How to Make a Compact Desk

When you're running low on space, this compact floating shelf desk can provide much-needed storage. Learn how to make one with our easy instructions!

Not every room has space for a full-size desk, but as computers and tablets shrink in size, there's no need for big and clunky furniture. Give yourself a bit of workspace without taking up too much room with our compact floating shelf desk. This DIY project is sleek and functional with a smooth top and a compartment for your laptop. Make one this weekend, and then use it to plan out how you will tackle future DIY projects!

Note: Our desk measures 44 inches long, 12 inches deep, and 5 inches tall. The design features a center divider that adds stability and forms two compartments. Shelf brackets (Style Selections, 11.69×8 inches, $7; lowes.com) support the unit.

Hang your desk at a comfortable hight—27 to 46 inches from the floor is best, depending on the height of your stool.

What You Need:

  • 3/4-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF) cut into the following pieces in your desired dimensions (our finished desk is 44x12x5 inches). Rabbeted edges, as shown, are optional.
    • 2 sides, each with its short back edge cut with a rabbeted profile
    • 2 long boards for the top and bottom, each with rabbeted profiles along their long back edges and sides
    • 1 long, slim board for the desk's back wall, cut to the dimension of the rabbeted opening
    • 1 center divider
  • Wood glue
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • 3 shelf brackets
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Primer and paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Cut Boards

Cut MDF to desired sizes. For a snug fit, make recessed rabbet cuts along the edges of the pieces as noted. Cut a channel for the divider in the center of top and bottom pieces.

Learn how to make rabbeted edges.

Step 2: Assemble Desk

Join sides and center divider to base using glue and nails. Install back wall, followed by the top. 

Optional: Cut a small hole in the desk bottom for cords and electronic wires to fit through. 

Step 3: Finish and Install

Sand, prime, and paint. Install brackets into wall studs. Place desktop on brackets, and screw into place.

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