This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old student desk. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This piece was initially built for a middle school’s theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2"x 2" lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

Student Desk- How it Came About

Being a drama mama and having some woodworking knowledge means I get to be involved in designing and building pieces that are fun and unique. I have built wooden ladders, benches, and a cool pipe shelf, among other items not on this blog.

All to help the theatre arts. I love doing it!

My daughter, now a theater teacher and director herself, needed 16 secretary desks for the set of Thoroughly Modern Millie’s middle school musical.

Sixteen!!. Needless to say, parent volunteers came in very handy. Pun intended!

This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2"x 2" lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

Because of high shipping costs, buying or renting was not an option, so we decided to build. We put our heads together and among the three of us (my son-in-law is also a woodworker and single handedly built most of these!) came up with a design that is both, one piece and lightweight.

We debated adding casters on the front end, but ultimately opted not to. After all, kids were going to be hopping on and off and dancing on top of these desks.

In the end, they worked out great. Three other schools have now used these student desks on their theatre set, and many teenage kids have successfully been able to dance on them and carry them on and off stage with ease.

This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2"x 2" lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

With the help of parent volunteers, we built 16 of these! My son-in-law got pretty good at figuring out the most effective way to put them together. Whether you end up building one, or a 100, follow the process step by step and your experience should go without a glitch (fingers crossed!).

DIY Old Fashioned Student Desk Plans

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This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2"x 2" lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

TIP: Read the entire plan before starting and make sure you follow all safety precautions when using power tools. Sign up for the Sawdust Sisters Newsletter and get free access to my resource library, which includes a pdf printable copy of these plans.



DIY Old Fashioned Student Desk Tutorial

Materials Needed to Build One Student Desk

Tools

Hardware

Lumber

¾” Plywood-

  • 12”x 25” for the desk top
  • (1) 12”x14” for the seat top

2×2 lumber & cuts– Qty in parenthesis

  • (6) 28”
  • (5) 19”
  • (4) 15”
  • (4) 7”
  • (2) 9”

Once you have made all your cuts, follow the steps below to put the desk together. This design uses a combination of pocket hole joinery and traditional wood screws. The Kreg Jig is my favorite and most user-friendly tool I know of to accomplish this, especially for beginners! My favorite wood screws are these ones!(no pilot holes needed). They use a star head bit that usually comes in the box. Trust me, your experience will be much better if you use these screws! You can find the screws and the star bit at any hardware store.

Step 1: Build the Bottom of the Frame

Using pocket hole joinery, attach the first piece as shown. Use wood glue at the seams. The 2 short pieces should be 7” apart. The pocket holes will end up facing the floor.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 2: Attach the Seat Legs

Secure the 4 legs (15” pieces) using 2 1/2” wood screws from the bottom. Placement of the legs should be centered, about 5” from the outside of the frame. Make sure the seat fits comfortably on top before you screw in the legs. You may use pocket hole joinery if you’d like, but be aware that the pocket holes will be visible if you do.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 3: Add Remaining Seat Pieces

Grab (2) 7” pieces and (2) 9” pieces using a combination of pocket holes and wood screws  as shown, bringing all 4 legs together securely. Don’t forget to use glue at the seams.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 4: Attach the Seat

Turn the piece upside down and screw in the seat using 2- 1/2″ wood screws from the bottom.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 5: Attach the Desk Legs

Now you are ready to attach the desk legs (4- 28” pieces)in the same manner you built the seat. The legs are 7” apart front to back.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 6: Add remaining Desk Pieces

Attach (2) 19” and (2) 7” pieces that go right under the desk top, using pocket hole joinery on the longer pieces and wood screws on the shorter pieces as shown. Don’t forget the glue. See the next step for the crossbar.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 7: Add Crossbar

Now you’re ready to attach the crossbar. This is a 19” piece. Place it 6” away from the top 2×2. You can use pocket holes or wood screws.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Step 8: Add the Desk Top

Turn the piece upside down and attach the desktop using 2- 1/2” wood screws from the bottom.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Now it’s a matter of painting to your liking! I hope this helps and that you are able to build this without a glitch.

If you like beginner-friendly building tutorials, scrap wood projects, and budget-friendly home improvement tips, make sure you sign up for my newsletter! You will receive access to my free resource library and be notified of new posts on occasion. As of now, I only send emails once per month, so don’t worry about me crowding your Inbox 🙂

What do you think?

Leave any questions you may have under comments!

Here is one last photo. My cute daughter is posing. This gives you an idea of the size of the piece. She is 5′ 5″ and 110 lbs.

This old fashioned student desk gives a modern twist to the old vintage student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2″x 2″ lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for the theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them!

Pin this for other to see and build!

This old fashioned student desk  gives a modern twist to the old student desk design. Its compact, one-piece design adds functionality and style to any space. Constructed out of 2"x 2" lumber and plywood, it is sturdy, yet light weight. Perfect for small spaces! This desk was initially built for a middle school's theatre set of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We built 16 of them! 

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Janice| Sawdust Sisters

Novice woodworker and serial Popcorn eater, Janice Thomas writes detailed tutorials that motivate others to "dare to try". Originally from Puerto Rico, Janice is fluent in Spanish and dreams of owning a beach house on the island someday! Janice currently lives in Utah with her husband and children, where she works as a university professor.

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