DIY L-Shaped Desk Plan and Guide

We used the “cheap” method to build this L-Shaped desk for our office!  It was actually pretty simple, and with some old file cabinets, spray paint, a couple pieces of wood laying around, some stain and some poly, we were able to make large desk for the office that can house multiple computers, numerous monitors and all of our random paperwork.

Let’s get into how we built this l shaped desk – you will be surprised at how simply this can be done!

Here are the basics of the DIY L Shaped Desk Plan:

  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Cost:  $45
  • Time:  A weekend or two days

Remember, we all run into problems each and every time, so expect that.  Here’s our learnings from this project.

What NOT to do:

Do NOT spray paint with sandals!  Use old shoes and old jeans!  We spray painted the file cabinets with sandals and shorts (it was hot out!), and got spray paint all over the feet.  Rookie mistake?  Yeah probably, but we are just staying modest here…

On to the plan…

Dimensions:  I really just used whatever dimensions made sense for the large wood pieces we have.  There was no science to this – however the sheets of pine fit together is how they were going to end up.

Wood, Tools, and Supplies Needed

Wood:  I used pine for the table top here.

  • 1 sheet of pine – 2 foot x 4 foot piece (found mine at <a href=””>Lowe’s</a> near the rest of the wood – they looked to be for bookshelves, but I thought they’d work perfectly for a desktop)
  • 1 sheet of pine – 2 foot x 6 foot piece (again – Lowe’s)
  • 1 2×4 – this will be the middle leg


  • Drill or screw gun
  • Screws
  • Sander (or sandpaper if you are ambitious and sanding by hand)

Other Supplies:

  • 2 file cabinets of the same height
  • Red oak stain
  • Black Rustoleum spray paint (we used 4 cans)
  • Polyeurethane
  • Wood glue
  • Cardboard


Step 1:  Find a couple old file cabinets and spray paint them

It’s pretty simple – set the file cabinets on the cardboard (I’d recommend taking all files out of them first) and spray paint them.  We used 4 cans of spray paint, but Rustoleum now has the spray paint cans with the trigger finger, which is what we used.  I would strongly recommend splurging the extra $1.00 to get the trigger finger – it is much easier on your hands.

Step 2:  Stain your pine (or other wood) desk tops

We used the standard method of staining and did not use any faux finish or anything – just a simple stain put on by a foam brush.  Generally speaking, the deeper and more rich you want the color to be, the more stain you should put on.  As with staining other wood, feel free to sand first, then wipe down with mineral spirits.  If you choose not to sand (we did not actually because the wood was already smoothed out), then I would recommend wiping the wood with a damp rag.  This will help open up the “pores” of the wood and will help the stain get accepted a little easier.  We did stain both sides of the desk top here.

Staining the desktop…

Stained desktop complete…

Step 3:  Build your support leg for the center of the L

We only used one leg on this L-shaped desk – in the middle of the L – to keep the structure solid (I have one fairly large monitor and would love to get a matching one, so it needed to be structurally sound :)).  All we did was use the same spray

Step 4:  Assemble the desk (in its permanent home recommended!)

Once all of the pieces dry, it’s time to assemble.  We strongly recommend bringing the stained wooden desk tops, spray painted file cabinets and your support leg to the permanent residence for your desk (not even sure that you could assemble then bring it into the house – that would take some talented moving skill!).  We brought ours up to the office and assembled then.  Assembly is simple.  Situate the desktops on top of the file cabinets (a helper helps here) with the file cabinets on either sides of the L.  Have your helper hold the middle of the L where the two desk tops meet, which is where you will attach the support.  We stained a mini 2-inch wide piece of scrap plywood that we had laying around and used it as a brace to keep the two desk tops together.

For the first project in a long time, this was the only time we used the Kreg Jig – to attach the leg to the middle of the L to give the desk some support (we usually use the Kreg Jig for almost everything, it seems, but this project was much simpler and didn’t have many joints).  Then we just glued the underside of the wood to the file cabinet (lightly, just enough to keep the desktop from moving back and forth).  Then you are done!

We actually used 2 file cabinets on ours that were different heights, which made things difficult.  To compensate we built a wooden riser and painted it black.  The one file cabinet was not only short, but it was a little longer too.  To make up the space there, we actually used the Kreg Jig again to assemble a small desktop using 1×4 wood we had left over from another project to create a mini table top.  Then we glued that on top of the file cabinet and we had a multi-level for our new desk!

We created another level to compensate for the odd size of the one file cabinet.

Our DIY L-shaped desk is complete!

Hope you enjoyed our DIY L-shaped desk – until next time…

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1 Response

  1. bill says:

    Do you mind me asking the dimensions of the desk top? I’m trying to figure out a good size and that seems like it’s almost perfect.


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