Cheery wood, elm, maple, cedar, and rosewood are distinct types of wood to be used on a homemade desk. The desktop can also be made from cheaper alternatives such as 18mm plywood, MDF, MDO or particle boards. Using old doors will also work as a cheaper alternative for solid wood desktops.
If you want to make your desktop for a computer desk, a writing desk or any other type of desk, you’ll need to find the right materials for the job. Solid wood is not going to be cheap, but the final results might be worth the effort, especially if you’re planning to sue the desk for the long-term.
Solid wood to use on a desktop for a homemade desk
Cherry wood had a special appeal since the Middle Ages. Some of the most expensive desks are now being sold made exclusively from cherry wood with its close grains and red/brown profile. You can expect to pay at least $100 for the cherry wood alone. Sanding and stains are not included in the price.
Elmwood also has occasional red streaks, but it is mainly light brown. At a price of at least $70 per cubic foot, elm is not cheap. However, it is a rare occasion to create something distinct.
Maple is known for its dense fibers with a combination of brown with red nuances. It is a strong type of wood which might not need any other type of additional support in the middle of the desk. You can find maple wood for as little as $8 per square foot.
Rosewood is known to be harder to find. It might be your last chance to find it at a decent price. Even so, you will need to pay a few hundred dollars for the entire desktop. Most types of rosewood now come from China, Thailand or Africa.
Teak wood has a distinct golden-yellow color. It is available in planks at $25 and you’ll only need to put them together. However, its color will fade if the desk is under direct sunlight next to a window.
Walnut is such a great classic wood. You will pay around $6 per board foot. Even more, most stains look very good on walnut wood.
Oakwood is another great option for its weight resistance. You will pay around $16 for European oak/BF.
Cedar is another top choice with the impressive history behind it. Apart from its aromatic profile, you may be able to find it at comparable prices to oak wood. Finishing and staining are not included in these prices.
DIY desks and what wood not to use
If you’re planning to make your wooden deck, it might be a good idea to choose solid wood as it can support the weight of your arms and of the computer, monitor or any other accessories you would think of. A few materials are not as recommended.
Particleboards are cheap, but they are not supportive. Even more, water spills might quickly ruin your desk and you may end up paying more by seeking a replacement desktop.
MDF is used widely in the desk industry. However, it becomes saggy and it is simply too heavy for what it is. You may go with it in the end because it paints quickly.
Plywood can be a good alternative. Its advantage is that it can be found at good prices practically in any specialized shop. You can consider it for storage cabinets as well.
MDO can be a type of fancy plywood and it can work for a cheap desktop. However, its edges can’t be finished as nicely as on solid wood and you will need to adapt with a solution such as banded edges. This can be way cheaper than going for a full hardwood desk which would cost at least $3.000.
Repurposing old furniture
Another alternative would be to look for materials you might already have around the house. For example, you can use a solid wood door you don’t need anymore. Since it already has a hole in it, you can even consider it to organize cables. Of course, the way the door is made and its design can be limiting factors.
Using a door also means having a better idea of what size desk you’re going to get. Many doors are taller than 2.000mm and wider than 700mm. You may still need to cut it down to fit a desk profile.
I have the desktop ready, what feet do I use for the homemade desk?
Desk frames and legs can be found online. The cheapest legs can start at $40. Two square metal legs can cost around $100. But you can also consider purchasing a standing desk frame. Prices start at $200. There are various options for the frame as well.
The most expensive part of a new desk is its desktop. One of the best parts about natural wood is that it looks better in various stains. It also lasts longer if properly assembled. You will need a few tools and plenty of patience to put the desktop together.
However, if you decide to make your wooden desk at home, you might be saving a lot as such a piece can cost thousands. Even the simplest Ikea particleboard still costs $100 so you will be better off with a solid wood alternative. However, if you plan to keep your desk in the garage or only use it on occasion, you may want to look for plywood alternatives.
Elm, cedar, and rosewood are special types of wood. Some may be found easier than others but all of these woods have a story to tell. The best part is that no two pieces of wood are the same. This is why you will have a unique desktop for your homemade desk and this experience cannot be replicated by any retailer with cheap MDF alternatives.
It also helps to find suitable accessories for your elegant wooden desktop. Feel free to check my guide on the best desk lamps to get some ideas on your wooden desktops can integrate with illumination solutions.