1. Make A Plan
The first thing I did was measure up my old desk and roughly sketch out what I wanted in my new desk.
From there I worked out what all the measurements would be so I knew how much MDF I was going to need.
This also served as a guide that I referred to for every cut I made. Make sure you make a plan.
2. Measure Twice Cut Once
Measure all your cuts very carefully.
The biggest mistake you will make is mismeasuring, you can’t afford to get your measurements out by more than 1 or 2mm.
This will have flow on effects throughout your project and you will have to spend time trying to fix it up.
So the biggest piece of advice I can offer in building a desk would be to make sure you get your measurements right.
3. Make Sure You Drill Pilot Holes
MDF has a tendency to split.
You will most definitely need to drill pilot holes for your screws to make sure it doesn’t split.
I used 5mm screws, and cut 4mm wide pilot holes with a 4mm drill bit.
4. Test Fits
As I went along I made sure to put things together to make sure I could catch any issues as early as they would arrive.
5. Use Countersink To Make Screws Flush
I used a countersink drillbit to dig out a pocket in the screw holes so that the screws would fit flush with the desk.
6. Drill Holes To Install Rack Strip
I recessed the rackstrip from the front of the shelf by about 30mm.
This now only allowed room for the LED strip to shine through but also means that the knobs on your gear don’t hang out the front.
This isn’t as important for a home studio but I prefer the look for it.
7. Route Channel For LED Strip
I used a router to cut a channel under the shelf for the LED strip.
I used a router jig that just ran parallel to the shelf to keep the line straight.
I recessed it by about 20mm so that the led strip was fully hidden.
8. Prep MDF and Other Boards For Painting
I pulled the whole thing apart now in preparation for some painting.
The first thing I did was sand everything with 80 grit. This is a really coarse grade just to get rid of any imperfections.
After this I sanded with 180 grit just to give a bit more of a smooth finish.
The next thing was to lay down primer to prep the surface for paint. With MDF you have to put a fair bit down because it’s so porous, particularly on the sides of the board.
After the primer had dried I sanded it with 320 grit to smooth it off ready for the proper paint.
I then coated all the boards with a satin dark walnut enamel paint by Rustoleum.
If you are painting MDF you should use enamel or solvent based paint as if you use a water based paint the MDF will raise.
9. Prep The Natural Wood Boards
The shelf and the top of the desk are to be a natural wood finish.
To achieve a nice finished look, I will use a sanding sealer and a clear matte varnish.
The sanding sealer basically fills in the pores on the wood leaving a smooth finish – uncoloured.
To start this process I sanded the desk with 180 grit to smooth out any bumps.
Next I coated it with quite a bit of sanding sealer.
10. Final Coat
Once the sanding sealer had dried I gave it a quick sand with 320 grit.
This leaves the colour of the wood unaffected for the most part but starts to give a finished look because it becomes very smooth.
It also helps to allow top coats to go on evenly – if I hadn’t used a top coat and started to varnish the desk it would appear very patchy.
I applied only one light coat of varnish as a way to finish it off and gave it another light sand once it was dry.
More coats of each would have helped to give an even more finished look but I only had bought small cans – I quite like the finish I ended up with though.
(As you can see my work bench is basically a piece of MDF over two old ovens so no excuses!!)
11. Put It Back Together
12. Make Some Sik Musik
Any Questions? Use The Comments Below!
Thanks for reading 🙂