Jul 19, 2017

How to Make a DIY Vintage-Inspired Sawhorse Trestle Desk

When I came across this awesome vintage-inspired trestle desk this week, it struck all my favorite things: warm wood tones, a modern industrial vibe, and nothing extraneous, just a nice big surface and some shelves. It was "inspired by an antique French architect's table," and it's just all kinds of industrial cool. 

Except there's one problem...   It's only available for kids!

Which is okay if you have a kid and can drop $650 on a desk for them. But I don't, and I can't, so I say: make your own.

The design is simple: two basic A-frame saw horse trestles and a solid wood glued up top. It's the scale and the two-toned wood finishes that make this guy special.

The sawhorses themselves would be relatively easy to build for any one with a saw and a drill. There are bunches of free how-tos on the internet, but I suggest starting with this one from The Family Handyman, which includes a cool shelf design:

Just scale it to working desk height (usually 29 1/2") and avoid adding the folding mechanism for stability. Then, stain to a nice rich brown.

The top is just a glued up block of reclaimed elm made from antique doors...which I don't have lying around, and suspect you might not either. You can definitely look for an old solid-core door to use as a desktop, but gluing up lumber is easy and lots of fun. 

created at: 03/08/2013

You just need some straight dimensional lumber, wood glue, and a few strong clamps to secure the joints. Here's a great free PDF from Woodsmith magazine that shows you how to make three styles of table top, including one with breadboard ends as seen in the inspiration desk, without the need for any complex joinery or special tools. 

Now, to just find a vintage drafting stool...

Kid's Sawhorse Trestle Desk - $649 at Restoration Hardware 




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Diogo on May 09, 2018:

I am searching for DIY computer desk plans and I really like this idea. As for Fred's comment, I believe the mobility vs stability issue could be solved by screwing-and-not-gluing the bottom shelf. When it's time to move, unscrew the shelf and flat-pack it all.

Fred on Jul 23, 2017:

You write to avoid adding the folding mechanism for stability. But for mobility it would not only be better to include this mechanism for the sawhorses but also at the connection between sawhorse and the table top. With that the table can be folded and moved easily. Of course this mechanism depends on the size of the table and what is preferred: mobility or stability.

However, nice table. Great design.

Fred on Jul 23, 2017:

I like the chair, but that's a different problem.

Chris on May 20, 2013:

Thanks for the head's up. Fixed now.

Anonymous on May 17, 2013:

your link for the Family Handy Man doesnt work - can you repost, please?