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Sawhorse Double Desk Details

One of the rooms in our house has sat literally empty for quite a while now. We didn’t have any furniture for it and we also didn’t have a clear sense of what we wanted the room to look like. The one thing that we did know was that Ellie needed some work space to set up a sewing machine from time to time. The room’s a little awkward because it has the entrance door, a window dormer, another window, and 3 closets. Our plan was to create a double work station along the wall with the window. We dabbled with the idea of buying 3 base cabinets and creating a long tabletop to connect the three but we couldn’t find any cabinets at a decent price.

So we were at a standstill. We began looking for other inspiration when I stumbled across this picture from a tumblr account.

Combine that with the Restoration Hardware version, the Ana-White building plans, and a Pottery Barn writer’s desk…..and I was off to work.

I had a bunch of 2×4″s laying around but I liked the “lightness,” of using something thinner so I planned all of the wood down to about 1.25″. I then cut all the legs to size with a 10 degree angle on both ends.

So I don’t mess up any of these angle cuts, I make a little mark on the side to help remind me which way the angle needs to go.

After, I had all the legs cut it was time to cut the first bottom support piece. Then I drilled some pocket holes on the underneath side. I made my mark, used wood glue and screwed it all together.

The hardest part was making these little storage shelves because they needed to be notched out on the corner with the inclusion of a 10 degree bevel. Once I cut those to fit snug, I just screwed them in from underneath.

I then attached the top piece using pocket holes on the inside.

I got wrapped up into the project and forgot to take some pictures but the top shelf was notched out just like the bottom but was put into place in the opposite manner of the bottom shelf (i.e. first place the shelf up and then put the support piece under it). I didn’t want any screws holes anywhere visible, so I used wood glue and my finish nailer to keep it all in place.

The two saw horses were constructed but they weren’t going to be enough to support the entire length of our double work station (the tabletop measures 9′ long!). So I needed a third support structure. I kindof wanted to do something a little different with the middle sawhorse so I decided to try and mimic the Pottery Barn version of the sawhorse desk. This sawhorse was going to be sitting under the middle of our window, so I was also worried about it hitting the window trim. Again, the heat of the project got the best of me and I forgot to take pictures.

For the bottom half of the sawhorse, I basically followed some of the same principles from the first two sawhorses except without shelves and shorter. I also used a wider top board since I notched out a whole to accommodate the two adjustable supports (they only look adjustable). I drilled some holes in the piece of wood to appear adjustable and then cut off an old broom handle to make my dowels.

The tabletop consists of 2: 1×8″s and 1: 1×12″ and then a 1×6″ cut to size for the breadboards. I drilled pocket holes every 12″ down the seams and joined them together using wood glue and clamps. One end I was able to join straight but on the other end, I need to cut an inche off or so to straighten out the edge enough for me to attach the breadboard. It received a good dose of sanding after that.

So that’s how they were all constructed. I’m going to write two other separate posts to describe the finishing process. I used a new distressing technique on the base and a different way to stain the tabletop. Here’s how it all turned out.


We’d love to get some feedback…..feel free to leave a comment on what you think of the changes thus far.

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  1. Andrew April 4, 2013

    Absolutely loved this post – I’ve now built two, one longer one like yours with three sawhorses, and a shorter one like Ana-White’s with two sawhorses, but with a top made from pallets. Thanks as usual for the detailed instructions!

  2. Michelle February 8, 2013

    Can I ask how you notched out the wood in the middle sawhorse?

  3. Kelly October 30, 2012

    Would it be possible for you to post a supply list like you did for the farmhouse table?? I am going to attempt the desk within the next couple of weeks but want to make sure I get everything in one trip (I’m not very close to the lumberyard). You can post it or e-mail it, whatever would be easiest! Thanks in advance!!

  4. Briana October 5, 2012

    love the finish on the top! We just started the farmhouse table and wondered if you had ever tried this type of stain on that piece? I want a more white washed look.

    • Tommy October 6, 2012

      I haven’t tried it on the farmhouse tables….mostly because I use pine and I’m not a huge fan of the wood grain on pine to “show it off,” to that degree. The other thing that’s really hard about this type of stain is that you have to be really, really, fast…’s more like a paint than a stain. I’ve read about people who will thin out as a white wash stain….and I could see that working well. Definitely try it out on a sample piece and see how you like it…..and then keep in mind trying to apply it over a large surface area.

  5. Matt July 13, 2012

    Did you just pocket screw the bread boards to the ends?

  6. Rosie April 21, 2012

    Love the desk and looking for something exactly like it.

  7. Sue Layne March 25, 2012

    I have been looking through your blog after seeing your farmhouse table on Ana White. I am so impressed with your work, and can’t wait to try this desk and the farmhouse table soon! Keep up the good work. I’ll definately be “stopping by” again.

  8. Michelle March 9, 2012

    Do you ever share the cost of the projects? It would be something I’d talk with my husband about attempting, but only if it’s cost effective :)

    • Tommy March 12, 2012

      I think I spent about $40 on the desk but that’s because I had a ton of scraps laying around my garage. Essentially, the $40 built the tabletop and bought stain/paint. It’s typically hard for me to put a price on something because I’m always reusing materials. I only build things if I can do it inexpensively but then I also try to buy high quality wood that’ll last.

  9. Roboin February 22, 2012

    What is the color of the green paint? You guys are very talented. Love your furniture.

  10. Ohhh my goodness I am amazingly in love with your desk!!!!!!!!!!!! :o ) ohhh thank you so much for sharing and for the inspiration!!!!
    Jaime from crafty scrappy happy

    • Tommy February 8, 2012

      Jaime….thanks so much for stopping by and for the great comment. I check your blog just about everyday….so I really appreciate your kind words.

  11. Bethany January 31, 2012

    I adore this!!!

    • Tommy January 31, 2012


  12. The Single Nester January 31, 2012

    This really looks terrific and while I need a desk, I have no skill to make one. IKEA here I come.

    • Tommy January 31, 2012

      IKEA’s the way to go. I was bummed to see after the fact that they sell similar sawhorses. I was also going to use a door as the desktop. Habitat for Humanity’s Restore has some solid ones for $5. Maybe something like that could work for you.


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