3 DIY Hairpin Leg Desks in Under 2 Hours

A tutorial by .



Tape measure
Circular saw
Orbital sander

DIY Children’s Desk, Bench, and Stool

  • 11 – Hairpin Legs, in desired heights and finishes (we used 4 for the desk, 4 for the bench, and 3 for the stool, in raw steel)
  • Plywood (we double-layered 2 pieces of pine measuring 2' x 4' to create a 1-1/2"-thick desktop)
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw, if you'd like to round your stool top
  • 2x4s and a piece of trim, optional (to help guide cuts)
  • Clamps
  • Pencil
  • Speed square
  • Wood glue
  • Adhesive trowel
  • Orbital sander and sanding discs (we used 80-, 150-, and 220-grit, or sanding block
  • Drill/driver
  • Screws
  • Finish of your choice (we used an oil and wax blend)
  • Brush or rag to apply finish
  • Safety gear such as eye protection, a mask/respirator, and gloves

Rose-Colored Desk

  • 4 – Hairpin Legs, in desired height and finish (we spray-painted raw steel)
  • 3/4" Plywood (we used a precut 2' x 4' piece of birch veneer plywood)
  • 2x4s
  • Circular saw/li>
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Speed square
  • Drill/driver
  • Orbital sander and sanding discs, or sanding block
  • Finish of your choice (we applied Varathane wood stain in rose
  • Polyurethane (we used Varathane water-based in crystal clear matte
  • Brushes or rags to apply finish and polyurethane
  • Wood glue
  • Screws
  • Mineral spirits
  • Rag to apply mineral spirits
  • Spray metal primer (we used Rust-Oleum rusty metal primer)
  • Metal spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum protective enamel in gloss white)
  • Safety gear such as eye protection, a mask/respirator, and gloves

Desk for 2 with Divider

  • 4 – Hairpin Legs, in desired height and finish
  • 1 – Sheet of 3/4" plywood
  • 2x4s
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Speed square
  • Orbital sander and sanding discs (we used 150-grit), or sanding block
  • Drill/driver
  • Screws
  • Finish of your choice (we used Varathane water-based in crystal clear matte
  • Brush to apply finish
  • Safety gear such as eye protection, a mask/respirator, and gloves

Ben Uyeda

Ben Uyeda stepped away from the award-winning architecture firm he co-founded, as well as an Ivy League teaching position, to develop media companies that deliver affordable designs to the masses. In the last four years, Ben’s design ideas have reached more than 50 million people and the free designs he gives away are being built on six different continents. Despite the populist and affordable nature of his work, Ben’s designs have been featured in an exhibition and workshop at the Vitra Furniture Museum in Germany.

We're building a DIY children’s desk with a bench and stool (steps 1–5), a rose-colored desk (steps 6–9), and a desk for two, complete with a divider (steps 10–14). These easy furniture pieces require just two basic power tools: a circular saw and a drill/driver. An orbital sander is helpful, but it isn't essential.

Step 1:
Cut children’s desktop

Measure and cut your plywood. Our desk measures two feet by four feet, but you can use whatever dimensions you like. We do recommend reinforcing the desk if you decide to go larger than three feet by six feet.

Step 2:
Double up the plywood

Spread wood glue evenly on the rough side of one piece of plywood, and secure the second piece on top with clamps (and screws, if desired).

Step 3:
Sand the desktop

Use an orbital sander or sanding block to smooth your desktop and round the corners. We sanded from coarse to fine using 80-, 150-, and 220-grit sandpaper. Flip the desktop over to add the Hairpin Legs.

Step 4:
Add hairpin legs and finish

We applied paste wax (included in your raw steel order) to protect our raw steel legs from rust, but you can skip this step with our rust-resistant powder-coated finishes). Set the Hairpin Legs in about an inch and a half from the edge, and drive screws through each base plate hole. Apply a clear finish.

Step 5:
Create bench and stool

Repeat steps 1–4 above to create a children’s bench and stool. Use glue and clamps to double-layer the plywood, and attach your Hairpin Legs. You can use a jigsaw to round the bench seat, if you like.

Step 6:
Start the rose-colored desk

Our next desk is even easier to make because we’re using a precut piece of plywood. After giving it a light sanding, we reinforced it with some 2x4s that we cut with a circular saw, using a speed square as a guide.

Step 7:
Stain it

We're using Varathane wood stain in rose. Apply it pretty thickly, let it sit for about three minutes, and then use a rag to rub out the excess. When dry, flip the desktop over.

Step 8:
Reinforce the desktop

Create a frame using your 2x4s, and center it about two inches in from the edges. Use a pencil to mark the locations, and then glue and screw the 2x4s to the plywood. Be careful not to drill too deep through the desk surface.

Step 9:
Finish things up

Stain the underside of the desktop. If painting raw steel Hairpin Legs, wipe them down with mineral spirits, and apply metal spray primer then spray paint. When dry, attach your Hairpin Legs. Seal the plywood with polyurethane.

Step 10:
Make a desk for 2

Start by cutting a three-foot-wide strip of plywood. Cut it in half to create the desktop and bottom which will be spaced apart by 2x4s. Use a speed square when cutting the 2x4s to help ensure nice perpendicular cuts. Cut the leftover one-foot-wide strip into pieces to make the center divider.

Step 11:
Sand it down

Round over all the edges of the plywood. Since the backside is going to be exposed, make sure to remove some of the splinters by giving it a light sanding with a 150-grit paper.

Step 12:
Create storage spacer

Next, join the 2x4s together to create the middle storage space (and allow more wood for attaching your Hairpin Legs). Pre-drill your 2x4s so they don't split, then fasten together with screws. Center the structure on your plywood, mark with a pencil, and pre-drill holes in the plywood. Flip it all over and drive in the screws.

Step 13:
Put it all together

Position the Hairpin Legs so the outside screws will go through the plywood and into the 2x4s. Switch to shorter screws for the inside base plate holes, so you don’t drill through the plywood. Flip it over, add the desktop, and screw on the top. Assemble your divider, using short pieces of 2x4s to reinforce the connections between the plywood pieces, and you’re done!

Step 14:
Apply clear coat

Use a brush to apply a protective clear coat. This little art table has enough room for two people to color, draw, or use for work or homework. The center divider comes in handy if you’d like to section off the space.

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