Did you know you don’t need to spend big money on your standing desk to get a beautiful wood table top? You can easily make your own top with common tools and following a few simple steps to make a wood lamination. Creating your own tabletop enables you to personalize your standing desk, achieve a look of a much more expensive desk and save up 50% of the costs compared to an equivalent desk. Additionally, building your own tabletop allows you to customize the thickness width and length to your exact specifications.
With any successful DIY project, it’s all about preparation and having the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need to build your own tabletop:
Make sure your standing desk frame has a lifting capacity for your tabletop. Estimating this is easy once you have selected your wood. Wood at Home Depot or Lowes often include the item’s weight on the label or SKU.
Choose your wood depending on your budget and most importantly whether you will paint or stain the table - Here are our recommendations
If painting consider poplar or pine
If staining consider pine (with proper wood prep), Oak, Walnut or other porous hardwoods
Step 1 Build Desk Frame
Building your standing desk frame and placing it in the desired area of your home will help you determine the size of the table top you want to build. Once your tabletop is built measure the depth and length of the frame. This will give you an idea of the minimum width and length table top you need, which is essential for making your lumber selections. Also, consider that 6' or 72 inches is common lumber length. Keeping the length of the table below 6 feet lengths simplifies the project. When measuring the depth of your tabletop, make sure you go at least a few inches beyond the mounting points on each side. This will hide the bracket in the shadows and ensure your desk isn’t too narrow.
Step 2: Buy Wood Materials
With your ideal measurements in-hand it’s time to select your wood. When pulling your lumber from the rack check each piece for twists and cupping. Working with straight and square wood makes every subsequent step of this project easier and improves the final result. Mock up the lumber on the floor measure to ensure you have enough wood to reach your minimum depth and length. Also, inspect the edges of your lumber, If you plan to leave your edges exposed, make sure you account for sawing them down since they are commonly beat up and discolored from shipping and storage at the store.
Step 3 Glue and Clamp
Gluing the tabletop is where things get serious, but don’t fret. Lay out the large pipe clamps on the floor or workbench and drop in each piece of wood you want to glue. Rotate each piece of wood around until the side you want to use it upright. Once you have the wood organized you’ll flip each piece of wood 90 degrees so the surface that needs gluing is upright. This makes distributing and rolling the glue easy. Bear in mind, one of the outermost wood sections will not need to be rotated or glued since the adjacent piece will be glued to it. Watch this video to make sure you've got the process down. It is a good idea to practice this process a few times without glue involved to make sure you're ready for glue. Immediately following the gluing you will need to clamp the wood in place. This includes making adjustments to bowing and making sure each piece, especially near the edges is flush with one another. Start by tightening the large pipe clamps, then move on to the ends. Using scrap pieces of wood really helps with clamping the ends(refer to above picture). Simply clamp down a piece of wood along the top and bottom of the table top until each piece of wood has lined up. Once you have dialed in any inconsistencies, leave the wood clamped for a long as you can but 12 to 24 hours is plenty.
Optional step: Using a miter saw to make 45 degree cuts you can add an extra border around the table top that covers the open edges of the wood. This is purely subjective as both ways look great.
Step 4 Saw to Length
After the glue has dried it is a good time to cut your table top to the right length. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the ends of the table, It may be worth making two cuts leaving both sides fresh and clean. Cutting a thick piece of wood like this can be tricky but there are a few things you can do to improve the cut. Make sure you clamp a piece of wood to the table top for you saw to ride against acting as a fence. This will provide a perfectly straight cut. It is also worth taping the area you intend to cut. This can prevent tear out and help you achieve a clean cut. Lastly, make sure you have a fresh blade on your saw. New blades cut faster, cleaner and straighter.
Step 5 Plane Level
Depending on the quality of the wood and your gluing this step may be minimal. However, if you experiencing issues gluing, a lot can be improved by planing. Use your hands to feel the wood and identify any ridges. Use a planer at a 45-degree angle to take those edges down and make the surface flat. Don’t worry about the roughness left by the planner this will be sanded away in the next step. If you’re wondering how to use a planer, watch this video. Keep in mind, a desktop doesn't need to be perfect like the woodworking bench top in the video.
Step 6 Sand
Using a power sander (orbital, belt etc…) begin sanding down the rough areas left from planning with 120 grit. Knocking down all the rough areas will prep the surface for final sanding with 220. Work in small 1 by 1-foot areas until the surface is smooth to your liking.
Step 7 Stain and Finish
How you finish your tabletop is up to you but make sure to research how to stain the wood you choose. In this case, we are working with pine which can be tricky to stain. Most of the time, you’ll want to use a wood conditioner that gives you better and more consistent staining results.
Step 8 Install the Tabletop
When installing the tabletop on the frame, inspect the bottom of the table. Is it level? Are there any ridges that would prevent you from screwing the top down flush? Test fit the table and measure to ensure a centered and square installation. Before driving any screws in, check their depth next to the table top. This will help you avoid drilling through the top. If you’re worried about the screw length, add a few washers. Also, make sure you use proper wood screws.
Step 9 Install the Controls
Installing the control unit is the final step and is easy with a set of small clamps. Simply clamp in place and screw down.