DIY Desk from a Door

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Photo courtesy Storey Publishing
By following the guide, this DIY desk can be made from entirely salvaged materials.

More often than not, it can be far more fulfilling to find something constructive to build with an old piece of wood rather than throw it out. Guerilla Furniture Design (Storey Publishing, 2015) is a great resource for anyone looking to reuse old or discarded materials. Author Will Holman illustrates this perfectly with this DIY desk made from a used door, proving that the material may be old but something completely new can be made. 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Guerilla Furniture Design.

Door Desk

Every door dreams of retiring as a desk (or a table). After spending years defending against weather, intruders, and relentless knocking, a door deserves to lie down on a sturdy base and rest. This flat-packable workstation has survived three moves so far, and served as the platform for writing most of this book.

The Door Desk mates a beautiful, timeworn door with a demountable trestle base. Pieces of plate aluminum (old road signs) are cut and inlaid to flush out the panels. Depending on available material, the door panels could also be filled with concrete, grout, wood scraps, or glass.


• Four 28-inch 2x4s
• Two 24-inch 2x4s
• Wood glue
• 3-inch drywall screws
• Old solid-wood panel door, preferably with panels of equal size
• One 2×4, approximately 72 inches long (for a standard 80-inch door)
• 1-1/2-inch drywall screws
• Plate aluminum or other filler material (size and quantity as needed)
• Construction adhesive
• Six 1/4 x 4-inch lag bolts with washers
• One 75-inch 2×2 or other material (see step 9)


• Clamps
• Pencil
• Tape measure
• Square
• Circular saw
• Hammer
• Chisel
• Miter saw
• Straightedge
• Drill/driver and 1, 3/4, and 1/4-inch bits


1. Clamp the four 28-inch 2x4s together, on edge, making sure the ends are precisely aligned; these will become the legs. Using the square, mark a line over all four pieces, 3-1/2 inches from the ends. Set the circular saw blade to a depth of 2 inches and a bevel of 5 degrees, and run a series of closely spaced parallel cuts over all four boards, from your mark out toward the end of the boards, as shown below. Knock out the waste with a hammer and chisel. Each leg should now have an L-shaped notch in one end that is 2 x 3-1/2 inches, canted at a 5-degree angle.

2. Miter both ends of each leg, in parallel, at 5 degrees.

3. Measure 1-1/2 inches over from the edge opposite the notch at the bottom (non-notched) end of each leg. Use a long straightedge to draw a line connecting that mark with the bottom outside corner of the notch. Cut the taper on each leg.

4. Complete the leg assemblies by securing the 24-inch crosspieces in the leg notches with some wood glue and 3-inch drywall screws driven through the outside edges of the legs. Lay out the screws neatly, staggering and predrilling the screw holes to prevent splitting. Counterbore a 1-inch-diameter x 3/4-inch-deep hole in the center of each crosspiece. Then drill a 1/4-inch hole all the way through at the center of the counterbore.

5. Find the center of the door, end to end, then make a centerline across the door’s width on what will be the underside of the desktop. For a standard door, this should be about 40 inches in from each end. Mark a centerline on the 72-inch 2×4, and align this with the centerline on the door. Scribe the panel locations in the door onto the 2×4. Notch the 2×4 so that it will lie flush to the underside of the door, with the notches fitting over the rails (horizontal door frame parts). Use the same method as when notching the legs, creating a series of parallel cuts with a circular saw, then knocking out the waste with a chisel.

6. Glue and screw the 72-inch support to the underside of the door, using 1-1/2-inch screws, as shown at right. Screw through the top face of the door — through the panels — so the screw heads will be hidden later by the aluminum plates.

7. Fill in the recessed panels on the top side of the door with aluminum, plywood, hardboard, glass, concrete, or plastic pieces that flush out the surface, making a smooth, continuous top. I used aluminum road signs, turned upside down and adhered with construction adhesive.

8. Center the leg frames on each end and use one lag bolt at each end to attach the 72-inch desktop support to the 24-inch crosspieces. Use two more lag bolts per leg frame to go up into the underside of the desk; the counterbore pilot holes ensure the bolt heads are recessed into the crosspieces.

9. Install a support bar, or stretcher, low on the back legs to provide more lateral stiffness. This piece runs parallel to the length of the desktop. It could be a 2×2, a piece of pipe or scrap wood, or an X-shaped wire brace. For this version, I used a salvaged chain-link fence top bar, secured by friction-fit in a hole in each back leg and pinned with a drywall screw.

For another project from Guerrilla Furniture Design,try this:The DIY Scrap Table.

Excerpted from Guerrilla Furniture Design © Will Holman. Photography by © Kip Dawkins Photography and © Ryan LeCluyse. Illustrations by © Koren Shadmi. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Guerilla Furniture Design.