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Can You Use Plywood for a Desk? (How To)

Plywood is used for many different things. A solid and good looking desk is required for many different uses around a home or office. In this article, I will explain if you can use plywood for a desk.

Overall, you can use plywood for a desk. You can use plywood for just the desktop and use a pre-built frame made of metal or a different type of wood. Or, you can construct the entire desk out of plywood. Plywood is very durable, and is fairly inexpensive so makes a great material to use for a desk.

Man working on the plywood desk

The thickness of a plywood sheet, and the material it’s made from affects how expensive plywood is. But, you can get an amazing looking desk using the most no frills plywood. Below, I will explain if it’s a good idea to use plywood for a desk, what you need to do to prepare plywood to make a desk out of it, and exactly how to use plywood for a desk.

Should You Use Plywood for a Desk?

Man working on the plywood desk

Plywood is a unique material that is very versatile. However, it does have a few drawbacks. Here is if you should use plywood for a desk, and any things you need to look out for.

In general, it’s a good idea to use plywood for a desk. The main thing is to use plywood that is about ¾ of an inch thick (1.9 cm). Also, it needs to be finished to make it waterproof, and make it far more durable. You can also stain it or use a vinyl sheet top to change its appearance.

Curtis Lumber & Plywood has stated that plywood that is one third the thickness of that above ¼ of inch thick (0.6 cm) can only hold about 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of weight. But a desk made out of plywood that is thickness above ¾ of an inch thick or more can withstand a normal person’s body weight. Much less, a few items such as a computer.

Heavy tools, though, will test the limits of a plywood desk. And a thicker top, and legs, or a metal frame will be required for this purpose.

How you choose to finish your plywood desk, depends on your personal preferences. You can achieve a wood-look, by finishing your plywood using a clear coat finish. Or you can completely change the color by painting or staining it.

Painting it hides the natural grain of the wood, which you may prefer the look of. Whereas, staining wood allows some of the natural grain to show through, but can be used to significantly change its color. To say, dark brown, or dark blue.

Plywood vs OSB for a desk

In general, plywood is far superior to OSB for a desk. The main reason is the finish that can be achieved. It’s virtually impossible to get a smooth, attractive finish on OSB.

Even if you apply many layers of paint and primer. This has been shown in many videos where people have used OSB for the walls of a home.

Based on supply and demand OSB is generally cheaper than plywood. But, because it’s impossible to mask the unattractive finish it has, it makes a poor choice for a desk.

Attaching two pieces of plywood together to get the desired thickness

Woodworkers will tell you it’s possible to attach two pieces of plywood together. For example, gluing together two pieces of plywood that are ½ inch thick each. This is done by applying glue to both sides and clamping them together until it dries.

Although this method does work, it’s generally much more hassle. And it’s best to get plywood that is ¾ of an inch thick or more.

What Preparations Do You Need to Use Plywood for a Desk?

Man working on the plywood desk

To use plywood for a desk does not require any additional steps when using plywood for other purposes. But, there are some preparation steps that are required when using plywood. Below is what you should do to prepare plywood when using it to make a desk.

In general, acclimatize the plywood to the room where you will use your desk for 2 days. Doing so will minimize any shrinkage and expansion of the wood. Otherwise, it can change shape after it has been cut and/or built. Lastly, prior to priming or painting it, sand it with 100 grit sandpaper.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on May 17, 2023.

Acclimatizing wood is best practice, and is done whenever wood such as plywood, OSB, or hardwood are to be used. Doing so ensures the dimensions of the wood only change a very minor amount in response to humidity and temperature changes.

After sanding it, thoroughly remove the sawdust created using a soft bristled brush, and/or a compressed air gun (if you have one). When you do that prior to painting, or staining it, the end result will be an incredibly smooth and even finish.

How to Use Plywood for a Desk

Man working on the plywood desk

Using plywood for a desk is not very difficult. Plywood is also easy to cut and is fairly light weight. Below is exactly how to use plywood for a desk.

Overall, first acclimatize it to where the desk will be for 48 hours. Then download a desk woodworking plan and use it to mark and cut the individual pieces of the desk. Finally, sand all the edges using 100 grit sandpaper, glue and screw the desk together, and paint or stain it.

A plan for your plywood desk can be downloaded online for free or for very low cost, for about $10. Alternatively, you can use a computer program to make your desk.

The steps are very straightforward to make a desk, and is almost exactly the same as buying a desk from a store like Ikea, or Walmart that you need to screw together. The differences are you can change the dimensions and look to make it exactly how you want, and you need to make the individual pieces yourself.

Applying a stick on laminate top to a plywood desk

There are stick on laminate tops that can be put onto the top of a plywood desk. These have the advantage of changing the texture of the top of your desk to give it a more comfortable surface. These can be purchased and attached to the surface very easily.

Most require you to apply glue to one side and then lay it onto the desk slowly starting from one side. That way you can work out any bubbles that form slowly.

After that you trim off the excess using a craft knife. Optionally you can then go around the entire edge using a router to create a really professional edge.

Making a plywood desk with drawers

Adding drawers to a plywood desk can also be done. However, it requires significantly more time. The reason is there are many different pieces that need to be cut and finished to add drawers to a desk.

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There is the housing that holds the drawers, as well as the 5 individual pieces that make up each drawer. You can either go for a desk with drawers on one or two sides of the desk.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 17, 2023.

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