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How-To- Craft Desk

I knew that the first must-have in my craft room was a tall workspace for cutting fabric and laying out patterns. You don't realize how much you are bending when you are using a normal table until your back hurts so much that you can't stand up. I have been drooling over this tall desk at Pottery Barn for oh like 5 years.

But that baby is over $1000 and there was no way that I was going to drop that kind of cash in the craft room. Luckily creative people figured out to recreate it on a very small budget. Jannypie inspired to recreate it on my own.

I mentioned in a previous post that many things in the craft reno did not according to plan. This table was one of those projects. And all because I wanted it to be black.

The supports of this desk are Closetmaid shelves that you can buy lots of places and they come in a rainbow of colors......except black. But I thought that it would be no big deal, I would just buy the dark brown and add a couple of coats of black spray paint. Derek had his doubts but I knew I wanted black and was convinced that it would be so quick and easy. I was especially excited to try Rustoleum Universal paint which supposedly sticks to everything.

So I set out my outdoor spray painting studio, grabbed one of the 8 cans of spray paint I had bought and started the transformation. Unfortunately this is what I got:
While I would not consider myself a spray painting expert, I have used it quite a bit and never have had problems with thick splatter. The lines on the laminate (top pic) magically appeared when I applied the paint. I was discouraged but still had some ideas. I sanded a couple of pieces since I assumed I needed to have a rougher surface and then tried again. Same results. So now half of the shelves were painted badly and I was out of ideas.

After going to sleep very frustrated, I woke up determined that I would just have to do it the old fashioned way with primer, paint and a brush after it was put together. So I scraped off all the universal paint with my fingernail and a putty knife. It scraped off no problem. Obviously it was not universal.

So here is how I really had to do it. It would have been a very quick and easy project if I could have been happy with a white desk (or espresso, pink, blue, red or natural)


2 Closetmaid 9 cube shelves
1 sheet MDF (the top I used we had cut to 3x6 at Home Depot. It is much easier to get it into the car in pieces)
2 1x4's
1 1x3's
decorative moulding
Hammer (or nail gun)
Wood Filler
Primer (used oil-based Zinnser)
Paint (used Ace Cabinet and Trim)

1. Construct the Closetmaid shelves per the instructions in the box.

2. Space the shelves according to the size of the MDF top. Screw the MDF into the shelves using screws. We countersunk the screws so that they could be hidden with wood filler. Countersinking involves first drilling a hole with a drill bit the size of the screw head before screwing in the screw so that it is just below the surface of the MDF.

3. Screw 2 1x4's into the two long side. Make sure they line up with the MDF top so that you have a smooth work surface in the end. Add 1x3's to the opposite sides (in the inner part) to help support the top.
4. Add trim to make it pretty. We added two different types of trim, one at the top and one at the bottom. Derek received a nail gun as a Christmas present last year and this was the first project since then that we needed it for. So we were super excited to read all the instructions and get it out of the box. Obviously Derek listened about the part with protective eyewear but missed the section about not using a nail gun in bare feet. 5. Fill all the screw/nail holes with wood filler. Since my husband wants to make sure it is really "secure" he added lots of extra screws. So this step took me awhile. After the first coat dried, I lightly sanded it and then did a second coat of wood filler. Then I sanded again. Since we countersunk the screws, the top was smooth with no screw heads.

6. Next came primer. When I normally paint things black, I use a tinted primer. But since I had such bad experience with paint sticking to these babies, I decided to use Zinnser's oil based primer. I wanted to use what I had already had in the basement, so it had to be white.7. Then came the black paint. I put three coats of Ace Cabinet and Trim Paint in Cannonball (the same color as the kitchen cabinets). Normally it takes two coats, but with the white primer, I felt like I needed a third.

8. After the desk was black, I added a coat of MinWax Polyurethane in Satin finish. Then I lightly sanded and added two more coats.

Budget Breakdown:
$80 2 Closetmaid shelves (normally $50 a piece but got them on sale at Target.)
$45 total lumber cost
$0 paint/other supplies since we used what we already had

=$125 for entire desk

Who needs Pottery Barn??

Wanna see the entire room put together?  Click here.

26 comments on "How-To- Craft Desk"
  1. Hi Jenny!
    Looks terrific! I have a friend who is moving to a new home where she will finally have a craft room. I showed her your website, and she LOVED what you had done!

  2. This is EXACTLY what i have been looking for for my craft room but i just didn't know how to execute the idea. :) thanks for your help. we are planning on making one of these over labor day weekend. woot!

  3. Hi Jenny! I really like the desk. My husband and I are planning to do it together as our first DIY project.

    I had a question. When you say, "Add 1x3's to the opposite sides (in the inner part) to help support the top," where exactly would the 1x3s go? I'm a bit confused. Thanks!


  4. Kerry-
    We cut them shorter than the length of the desk (so they started at the inner edge of the bookshelf and ran to the other inner edge right along the outer 1x4's). We placed them directly under the MDF top (and pushed up a little to keep it even), but screwed them in to the 1x4's so that the screws would not come through the tabletop. We did not add any other support for the top running through the middle and it has not needed it. If this does not clear it up because it is difficult to explain, email me at and I will send you pics of the underside. Hope this helps and good luck with the project...I love mine so much!

