1. ½-inch plywood to make the desktop, back, sides, and cubby. Get a 4x8-foot sheet. 2. 1x3 to make the apron. Get a 3-foot piece. 3. 1x2 to make the cleats. Get two 8-foot boards. 4. ¾-inch molding to trim the hutch. Get two 6-foot lengths. 5. 1-inch molding to trim the desktop's front and sides. Get two 6-foot lengths. 6. 29-inch legs. Get four. 7. Acrylic sheeting. Get a piece you can cut to 27 by 48 inches. 8. Small cabinet to make into a hutch. We used a ClosetMaid 3-Shelf 12-inch Wood Laminate Storage cabinet with door from Lowe's. 9. ¼x5 lumber to make mail-slot dividers for the hutch. Get at least 4 feet. 10. Hardboard. Get a piece the size of the back of the cabinet; you'll attach it to the hutch in place of the cabinet's back, which isn't designed to take paint. 11. 1-inch brad nails 12. 1 ⅝-inch brad nails 13. 1-inch screws 14. 2-inch screws
If you lack a dedicated spot for paying bills and stashing loose stuff, a good desk is a must. And you can make one yourself with basic materials. To simplify construction, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva came up with a compact, drawer-free design. The desktop, made of plywood topped with acrylic sheeting, stands on turned legs. "Choose legs at least 29 inches tall for a comfortable working height," says Tom. To make the free-floating hutch, he simply used a small cabinet laid on its side and repurposed the door to create shelves. A cubby tucked under the desktop holds a basket for yet more storage. See how to make it yourself on the following pages. No guarantees, but it should make tackling paperwork more inviting.
Hutch: ClosetMaid 3-Shelf 12-inch Wood Laminate Storage cabinet. Table legs: Waddell 29-inch-long by 2¼-inch-diameter country pine traditional wood table leg from HardwareAndTools.com. Paint: Valspar's Cliveden Pasture. Paint, lumber, and above-mentioned stock parts available at Lowes.