Hey everyone, this is Susan from Mellowpine.
Today we are going to show you how we built this X-brace desk which can be dismantled and packed.
You can put it together without any screw or bolt and take it apart easily as well. Although it has no screws, it is quite stable for everyday use.
We built this for a friend of ours and this project came out so well and we are super excited to share it with you all.
Here's how the assembly of the desk works,
Things you need for this build
- 2 Nos.- 2 x 4 Lumber- 2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Prime Whitewood Stud
- 2 Nos.- 1 x 3 Lumber -1 in. x 3 in. x 8 ft. Furring Strip Board
- 1 No. - 2 x 2 Lumber - 2 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Furring Strip Board Lumber
- 2 Nos.- 1 x 12 board - 1 in. x 12 in. x 4 ft. Kiln Dried Square Edge Whitewood Common Board ( Buy kiln dried ones for wood burning)
- Wood Glue
- WATCO Teak Oil
Plan for Packable X-Brace Desk
How to make the X-Brace Desk
Please note the difference in dimension between nominal size and actual size. For e.g., 2 x 4 is the nominal size while 1-½" x 3-½" is the actual size. This is a standard convention.
There are four parts to this packable desk. The two leg frame components, the desk top component and the connecting bottom bracing piece (with dovetail).
In each leg frame, there are two x bracing pieces, two vertical pieces, one horizontal bracing piece at the top and a base piece at the bottom.
Since we have two legs for the desk, we have to make each component above for both the legs.
Cutting the pieces for the leg frame
For the two vertical pieces, we took 2 x 4 lumber and made four pieces of length 24-¼” length.
For the top horizontal piece in the leg frame, we took 2 x 4 lumber and made two pieces of length 17” each.
For the base piece in the leg frame, we took 2 x 4 lumber and made two pieces of length 19” each.
Making the X-Brace
For the X bracing piece, we used 2 x 2 lumber.
We had to miter the two edges and ensure it fits snug inside the rest of the leg frame.
We had the choice of following the exact measurements or placing the piece on the frame and tracing the cut, we decided to go the second way.
It’s more forgiving to go this route, especially when you have less margin for error.
To do this, first place the other pieces of the leg frame together (clamp it preferably), then place the X bracing diagonally on the frame.
One edge of the bracing piece must just touch the corner of the frame and the other edge must pass through the opposite corner as shown in the photo.
Mark the triangular portion to be cut off from the bracing piece by tracing a pencil at the edge. This should be done for both edges of the X bracing.
With the excess triangular part marked on all the four x brace pieces, we cut off the excess on the miter saw. Ideally the slant length of this slant should be 23-15/16".
Making the half-lap slot in the X-Brace
Next part was making the half-lap slot in the X bracing pieces.
Even here, you have the choice of either just following the measurements with your eyes closed or trace the slots similar to the previous step.
So we placed one bracing inside the leg frame and clamped it.
Then we placed the other X bracing frame on the opposite diagonal and clamped it as well. In this position,we traced the lines for the half-lap.
Once the lines were traced, we had to mark the depth up to which chiseling had to be done.
We used the marking gauge to mark a depth of ¾" in each x bracing piece.
Before Chiseling, we made multiple cuts in each bracing piece, to make it easier to chisel. We used the circular saw in combination with the Kreg Accu-cut to do this.
Then we chiseled out the half-lap slots in the bracing pieces.
Checking dry-fit of the X-Brace
Then we tried a dry fit of the X brace pieces and they fit together well.
Before going ahead with the next step, we sanded all the pieces thoroughly up to 220 grit using the random orbital sander.
Making Pocket holes in the frame pieces
Then we made the pocket holes in the two vertical pieces of the leg frame with the kreg jig set at 1-½" material thickness. In the leg frame, only these two pieces are to be pocket holed, rest are joined using nails and wood glue.
Putting together the Leg Frame Pieces
Then we started putting the leg frame together. We first fitted the X bracing pieces together using a mallet.
Then we attached the two vertical pieces to the X bracing using wood glue and nails to hold it together until the glue cured.
Then we had to attach the base piece to this. We used wood screws from the base piece to the vertical piece to do this. We first drilled pilot holes, countersinked them and then drove screws of length 2-½" through them.
Then we had to join the top horizontal piece to this leg frame in the previous step. We drove pocket hole screws through the pocket hole which we drilled earlier after applying wood glue on the surface.
Making the Desk Top and the Slot frame
Now we had to make the top piece. For this there is the panels that make up the top and the slot frame below it into which the legs are to be pushed in when assembling.
We cut out 2 pieces of length 42” from 1 x 12 (nominal size) board using circular saw to make the panel.
Wood Burning the Desk Top Panel
We then had to burn the wood pieces to achieve a dark burned finish. We torched the panels and brushed with wire brush.
Making the Slot Frame
We first made two pieces of length 32” and four pieces of length 17” from 2 x 3 lumber for the slot frame.
Joining the Desk Top Pieces
For this first we made pocket holes on these slot frame pieces as per plan.
Then we marked the location of the slot frame pieces on the panel as per plan.
We attached the four shorter slot frame pieces to the desk top using 2" pocket hole screws and wood glue. You don’t need to clamp the panels of the top piece separately as these slot frame pieces will hold the panel together. We applied wood glue on the edge of the panel pieces before doing this step.
Then we placed the side pieces of the slot frame of length 32” each and then nailed it to the shorter slot frame pieces, after applying wood glue.
With this step, the desk top component was ready. At this point, both the legs, and the top piece was ready. Only the bracing piece at the bottom was pending.
Making the bottom bracing piece (dovetail)
We made the bracing piece from 2 x 3 lumber as per the plan. We traced the outline of the shape of the dovetail and cut out the excess with a jig saw.
Next we made the slots for the dovetail on the leg frame as well by tracing the slot with the bottom bracing piece as reference.
Finishing the X-Brace Desk
After this we stained the entire desk except the top panel with teak oil. We applied water based PU for the panel.
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Liaquath Mirza says
Great site for learners like me. I chanced upon your site and in no time I plunged deep into your projects. Please do share some pointers for rookies like me on the very beginner basics.
V Susan says
Hey, thank you so much for your comment! I'll try to make something for absolute beginners as well. Thank you for appreciating!