Recently, I decided that our beautiful writing desk we had purchased at a garage sale 4 years ago was no longer useful for my workspace needs. I loved the beauty of the desk but needed more surface space.
So, after purchasing for $150 4 years ago, we sold it for $275 on Craigslist…. what???!!!! I know, one of my favorite things is to find great deals then flip for more money later. My husband is especially good at that when it comes to cars. In any case, we earned the money to be able to make the desks we want/need.
After much research, I decided I love the look of a pipe leg & wood top desk. Though drawers are great, the surface area was more important to me for this project. I essentially wanted 2 desks to make an l-shape in the corner of our office/guest room/playroom. (This was previously an entertaining room with a built-in bar — a “selling feature” according to the previous owner. I talk about that transformation on another post.) Evan spent some time drawing out the measurements of the space, the length of the table tops, and the length of the pipes we would need to connect everything. This was his original sketch:
Home Improvement Stores
We then had our sister-in-law stay with our kids for the afternoon so we could really focus on what we needed at the stores. And let me tell you, this was a challenge for our marriage! We started with high hopes at Lowe’s, where we found some of the piping we needed. Thinking we should compare prices, we hopped over to Home Depot, thinking they may have more of what we needed. We found a couple of pipes were cheaper, some were the same, and some we more expensive. They also had a few pieces that were NOT at Lowe’s so we purchased them there. Then, we headed back to Lowe’s for the rest of the piping. After MUCH debate, we settled on a pre-glued piece of common board that could be used for a table top. It came wrapped in plastic and gets the job done. It’s about 3/4″ thick, and obviously not fancy but again, perfect for it’s use. Each 6 x 2 (we made 2 tables) cost about $35. All of this took us about 3 hours… so here you go. You get to skip that ridiculous step & just go buy the list below. You’re welcome. Your marriage is welcome.
The challenge in all of this was the piping & how each piece would connect. Even after purchasing, we changed the design a little as we were putting together. We decided we wanted 3/4″ thick piping so it would look thick enough for the size of the top. You could go with 1/2″ pipes but 3/4″ was perfect for a 6′ desk.
Each desk needs:
- 1 – Table Top 72″x 24″x 3/4″
- 1 – 5 ft Black Iron Nipple Pipe
- 8 – 8″ Black Iron Nipple Pipes
- 4 – 18″ Black Steel Nipple Pipes
- 4 – Floor Flanges
- 6 – Black Iron Threaded Tees
- 4 – Black Iron Couplings (These come with a pointed ridge across the middle. Evan sanded these down with a belt sander, best with heavy grit sandpaper. Ideally, a grinding wheel or file would be best. But you will need to file them down to make them sit evenly as this is the “foot” of the leg.)
- 16 – 1″ screws
- 1 – can black spray paint
- Terry cloth rags
- Paint thinner
My brother-in-law gave us an LED runway light to use in the garage. If you drive down the street, it looks like we are landing planes or have an actual sun in our garage. But it helps when we are doing nighttime projects!!
**Important: Once you have all of your materials, you will need a covered, ventilated area for assembly. Though the initial process of putting the legs together doesn’t take very long, the painting, drying, and repainting can take 1-3 days. It will go much more smoothly if you have 2 people working together, especially when attaching the 2 sides together & tightening/aligning each side. Finally, you will want to wear gloves as the pipes are very greasy.
- First, attach an 8″ pole to a malleable cap. To the other end of the pole, attach a threaded tee. To the top of the tee, attach an 18″ pole. Finally, attach a floor flange to the end of the 18″ pole. You now have one table leg!
- Next, to the open end of the Tee, attach another 8″ pole. Attach another Tee to the end of that pole, then another 8″ pole directly on the other side of the Tee. You should now have a straight line to connect to a back leg.
- For the back leg, follow step 1. You will have an open end of a Tee. Connect to the open end of the connector to the front leg. You should now have a whole side finished!
- Repeat steps 1 – 3 for the other side of your desk.
- Take the 5′ pole and screw into the open end of a middle Tee. Do the same on the other side or attach it to the final Tee then attach that Tee to the other poles. Again, much easier with 2 people.
- Now that your base is set, begin to wipe down the pipes with paint thinner. One thing that helps is to have VERY hot water mixed with TSP & to dip your rags in the water. Then, pour paint thinner on the rags and scrub down all parts of your piping. You will see that you have gotten to the base metal when you see the gray iron color. (Evan tried polishing the metal with his buffer to see if we wanted a shiny metal finish. But it was taking WAY too long & I preferred the black anyway.)
- At this point, measure the height of each side to make sure they are even. You can tighten or loosen poles accordingly. We also set the table on top just to get an idea of how it would look.
- Now, begin to spray paint your iron. **Since my husband is a car detailer he would say to absolutely make sure your car is nowhere near the spray paint. The particles that float through the air will destroy your car’s paint. This goes for anything else of value that may be in your workspace! But do make sure the area is well ventilated. After a light coating, allow to dry.
- Repeat, allowing to dry between steps, until all the pipes are evenly coated.
- While the paint is drying, you can begin to work on your tabletop. Even though your table legs are drying, it is totally fine to set the wood on top of the legs. For ours, we could have easily started staining, but I sanded it first to smooth out the edges, and give them a little more of a rounded edge. So do a light sanding if you want– it’s probably best.
- Once ready, apply your stain. We used Minwax in Chestnut & I love the richness of this color. (We used it on our mailbox post also!) You can use a brush, or I have even used a paper towel! Whatever works but make sure it is even. Allow to dry, and do another coat if necessary.
- Once dry on one side, apply the stain to the other side. From here, you can determine which side has the better & more interesting grain & use that as the top.
- Once both sides are well covered & dry, apply your polyurethane. We used a clear triple gloss fast-drying Minwax. We discovered the trick is to apply a thick first coat. However, make sure you do not leave any bubbles as they will dry as bubbles. Also, it worked best in a warmer temperature & dried faster. We applied 2 coats, but a 3rd would have been even better.
- Once completely dry, you are ready to attach your top to your base! You could probably lay the top on the floor then turn the legs upside down to screw in your screws. But, we did it the fun way & I sat on each table while Evan drilled in the screws. 🙂 Be sure you have aligned the top so it is even all the way around.
- Your table should be complete! The final step would be to put sticky foam pads on the base of each leg to protect your floor if necessary.
After about a month of using these tables, I am SO happy! I have tons of room to spread out. Also, because the tops were not very fancy, I don’t feel nervous about scuffing them up. Also, they can be multi-functional as serving tables at dinner parties or tables for kids to eat at.
Our total price was $163.25 per table. The black malleable iron pieces really were more costly than we anticipated. One tip is to check out zoro.com, though I have not researched their prices enough to see how comparable they are to our normal home improvement stores.
So, there you go! You can make one of these tables for yourself. If you like this look but these 15 steps seem like way too much work for you, contact me for pricing on making one for you!!
Enjoy your new table!!