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 Craftsman Style small computer desk, Open Front and cutaway views, Sketch 1

Craftsman Style, Small Computer Desk

This Craftsman Style Small Computer Desk is based upon Gustav Stickley's No. 706 Drop-Front Desk manufactured around 1900. It has been heavily modified for use with computer equipment.

The Craftsman movement was an important American design school from the 1880's up until the 1920's. It featured clean simply lines and solid construction. The joinery was often accentuated and become very decorative elements in the design. One of the most important producers of these designs was the L & J.G. Stickley Company in New York state. They soon had many imitators.

This project is a moderately difficult woodworking project in that it does require the use of a radial arm or table saw and a biscuit jointer. I would not recommend it as a first woodworking project. The cost of the materials is around $375.00.

 Craftsman Style small computer desk, Closed front and side views, Sketch 2

Craftsman Style small computer desk, Closed front and side views, Sketch 2

If you would like this desk design adjusted to your specific needs or a metric version, please e-mail .

Rockler order link to first page
  1. Board Construction

    You can make this board by:

    1. Downloading this text.
    2. Ordering the sketches.
    3. Printing out this text.
    4. Purchasing the materials locally.
    5. Cutting the boards.
    6. Gluing up the board
    7. Cutting the plywood
    8. Finishing the pieces
    9. Assembling the desk
  2. Download the Detailed Drawings

    This design includes six detailed sketches. You can get them with our Major Desk form. Look for "Craftsman Small Desk" in the list.

    The plans for our major projects are brought to you on the Honor Plan. You may look at as many plans as you like, but when you start to build please pay for the plans you use. These small payments are critical to keeping this Web Site open.

  3. Discussion of Sketches

    After you download the sketches, these notes will help you understand them more completely.

    1. Craftsman Style Small Desk

      The desk is shown if front view and side view with the top door open. The measurements for the three spaces for electronic equipment are shown. Check to see if your equipment will fit in these spaces.

    2. Craftsman Style Small Desk, Closed Desk, Sketch #2

      The desk is show in front and side views with the doors closed. Note that the doors do not completely cover up the computer equipment. This is an unusual feature.

      Note that two shelves have tenons passing through the side and secured with a wedge key.

    3. Craftsman Style Small Desk, Doors, Sketch #3

      The two doors are shown with a few extra supporting pieces. The doors are made from narrow hardwood boards edge glued with biscuits. Note that two end pieces run up-and-down. The body of the door must be glued up first then trimmed before the end pieces can be added.

    4. Craftsman Style Small Desk, Sides, Sketch #4

      This sketch shows the construction of the sides. Note the dado down the back for the plywood back and the holes for the shelf tenons.

      The insert shows the alternating end grain arrangement needed for all the flat panels in this desk. This insures that the panels will now warp seriously over time. It is less important with quarter sawn wood but still beneficial.

    5. Craftsman Style Small Desk, Shelves and Top, Sketch #5

      This sketch shows the top and three shelves. It also shows a number of other pieces of wood.

    6. Craftsman Style Small Desk, Back,Sketch #6

      This sketch shows the layout for the plywood back.

  4. Materials

    This chessboard is made from a light hardwood (maple, ash, or oak) and a dark hardwood (walnut or mahogany). The parts are assembled with glue and biscuits.

    1. Wood
      • 36 bft -- Hardwood, White Oak, 0.75" thick, @ 8.00 ------- $288.00
      • 48" x 48" -- Plywood, Hardwood, 0.50" -------------------- $32.00
      Wood Subtotal: $320.00
    2. Hardware
      • 2 sets-- Roto Hinge, 1/2" bushing, Rockler 36244-269 -- Brass Hook ---- $ 5.00
      • 50 -- Wood screws, flat head #8 1-1/4" ---------------------------------- $ 4.00
      • 12 -- Wood screws, brass, flat head #6 1" ------------------------------- $ 2.00
      • 50 -- Biscuits, #20 ---------------------------------------------------- $ 6.00
      • 8 oz. -- Woodworker's Glue --------------------------------------------- $ 4.00

      Hardware Subtotal: $21.00
    3. Finish:
      • 1 qt. -- Stain, oil based, satin finish --- $ 9.00
      • 1 qt. -- Polyurethane, satin finish -------- $10.00

      Finish Subtotal: $ 19.00
  5. Omissions and Contingencies (~12%) ( Tax, sand paper, etc.) $47.00.
  6. Estimate Total Cost $375.00
Rockler order link to first page

This is only an estimate (made in the May 2010). The price may vary in your area.


