How to Build a High-End Office Desk

John Malecki

How to Build a High-End Office Desk

How to Build a Desk that’s the Envy of the Office

min read
Sep 29, 2018

When I started woodworking, there wasn’t much I could find on how to price my projects when selling them to my clients. The whole thing was a big guessing game and - to be quite honest - I definitely low-balled some of my earliest projects in the process of figuring it out.

But I never let this uncertainty of pricing inhibit me from building a spectacular end product. I never once sacrificed the quality of my craftsmanship to keep my margins high. After all, aside from my charm, wit, and good looks, that’s why people come to me for furniture.

That’s why I thought it’d be cool to walk you guys through my process and pricing in more depth while showing you how to build a desk. This high-end desk build includes beautiful walnut, bridge detailing, and hand-made leather drawer pools for a super unique finish. Check out the full video here or read through the step by step and try this one out for yourself.

Project Overview: How to Build a Desk

  1. Mill Wood for the Base
  2. Create Domino Joinery
  3. Build the Bridge Front
  4. Mill the Desktop Wood
  5. Cut the Drawer Frames
  6. Apply the Finish
  7. Make the Drawer Pulls
  8. Final Build Up

What You’ll Need to Build a Desk


  • Lumber: a mix of hardwood and plywood
  • Aluminum for the drawer pulls
  • Leather drawer pulls
  • Your choice of finish - I had my friends at Bonura Cabinets put an insane finish on this one, but you can also choose from store-bought stains and finishes


  • Milling Tools
  • CNC - these are obviously pricey and you have alternatives, but this really helped me make this project unique
  • Handtools - you can check out my favorites here!

This page contains affiliate links, but all ideas are my own. For more information, check out my disclosure page.

How to Build a Desk: the Step by Step

Mill Wood for the Base

The best way to get this project moving is to start with the base. The base is the most difficult part, so getting that out of the way early helps this project take shape sooner. I prepared my wood with a planer, joiner, chop saw, table saw, and hand plane, cutting my wood down to size in preparation.

Make Domino Joinery

I chose domino joinery for this build due to its stability and simplicity. I cut all of this joiner at once to save time, assembling for a dry fit to make sure everything assembled correctly. Once the joinery for the base, frame, and drawer dividers is cut, glue up as many flat pieces as possible.

Built the Bridge Front

I wanted to do a really cool Pittsburgh-inspired bridge front for this desk. I found a template and used my CNC to get this cut out just right. To avoid wasting time, I cut the panels for my cases while the CNC was working. 

Once all cut out, I matched up the bridge cutout to the front, rough-cutting it with a jigsaw and cleaning up the curve with a router. I wanted to avoid having the plywood edge showing, so I cut an edge band to cover the plywood for a really nice grain matchup. Once that was done, it was time to clue-up and clamp the frame.

Mill the Desktop Wood

Using the same milling process as  I did for the base, I began preparing my wood for the desktop. I glued up and clamp the panel, taking a hand plane to it and sanding it once it was dry.

Cut the Drawer Frames 

Once the desktop was smoothed out, I cut each of the drawer frames. This was super time consuming because I used a dovetail jip to get that nice craftsman joinery that I’m known for. Once I cut out all the drawer frames, I assembled them using shellac and water-based polyacrylic. Then I cut down the drawer front to size and sanded them until they were smooth.

Apply the Finish

I let my friends at Bonura Cabinets handle the finish on this one and couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out.

Build Up

Once every piece was finished and dry, it was time for the final build-up. I used countersunk face screws and pocket holes to put it all together. I mounted the drawer slides and added the drawers in, and she was nearly done.

Make the Drawer Pulls

I finished up with project with some handmade drawer pulls. I cut aluminum squares out on my saw to anchor a leather pull. Once these were attached, I threw the desktop on there and couldn’t believe how nice it all came together.

Thank you to Woodcraft for sponsoring this post! Check out some other home projects!

Download the Plan

Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.

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min read
Sep 29, 2018
Sponsored by
John Malecki

I used to be an offensive lineman in the NFL, Now I run my own furniture business and am completely self taught. In my videos and posts you'll see a variety of wood and metal work as well as some tips and tricks. Enjoy!