Building A Steel Frame, Reclaimed Wood Desk

I really like the look of a heavy duty steel frame supporting similarly weighty reclaimed timbers. I've seen a variety of tables popping up that look like this and figured that I could just build my own, rather than pay the insane prices that usually attached. The material cost is quite low and the construction process is not too complicated; the real thing that sets these apart is the labor to finish and put it all together. Here is the finished product:

Finished desk

The end result is a very sturdy (and heavy) desk that, I expect, will last some time and take a good beating. This build was really a proof of concept, as I plan to construct a personal work bench in a similar style.

Raw Materials

The raw materials required to build this desk are few, this is all you need:

  • 2x Mild Steel Hot Rolled Square Tubing 8' x 1.5" x 1.5" 0.065" Wall
  • 1x Reclaimed Timber Beam 6' x (2x10)
  • 4x Leveling Mount 3/8-16 x 3" (4 Pack from McMaster-Carr 2515T19)
  • 4x Threaded Tube Insert 3/8-16 x 1.5" x 1.5" (McMaster-Carr 60945K21)
  • 8x 1" Drywall Screws
  • Some leveling washers

Cut Parts List

The bulk of the work in building this desk is precisely cutting the various frame parts from the 1.5" steel tubing and then welding them together. See the build schematic below for more details, but the basic cut parts list is as follows:

  • 4x Legs (25.25" Long, 45 Degree Miter One End)
  • 2x Leg Braces (12.875" Long)
  • 2x Leg Tops (16" Long, 45 Degree Miter Both Ends)
  • 1x Top Brace (24.75" Long)

And of course, don't forget to cut the two boards for the top of the desk:

  • 2x Surface Boards (30" x 9.25")

Assembly drawing

Below is a detail drawing of leg tops, inverted. It is important that you drill the clearance holes on the underside of these frame members, that is, the "shorter" of the mitered sides:

Leg top detail drawing

Construction Process

Building this desk requires only minimal explanation. Simply cut all the parts to the correct size, weld them together, and finish the frame as you see fit.

I chose to grind down all the rough welds and brush and sand the frame and leave the metal bare. Alternatively it could be painted. When I build my work bench I plan to use higher quality TIG welds and leave them exposed.

Once the frame is finished drill 8 holes in the leg tops to accept screws to attach the boards to the desk from the underside. I made large openings on the underside of the frame members so that the screw head would be inside the tubing. Before attaching the frame to the surface I inserted washers between the two (where necessary) to account for warp in the reclaimed wood. This way, when the screws are tightened, the desk surface remains level, and not pulled into the frame.

The final step was a good sanding of the reclaimed wood. I kept the wood unfinished.

For a much better explanation of the above and all the steps required to build and finish this reclaimed wood, steel frame desk, check out the video below. Enjoy!

If you enjoyed reading this or learned something, please consider sharing via , , or . Thanks!

A full list of projects can be found on the Projects page.