This board was designed to be build using the woodworking tools found in a small shop. The most difficult to find tools are:

  1. Electric saw, table or radial arm
  2. Biscuits Jointer

All fasteners, including brads, must be predrilled into hardwood.

Rockler order link to first page

Building Your Desk

This is your board and you can build it to suit your likes and needs.

  1. Customize Your Desk Design

  2. Building the Sides

    Select the longest boards for the sides. Rip the boards down to from 3 to 5 inches wide. Arrange them so that their end grains alternate direction to the center of the tree. Edge glue the boards with biscuits.

    When the glue is set, trim the sides to size. Do not yet cut the slots for the shelf tenons or drill the hinge holes yet. Choose the best outside surfaces and make the two sides as a pair with the slot for the back on the two inside edges.

  3. Building the Doors

    Both doors should be made from hardwood boards two to four inches wide. The end grain should alternate direction to the center of the tree.

    First choose the side boards and set them aside. The glue up the central section at least 1/2 inch longer and wider than needed. Assemble these panels with glue and biscuits.

    When the center panels are dry, trim the ends off square. Install the edge boards with glue and biscuits.

    Trim all four sides to the final size. Leave them a little bit wide for now so that you have some material to plane off to fit.

    The two half inch thick blocks go over the area of the hinge pins to give them a little extra strength. These are held on with glue and brass screws. You can carefully drill the holes for the hinges now. First practice in scrap wood.

    You can put the front trim pieces on later if you like. They are held on with glue and brads that need to be predrilled. A cut off brad makes a satisfactory drill bit for this job.

  4. Building the Shelves and Top

    The shelves and top are build the same way as the sides. Cut the tenons on the ends of the two shelves but to not yet cut the square holes in them.

    Wait on cutting the cable holes until the test assembly.

  5. Cutting the Back

    Cut the back plywood to fit. Note the two notches on the bottom.

    Mark lines to show the center of the shelves on the back so that you can screw the back to the shelves later.

  6. Decorative Tenons and Key Wedges

    Carefully make the locations for the rectangular holes in the sides and check the location with the actual shelves. Be sure to allow the correct width for the back.

    Cut out the key wedges but leave the a little wide. You can later plane off the inside so that the key rests in the center. You may need to make a custom key width for each slot.

    Choose the top of the two shelves. Cut the square holes for the keys. Note that the top of the key hole is a little wider than the bottom.

    Bevel off the ends of the shelf tenons.

  7. Trial Assembly

    Install the two tennoned shelves. Install the back with a few screws into the sides but do not glue.

    Fit the top and install two screw blocks on the side with glue but avoid gluing them to the top.

    Install the front piece with screw blocks custom fitted to the ends and three along the top. The angle is very close to 5 degrees.

    Fit the monitor shelf and the two shelf support blocks. Install these with screws only and no glue for now.

    Fit the two pieces for the back legs and their screw blocks. You can glue these to the sides now if you like.

    Check the fit for the doors with the hinge pins installed, but not glued, in the doors. Plane the sides of the door if needed. Support the doors in place with two boards clamped to the sides. Mark the locations for the hinge holes on the sides.

    Take off one side, drill for the hinges, put the doors in place, and replace the side.

    Fuss with the fit a good long time.

  8. Cutting the Cable Holes

    Check your computer equipment for the best size and location for cable holes. Holes of 1.25 inch diameter will suit nearly all equipment. decide if you want cable holes in the top and back.

    Mark the locations for all computer holes.

  9. Final Assembly

    Put the desk back together again, check the fit, and make final adjustments.

    Dissemble the desk for finishing. This job is easier if the doors and back are off. Also remove the key wedges.

    Rockler order link to first page
  10. Finishing

    You may finish this board any way you see fit. I recommend an oil based stain, seal of thinned shellac, and then finish the desk with three coats of oil based polyurethane.

    The plywood back may be painted separately if you like. The back of the back is usually not finished at all but you may wish to antique it with stain and a single coat of finish.

  11. Completion

    All that is left is to is to reinstall the doors, the back, and hardware. This is the final assembly so you can glue whatever you like and put more screws in the back including into the shelves.

    Make up a paper label with the maker, style, this URL, and the date. Glue this to the back.

    Installing an electrical outlet strip in the lower area will also make set up easier.

Rockler order link to first page


Thanks again for using a Woodware Designs computer furniture plans. We very much want to know how you are getting along with your project and would be happy to answer any questions by email.

If you send us a picture of your finished board, we would be happy to put it on our web page. We need pictures of projects with real people standing beside them.

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