails adhesive along the desk support and leg tops. Secure to the base by driving nails through the desk and into the legs.

11. The footboard slips around the legs and rests on the feet. On both sides measure 73mm, 44mm and 73mm. Cut out the 44mm slot to the width of the leg - 32mm.

12. The back edge of the lid doesn't need to be cut at an angle and allows enough space for fitting a couple of butt hinges (upside down) to both flaps with 16mm screws.

Sand down with 120-grit sanding pads to remove uneven edges and round off all edges. Finish with 240-grit sandpaper to smooth. If you would like to keep the desk as natural as possible, apply a couple of coats of clear acrylic sealer or antique wax after sanding.

You can apply Woodoc gel stain in various wood tints, or apply a coloured varnish.

After staining you can apply clear acrylic sealer or antique wax to finish off.