In this post, I show you how I made an easy marble desk from a kitchen worktop, hairpin legs and some drawers using IKEA Trofast storage boxes. Lifing the worktop, however, will be a two man (or woman) job. You can also find my video version at the bottom of this page!
Since starting blogging back in 2015 (albeit, initially over at my food blog), I’ve hopped from one dining table to the next as a place to type away. Also, while we’re on the topic, from room to room.
I really have felt like I’ve been slumming it, as renovating our house, or cooking for my day job, have been the top priority. But after fitting my own utility kitchen, I had this large off cut of marble laminate worktop. I absolutely love this design for many reasons and thought it would make the perfect designer desk on a budget.
Actually, I picked this laminate to also use as a food photography backdrop, so it will always be dual purpose to me.
FAUX MARBLE DOESN’T ALWAYS NEED TO BE FABLON
I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit fed up of seeing Fablon this, Fablon that. I feel like it’s been done to death. But I do get why it’s so popular. It offers an easy and instant transformation for the novice.
But what I don’t like about it is I don’t trust its durability. If you’re covering that you use to work on daily, such as a kitchen worktop, or desk (convient), then over time, it must wear on the corners, get scratched and torn far too easily.
When I do a DIY project, I want it to last and hopefully, never had to redo it again.
WHY I LOVE THIS DESK
So, let’s talk about this build. It’s so easy that I was deliberating whether to share a project like this. But I thought it was important because:
- I haven’t seen this idea on the internet
- It’s an alternative idea to Fablon and more hard wearing
- It only needs basic DIY skills, which I’ll talk you through
- It can be made in two or three hours and doesn’t require absolute accuracy
- May encourage you to “think outside of the box” when it comes to designing your own storage
- And finally, it’s modern, yet versatile to use for social media, such as Instagram pictures etc
For the storage, I used some cheap Ikea Trofast plastic storage tray boxes where I needed to make my own rebate pieces of wood (as seen in the pic above). Yes, I could have used a router, but this was much quicker and only required a hand saw. Or you could try these much easier Ivar drawers that screw directly underneath a shelf or table, but sadly my local IKEA had sold out.
EASY WITH HAIR PIN LEGS
Essentially, this build is just a flat solid top of some sort and some stylish Hair Pin Leg Co legs. That’s what makes this design so simple. With my method, I didn’t have to worry about sanding down a surface to make it completely flat and naturally level with the two put together.
I was originally going to butt some planks of wood together using a biscuit jointer, but the
need desire for my desk came first. Plus, an offcut of laminate resting on a garage floor was asking for it to get damaged. So it made much more sense. And could match the rest of my utility when it’s sat in that room
HAIR PIN LEG DESIGNS
The Hair Pin Leg Co offers a huge range of styles, lengths, colours and different strengths. As a laminate worktop is typically very heavy, I opted for 3 rod legs, 70cm tall, but in a raw metal finish to match the kitchen end caps I’d picked up from Wickes. Anyway, here’s how I made it.
CUTTING THE WORKTOP
As this was an off cut from a 3m length of Torano laminate worktop I’d bought from Selco, I’d already cut it with a hand saw in my post here a few weeks back. But to give you a low down, I used masking tape on the top of the laminate, then measured and drew a pencil line where I wanted to cut it.
I then used a hand saw, starting from the front edge of the worktop (“profile edge”), and slowly sawed in a downward motion as seen below for a straighter cut, working my way to the back.
You’ll also need to support it on your last few saw strokes, because if drops with gravity, you could damage some of the laminate on the piece you want to keep.
PREPARING THE END CAPS TO YOUR FRONT EDGE
Don’t assume all strips will fit your laminate profiled edge. When I held mine against it, it wasn’t a perfect match. We’re talking a mm difference, but it was enough for me not to be happy, exposing raw cut edge.
The strip is usually longer than the laminate edge, so before I cut it down, I started on the front edge, holding it where I wanted, slightly overlapping. I think draw on the back of it with a pencil and filed it down to my line with ease using a flat file/rasp. This took about 5 minutes. I then smoothed the rough edge with 240 grit sandpaper.
ALTERNATIVE METHOD: If you don’t want to use end caps, you could add laminate edging tape instead to match as I show you here. However, it’s much more time consuming, but if you’re not happy with the end result, you could still add these end caps on after.
CUTTING DOWN THE END CAP
Now I’ve got my important curved edge, I held against my worktop, making sure it matched up with the front, and drew at the back where I needed to cut it down.
I used a hack saw for this, although you can see mine is partly broken but still did the trick.
Not is helps clamping the end cap down so you can cut with much easier and straight.
SEALING THE EDGES
I didn’t want the possibility of accidentally getting the untreated chipboard wet and ruining my worktop. So using some clear silicone sealant, a gun and rubber gloves (but still with masking tape on), I applied it with my fingers.
The sealant I used was a clear a sanitary silicone from Screwfix (their No Nonsense range) as I knew I may very well be cooking on this during my food photography sessions!
I then left it for about 10 minutes to set a little and pushed on the end cap with stayed in place on its own.
SCREWING ON THE END CAPS
After leaving this for the day to dry, I pre drilled holes though the screw holes in the end cap before screwing with my combi drill.
Note, you must use a slimmer drill bit than the actual screw. I much prefer pre drilling in general as it prevents splitting and damaged most woods.
POSITIONING THE HAIR PIN LEGS
It’s up to you to decide where you want to position your hair pin legs. I positioned mine 30mm away from the corners and mirrored on all sides using a combination square. These save a LOT of time as you can set it up and hold against the edge and mark with a pencil without having to measure all the time.
