Writing desk



I’ve been meaning to make this project for over ten years. It was about that many years ago when I set a board across two metal file cabinets as a “temporary” desk solution. As it turned out, it was mostly a junk magnet, attracting stacks of papers.

I like the idea of a writing desk. It evokes images of Lewis Carroll hand writing his books, journals and letters while sitting at a desk with nothing more than a pen and paper.

From a practical point, it is actually a good desk solution for any small space, especially since most of us don’t require a large desktop PC and monitor anymore. Plus, its limited storage…just two small drawers…might force me to keep it less cluttered.

Wood selection

I wanted my writing desk to be light colored to reflect the light, delicate look of its clean structure. I also thought it would be interesting to combine to woods not normally used together: inexpensive pine boards and maple plywood. I wan’t sure if this would work out, so I left myself open to possibly staining the pine to provide a greater contrast. But once assembled I loved the two colors together!

Tapering the legs

Tapering has always been a hassle for me. I used to make up a single jig with no adjustments: just one fixed angle. This also only allowed me to make two-sided tapers. This week was the first time I had a chance to use my MicroDial Tapering Jig from MicroJig. It looks intimidating, but it actually is really simple to use. It’s especially good at locking in settings so you can make multiple cuts.

Free plans



  1. Apart from the usual, really enjoying your videos, I can also say that I have found furniture like this to be really intimmidating to built, which is why I have not done so yet. I think that needs to change now. And I really need one of those – either a tapering jig or a sponsor, I have not decided yet.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree with you on both parts, I enjoy the videos and have been intimidated by furniture like this. He made it look so easy and straightforward, I no longer have an excuse, even though the legs still scare me, to put it off and my daughter has just come to me asking for a desk just like this… So, here I go…

  2. I posted this to your facebook page as well!
    Absolutely love your youtube site and website. You have said in a lot of your videos to make a mock up with google sketchup! Is that where you also make your templates for the projects you do? If so do you know of any good tutorial on using sketchup and how then to convert them to the templates?

  3. Great work as usual.

    I was thinking about the pocket screw issue as you were gluing in the spacers. 🙂

    Also, I have a question… Most furniture (antique/vintage at least) that has tapered legs only tapers the insides. Was there a motivating factor in your design to go with tapers on all four sides? Just curious.

  4. And this goes for all commersials on otherwise good woodworking shows, or others whatever.
    I will NEVER buy a gripper or anything that looks like it!
    I understand that you need the ad money, Steve, but no, you may lose one viewer soon, and whatever I only bought a ouple of shirts from you, never donated, so I have no claims of you going on.
    I can’t say it better
    Your show is slipping, it’s not as it used to be. Sorry, but I will stop watching soon

    • I understand about the Gripper and will probably never get one, unless I get a better table saw. I enjoyed watching New Yankee Workshop and I knew that I would never own the multitude of cool tools that Norm used, but I still enjoyed his show, picking up some techniques here and there. I enjoy Steve’s show and congratulate him for his increasing success.

    • ok just because I am posting this anonymous this is coming from a real gripper user that paid hard earned money for a set….

      I understand people skepticism and yes I think the price point is too high but I would still buy again I just wish I could have 4 of them for the price you have to pay for two

      I saw the grippers at woodworking shows for years before I broke down and ordered a pair… watching other people demonstrate them make them look like a snake oil medicine salesman but you really have to feel them in you hands while you are making cuts….
      if you have ever experienced kickback on a table saw you will never want that to happen again and while the grippers to not solve every problem they solve the problem 33% of the time on my table saw and about 75 % of the time on the jointer and router table

      while I am not sold on the tapering jig I am not going to bad mouth it…. ads can be annoying but Steve’s program is free and it allows him to do his thing so we can watch… and I did learn more how it worked watching him demonstrate the new gadget.

      the great thing is you can watch 10 different people do the same thing 10 different ways on you tube and not all of them do it the correct way of best way every time but that is the point to learn and share

      so to anyone bad mouthing the grippers of the ads then as a gripper owner I would please ask you to stop being a griper even if you will never buy a gripper

  5. I have always struggled with getting drawer slides lined up correctly. Saw a video on the ‘Net today installing drawer slides exactly as Steve did on this writing desk, it was an “Aha!” moment for me. Seeing Steve do it this way just confirmed this must be the way to install slides correctly. WWSD (what would Steve do?).

  6. I liked the Gripper demo. Tapering the table legs on all 4 sides was a good way to demo the Gripper’s capabilities. I think you can demo all the cool tools you want to.

  7. I noticed the closed captioning here and, this is just me, but it distracts me from watching the video. Then I watched this on YouTube directly and there were no closed captions (I’m on my iPad). I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just offering a tip in case there are other folks who find the closed captioning distracting. For what it’s worth I think it’s a great idea and helps to expand this hobby/profession that all of us here love and I’m glad that you (Steve) are going above and beyond to make woodworking as accessible as possible to everyone. I just found that I was drawn to read the words and found myself missing what you were doing. That’s all. I know it was distracting because I don’t “need” them so I’m glad that by watching it on YouTube directly I can avoid them. Again, just posting to inform others who may happen to be of a like mind that there’s a way to avoid it.

    Please keep up the great work Steve, you’re inspiring me to rebuild my shop and get back to woodworking after a long struggle with cancer.

  8. Nice project Steve. Keep’em coming. I’ve been following you for several years now and you seem like a really nice, sincere guy. I respect your work with charities. I respect that your drive is to get the message out that wood working can be for everyone, from using free/scrap wood to plywood to exotics. Don’t worry about the haters. There’s always a few.

  9. For those of you who do not like the fact that Steve has sold out and is hawking the wares and services of these companies…. you need to go back and watch some very old videos of his…. The very first video of his I saw was about 4 years ago, and it was for the Kreg Jig…. Every time you see him use his Router Table you see the Kreg table insert…. Bla bla bla…. What this man does is not cheap. He takes a day of his live (probably longer with editing and now with multilingual captioning) and then consider the quality of the videos…. these arent being shot with an iPhone 4….
    The way I see it, it could be worse, he could be putting adverts all over the screen and constantly be talking about the advertisers. He isnt and doesnt. He does take a moment to share what he is listening to and lets you know the current deal with the audio advertiser he has and that is kind of done as a “Oh crap I forgot to plug them…. ” but i dont see it interfering with the content of the video.
    As for the Grrr Ripper… I do not own one, but I will. I will find someone who is selling theirs (Which speaks of itself there that there isnt a large market of used grrr rippers for sale) or find someplace that is going out of business. For as often as I do use my table saw, I cant see paying retail for them…. but being someone who has experienced kick back…. I do not want it to happen again.

  10. I love this desk and I want to make one. Soon… As for the ads and product placement: virtually ANY video on youtube is likely to have ads or product placement in it. These ads and sponsors are what allow Steve to do this full-time and not have to have a “normal” job. I say good for him! If I could do it, I would!

  11. I like to see you using tools like the gripper. It gives me a chance to see how they are used and then I can decide if I have a need for them. I am very new to woodworking and find WWMM very informative. I have made purchases I would not have made had I found your site sooner. Now that I have hopefully no more regrets on future tool purchases. Definitely buying a pair of those grippers!

  12. Did you joint and plane the 1×4 pine boards before glueing? I’m curious because I don’t have a jointer or a planer and I really want to take a crack and building this. Thanks!

  13. Love your videos and how you break down each step, good info and entertaining.

    As far as the comments on closed captions.

    “Closed captions can be distracting until you become hard of hearing. And then it is priceless.”



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