Mechanical Projects

Sewing Desk Design / Build

I designed and built a sewing desk for my wife using components found at the local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.  The desk design started by finding the base (made out of shelving units), drawing up the desk in SketchUp and purchasing the rest of the components (which can be found in the BOM below).

The base of desk was built out of three shelving units in the photo below from Lowe’s.  Which at the time were 25% off the price listed here.  Once we decided that we were going to use these and 3/4″ MDF for the surface all that was left to do was to design the structure in sketch-up, come up with the BOM, and build the desk.20170217_193827

To make the desk have more structure I designed in a 2×4 frame that went under the MDF top.  This frame helps to not only give more height to the work surface (kind of like how counter tops are made), it also stiffens up the work surface, and gives somewhere for the screws to attach to from the inside of the shelving units without penetrating the top.

The model can be found on my github (link at end of page) account along with the bill of material as an excel file if anyone wants to modify it.  I took a screen capture of the model below, there is much more detail for the sewing machine shelf and the 2×4 frame not really shown here:


Jill and I worked on the design features and spent about a day making sure that this design met all of her requirements.  One of her biggest requirements was that the desk height be ~36″ off the ground so that it was easy to use a standard office chair with it.  The other was the dropped shelf for the sewing machine and the location of it.  The shelf was designed to fit her sewing machine with a small gap around it for running power and control wire but leaving the top of the sewing machine deck flush with the work surface.

After the design was completed I finished up the BOM (shown below) so that we could make one trip to Lowe’s and have the top cut there rather than bringing it back.

Line Number Item Qty Notes Price Ext Cost
1 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft 1
2 1-in x 4-in x 8-ft 1
3 2-in x 4-in x 8-ft 4
4 74″ x 46″ 3/4 MDF 1 Cut to Size
5 2″ Construction Screws 100
6 Liquid Nails 2
7 ClosetMaid 670675 3 63.98 191.94

After everything was purchased and the MDF top was cut to size at Lowe’s (a service that they provide for free), construction started.  The total build time was roughly 2 hours, Jill finished up the paint and final finish after it was installed in the basement.

Below are a couple photos of the build process:

The goals of the entire design were the following:

1.) To have a large surface area for work (~36″ from the floor)

2.) To have a recessed sewing machine shelf built in the top work surface

3.) To have LOTS of storage space (hence the shelves as the base)

4.) To not break the bank for construction costs

Lessons learned:

  1. The edge between the 2×4 base and the MDF top left a gap because of the rolled edge of the 2×4.
    1.  If building again we would have used some sort of edging around the sides to hide this gap, we ended up using a ton of wood filler and then sanding it down to make it flat.
  2. The shelf for the sewing machine should have been a little tighter in terms of gap around the machine.


All of the files used to design and create this desk can be found here: