I've never worked with wood before but would like to create my very first desk.

Please let me know if this is a good idea and how to improve upon it!

I plan to get a cheap desk from ikea: http://m.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/spr/29932181/

It states the maximum load capacity is 110lbs (50kg) but I'd like to increase it to like 170-200 lbs (80-90kg) so I can be sure my computer and monitors won't be stressing it. I might occasion put pressure from leaning on the table so I want to be extra sure it won't strain.

I'd love to build it on my own but I don't have any proper tools and getting a sheet of wood that is thick enough is difficult. If anyone could comment on the above idea or have recommendations, please let me know!

  • 2
    Rather than start with something poorly suited to your job, look for a better desk (kit or otherwise) from the ground up. Trying to fix a poor design is inferior to starting with a better design.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 27 '17 at 3:14
  • 2
    "170-200 lbs so I can be sure my computer and monitors won't be stressing it." Weigh them! Unless your computer is some beast from the late 90s and you have a couple of a gigantic CRT screens I'd be very surprised indeed if the entire setup came to more than 50lb, which is half of the (undoubtedly conservative) stated max load.
    – Graphus
    Jun 27 '17 at 5:52
  • Now with regard to this table specifically, there's an existing Question here about the same one or something virtually identical and according to that it's not a stable design, the weak point being the attachment of the legs to the top.
    – Graphus
    Jun 27 '17 at 5:54
  • @Ecnerwal I was thinking of buying my own wood boards and starting from there but I cannot find any quality parts near me.
    – Soraie
    Jun 27 '17 at 10:44
  • If you have an Ikea store available you surely have lumberyards and building supply stores available. As does the internet, if that's how you are getting Ikea. If (as your link suggests) you are in the US, look for a "habitat for humanity re-store" in your area and pick up a used door, for a very solid desktop surface that is generally quite affordable.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 27 '17 at 14:51

First of all, the 110 pounds they say for that desk almost certainly is being very conservative, it will probably actually hold at least twice that. That being said, we can look at the ways it can fail and help mitigate each of those.

Looking at the specs on that desk , the top material is probably the weak point. Putting a lot of weight over the middle of the desk could over stress the top itself causing it to break. The easiest fix there is to put more of the weight directly over the legs. If you want to strengthen the center, you can affix ribbing to the bottom to help spread the weight. I wouldn't really expect that to work well in this case due to the fact that there isn't much material on the top to attach to - it is really just a thin torsion box.

This thin top material will lead to another probably source of failure - lateral movement. If you apply much lateral force in either the X or Y plane, the fasteners holding the legs in will probably fail cause the table to collapse. Since the legs are metal, there probably isn't a 'good' way to give them lateral bracing. You could use some angle brackets and attach the desktop to a wall so that it cannot easily more side to side or front to back. This coupled with keeping the weight above the legs would probably be your best bet.


I can see two ways this table could fail under load. Either the leg joints could fail (resulting in either racking or the legs splaying) or the surface could bow and break.

For the first issue, I would reinforce the joints by adding diagonal braces going from the legs to the top. I'd probably try two braces from each leg, 4-6" away from the joint. This would also help the second issue by reducing the span distance.

For the second issue I would reinforce the tabletop with either slats attached to the underside or traditional aprons.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.