As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Sit-Stand Desk with Wings


The focus of this article is on the understructure of this desk, not on the actual top, so I'm skipping over that part of the build. It is a 30x60 lamination of solid walnut boards, 3/4" thick.

At my day job, we have these motorized sit-stand desks and I wanted to build one for my home office. There are many companies that sell these desks and most will also sell you a bare frame, so you can provide your own top. So I bought a desk frame off of Amazon (Links Below).

My current desk is a big double-pedestal desk. One notable feature is that it has these pull-out wings on either side of the sitting area. (and I admit I don't know if "wings" is the proper term for these pull-out sliding boards.)

I really like them, as they add temporary working area for spreading out papers or I even sometimes just lean on one a bit. So I want to incorporate these into my new desk.

This is the desk frame that I bought. It is adaptable to many desk top sizes -- as in it can be made wider or narrower. Note the shape of the top structure. This is where the desk frame needs to contact the desk top structure to support it. However, the pull-out slides I want to incorporate are almost the full depth of the desk. That is to say, the desk is 30-inches deep, and the pull-out wings will be about 28-inches long, reaching almost all the way accross. But we need to work around this frame.

I designed the desk in Sketchup (3D Drawing/sketching program). I needed to work out the dimensions and makeup of the understructure that would both hold the pull-out wings, and also provide a place to attach the desk frame to the desktop.

I'm not sure if this photo adequately captures the amazing grain of these pieces. Check the finished photos at the bottom if you want to sneak a peek.

I built the desk top first, but I kept what I thought was the most interesting boards for the two wings. My desk will hold a computer, monitors, keyboard, mouse, pens, paper... it'll get covered in stuff. In constrast, these wings are always empty when they are slid away, so I will see them much more. So I picked the best looking grain for these two parts.

The wings are cut to 12-inches wide by 28-inches long.

I had to use some tinted epoxy to fill voids in the wing boards, and while that was drying, I applied a coat of finish to the BOTTOM of the desk. I used Danish oil on this project.

Once the understructure is attached, it will be almost impossible to apply finish tot he bottom of the desk so I thought it was smart to apply at least one coat now.

(And yes it feels very strange applying finish so early in the build process.)

Here is another look at the 3D sketch. I need to fabricate the frame of the "garages" that provide a place for the wings to slide home. By the way, this is an upside-down view of the desktop.

And another look at the desk frame. This support is 1-1/2 inches wide, and is where the desk frame bolts to the underside of the desk at one end. So I also made the sides of the wing "garage" (next photos) to be 1-1/2" wide. You don't really need long screws to hold the top in place, but I just wanted solid wood to support the desk frame.

The wing is 12-inches wide, so I made the wing garage to be 12-1/8 inch wide. This gives a sixteenth of an inch clearance on either side. I also made the garage sides to be a bit thicker than the wing, again to give clearance for sliding in and out.

Fitting the plywood bottom to the wing garage.

And now gluing and nailing the plywood to the sides.

I don't have enough Walnut to build the entire understructure out of Walnut, and I don't have Walnut plywood at all. But still, I don't want to see maple or plywood when I look under the desk. Being a motorized desk, the understructure will be a bit more visible when the desk is raised to a standing position. Therefore I resawed and then planed some of my Walnut into 1/4-inch panels and glued it onto and around the Wing garage understructure.

I cut out a piece for the front of the garage on the bandsaw and glued it into place. I later used a flush trimming bit in the router (not shown) to trim it to final flush size.

I drilled five pilol holes along the edges of the wing garage for fastening it to the bottom of the desk top. I then widened the two end holes to allow for a bit of wood movement. This understructure is attached across the grain of the desk top so I need to allow for some movement.

Screwing one of the wing garages to the bottom of the desk top. No glue is used, just some screws.

I then built a long "box" to fit inbetween the two wing garages. I used some of the leftover offcuts from trimming the desktop to length in building this, as they were too short for any other use and would have ended up in the scrap box otherwise.

I then applied three coats of Danish oil to the desk project and allowed it to cure for a few days. I then brought in the desk frame and fitted it to the bottom of the desk structure.

This photo should at last, make it fully clear how the under-structure that I built will support the desk and attach to the desk frame.

The top is attached with wood screws and washers.

I used a round nose bit in the router to carve a finger pull recess in the front bottom edge of the two wings. This gives a place for your fingers to grip the board when you pull it out.

Here then are several photos of the finished piece. I think it turned out beautiful, but I may be a bit biased. In particular, I'm very happy that I kept those boards with the interesting grain to use as the wings.

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

I bought my desk frame from a Canadian Company, but there are many other options on for similar desks: Dual Motor Sit Stand Desk Frames However, if you ARE in Canada, here is a non-affiliate link for the one I bought.

Watco Danish Oil
Irwin Quick Grip XP600 Clamps
Bessey small 4" clamps
Bessey VarioClippix, Adjustable Spring Clamps
Painter's Pyramids
Dowelmax Company
NOTE: at the time of publishing (May 2023) Dowelmax is not currently available on amazon. It has been in the past, so I am keeping the following links, but right now only the link above to "" is known to work.
Dowelmax Dowel Joinery Kit
Dowelmax Drill Guides for 1/4" Dowels
Dowelmax Dowels

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases you make using my affiliate links.


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See Also:

Writing Desk in a Weekend

Walking Desk