Here is the How-To I promised for the charming and inexpensive desk. If you would also like to do the shelves, go Here to view my past How-To on the craft shelves (the same process and materials were used).
Note: This plan will make a table that is 4' long 30" high and 20" wide. If you need a different size you will need to alter your materials accordingly.
First: Make a plan! Decide where you want your table to go and how large you want it to be. When doing larger projects I always draw up a little hand sketch with notes and measurements to make sure what I'm thinking in my head will actually work. (see sketch here)
Next: Collect materials. We purchased all of our materials at Lowes but most home improvement stores will have what you need.
Materials Needed for Desk
1 - 4"x4" board 10' long ,for table legs
1 - 20" x 48" x 1" board, for table top (we used pine)
2 - 1"x4" boards 6' long, for desk face panels
Screws: 3/4" and 1-1/2"
12 metal 2"x3" angle brackets, to attach legs and table top (see photos below for close up)
Interior latex paint (color and finish is up to you)
Wood stain of your choice
Clear Coat finishing spray or paint, we used a clear enamel (see photo below for close up)
Materials Needed for Shelf
1 - 12"x1" board 8' long (I cut mine in half to make 2 4ft long shelves, it saves a little $ to cut your own)
6 - 10"x7"metal brackets
Electric screw driver
Electric sander with 80, 150, and 220 sandpaper
Here is the step by step process...
Step 1: Cut all wood pieces to the correct sizes
-Cut the 4"x4"x10' board into four 29 1/4" high pieces (refer to picture above)
-Cut one of the 1"x4"x6' board so you have one 38-3/4" piece and two 11" pieces
-With second 1"x4"x6' cut a 38-3/4" piece and save the rest for corner bracing
Step 2: Sand rough ends of cut 4"x4" pieces to ensure that they are level and flat
Step 3: Attach metal angle brackets at the top of each 4"x4" leg with the 3/4" screws. Use a scrap piece of 1x4 to determine how far in the bracket will go. Once each 4"x4" has 2 brackets attached (as shown above) assemble up side down, connecting the 1"x4" pieces to the brackets. (Note: to increase the stability and strength of the legs you can use stronger bracket.)
Step 4: Once all 1"x4" pieces are connected, carefully turn table frame right side up. Make sure that the table frame is square and the legs are plumb.
Step 5: Once everything is plumb and square cut 7 1/2" long (short to short) pieces out of the remaining 1"x4" board for corner bracing. Use 1 1/2" screws to attach this brace to each side and one in the middle to the leg. This will keep the table square and help stiffen the legs.
Step 6: Run your sander over all sharp edges of the wood (mainly on the bottom of the 1"x4" pieces). It does not have to be perfect since you will be painting it.
Step 7: Take a break and play with your little ones that are craving some attention.
Step 8: Wipe the wood framing pieces down with a dry or slightly damp rag so it is free from all dirt and dust. Now you can apply your paint finish. I used the paint pictured above, its just an interior latex wall paint. If you want the exact color you can find it at Wal-mart, the brand is Color Place and the color is Oasis. No special techniques were used here, I simply applied 1 coat to cover and then let it dry completely.
Step 9: When your paint is completely dry you can use a course grain sandpaper (I think we used an 80) to sand down and distress your wood. This part is fun because the more imperfect the better!
Step 10: Sand the 20" x 48" x 1" table top board (Mainly the ends and corners). Start with a 80 sandpaper and progressively work up to 220. After sanding make sure to wipe down with a dry or slightly damp clothe to remove dust.
Step 11: Apply an even coat of stain to your 48"x20"x1" table top. Stain should be applied with a dry rag (cut up old t-shirts work well too!) Dip your rag in the stain and apply to board in horizontal movements going with the wood grain. You can apply multiple coats if you like a darker look. We used 1 coat of dark walnut stain by Minwax. Let dry overnight and then spray evenly with clear enamel or some other clear coating. Wait 1 hour.
Step 10: Now you are ready to attach the table top to the table frame/legs. Apply wood glue along the top of the table frame, trying to keep it on the inner portion. Place the tabletop on the frame and position so that there is an even 1" overhang on each side. Use clamps or something heavy to hold the tabletop down while the glue dries. Read glue instructions for drying times. Also use 4 of the same 2"x3" metal angle brackets to attach the top to the frame from underneath.
Step 11: ENJOY YOUR NEW TABLE!
If you have any other questions please leave a comment and I will do what I can to help.