How To Build A Hairpin Legs Desk With Shelf

A hairpin desk makes for a great addition to any remote employee’s workspace. In this step-by-step guide we show you how to make a hairpin leg desk in the comfort of your home. Scroll through and kickstart your project now.

DIY Wood Desk with Hairpin Legs

Hairpin leg deskView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Related: The Best Wood Filler For Any Type Of Wood Repairs

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Level Project: Intermediate

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Materials you’ll need for hairpin leg desk:

These are the materials you’ll need on hand so you can build a desk at home. 

  • Four (4) 28” hairpin legs
  • 3/4″ project panel 20” wide by 8’ long, cut into two 4’ lengths
  • 1×8 lumber, cut into one 4’ length and four 8” lengths
  • 1×3 lumber, cut into two 3’ lengths (optional, for cord concealer)
  • 1” or 1-1/4” wood screws
  • 1-1/4” pocket screws
  • Kreg jig, right-angle clamp
  • Wood glue, clamps, wood filler, fine (220-grit) sandpaper
  • Pocket hole plugs
  • Finish of your choice (e.g., paint, stain, polycrylic, etc.)

Step-by-Step: Building a hairpin writing desk

Step 1: Prep your wood panels

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Begin by examining your project panels to determine the best side for the top of your wood desk hairpin legs. Place this piece, top side down, on your work surface.

Step 2: Start applying glue and let it set

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Run wood glue all around the face-up side of project panel.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Place the other project panel, which will be the bottom of your desk, on top of the wood glue. Line up all sides and corners precisely.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Clamp the two project panels together at all four corners, taking care to keep edges and corners aligned.

Step 3: Grab screws

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Grab your wood screws.

Step 4: Drill screws into clamped panels

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Drill about 10 screws into the clamped project panels to hold them together. The bottom of your hairpin desk is facing upward at this point, so the screws are only on the bottom of your desk.

Step 5: Wood Filler time

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Flip your desktop over so the top of the desk is face up. Grab some wood filler.

Note: You can keep the clamps on at this point, if your wood glue hasn’t had time to set completely.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Apply wood filler anywhere there’s a crack, hole, or knot on the top of your desktop. Let wood filler dry.

Step 6: Grab the 1×8 boards and pocket them

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Grab your four pieces of 1×8 boards.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Use your Kreg jig to put two pocket holes into the top and bottom end of each of your four 1×8 boards.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Your boards should look something like this. 

Set them aside for a minute.

Step 7: Add a cord concealer to the black hairpin leg desk

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

To build a cord concealer under your desk, take two 1×3 boards, cut to 3’ in length.

Step 8: Drill pocket holes into cord concealer

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Drill about five pocket holes along a long side of each 1×3 strip.

Step 9: Lay concealer strip facing down and repeat pocket holes in second 1×3 board

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Lay one 1×3 strip down, pocket holes facing down, with the pocket holes exiting out the right side.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Grab your second 1×3 strip and place it perpendicular on the left hand side of your first 1×3 strip, with the pocket holes of the second strip facing inward and exiting down into the first 1×3 strip.

Step 10: Glue 1×3 strips together and clamp to set

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Glue along the connecting edge of your second 1×3 strip, then realign and clamp one side with your right-angle clamp.

Step 11: Drill pocket screws into pocket holes

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Screw 1-1/4” pocket screws into the five pocket holes of this 1×3 strip.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

You should now have a connected L-shaped corner, comprised of the two 1×3 strips.

Step 12: Place the L-shaped cord concealer to bottom of the desk

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Flip your desktop back over, so the bottom side is facing up. If your wood filler is dry, you can sand it first. If it’s not all the way dry, you can just flip it and rest it on the clamps so the wood filler can keep drying.

Place the L-shaped corner on the back side of the bottom face, with the opening of the corner facing the back of your desktop.

Step 13: Begin glueing L-shaped corner under desk

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Run a bead of glue along the connecting edge of your L-shaped corner.

Step 14: Screw into place

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Replace the L on your desktop, centered between the two sides and aligned with the back edge of your desk. 

Screw into place.

Step 15: Sand all the pieces of desk

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Sand everything down lightly before moving onto the shelf installation. Make sure edges align; if they’re off a little, sand them until they are flush with each other.

Step 16: Begin measuring for desk shelves

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Flip your desktop back over, top side facing up. Measure and mark 12” in from the sides, along the back edge of the desktop.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Draw a perpendicular line, about 7” long, at both 12” marks.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

The top side of your desktop, along the back edge, will look something like this.

