D.I.Y. trestle desk

Errol, Team member
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D.I.Y. trestle desk

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Project Overview

If you don’t have a lot of space, this trestle desk may be ideal for your home. It will look great in a study nook, a hallway or a kid’s room, anywhere that needs a compact, stylish workspace. You’ll also be surprised how easy it is to make. Continue to Step-by-step instructions.
nail holder
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How to make a magnetic hammer nail holder

If you’ve got a few nails to bang in, make this little addition to your hammer and the job will be so much easier. Simply attach a small magnet to the bottom of your hammer with a high-strength polyurethane glue. Once dry, you can pick up the nails using the magnet and hammer away. No more searching for lost nails, or holding them in your mouth!

Step by Step Instructions

1 Pre-cut the timber to size
2 Tape the timber for the legs together
3 Mitre cut the legs
4 Measure and mark the legs
5 Make the second cut
6 Tape the supports for the table together
7 Cut the supports to 90 degrees
8 Tape the timber for the base together
9 Cut the ends of the timber to 90 degrees
10 Lay out the legs
11 Pre-drill the holes for the legs
12 Apply glue to the joins
13 Screw the leg together
14 Join the legs together
15 Attach the top of the leg
16 Paint the legs
17 Sand the table top
18 Measure and mark for the location of the legs
19 Attach the legs to the table top
20 Measure and cut the threaded rods
21 Paint the rods
22 Drill the holes for the braces
23 Attach the supporting rods
24 Wax the desktop
25 Put your trestle desk in place
  • Step 1. Pre-cut the timber to size

    To make this project easier, you can have your timber pre-cut to size at your local Bunnings. Here's our cut list:

    64mm x 19mm Radiata pine DAR

    • 670mm x 8 (legs)
    • 205mm x 4 (base of the legs)
    • 390mm x 2 (supports)

    600mm x 26mm x 1800mm hardwood utility panel

    • 450mm x 1200mm
  • Step 2. Tape the timber for the legs together

    To make sure that the four legs are identical for measuring and cutting, tape two batches of four legs together making sure the ends are flush.

  • Step 3. Mitre cut the legs

    Set the mitre saw to 5 degrees. Then mitre cut each batch of four legs close to the end.

  • Step 4. Measure and mark the legs

    Once the first end is mitred, measure and mark the other end of each batch for the second cut.  

  • Step 5. Make the second cut

    With the mitre still set to 5 degrees, cut the batches of legs to length.

  • Step 6. Tape the supports for the table together

    Tape the two pieces of 390mm timber for the supports together, making sure the ends are flush.

  • Step 7. Cut the supports to 90 degrees

    Set the mitre to 90 degrees and cut at one end of the supports for the trestle.

  • Step 8. Tape the timber for the base together

    Tape two batches of two 205mm timber lengths for the leg bases together.

  • Step 9. Cut the ends of the timber to 90 degrees

    With the mitre saw set to 90 degrees, cut the ends of the base lengths to size. Remove all of the tape from the timber.

  • Step 10. Lay out the legs

    Lay out the trestle legs on the workbench to create two triangles.

  • Step 11. Pre-drill the holes for the legs

    With the 3mm drill bit, pre-drill all of the holes you need to attach the legs together.

  • Step 12. Apply glue to the joins

    Apply PVA glue to all of the joins where the legs will be secured and stick the timber together.

  • Step 13. Screw the leg together

    Use 40mm chipboard screws to join the leg together. The 390mm piece at the top is a support to attach to another leg, as well as attaching the trestle legs to the table top. 

  • Step 14. Join the legs together

    Once both legs are made, attach the pair together. Start by pre-drilling holes with the 3mm drill bit on each side.

  • Step 15. Attach the top of the leg

    Use 40mm chipboard screws to attach the top of the legs. Once you’ve assembled two legs into a trestle side, then make another two legs for the other side of the trestle that forms the base of the desk.

  • Step 16. Paint the legs

    You can paint your legs any colour you like; we’re spray painting ours black. When painting always work in a well ventilated room and wear a mask. Use smooth, even, strokes for good coverage with a spray can.  Apply as many coats as necessary, making sure you leave it to dry between coats. You can also give it a light sand with 240 grit sandpaper between coats.

  • Step 17. Sand the table top

    Before you attach it to the legs, give the hardwood timber top a light sanding with an orbital sander and 240 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.

  • Step 18. Measure and mark for the location of the legs

    Next you need to measure and mark for where the trestle legs will go underneath the tabletop. We positioned ours 110mm from the top of the trestle support with a 30mm overhang on each side.

  • Step 19. Attach the legs to the table top

    Start by pre-drilling holes for the legs using a 3mm bit. Then secure both trestle legs to the tabletop with 30mm screws.

  • Step 20. Measure and cut the threaded rods

    To strengthen the table, you’ll need to use galvanised rods for bracing. Hold the galvanised rods diagonally under the table connecting the legs to determine the length you need. We placed ours 80mm from the bottom of the legs on both sides, and 50mm from the top on both sides. Then cut both rods to length with the bolt cutters.

  • Step 21. Paint the rods

    Before you attach them, give the rods a coat of paint to match the colour of your desk’s legs. Let the paint dry before attaching them.

  • Step 22. Drill the holes for the braces

    Pre-drill the holes for the rods on an angle using a 6.5mm drill bit.

  • Step 23. Attach the supporting rods

    Thread each diagonal rod through the holes you’ve made and secure it by tightening the nuts. It doesn’t matter if there’s a little overhang on the diagonal rods.

  • Step 24. Wax the desktop

    Now the desk is complete, wax it to protect the surface and bring out the natural grain of the timber. It’s a good idea to apply several coats, letting each layer of wax soak in before applying the next.

  • Step 25. Put your trestle desk in place

    Now it’s time to put your trestle desk in place. It’s the perfect table for a study or a kid’s bedroom and not only does it look good but you made it yourself.
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Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.

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