How Much Does It Cost To Build A Desk From Scratch

Building a desk from scratch can be very rewarding. It’s a piece of furniture that you probably use the most when you’re working from home, gaming, or just relaxing.  

How much does building a desk from scratch actually cost?

We found that building a desk from scratch has a huge range anywhere from $50 to north of $300. 

This big range is due to a ton of variables. Variables include if you have woodworking tools already, what desk features you want, what type of wood you use, how big your desired desk is, and so on. 

weight capacity of desks

Today we’re going to dive into all of these factors and then give you some specific DIY desk costs at the end. 

Here’s the table of contents for this rather long article, jump to your favorite section!

Why Build A Desk From Scratch

First of all, why build a desk from scratch? What are the advantages?

Fun DIY Project

First of all, it’s an awesome DIY project. DIY projects are super rewarding and very satisfying once you reach the final product. You learn a ton of techniques and get better at your craft with each project.

You gain lots of useful furniture-making skills which means your next DIY project will be even better. It’s an exciting chain reaction. 

There is also a ton of pride in being able to make your own furniture.

If you don’t want to build from scratch, you can also upcycle a desk!

Custom One-of-a-Kind Desk

When you make a desk from scratch, you can make it exactly how you want it. 

Do you want exactly one shelf and one drawer? Do you need the desk to be exactly 27 inches tall for perfect ergonomics? Would you like a black desk with gold hardware?

Good luck finding all of those requirements in one off-the-shelf desk. But when you make a desk yourself, you call the shots!

A fully custom desk is one without any compromises.

Types Of DIY Desk Builds

Not all DIY desks are the same. There are actually a few ways you can go about making a custom desk. 

Kit Desks

Kit desks are basically desks where you source the individual components. That means you choose what tabletop you want, what legs you want, a set of drawers that sits under the desk, and so on. 

Once you purchase them you simply assemble them all together. 

This is not a full-scale DIY desk, but it’s the best option if you don’t have access to a bunch of tools. They at most would require just a power drill. No need to cut any wood or do any sanding/touch-ups. 

For example, here is a set of desk components that I can put together theoretically:

Solid 43″ x 23″ Table Top

VIVO 43 x 24 inch Particle Board One-Piece Table Top

This VIVO tabletop is an affordable workstation surface that fits most desk frames. It has a solid one-piece 43" top that fits into smaller areas and is free of seam breaks. This is a solid particle board surface in a light chestnut color.

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Clean Looking Minimal Table Legs

EconoHome 34 inch Metal Hairpin Legs

These steel table legs can support up to 440 lbs. They're perfect for DIY projects like tables, desks, bar stools, and chairs, adding a touch of subtle style with their sleek finish. They're easy to install with screws and pre-drilled holes included.

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Full Custom Desks

This is where the hardcore DIY crowd goes. Full custom desks mean driving over to your local hardware store to pick up raw lumber and firing up those woodworking tools. 

This involves sawing, drilling, sanding, staining, painting, and so on. 

If you want a fully custom solution, you are going to have to go this route. The caveat here is that it takes a lot more effort. I’m sure you’re expecting this if you chose to go the full DIY route. 

Kit/Custom Hybrid Desks

The hybrid option is terrific if you only need to make part of your desk custom. If you want to make just the tabletop and go for some off-the-shelf legs, you only have to do half the work. 

Or if you have a killer desk leg idea and you want to put an off-the-shelf tabletop above it, you can do that too!

The hybrid method really is nice if it aligns with your desk goals. Also mixing off-the-shelf parts with a custom part can really put a professional twist on a DIY desk. 

This is another budget-friendly and time-friendly option as off-the-shelf parts are usually cheaper and take up less time than DIY parts.

Desk Components

Here are the major components you need to keep in mind when it comes to building a DIY desk yourself. This is also where you have to start adding up all the costs.

Table Tops

The first component that you should think about is a tabletop. This is what you will be actually in contact with during the life of the desk. It is often the most expensive part of a desk.

Think about what your budget is, and set aside a good chunk of that for the tabletop. A nice solid wood table top is going to last a very long time. We cover all the different tabletop materials here.

VIVO Rustic Vintage Brown 60 x 24 inch Universal Solid One-Piece Table Top for Standard and Sit to Stand Height Adjustable Home and Office Desk Frames, DESK-TOP60N

It’s important this table top is strong as it will hold a ton of valuables if it becomes a computer desk. Check out this article on how to build a tabletop.