Step 17: Glue two 1×8 boards together then screw pocket screws into the holes to hold in place

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Glue, then install the two inner 1×8 boards along the pencil lines by screwing 1-1/4” pocket screws into the pocket holes. 

Keep the back edge of your 1×8 boards flush with the back edge of your desktop.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Install the two outer 1×8 boards at the edges of your desktop, with the pocket holes facing outward. 

Note: This could go against any woodworking strategies you’ve probably used, but these smaller cubby areas aren’t particularly conducive to pocket holes, so it’s better and easier to have the outer ends screwed in from the outside.

Step 18: Time to attach the top shelf

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

With all four 1×8 boards attached, it’s time to attach the top shelf.

Run beads of glue along the tops of all four 1×8 boards, then place your 4’ length of 1×8 lumber on top. 

Align the sides.

Step 19: Drill outer pockets of shelves 

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Drill the outer pocket holes first.

Step 20: Secure shelf to desk and sand everything (again)

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Your desk shelf is completely attached.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Lightly sand everything.

Step 21: Insert pocket hole plugs

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Place a drop of wood glue on the ends of your pocket hole plugs, then insert them into the pocket holes. 

Do this for all 16 of your pocket holes (four on each 1×8 board).

Step 22: Sand desk again

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Sand everything again.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Wipe away all sanding dust with a clean cloth.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

With everything dry and sanded, your desktop is ready for finishing. You can choose any type of finish you want.

Step 23: Create border with blue tape and paint

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

After being carefully taped off, the space was painted with a single coat. 

Peel the blue tape off immediately after painting.

Step 24: Let paint dry, then start drilling a cord holder

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Let the paint dry. 

You now need a space to run a charging cord (or any type of cord) up to your desktop, utilizing your built-in cord concealer. 

Drill a hole big enough for the end of your cord up through the desktop.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

Sand the hole. Wipe away any excess sanding dust.

Step 25: Put finishing coats on the desk

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

With your paint dry, it’s time to put the finishing coat(s) on your desk.top. 

Brush this on everywhere over your desktop, including the insides of each cubby and the bottom side of the shelf board.

Pro tip: Water-based polycrylic is a great choice because it goes on easily, it doesn’t yellow, and it cleans up fast.

Step 26: Screw hairpin desk legs into place

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

While the polycrylic dries, you can install your hairpin legs

Simply line up the leg attachments with the corners of your desk, and screw them in.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

As you can see, the cord-free attachment is a real-life solution to a real-life challenge: making cords disappear to maximize great design.

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

DIY Desk with Shelf and Hairpin LegsView in gallery

The additional shelf adds a functional horizontal surface without sacrificing the desk’s footprint. (You can check out this tutorial for a similar hairpin leg desk with no shelf.) Feel free to modify the measurements and dimensions as best suits your space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Are hairpin tables sturdy?

While hairpin leg computer desks may look flimsy or unsupported, this isn’t the case. These hairpin leg desks are sturdy and strong. They can hold the same weight as a desk of similar size.

What is a hairpin desk?

A hairpin desk is a piece of office furniture that comprises of a wooden desktop and metal hairpin legs. For the most part, they are reclaimed wood desk with hairpin legs that have a rustic vibe to them and are perfect for any space.

How much weight can hairpin legs hold?

This varies depending on the size of the hairpin legs themselves. If, for instance, you have a black hairpin leg desk with ¾” legs, it will hold up to 130 pounds; however, if you build a desk with ½” rod legs, it will only hold about 50 pounds.

How do you make a desk with hairpin legs?

As outlined in this post, you can build a standing desk with hairpin legs quite easily. It just takes some wood, paint, wood finishing and mechanic equipement. Building a gaming desk or working desk has never been easier!

How to build a simple desk?

If you’re wondering how to build a simple desk, it’s quite, well, simple: Just gather the materials and follow the step-by-step instructions outlined in this blog post.
For those that feel they don’t have time to find out how to build a computer desk from scratch or you find yourself not very savvy, you can always grab a mainstays hairpin desk from walmart, a hairpin desk at target, or find an ikea build-a-desk instead.

How to build a desk with drawers?

If you want to build a corner desk or build a standing desk with drawers; it’s as easy as can be. Once you make your shelves, you’d just cut the right sizes for drawers, drill into them, screw into place and enjoy easy slide-in-drawers.

Conclusion:

We hope you enjoy building your modern desk with a shelf and hairpin legs. You’re guaranteed to love the clean-lined contemporary touch it adds to your workspace.