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Industrial desk and shelves for home office

Having an Impact
Having an Impact

A custom desk and shelves were built using an Acacia panel and galvanised pipe to turn a formal lounge into a stylish home office.



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The project


My partner and I were lucky enough to move into a beautifully renovated 1914 Spanish mission house and have set about turning it into a home. A few window locks, a side gate to keep the dog in, getting all the original internal doors swinging smoothly and a few new bathroom fixtures. With no kids yet, we have a few spare rooms, so I decided to turn what was a formal lounge into a home office.


After some inspiration from a local trendy cafe, it was straight onto Pinterest and Google and then down to Bunnings with some measurements and plans in hand to pick up a few bits and pieces.



Then off to pick up our Gumtree purchase, and we were ready to begin.


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The first step was to pull apart the filling cabinet, sand back the flaking paint and rust, and then tape the parts we didn't want to paint, ready for primer.


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The galvanised pipe comes with an oily coating and barcode stickers, which had to be soaked and scrubbed off with hot soapy water and turpentine. Then it was time for a basic assembly for a test fit.


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Next step was to prime and paint all the pipe and fittings – 115 pieces all up! After the last coat of primer, it was time for 2–3 coats of matte black spray enamel.


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Once all the coats of spray enamel had dried, it was onto final assembly. The filing cabinet was the easiest job to finish with just a soak and wipe down of the polished handles and fittings in vinegar solution. 


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The desk legs and feet were adjusted for level, and I attached the top using a few mini coach screws from underneath the table top.


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The bookshelf was the last to be assembled. The uprights were grouped in fours of the same height to aid in levelling the unit, and then 96 holes were drilled and filled with 96 specially ordered matte black nuts and bolts.


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The Acacia panel I used for the shelves is designed as a kitchen benchtop, so it's finished on all six sides and ready to use as is. To ensure I only had nice finished edges showing, I had the panel cut at my local Bunnings store strategically as follows:

  • Once lengthways down the middle giving two 220cm x 30cm strips
  • Then each of those were cut equally in three, to give six shelves at around 72cm long by 30cm deep

That way each shelf had at least one finished edge, but four of the six had two unfinished edges (all the corner pieces from the original panel), which is perfect for a bookshelf that goes in a corner where only two of the four edges are visible.


I put the two unfinished edge pieces right down the bottom at ankle height and the other right at the top well above head height, and I don't really see it at all. Of course you could always use stain to tidy up any cut edges, but I didn't bother.


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I am yet to find a cable management solution that is perfect. On the one hand I need it to house five bulky transformers (printer, phone, laptop, modem and router), a few extra long USB cables, and yet have the ability to easily unplug the laptop and phone charger cables when I work out of the home office or travel. I might look into using an opened up section of PVC pipe, or even just using washi tape to brighten up and make a feature of the cables that I just can't tuck away. The other option would be to screw the powerboard into the underside of the table and use clips and cable ties to keep it all tucked under the desk top.


The final touch was to bring in an electrician who installed downlights.


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The whole project is designed to be portable/free-standing, so it can be moved into another room quite easily.


The only extravagant expense was custom black nuts and bolts for the bookshelf which came to $42.


Cost breakdown:
Pipe, fittings, timber panel, and screws for the desk: $336
Pipe fittings, timber panel, nuts & bolts for the bookshelf: $430
Paint and primer: $22


The total was $788


How to build a desk


Create your own dedicated workspace with Experienced Workshop member Rob's step-by-step guide to building your own desk.




More inspiration for your home


Find ideas for your next build in our Top 10 most popular indoor furniture projects.


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