Wall-to-Wall Built-In Desk: Part 2, The Build

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my plan for my built-in desk involved two Ikea Rast dressers, which my husband so begrudgingly lovingly put together for me. My plan for the top was to use wood boards that I would stain to match the other wood tones in our home. I didn’t want my wood top to sit directly on the dressers, as I didn’t think it would look as substantial that way, and the 1-inch boards I planned to use would have most definitely sagged at such a long distance. (This wall is almost 11 feet long!)

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

SO, I created a base out of 2x3s that would give me support in the middle of my desk, and allow me to secure the whole thing to the wall. I cut all my 2×3 boards to length and started attaching my middle supports using 3 inch screws, careful not to place a support where it would line up with a stud on the wall so that I could screw this thing into as many studs as possible later. I love my new Kreg Jig but on tasks like this where the screws won’t be seen in the end, I find it easier just to screw straight into my pieces rather than creating a pocket hole first.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

Because this was such a long span and my Lowe’s only carries 8 foot 2x3s, I had to create another smaller support in order to span the entire wall. I simply attached both support pieces together with 2 screws through each side.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

I placed my support on top of my cabinets and made sure everything was level before I started screwing through the supports into the studs behind the wall. You’ll notice the cabinets are sitting out a bit farther than the wall. The cabinets are only about 12 inches deep and I wanted the desk to be about 17 inches deep in order to give my children enough space to work, so I pulled the cabinets out to sit about an inch back from where the edge of my stained top would eventually be. I’ll show you how I covered up that empty space further down in this post.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
Do those crooked pictures bother you as much as they do me?

The dressers have a hollow toe-kick spot on the bottom that I filled with a 1×4 board in order to make it flush. This way I can add baseboard to the bottom later to give it the built-in look. You can see in the picture below that earlier I had cut out parts of the existing baseboards so that my cabinets can sit nice and flush against the sides of the walls. My Ryobi multi-tool makes easy work of this.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

In order to hide the gap between the wall and the back of the dressers, I nailed up a few scrap pieces of wood that I could later use to attach a piece of plywood cut to size.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

Now it was time to assemble my top. I used 12 foot 1x4s for the top, cut to size. I didn’t want to have any seams lengthwise so I painstakingly dug through all of the 1x4s at Lowe’s to find the five straightest boards I could. (5 boards times their actual width of 3.5 inches = 17.5 inches…a perfect depth for my desk!) This is where my Kreg Jig came in handy. I created pocket holes along all of my 1x4s so that I could screw them together and get a nice tight fit. The only problem is that I screwed up the first set of holes (forgot to change a setting on my drill bit) and had to do this part twice. But once I finally got it figured out it worked great and I was able to place it on to the base I had made and nail it in with my nail gun.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

I then cut my pieces to fill the gap between the dressers and wall out of 1/4 inch plywood. I nailed these to the side of the dressers and my scrap pieces using my nail gun. They’re so thin that after sanding the edges and painting you can’t even tell they aren’t part of the original dresser. You can also see below that I added a pre-finished white 1×3 to the front of my 2×3 support base to cover up my screws and give it a nice smooth finish.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

Now that everything was all together I was able to spackle my nail holes and caulk my seams. I used a different wood filler on the top than I usually do, and I won’t use anything else from now on. Wood filler, even the kind that says it is stainable, is not really stainable, I’ve found. It always sticks out a bit, especially on my wood finishes which tend to be darker. I saw this in the stain aisle at Lowe’s and thought I’d give it a try. It goes on a lot darker than the raw wood color, obviously, but once I applied my stain I can’t even tell where the nail holes were! Love it. Wish I had used it earlier.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

After my spackle and wood filler was dry I sanded  everything down so that I could stain my top. I used the same Minwax Red Mahogany followed by Dark Walnut stain combo that I use on all my other projects in this house. It creates a very rich, warm finish. You’ll notice I wasn’t very careful around my walls as I knew I would have to touch them up later, and I am not one to waste painter’s tape.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

After that dried over night I could start on my three coats of polycrylic to seal the top and hopefully protect it from my kids brutality, at least a little bit. I love the way the polycrylic gives the wood a smooth, rich finish. It makes the wood so much more beautiful than just stain alone. Then, it was time to paint the base. I took all the drawer fronts off to make it easier, and because a small part of the front of the insides of the dressers are visible even with the drawers closed, I taped off a straight(ish) line real quick so that I didn’t have to worry about painting the entire inside of the dresser. I also didn’t paint the insides or outsides of the drawers themselves. #lazy. I used Simply White by Sherwin Williams in semi-gloss, as I still had half a gallon left over from my master closet renovation.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!
How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

Last up was to add the baseboards around the bottom of the dressers. I went back and forth a bit (which is why this happened after I had painted the rest of the project) but I ended up using the same baseboards that are in the rest of my house this time, rather than a 1×4 like I usually do. I just thought that looked more correct on this project.

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!

After that was caulked and touched up, I could touch up the walls and this project was done! I’m waiting on some chairs I’ve ordered, but I’m hoping they will be here this weekend and that they will work as good in the space as I think they will. Reveal post coming soon!

How to create a huge built-in homework desk using cheap Ikea Rast dressers!