The Wooden Tangerine

easy diy filing cabinet desk

You may or may not know this, but my husband and I both have a quite a few little side gigs. One of those gigs for Tyler is buying and selling sports memorabilia online. Yes, he makes money buying pieces of cardboard with ink on them (sports cards) and also softball bats. His inventory was taking over our previous home. Which is one of the reasons we moved from a 3 bedroom patio home to our current 4 bedroom home with a designated office space. In March/April of 2018 Tyler’s inventory began once again taking over our (MY) space in the office. Being the organized type A person I am couldn’t understand the chaos that was his side of the office and it stressed me out. So I began trying to get him organized.

Well, long story short, I decided to vacate the office space and move my office upstairs to one of the guest bedrooms-yes, it went THAT well. The only thing slowing me down was that I needed a new desk. Tyler’s (organized?) chaos took over my desk downstairs and he needed it.

So, I went about designing a desk off of a Pinterest image I found, but could not find the tutorial anywhere. It seems the person who made this beautiful space had decided to quit the blogging life.

My Inspiration for the desk

Here’s the process.

The base is made up of 3 filing cabinets from Target. I previously purchased one in 2012/2013 and lucked out to find 2 matching ones in stock 5+ years later! At the time I purchased them, they were on sale but now it looks like they almost tripled from the price I paid. YIKES. I am sure you could find some on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for way less to save some cash.

On to the desk top. I designed this desk to be HUGE because I knew I needed a place for my iMac and a place to paint a sign, organize a vignette or even just for Tyler and I to work on some design projects together. It is pretty long and fits perfectly along the wall at 13 feet 3 inches long. It works perfectly for the two of us to work on our website for our company or to brainstorm a design job that he has. I do allow him up here, but only to use the iMac since it has all the design software on it. 


The only supplies I really needed were the boards. I bought 2 – 2” x 12” x 16’ f Douglas fir boards and had Home Depot cut them to my length to make transport easier.

I also used, but had at home already:

  • Orbital sander
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Sanding sponge/block
  • Tack cloth
  • Stain
  • Poly
  • Staining cloths
  • Brush for applying poly

Once I got the wood home, I got out my trusty orbital sander and went to work. I knew I didn’t want the perfectly polished and smooth surface of some desktops, so I sanded just enough to even out any big blemishes. Then Tyler helped me out and took our Kreg Jig and drilled alternated pocket joint holes on the two boards every 12-18 inches or so. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of this step, but here is what the underside of the desk looks like now.

We then screwed the two boards together using pocket hole screws. I gave it one last good sanding.

Underside of the finished desk

Then we brought the desk up stairs to do the finishing. I laid out some old plastic to catch any drips and began filing in any large holes and the crevice between the two boards with wood filler. Once that was dry I sanded the filled spots with a sanding sponge wiped it down with tack cloth and then stained and poly coated it. I used water based stain and ploy to keep the smell down since I was inside.

I put 3 coats of poly on the top and ‘front’ edge and 1 coat on the bottom and other edges since they weren’t really going to get any wear and tear. Between each coat of poly I sanded with 220 grit sanding sponge and wiped it down with tack cloth.

Once it was dry, Tyler helped me move it into place and the rest is history! I love all the storage for my craft items and that I have space to really spread out if I am working on a big project.

Let me know if you have any questions below! 

Finished Office!
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12 thoughts on “Easy DIY Filing Cabinet Desk”

  1. hi! I want to do the same for my kids now with the pandemic situation/ homeschooling. I have a question, does the the file cabinets are opening correctly? Or they are damaged due to the wood weight?

    1. Hi Loy, Yes they still open perfectly after over 2 years. I am currently working from home for my full time job and this desk has been a life saver!

  2. Hi! Did you attach the top to the file cabinets and/or wall or is it just resting on top? I’m planning to make something similar for my 5 & 7 year old’s virtual school area and don’t trust that they wouldn’t cause it to fall and break computers! Lol. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Carly,
      I didn’t attach the wood. Since it fits so snuggly between the walls, the top hasn’t budged. You could take the top drawer out of the file cabinets and screw into the wood top from inside the filing cabinet. Then place the drawer back in (that was my plan if I needed to attach it.) Just make sure the screws are not too long or they could go through the top. Also if I were to do it all over, I would have gotten butcher block countertop because it is more level – it just adds quite a bit of cost though.
      Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions!

  3. Did you leave a gap to run cords behind the desk? Wanted to possibly do something similar but got stuck on all the cords we have!

    1. Hi CC,
      I did. I also considered drilling a few holes for cords. But ended up just leaving a gap.

  4. Do you find this desk to be low? Just ordered the file cabinets and I feel like they aren’t super high. We don’t have a piece for the top yet or a chair, so maybe it is just hard to envision. Super cute!

    1. Hi Christine,
      It seems like a great height for me personally, but it likely depends on the filing cabinets you have!

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