This DIY wall to wall desk is a simple build thanks to ready to use live edge pieces of wood- I’m also sharing how I clean bark off of live edge wood for a clean smooth finish!
Another big DIY for the office is in the books! I’m so darn excited about this space, you guys. And this desk? Totally transformed this narrow long room into something completely functional and beautiful. I am sitting at it as I write this post even though there’s still tools all over the place as we finish everything else up. It’s so wonderful. SO today I’m sharing how we made it with a full DIY tutorial but also how we got an easy live edge tabletop and tips for working with live edge wood (like removing bark!).
But first… a bit about the design! This is an 11 foot desk- holy smokes, right?! I have a second chair I’ll be using so that I can have my desktop computer set up on one side and other things (like my lettering supplies or sewing machine) set up on the other side. This is a big challenge for me right now because my desktop takes up my entire tiny desk. One day I’d love to have someone working with me and this would allow for that without more remodelling!
Alright… let’s talk about that live edge, because it’s so convenient. I know. That’s not a word you think of when you think of live edge wood, is it? We’ve made live edge tables and desks before and for us that always involves driving out of town to this tiny workshop that builds furniture with live edge wood- and hoping that he has pieces he’s willing to sell. But this guy? Oh, this was delivered right to the door.
We ordered these pieces of wood all milled and drilled with pocket holes from The Home Depot Canada (who’s partnering with us to help make this office dream a reality!). We ordered them from online as our store doesn’t stock them and when I was telling a friend who frequents Home Depot as much as we do about this project, she exclaimed that she’d never ordered from The Home Depot Canada website and didn’t realize they have different things available. YOU GUYS… there is SO MUCH MORE online!
Anyways, this desk is three boards deep. The front one is the live edge, and the back two are ‘centre’ slabs. They are all drilled with pocket holes to attach them to one another. Since our desk was longer than the standard 8ft that these boards come in, we had to use two pieces of live edge (and the other boards) and used pocket holes to attach those together as well for strength. Before you do any building, though… you need to prepare your wood.
The wood comes ready to assemble but also comes with bark!
How to Remove Bark From Live Edge Wood
First off… why not just leave it?! If you love that look- heck yes, just leave it! I’m a fan of the smooth live edge hiding underneath the bark. One thing to consider is that almost no live edge is going to come without some damage to the bark. There’s almost always good marks from the claws that pick up the logs after they’re cut.
I’ve done this a few times and honestly there’s no quick fix but here’s what has worked great for me. I start with a small pry bar/scraper and a hammer and take off the really big chunks of bark. It takes a little to get a feel for it- you don’t want to go too close to the wood itself and mark the live edge, but the closer you get to the wood, the easier large pieces pop off. Underneath the bark you see, there’s a layer of soft bark like material that’s a different colour than your wood but otherwise- you’d think you’re done. You can see in this desk here we made, we left some of that on without knowing it was part of the bark whereas on our dining table, we did a much better job removing all that.
Once the bulk of the bark is gone, time to get that soft, reddish bark layer off! I sanded this off when I did our last table and holy smokes that takes a long time. This time I used a chisel and just shaved off thin layers at a time and it went so much more smoothly!
Then you’re on to sanding! I used a 100 grit sandpaper when I needed to pull off some of the bark still, but then to smooth it, switched to 180.
How to Build Floating Desk Supports
So this wood is heavy. It’s thick and being this long it totally is heavy. So we wanted to make sure that there was adequate support. The desk sits on this cabinet in the middle- you could do a filing cabinet here as well, this was just a great size for how long our space was and I really wanted drawers for the desk. Other than the cabinet, you’ll want support on the back wall and both the side walls. Run a level line on these walls that is the same height as the cabinet and mark your studs.
We used 1×2 and 3″ screws to build a support all the way around the walls. We cut the side supports a couple inches short and on an angle to keep them from being noticeable in the design. When you do this- just make sure that they support at least half of the front board (remember the table top is three boards deep).
We also built bracing in the corners using 1×2 cut at a 45 degree angle.
How to Assemble the Live Edge Table Top
This part is so satisfying since it comes together so quickly! First… cut your boards to length! We needed two boards to span the 11 feet of our desk. Stagger the joints in the table top so you don’t have your seams all in a line. If you have a longer span than one board, you’ll need to drill pocket holes in the end of one of the adjoining boards to connect them. We used our Kreg Jig for this I’d recommend the pocket jig so you don’t need to stand boards up. Pocket holes to attach the boards together side to side are already predrilled, it’s just the end to end holes you would need to make.
Once your pocket holes are drilled, attach your back boards together using pocket screws– the ones with no live edge. We always kneel on the boards we are attaching to help the screws get as tight as possible.
The trickiest part was finding the perfect spot for the live edge front boards to connect.The beautiful thing about live edge is that it has so much texture and variance but that’s what makes it hard to join to another live edge board end to end. We laid both boards on edge and slid them until we found a spot where they were pretty much the same thickness but gave us enough length for the table top. This is where we cut. If it needs more than a sand to get the joints look natural, you can use a wood chisel.
After the table top is assembled, move it into place. You will need to sand that joint using 100 grit sandpaper to help make the joint look more natural. It’s not perfect- It might take quite a bit of sanding to make it totally perfect, but I was happy with the result of some chisel work and sanding.
I also sanded the table top with a 180 grit sandpaper before applying a water based clear coat. The more coats the better for durability.
Some Final Notes
We did hold the table top in place with some small L brackets to keep it in place even with little kids climbing on it (it’s bound to happen around here!). I also had to shim on top of the cabinet in the middle because our floor is so not level down here. I just added one shim at the front of the cabinet to support the tabletop.
We will probably drill a hole in the table top on whichever side I decide to set up my desktop. I want to wait to get everything in there before I do though! Also… I’m calling this a wall to wall desk but it’s actually a wall to cabinet desk- we have a sink cabinet to the left that this desk attaches to.
That’s it! It’s a pretty simple project for how big of a desk you get out of it! I’m so thrilled with how this wall to wall desk turned out and can’t wait to get this office finished and get set up for working in here!