I also had to wipe my hair pin legs with a rag as recommend as they arrived with a protective oil on them.
ATTACHING YOUR HAIR PIN LEGS
Once I’d positioned them where I wanted, I marked the screw holes in the leg. Then for accuracy, I pearced my marks by making an indent with a hammer and the edge of a nail. (I couldn’t find my brad awl, which I usually prefer using).
Then I repeating my pre drill method, making sure I wouldn’t screw through to the other side and fixed in to place with the screws provided.
WORRIED ABOUT YOUR DESK BOWING?
Like I said previously, I want this desk to last. And due to the length of my worktop (140cm), I was worried it would bow in the middle.
So, due to the size, I decided to add some in the middle too. Although I am tempted to not put one in the front so I could sit in centre while I work. However, it didn’t hurt for now, and I’ll see how I get on with it.
To position it in the middle, I measured, marked and used a speed square to drawer a line. This way, when I position my v-shape leg, I could line up the corners with my mark, then continued as normal.
PROTECTING THE FLOORING
My hair pin legs came with rubber bottom caps which just slotted on.
MY IKEA TROFAST HACK: ADDING THE DRAWERS
Now, chosing my drawers was quite a task. I scoured the internet for tray styles boxes with an edge around the top that could rest on something and allow me to pull in and out. You’ll need to check and measure what spaces you have spare and consider your leg room.
I chose IKEA Trofast boxes that were 10cm deep. Any bigger and I’d have no where to position my legs underneath, which let me tell you, is usually frustrating. So I found two different widths of spare wood in my garage – not too narrow, not too wide, that I would fit under my desk.
I held the off cuts along the long sides and marked and with a hand saw. As I had two drawers, I needed to do this 4 times. Two rebated pieces of wood each. You can see I repeated the same method with the narrower wood too.
I then held my two different cuts on top of each other while holding them against the drawer lip to find where the position needed to be and clamped in to place for ease.
My larger pieces of wood were too large really for it to be aesthetically pleasing (for the rare moments I’d look under the table), so I scribbled on the opposite side I didn’t need before cutting with a hand saw.
ALTERNATIVE REBATE METHOD TO HAND SAW
At times like these, I’d love a table saw. But if I had one, I would have made my rebated pieces differently by lowering the blade to do a rebated piece for me. Originally I’d considered using my router to create a “rabbet”, but my Dad recommended my method above instead.
It may not necessarily be the way he would do it, but more for someone still learning like me.
Anyway, here’s what mine looked like and they were absolutely perfect for the job. I could paint them if I wanted to, but I couldn’t see the point (at the moment anyway). Although I may change my mind…
WHERE TO POSITION YOUR DRAWER REBATES
Again, where you want to position your drawers is personal preference. I initially wanted to place them symmetrical along the front. The my fiance put me off about leg room, so put mine on the sides.
THEN, once I’d fixed them, I didn’t like how they looked, so went with my original plan. Below are photos of my fiance’s way, which I later change (and not seen on camera), but because all the screws are underneath, no one’s going to see them. If you change your mind later, it doesn’t matter.
However, you will need to flip your table. If yours is a similar length to mine, you may need help lifting, or in my case, have some saw horses to roll them on to without putting too much pressure on the legs.
SCREWING DOWN THE REBATES
In truth, there’s no need for these drawers to be fixed perfectly straight. As long as the drawers won’t fall off the lip, you’re plain sailing. So I eyeballed where I placed mine, but lined them up perfectly in between my legs which I used for reference. I then held in to place, drilled holes and screwed to my worktop. Simples.
Just in case you haven’t read this above, but make sure you use drill bits that are shorter than what you’re drilling in to. And also, ensure the bits are slimmer than the screws you’re using. They’re called pilot holes for a reason. To prevent splitting wood and make driving screws in so much easier.
ADDING A DRAWER STOPPER
Depending on where you want to place your drawer, you’ll need to allow yourself room for a stopper. This acts as a dead end when putting the drawer back in situ.
I used another off cut which conveniently was the same depth as my wood put together. Not that it matters at all, but I love it when things work out.
I held it against the back of my rebated pieces, drew where it ended, then cut with a hand saw again before pilot holing and screwing in to place. Note, I think it’s better two two screws at the back on either side here.
So, as you can see above, I did end up re positioning my drawers at the front, ensuring they were symmetrical. The main reason was for aesthetics, but I also didn’t like the idea that my drawers wouldn’t be accessible if against a wall. I’ll always be able to access them from the front.
So just a little tip: trust your gut instinct. Although at this point, I fixed it while laid on my back and didn’t want to flip the table over again. However, if you can recommend any other drawer systems that would work, then I’d love to know. There’s almost nothing on the market for drawers that screw directly underneath a flat surface.
And another idea I suggested to IKEA is that they could sell the Trofast plastic drawer runners separately instead of just including them with one of their toy storage systems. If they did sell them, all I would have need to do is screw a solid rectangular piece of upwards under the desk and attach runners on the side.
CAN’T MAKE NOW? WHY NOT PIN ME FOR LATER?
FOLLOW ALONG WITH MY VIDEO!
And feel free to head over to my YouTube channel now to subscribe and hit the bell to get a notifications when my weekly videos are LIVE.
Disclosure: I was gifted the legs from The Hairpin Leg Co. As usual, my thoughts and opinions are truthful as my Dad always taught us that money’s “hard earnt’, easy spent”.