Galvanized steel pipe frame with oak desktop
My plan was to to brace the legs near the bottom with an H-shape, and connect the legs using T-joints, with end caps at the bottom, and flanges at the top.
We wanted to use a solid wood table top, to make sure that it would be very durable.
The total height would be 45 inches.
- IKEA NUMERAR Oak kitchen countertop ($129)
- 24 1-1/4” wood screws ($5)
Galvanized steel pipe, 1” thick
- 6 T-joints ($12 total)
- 4 flanges ($20 total)
- 4 end caps ($6 total)
- 4 1-inch extensions ($8 total)
- 4 couplings for the 1-inch extenssion ($7)
- 4 6-inch nipples ($16 total)
- 4 8-inch nipples ($20 total)
- 4 33-inch custom cut lengths ($40 total)
- 1 48-inch ($20)
Paint (for the pipes)
- paint brush ($3)
- latex gloves ($3)
- white primer for galvanized steel or aluminum ($14)
- matte black paint ($10)
Stain (for the desktop)
- rags ($3)
- paint brush ($3)
- wood stain (Varathane in Early American) ($11)
- polyurethane (satin finish)
- Sandpaper, 180 and 220 grit ($5 total)
- Sanding blocks ($7)
- 2 pairs of gloves ($3 each)
- TSP substitute (for degreasing the pipes) ($7)
- tarp to use as a drop cloth - 9 x 12’ ($10)
Plumbing supply stores and hardware stores have pre-cut lengths of pipe, and the big ones like Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut and thread specific lengths for you for about $5 a cut.
I picked up my pipe at Lowe’s where they cut my custom lengths right in the aisle!
To take them home in a Zipcar, we wrapped them in a plastic garbage bag, so they wouldn’t get greasy on the car (or on us!)
The first thing I did was wash them, using imitation TSP. It’s a solution that removes the grease, and leaves a slight tack on the steel surface so that paint can stick to it.
Then I screwed them together tightly, making sure that they were the same height when attached.
I wore gloves because the threaded ends had some sharp bits.
The frame was super strong!
I primed the legs with the white paint, made specially for painting galvanized steel.
Next, I painted two coats of matte black.
Now that the legs were done, I moved on to the desktop.
To stick to a budget, we bought the NUMERAR Countertop, oak, from IKEA. It was $129, and super big. This isn’t your typical IKEA furniture quality, it is actually quite nice! My coworker (and victorian homeowner/restoration specialist) Val tipped us off to it, because she used it at home in her kitchen remodel.
I started by sanding it all over, first with 180 grit, and then with 220 grit.
(I know that not all of us are fortunate enough to have a sanding helper, but if you do, now is the time to utilize them!)
I tested out 4 different colors of stain by staining narrow strips on the underside. I decided on “Early American” by Varathane. It wasn’t very far off from the natural color of the wood, it just added a slight amount of richness.
I applied two coats to both sides and the edges of the table.
Next, I applied two coats of satin (the lowest gloss) polyurethane sealant, so the wood would be protected from liquids and would be easier to clean.
Attaching top to bottom
I put the table on the legs and verified that it was level.
I drilled guide holes before I screwed in each 1-1/4” wood screw.
Adding a monitor stand
We wanted the monitor stand to be as rugged as the desk. I had two 8” blocks cut from a beam of 9”x4” pine.
It was only about $3 per cut, which seems like a deal given the amount of work it was to carry this 20 foot beam to the cutting station!
I sanded and stained the blocks with leftover wood stain.
The final result was much better than a stack of textbooks!
I was very happy with the final result! It is super sturdy, and has minimal wobble.
The desk is big enough to use as a pairing station, and looks good from all sides.
I couldn’t have done it without help from my coworkers and friends! Thanks to @adelcambre, @hone02, @ejgreenberg, @h (for modelling), @inrgbwetrust, @mkb, and Lauren and Jean for helping me move things around and supporting my nights painting upstairs at the office!