Built-In Desk Bases with Shelf Help

Our office area is front and center in our home.  I wanted it that way – since someone is always at the computer.

But that means the office area is fully visible from all the main areas of the house.

So it needs to look good.  And these days when using a computer is as common as cooking, creating a built in desk that matches my kitchen cabinetry is the right decision.

And if it’s built-in cabinetry, it has to be made of plywood. 

But I dread working with plywood, because that means I have to ask for help.  I have to borrow my husband’s truck.  I have to ask for help loading the plywood off the shelf on to a cart.  Someone has to hold on to the baby while I push the plywood cart.  I can slide the plywood into the truck bed, but it is a struggle hauling it into the garage.  I can do these things, but it is not easy.  Thus the dreading.  You know what I’m talking about.

So after a decade of avoiding plywood projects whenever possible, it came to me: There needs to be a service where pre-cut plywood pieces show up on my doorstep and all I have to do is start building.

It’s taken many months of planning and working, but today, I’m so thrilled to release the very first project made with our brand new service Shelf Help, my new built in desk: 

If you aren’t able to watch the video, here’s the photo steps:

1. Design the Bases

I used the Shelf Help Configurator to design my desk bases to fit my needs.  I have created a template for this desk system that you can use to guide you in designing and building your desk.

shelf help desk

2. Plywood Panels Arrive

The plywood panels for the desk arrived about a week later in the mail.  I didn’t have to go buy the plywood, haul it, cut it, and then deal with (and pay for) scraps I didn’t need.

shelf help order in package

The front edges of the plywood panels are also edge banded, so no need to finish them!

shelf help front edge banding

3. Assemble

Assembling the plywood pieces is pretty straight forward – just drill 3/4″ pocket holes on the horizontal pieces and attach to the vertical pieces with 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws.

shelf help building

Instead of a full plywood top or back, I used 1×3 furring strips to tie the sides in.  This saves weight, cost, and bulk in the project.

shelf help building step 2

4. Customize

Once the carcass is done, it’s easy to customize to suit your needs.  Since you are working with a square project, you can just measure as you go – no need for a detailed plan.For the desk base on the right, I added three drawers and a cabinet door.

adding drawers to a built in desk

For the base on the left, I added a roll out printer shelf.  All the bases have 5″ baseboard.

roll out printer shelf

5. Finish and Top

The finish on the desk is primer and white semi-gloss paint from Sherwin Williams (color is Extra White).  The countertop is quartz, the color is Rococo.  The quartz countertop is just sitting on the desk bases.  It is very heavy, so glad the desk bases are well made with 3/4″ thick plywood!

custom built in desk

Are you ready to build your own desk?  

Head on over to Shelf Help for more details, templates, and of course, the configurator!

$10 Roll Outs for Kitchen Cabinets

Could your cabinets be more functional if the shelves slid out?  Roll outs – especially custom sized wood ones – can be very expensive and hard to install.  

In this video tutorial, I’ll show you how to use your EXISTING shelf and convert it to a rolling shelf – all for about ten dollars.

And it is EASY.  I promise!

Video Tutorial for Converting Shelves to Roll Outs

Make sure you watch the video for the full tutorial.  The below information is supplemental.

Frameless Cabinets

If you cabinet does not have a face frame, it is called a “frameless cabinet”.  This is the easiest type of cabinet to work with.  Just remove the shelf, and cut it down in width so it is 1″ less in overall width than the inside measurement of your cabinet, and then install it on your drawer slides.

installing roll outs in frameless shelves

Face Frame Cabinets

If your cabinet has wood trim around the front edges, it has a face frame.  You will need to shim the inside of the cabinet so the drawer slides can fully slide out without hitting the back side of your face frame.  Cut your shelf to 1″ less than the width in between your shims.

roll outs for face frame cabinets

Cabinets with Center Divider

If your cabinet has a center divider, so your roll out shelves can’t be made the full width, you will need to create some framing in between.  The easiest way to do this is with 1x2s and 2x4s.  The drawer slides are mounted on the 2x4s on either side.

roll outs for double wide cabinets

We hope this tutorial helps you make your kitchen nicer (and your life easier!)  Thanks so much for using our website, we appreciate the trust and support.


Farmhouse Desk

Do you need a desk?

Have you considered building your own?

For about $50 and with just a couple tools, you can build this desk!

farmhouse desk

Farmhouse Desk Features

  • Easy to build design uses off the shelf lumber and basic tools
  • Solid wood so can be painted or stained any color and can be refinished
  • Sturdy – won’t fall apart on you!
  • Good sized desktop with just one wood joint in center 
  • Bottom shelf sized for standard computer towers or books can also be used as a footrest
  • The elevated bottom shelf helps hide cords
  • X styling is on trend and goes with almost any style decor

farmhouse desk

Video Tutorial

It’s easy to build this desk! To help you out, we also put together a video tutorial so you can visualize how the desk is put together.

Farmhouse Desk Plans

The plans for this desk follow.  Thanks so much for using my plans!

Box Frame Coffee Table with Lift Top

Do you work from your couch, or sometimes enjoy dinner in your living room?  

Maybe a lift top coffee table is the right solution for you! 

I just built this on trend coffee table for about $50

lift top coffee table

And instead of securing the top to the base, I just added a lift top hinge so it does this –

lift top coffee table

With the top up, it is very functional as a desktop or tabletop.  You could easily use a laptop or set a plate on it.  

Here’s a video of me building this coffee table:

Lift Top Hinges

There’s quite a selection available for lift top hinges.  I ultimately settled on this one (affiliate link) for it’s price of just under $15 bucks.

coffee table lift top hinge

Just make sure the overall length of the hinge is less than 15″ and the overall height is right at 1-1/2″ – so it fits in this coffee table plan, and hides behind the 2x2s that are 1-1/2″ thick.

Recommended Modifications

After building this lift top coffee table, I did feel it was a little on the light side (wanting to tip forward when I pull the top up), so wanted to offer a couple of options that might help (but will definitely change the look and the overall cost of the project).

  • You can add a bottom shelf by simply adding two more 1x6x8′ boards to your shopping list
  • You can add X bracing on the ends by adding one more 2x2x8′ to your shopping list

These modifications are shown in the plans.