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DIY Industrial Farmhouse Desk

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We recently completed a makeover on my friend’s front room–turning it into a home school room.  We loved the desk in our inspiration picture, but she did an authentic butcher block desktop which cost her over $1000 and that definitely wasn’t in our budget.  We decided to make a planked desktop to make the whole thing look like an industrial farmhouse desk.  I’ve done this many times before so I was confident it would be fine.

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Supplies: (affiliate links; disclosure here)

We had one filing cabinet so my friend searched Craigslist until she found two more 2-drawer filing cabinets and purchased them for a pretty cheap price.  Then she spray painted them black.  Easy.  Now for the tabletop…

The room was about 10 feet wide so we decided to build the tabletop from wood planks, in a staggered manner to achieve a butcher block effect.  We first made a frame from 1x4s.  In hindsight, I think a better option for this probably would have been to make the base from 3/4″ plywood so it would be solid.  That way each piece would be solid.  However since the desk was over 8 feet wide and the desktop needed to be about 28″ deep (the filing cabinets were 26.5″ deep) we would have had to buy two sheets of 4×8 3/4″ plywood and have quite a bit of waste so we opted to just build our frame from 1x4s.  You could do it this way and maybe just add a few more cross braces and do it out of wider planks.  As it ended up, it was still fairly sturdy.

(Sorry these pictures are terrible-we did this at night on the driveway!)

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We made the frame using the Kreg Jig.  Then we cut the other planks in varying lengths and pieced them together like a puzzle.

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We also used the Kreg Jig to connect all the pieces together.  It’s always tricky to do it this way because common boards from Home Depot or Lowe’s are always a bit warped and not so straight.  So you just have to tell yourself  “it’s rustic!” and know that it’s not going to be perfect and you may have some gaps and some corners that stick up.  This is another way the plywood base would help, because you can nail down the spots that stick up more.  Another idea to help all the wood be flat and even is to use a planer at the end.  But I don’t have one…yet!

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One of the edges was a little crooked at the end so we drew a straight line and used a circular saw to cut it even.  Then we placed both the frame and the tabletop on top of the filing cabinets.  Two of the cabinets were a bit shorter so we slid two pieces of wood underneath the tabletop and sprayed them black.  You don’t even notice!  Finally we nailed the doorstop trim on the end to make it look like one thick piece of wood.

For the stain, we used pre-conditioner to help prevent blotchiness.  Then I stained it with Minwax Weathered Oak, one of my favorite industrial farmhouse stains.  Then we sealed it with polyurethane, about three coats with sanding in between.  We also put tape around the tabletop to prevent bleeding onto the wall.

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We love the way it turned out!  There’s only a couple of spots where the wood sticks up more and they are towards the back.  Our friend loves the rusticness of it anyway.  This project is a win and cost less than $200.  It’s the perfect solution for a custom size desk!

Love this farmhouse desk? You can make it for less than $200!




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48 Comments

  1. This is so darling!! Do you mind me asking where you got the wire file organizers hanging on the wall. They are exactly what I’ve been looking for.

    Thanks!!!!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I found those at Gordmans.

      1. May I ask where you got the shelving from and rods for the buckets as well? This is perfect for what we’re trying to achieve. Amazing job!

        1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

          Rod and buckets are from IKEA and the shelving is pipe and wood from Home Depot.

    2. I need to know where the filing cabinets came from. If someone could let me know that would be greatly appreciated.
      Thank you.

      1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

        We just got them on Craigslist, sorry!

      2. I have one similar that I bought at Staples, local office supply store. I ordered mine online and the y delivered right to my door.

  2. Chris Wright says:

    Looks gorgeous! I love Weathered Oak with black. Can you please tell me what paint color was used on the walls and shiplap? It’s a great white!

  3. Chris Wright says:

    What color is the wall and shiplap?

  4. The desk looks gorgeous! I love the rug, do you know where can I find it?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      This rug is actually from IKEA. I’m not sure if they still sell that exact one though.

  5. Mary Kate says:

    You said the top was about 8 feet wide but it looks a lot wider in your pics do you mind me asking how many feet wide that wall is? Our walls 10ft long so that’s why I’m wondering 🙂 thank you!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Did I? The top was 11 feet wide I think…but it’s not my house so I’m not positive.

  6. hi- I realize this was a long time ago but do you have any idea how many coats of stain you did? We are in the middle of this project and our wood just looks dirty after one coat of stain… not nearly as beautiful as yours!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Probably 2 at least…one issue you might be having is if you didn’t do a pre conditioner. I find this really helps with the blotchiness!

  7. Stacy Kinch says:

    Hi Heidi,

    How is the desk mounted or are the filing cabinets holding it up?

    Thank you

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      It’s not mounted to the wall, it’s held up by the filing cabinets and it’s a snug fit in the space so it won’t be going anywhere.

  8. I just finished my home office using this as my inspiration. It turned out amazing! Thanks so much for sharing this! I used a sheet of hardwood plywood cut in half a size my desk top. Stained it the same color. My mom gave me her old oak file cabinet she didn’t use anymore and i painted it a dark grey. I also recreated the shelves as well. Thanks again!!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Sounds beautiful! Great job!

  9. Can you tell me what color paint you used on the shiplap and the other wall with color too?

  10. What kind of wood did you use for the planks/table top?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      It was just pine from Home Depot.

  11. My husband did this with filing cabinets about 10 years ago. Still looks good.
    He put a large mirror above it. It makes the office look huge. Only problem is
    Now we are moving and this is not something you can easily move.

  12. This is my inspiration for my next office project! I’m a little concerned about the height of the filing cabinets. In the photo the cabinets looks like the normal 26-27″ height and it looks like it works nicely with the chairs. Is that correct or did you have to raise your cabinets to normal desk height? Thanks!!

  13. I love this… My Dad made a desk like this over 50 years ago for his business office. All things old are new again!

  14. Amazing desk, looks georgeus and original! Thank you for sharing this project! How did you fasten the doorstop trim to the desk top? Did you use a nailgun? Or did you fasten it somehow from underneath the desk? Did this doorstop trim have straight edges? I can only find one with diagonal edges in Home Depot. Sorry, I just can’t vision that part of the project.

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  16. Jamie Johnson says:

    What in the world is doorstop trim?

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  19. My fear of using boards for my desk top, I write all the time, is your top smooth enough or did it have unevenness?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I wish I could say, but this was a project for a friend, not me. I don’t think it’s probably super smooth but if you want to do this, you could consider getting a butcher block instead. Or wider planked wood. You can even buy some nicer wood and have it professionally joined.

  20. Hi! Wanted to ask where you got the hanging wire organizer on the left side. Thank you!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I believe we found that at Gordmans, but you can find things like that at Home Goods and the like.

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