Are you in love with the look of butcher block countertops but can’t figure out a way to fit them into your kitchen design? Instead, you can take inspiration and make your own desk butcher block top for your home office. It only takes a few hours, some essential tools you probably already have at home… and a butcher block countertop top in the correct size. You can even use reclaimed wood from a previous kitchen renovation project, but it may need re-sealing and refinishing to make it suitable for a butcher block office desk.
Should You Get A Desk Butcher Block Top?
Solid wood desks are expensive, but they make an office go from casual to an excellent place to be. And they fit with most home decoration styles, from rustic to industrial. You just need to find the right board and legs to create the style you are after.
And if you build your desk butcher block, you will have all of the benefits but a much lower price tag.
You can even buy two sets of drawers of the correct height instead of the legs, if you prefer your desk to have built-in storage.
Where To Get Wood For A Desk Butcher Block?
If you want to make your butcher block desk on a budget, buying a countertop from a home decor store or IKEA is very affordable. You could also go the thrift store route and acquire the remains of an old kitchen installation or other forms of reclaimed wood. With sanding and the right stain and finish, you can make it fit your style at a fraction of the cost of new wood.
Look at this one, for example:
You wouldn’t be able to tell it didn’t come from an expensive furniture store.
Tools & Supplies You’ll Need For Your Desk Butcher Block Installation
You will need several tools to get this done quickly but nothing out of the ordinary. Check your workshop for:
- A drill with a hole saw bit and a 1/8in drill bit
- Tape measure
- 4 Table legs. You can get them from any home decoration store, or even IKEA
- Optionally, a desk grommet for cable management
- A suitably sized kitchen butcher block countertop in a wood you like.
For an office desk, you should aim for at least 25 inches deep butcher block worktop, so you can fit a computer screen and keep things ergonomic. A desk that is a bit deeper won’t hurt but will take more space.
In terms of length, four legs support your standard 60 inches desk length well, but if you want to have a very long desk butcher block top, you may be better off adding a 5th leg in the middle or partially attaching it to the wall.
Measure And Cut Your Desk Butcher Block Top
This is the most crucial step, as it will allow you to fit your new desk perfectly into the space available. Be careful to lay masking tape alongside the border you want to cut. This will stop your saw from accidentally marking the desk and spoiling the finish.
Measure twice, cut once. Make sure the cut is perfectly straight and at a 90 degrees angle to the back of the desk, and wear your protective goggles. You don’t want to have a wonky edge.
Seal the Borders And Surface If Necessary
If you had to cut the butcher block to size, you would need to seal the border with polyurethane. If the butcher block is reclaimed wood or unfinished, you probably want to sand, refinish and seal the entire thing. A glossy or matte wood lacquer works great for this, and unlike kitchen wood worktops, it doesn’t need to be food-friendly.
If you consider using oil, keep in mind that the desk surface will eventually feel rough and can stain equipment and papers left on it. For a desk butcher block, it’s better to opt for a lacquered surface, also stopping your wrists from rubbing against the surface.
Attach The Legs
Ergonomics are essential if you look for a home office butcher block office desk. You can get away with fixed-length legs for casual use, which are cheaper. But for something you intend to use often, choose adjustable legs that will allow you to sit comfortably and keep your screens at eye level. You could even make an adjustable standing desk, but make sure the legs are guaranteed to be able to stand the weight of the butcher block top.
Turn your new desk butcher block top upside down, and place it on a soft surface such as a rug. Measure with the square to ensure the legs are square with the borders and at the same distance from the edge. You want to leave about an inch or two from the edge to minimize the risk of the wood splitting. It also looks better if there is a bit of space.
To be safe, drill a smaller pilot hole before screwing the legs in. If you have bought a good quality butcher block, the wood should be hard enough not to split, but why risk it?
Time To Accessorise: Installing A Desk Grommet (Optional)
A desk grommet is a round hole with a cover to pass cables under the desk without hanging behind it. If your desk is going to be placed flush against a wall, you will need to install one. But generally speaking, they make your desk look professionally made and are very easy to install.
Measure where you want your grommet to go, usually at the back of the desk in the middle. I like having them right above the outlet where I want to plug the cables. Make sure it is not above the legs, and drill a pilot hole. Then use the hole saw bit from below your desk to make the hole the size of the desk grommet. Why drill from below? Because this way, you protect the desktop surface from accidental scratches or saw damage.
And that’s it; you just made your own desk butcher block top using a wood kitchen countertop, office desk legs, and a few tools. As you can see, this is a straightforward project that will take you less than an afternoon to create a piece of solid wood furniture that would cost ten times more in a store.
What Stain Can You Use On Butcher Block Desks?
Since this desk won’t be a food preparation area, you can get away with using any stain you like. All you need is a long-lasting stain safe for home use, the type you would use for furniture.
How Do You Stain and Finish a Butcher Block Desk?
The best way to stain and finish a butcher block desk is using a gel stain. This will help you avoid a blotchy finish and are comfortable if you need to write or type. But what if you want to change the color or finish of the butcher block desk to match the rest of your furniture?
The key is layering. Use a color stain in various layers until you are happy with the color first. Keep adding light and thin layers until you achieve the right color and intensity. If you use reclaimed wood, this will also help even the wood color look as good as new.
Then you can use Shellac to seal the surface and make it perfectly smooth. You should be able to rub your wrists against the surface without noticing it. If you type a lot on a computer, your arms will be rubbing the desk, so a desk that has a rough finish will be uncomfortable fast.
If you love the look of an oil finish desk, you can always add a glass desktop to protect both the wood and your arms. Otherwise, the constant rubbing will eventually remove the oil and mark the desk, requiring resurfacing.
What Is The Best Wood For A Butcher Block Desk Board?
Maple and walnut look tremendous and expensive and make your new desk look great. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money! A reclaimed wood butcher block countertop is eco-friendly and has an antique look that is very fashionable.
Do You Need Support To Reinforce Your New Desktop Butcher Block?
Most worktops will hold about 55 pounds without issues quickly, but if you plan on having a lot of stuff on your desk, you may want to look at reinforcing the bottom. This also applies to making a very long desk butcher block because the top will bow if not supported.
There are different types of support reinforcement you can use under the desk. You can add additional legs in the middle or buy a reinforcement frame from a home decoration store that goes under the desk. If you want to build the desk to last, the second option won’t take more floor space or an annoying leg in the middle of the desk.
But it’s entirely possible that you don’t need to reinforce your new desk, as it will be as solid or more than a store-bought one. Just much, much cheaper and made to measure.
DIY Desk Butcher Block Top Inspiration And Ideas
Here, you can see some awesome desks made with wood kitchen countertops.
Gorgeous desk by DesignerTrapped using an IKEA kitchen wood countertop.
Or this beautiful wood standing desk by ABeautifulMess is perfect for taking advantage of a corner or small space.