DIY salvaged wood desktop

Salvaged Wood Desktop

Have you ever slowed down while driving and made the front wheels of your car stop exactly on the top of a speed bump?

Like, just for kicks, you let your wheels perch there upon a tiny mountain in the middle of the road or parking lot, just to feel the pull forward and roll down off said speed bump?…

This is where I tell you that I hesitated with this blog post.

It’s more like I teetered on the brink of hesitation, while knowing full well I had to do it.  Just like the inevidible rolling over the speed bump and continuing on with your drive, this salvaged wood desktop post was bound to happen.  I just kind of hesitated on that speed bump.  (But not just “for kicks”, there is a deeper reason…)

It’s not bad though, I’m actually very pleased with the results.  Why the hesitation then?  I have no idea.  I just work here.

And so, it begins.

When I started revamping my kitchen nook area, I already had an idea of what I wanted for the desktop.

This pile of wood below is of the nicer variety, and it was perfect for for the look I wanted.

scrap wood salvaged desktop

I picked out strips of the same thickness, and played around with their placement.

(These scraps are salvaged from a local furniture shop’s throw-away pile.  If you’re looking for a resource, it’s a good idea to talk to a shop’s owner/manager about it.)

salvaged wood scraps desk

After I removed the existing desktop, (you can see it under the wood pieces ^ in the previous photo) I moved the operation out to the garage that doesn’t house cars anymore.

building a desktop wood desk

The two photos above reveal that I used the old desktop as a guide for the overall size.

I decided to go ahead and mount the wood strips, right on top of the old desktop because hey- how else was I going to do it?  (Besides, that’s a whole other level of craftsmanship that I am hoping to be at some day.  But right now, we roll like this.)

Now, for the life of me, I can’t find a single picture of the wood being glued with Gorilla Glue and clamped with heavy objects.  (So sorry! I can reenact that part if you’d like, let me know.)

Over on the left side of the pic below, you can see a free weight sitting on the step stool.  I used heavy objects of that nature to “clamp” the wood strips on the desktop, and I did it in shifts… because who has that many free weights in their home?

Those white arrows below are pointing to to the cross section (end grain) slices of wood that I used to hide the lip of the desk (more on that later).

Along the front edge, you can see that I turned the pieces to hide the front lip of the old desk.

And I used real C clamps for that part!  (See white arrow on the right hand side below.)

unfinished wood desktop

Oh look, it’s later, so here’s a flash-forward photo of what I was just barely talking about.

wood desktop

The above photo is shot from an underneath angle, as it states in the bold blue text on the photo ^^ up there.

Okay, going back out to where we were, out in the garage.

After glue was dry, I took the belt sander to it.

In an “artistic” moment, I did some sanding against the grain.  I wanted a scuffed appearance under the clear coat I was going to do.  I know, I know, but I stand by this decision.

belt sander

See those gaps between the wood pieces up there?… I meant to do that.  No, in all seriousness, I did.

I could have run the wood strips through my table saw to get perfect edges, but when I decided not to spend weeks researching joinery techniques to properly join the wood strips side-to-side, I chose to make it intentionally “gappy”.  Does that make sense?..

In other words, (because I am confused about what I just typed), It wasn’t going to be perfect, so I made it obviously imperfect.

Those gaps wouldn’t be a problem, because I’ve used Gorilla Glue Epoxy to fill gaps before.  Like, on this serving tray HERE.

Check that out if you’d like to see epoxy in action on a situation like this.

(I’m sorry, this is so long already, and I gave a very good epoxy tutorial when I build that tray.. and I don’t even know if you’re still reading…)

Oh but I do have this photo:

epoxy to fill gaps using

…and this one:

gorilla glue epoxy

(In case you read the text on that last photo and you’re curious, any card stock would have worked, because card stock has a little bit of “give” in it.)

The next day the epoxy had cured enough for me to sand over it a little.

I have heard that epoxy isn’t sandable, but I sanded it without any issues, so…. uh, yeah.


Next I applied the first of 4 coats of Minwax polyurethane (semi-gloss).

For what it’s worth, I wish I would’ve used a not-so-glossy sheen, because you know, fingerprints.

minwax polyurethane clear coat

(I did three more coats, waiting a day between each application.)

Three days later…..

Here we are at the end.

After I mounted the new desktop in it’s place, I slowly rubbed my hands over it for a chunk of time, like my friend Lisa would do.

And then I took some pictures.

salvaged wood desk top desktop upcycle kitchen nook

salvaged wood desktop


edge natural wood


wood desk

That’s all folks!


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