Making A Parsons Table Desk (With Only 2 Tools! Easy DIY)

The raw materials for this build is some stock 1 x 2 and 1 x 8 poplar that I picked up at Home Depot.  When working with limited tools I find it easiest to get wood that’s already dimensioned to the widths that will fit right into the project without needing to be ripped down.

The finished legs for the Parson’s Writing Desk Table were going to be 28 ¼” inches long so I initially cut my narrower pieces of poplar into 30 inch sections using the Makita rear handle circular saw. Each leg is going to need two of these sections so I cut 8 pieces total. The saw made quick work of the job.

The table top was going to end up being about 42 inches long. Once again I measured out a section a bit longer than I needed for my finished dimension, and cut it down.

After I had all my pieces cut I covered my work surface in wax paper to prep for the glue up.

I coated both sides of what will become the interior of each leg with a generous coat of wood glue. I stuck them together and started pulling the two sides together using strips of painter’s tape. I’m looking to pull the tape tight enough to get glue squeeze out along the full seam. The squeeze out indicates full contact between the two edges for a nice bond.

Once the legs were glued and taped I moved on to the desk’s top. The pieces had a pretty nice factory edge so I knew the edges would line up about as well as I could hope for without using a joiner.

I coated one side with wood glue again and then added a few dots of CA Glue.

I sprayed activator on the other edge, and with Brooke’s help pushed the two sides together. The CA glue hardens instantly when it comes into contact with activator and will serve as the clamp while the wood glue hardens more slowly to form the nice and secure bond.

I let the glued parts sit for about two hours before removing the tape and inspecting the seams for gaps.  There were a few so I mixed up some wood putty using sawdust and wood glue to take care of them. I pulled some sawdust out of my sander. The color isn’t going to matter because the finished desk will be painted over, so a color variance won’t be visible.

 I added glue, a little bit at a time, until the consistency was how I wanted it; it should hold its shape when put in place, but still be soft and moldable. I pressed this into the gaps and cracks as needed and scraped off the excess.  Then I wiped things down with a damp cloth to minimize sanding later.

The next day I cut all of the pieces to the final dimensions using the Makita rear handle circular saw again.  As a reminder, the legs were cut to 28.25 inches and the top was cut to 42 inches. To get these final dimensions nice and precise I first square off one side leaving a bit of exces so I can then measure off of the first edge to the opposite edge. The Makita circular saw handled these cuts well; I got nice square corners just free-handing it.

While I had my circular saw out I cut a few more pieces of the thinner poplar that will become an apron for the desktop. This gave me the chance to play with the built in miter gauge on the saw.  The Makita had a nice feature on the gauge which made it as easy as flipping a switch to get a fairly perfect 45 degree miter.

The circular saw made quick work of this and all four edges of the apron fit nicely into place around the desktop.

It was now time to go in with the Makita sub compact impact driver to put the pieces together.

Since I wasn’t using clamps on this build I used screws to get the apron in place. I marked on each part of the apron where exactly I wanted to make my holes.

I propped up the edge I was working on with some scrap to make it easier to drill into the side. First, I used a #8 countersink bit to make a hole through both pieces. This leaves a nice inset pocket for the head of each screw to sit in.

I added a thin strip of wood glue to each edge for extra hold, and then went ahead and screwed everything into place using 2 inch screws. It came together really nicely.

To fill in any gaps on the surface of the desk I applied a thin bead of wood glue to all the seams and then worked some more sawdust into that with my hand to have the same wood-putty effect as before.

After this had the chance to dry overnight I used my Makita random orbital sander to get the surface of the desk nice and smooth. Since the finished piece was going to be painted I only sanded it up to a 80 grit, and then it was time to install the legs.

I used wood glue and CA glue again to attach the legs. Since the top edge wasn’t necessarily perfectly square I instead used the apron as the pressure point to get the legs nice and level. This method worked out just how I had hoped it would, and then I wiped down my excess glue.

After the glue dried overnight I carefully flipped it over and did a final sand with an 80 grit sandpaper before using a spray filler primer to prepare the piece for painting. One of the things that impressed me about the new Makita tools was that we were able to complete the whole project with just one battery set, including the sanding.

This filler primer is sand-able and also fills in even the tiniest bumps and gaps to completely camouflage all of the wood putty spots. Even the spots where the screw heads are hidden under putty should be virtually invisible and provide a nice even canvas for the final painting.

After priming it my part was done and it was ready to go to its final home.

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