  5. My basement is on the home stretch of being remodeled and I googled craft tables. Your blog came up with this table. I don't know how many times I "longed" for the Pottery Barn table you showed. Thanks for blogging how you got around that. It's giving me some ideas.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this!! I am absolutely going to use these instructions. That table is beautiful and perfect!

  7. Kerry,
    I just found your blog last night, LOVE what you have done to your home! I have also longed for the same desk for about the same amount of time. I already have 4 of the closetmaid bookshelf things and 2 of them were purchased specifically for making this desk! I had planned on making this about 2 years ago when I redid my entire basement into my scrap room, BUT my plans always seem to get about 90% done then I move on to something else?? wierd, so I have all the supplies (except the trim, need that) and NOW I will really do this.No nail gun though,have to see if I can borrow for my brother. I have this all drawn out in my book of ideas and now with your measurments I can do this. LOVE the black though, I have been toying with the idea of changing my colors and using more black & white accessories.
    Love your style, off to read more of your stuff.Thank you for giving such great directions!

  8. Oops!
    I just posted about my LOVE of your craft table......please forgive me. I addressed you by the wrong name!!! I saw your reply to a poster named "Kerri" my big mistake. I did tell you that I just found your blog last night so maybe I will be forgiven.
    I still mean everything I said except calling you by the worng name.
    Maybe you will never see the comment because I am posting on something from way back in August?
    OMG , I feel so stupid. THis is EXACTLY why I almost never address someone by their name when I see them, fear of calling them by the wrong name? Anyway I'm sorry and I still LOVE your style.

  9. jbuffan-
    You crack me up! I am so happy that my little post will help you out. The nail gun is not a just makes things go faster. And no worries about the name...I have actually done the exact same thing before:).

  10. You need to check out

    I just posted a link to this craft desk you made to Ana of Knock Off Wood.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Ola, what's up amigos? :)
    Hope to get some assistance from you if I will have some quesitons.
    Thanks in advance and good luck! :)

  13. Kerry,
    I love the desk you and your husband made. I am looking for something very similar for scrapbooking, but I'm afraid that the 9 cubicals may be TOO high for me. I do a combination of sitting a standing when I work. Would you mind telling me the final demensions of the desk you built? Thanks for the inspiration! Jen

  14. Jenny,
    I just realized I did the same the the lady before did and called you Kerry! Sorry about that! I just found out that Jetmax makes a 6 cube shelf so I am wondering if it would be as sturdy as the 9 cube shelf from ClosetMaid...I am excited about this possibility and now it is making me think about all sorts of DIY things! Any ideas for making Scrapbook paper organizers?

  15. I have been using a fold-up 4 ft plastic table for my crafts, sewing and quilting and it was getting quite annoying. So, last weekend I went online to finally take the plunge and buy a real table. I googled craft tables, and you popped up! You saved me from spending so much money; I made this table last weekend. Went out and bought to supplies 2 hours after reading your blog. We are building your raised beds next weekend! You are a savior!

  16. Hi Jenny! This is the very first time I am posting ANTHING to ANY website---I am just so impressed with your abilities! I am a DIYer, too, but my projects never seem to come out so pretty. Thank you so much for sharing your instructions in such detail. I am going to get started on this TODAY!

  17. Too late now but Target has these wonderful shelves, I forgat what brand they are, but they look just like the ones you have and come in black.

  18. This is exactly what I want! Can you please, please, please post a picture of the underside? I just visually need to see what it looks like!

  19. WOW! I wish I would have found this post 6 mths ago- I tag this post so next time I ready to change my craft room, this will be my 1st roject. Awesome!

  20. I love this!! I just sent it to my hubby and asked him if he could build it for me. Thanks for sharing!!

  21. Thank you SO much for sharing this. I have wanted a desk like this, but the price from Pottery Barn changed my mind. Time to send the link to the hubby!

  22. I LOVE this, I've been wanting a craft desk really bad lately and my husband isn't to fond of me using the kitchen table anymore (considering my glue gun has left spots and I leave tons of stuff there)!! This might be a project for me.. I hope I can pull it off!!

  23. I love this! I literally saw the same craft desk at a store today & thought-I can make it from closetmaid organizers...and you did! Hope you're loving it.

  24. I love this! How inspiring! The pottery barn craft table has been on my "wish list" for years now, and it NEVER sells below $1000! Now I have a great weekend project. Thank you for posting! :)

  25. I just bought this weekend the 9 cubicle table at big lots for $60 (buy 1 get 1 half off). Hopefully I'll have mine done soon!

  26. Jenny, I am so glad I found your post. I wanted a larger craft table for my room. My friend purchased the items for me; the 2-9 cubie expedits and the MDF that we'll use for the table top. What I didn't think about was the support structures to keep the table from swaying and bowing over time (duhhhh me). So,tomorrow I'm off to Home Depot for my support structures. For the MDF, he purchased a piece 4x5'x 3/4" thick MDF in natural. I purchased primer, paint, and sealant. The counter sinking is an awesome idea too. I've got to pick up wood screws (oh yeah, he's getting a nail gun for Valentine's day (lol). I have saved your page to my favorites so we can have the instructions as a guide as we go. Thank you soooooooo much, this well definitely make the job easier.