Easy Desk Conversion Kit

About four years ago, armed with nothing but a double bevel sliding compound miter saw and a medium router kit, I set out to make a desk.  It was my first foray into what I could (at the time) consider non-traditional table joinery (mitered half-laps and bridle joints).  I’ve wanted to revisit the design for a while now; not because I don’t like it, but because I could do it so much better by hand.

Except that sensibilities change and the design now seems heavy to me.  I want something lighter, but that won’t leave me without a desk for an extended period of build time.  The tabletop is still in excellent shape.  Laminated from five boards of ~1″, quarter-sawn, mineral-streaked red oak, it’s straight and rigid over the years.  My solution for a quick retrofit: metal legs.

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Made by Osborne Wood.

Each leg is 29″ high and has a 4×4 base.  No. 10 pan-head screws should be fine for attaching them to oak battens, which will in-turn be (hide)glued and nailed to the underside of the tabletop.

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This is 3/4″ oak.  I think I might need 5/4″ (at least) for the battens.

There is not much weight on the tabletop (two monitors and basic computer input devices), so I don’t see the need for lengthwise support battens.  I may, however, add a third batten, cross-grain at the center point.  The switch from wooden frame to metal legs will raise the work surface the thickness of the battens (~1″), add over 4″ of underside clearance, and reduce the overall length by about 7″.

Assuming I prepare the leg assemblies in advance, the retrofit should be doable in an afternoon (including a quick flattening of the underside where it will mate with the battens).  The salvaged wood from the frame (also red oak) will find some use (after being stripped of wipe-on poly).

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