This will also be the step where you need to figure out what size you want your desk to be. Check out our article on average desk dimensions here.

Legs

Up next are table legs. If lumber is cheap, you can get very creative with your table leg designs. 

Just make sure you dial in your desk height. Most people are unaware that off-the-shelf desks are not well suited to each person’s height. We cover how to find the right desk height here.

SSS Furniture Metal Table Legs 2 Pack Heavy Duty Furniture Legs 28”Height 20”Wide Rustic Decory Square Tube Iron Desk Legs Office Table Legs Industrial Country Style Metal Dining Legs

Also, make sure these legs are plenty strong. If your tabletop is heavy, they will need to support that along with anything on the desk.

Check out this article on how to make table legs.

Extras

Think about anything else you want to add to your desk. Imagine yourself using your desk and think about what features would make your life more convenient.

Costs can add up here if you want a pretty feature-rich desk setup.

Here are some ideas to start:

Tools For A Custom DIY Table

This is a general list of the main tools you’ll need. It is not an exhaustive list by far. But it is a good place to start. 

These tools ensure you aren’t ripping apart wood with your teeth, but also don’t require a compound miter saw or a wood planer.

There are a ton more tools and hardware than I mention here. You can find a more exhaustive list here: WikiHow: How To Build A Desk.

Also, if you find your new DIY desk is not sturdy enough and is racking in different directions, check out our guide on how to make your desk more sturdy.

Main Required Tools 

Circular Saw

Ryobi One P505 18V Cordless 5 1/2" Circular Saw

This cordless circular saw has a GripZone Overmold for improved handling, a transparent lower guard for maximum visibility, and an adjustable bevel for cutting at different angles. It also comes with an extra side handle for improved control and greater visibility over your cuts while you work.

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Power Drill

Ryobi Drill Set Bundle

This bundle includes a Ryobi P209D 18 Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver with battery and charger, a drill bit set for multipurpose use, and a BUHO Tool Bag.

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Clamps, Lots of Them

WORKPRO Bar Clamps for Woodworking

This WORKPRO bar clamp has a reinforced nylon body and high-quality hardened steel bars for impact resistance. It can be used as a clamp or spreader with up to 150 lbs of squeezing force and non-marring pads. The quick-release latch allows for easy adjustments, and the ergonomic handle provides added comfort.

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Nice-To-Have Tools

Power Sander

Ryobi P411 18V 5 Inch Cordless Orbit Power Sander

This cordless Ryobi One+ sheet sander is convenient to use with included sanding pads and a dust bag. It has a rubber overgrip to handle intense vibrations and is compatible with the Ryobi One+ battery system.

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Drill Jig

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 320

This portable pocket-hole jig is a versatile carpentry tool that makes strong joints. It's easy to use with included clamp adaptor and position stop collar for accurate depth.

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Sample Desk Builds & Costs

Now let’s check out some actual builds that people have done and break down their associated costs. This will give you a great idea of what to expect your own desk build to cost.

Build 1

COST: $250

This is a very unique desk build that has a few very extra features. They got some biometrics built into their desk! 

I guess that’s why it’s on Popular Science. 

This is ultimately a kit desk, because they were sourcing table components from craigslist and other vendors. The cost is a bit high, but the labor time is much lower for just building the desk alone. 

https://www.popsci.com/build-custom-computer-desk/

Build 2

COST: $50

This build is as affordable as it can get. DIY Creators used a bunch of off-the-shelf lumber in large sizes and cut them down to make his desk.

They use a combination of different sizes including:

  • 2in x 12in x 8ft 
  • 2in x 6in x 8ft 
  • 2in x 4in x 8ft

Along with some other minor hardware. The desk comes out beautifully and is well worth the cost. 

Build 3

COST: $100

In this video from Build It Better, Craig makes a custom L-shaped desk from scratch! This desk is a bit larger than Build #2 above, hence the higher cost. 

He uses the following stock lumber sizes:

  • 2in x 6in x 8ft
  • 2in x 4in x 8ft
  • 1in x 2in x 8ft

He also does a great job painting, staining, and protecting his wood desk at the end! This is a must-watch. They also create a cutout for a flush-top power receptacle! 

Photo of author

Dasun

I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!