Custom Desk Maker

Why design a custom desk?

Why can’t a desk be a custom desk? The place where you spend so much of your day should be an inspiring object in and of itself that you have control over.

paul-in-spotty-shirtWelcome to the website. I’m Paul Burke, the Designer at We are your custom desk makers!

I want to share with you some of the thoughts I had that led me to design and make my first custom desk and what you should consider when deciding on your own that we can make for you.

You will have you own reasons of course but I wanted a custom desk because I was tired of making do with desks that were some combination of…

  • Too small for my stuff
  • Too big for my room
  • Badly made and wobbly
  • Too ugly
  • Said nothing about me
  • Too expensive

There must be a better way…

Make Custom Desks: The Reasons

We can spend hours at desks that cause us anything from minor irritation at the colour, to all out rage when a binder falls off the edge. I  worked from home for many years on an inherited desk for the spare room. It was great. Kind of. Really wide and I could fit two computers and four monitors on it no problem. But I could hardly squeeze passed my chair to get to the far side of the room. The desk was too deep. So I made my own ‘workbench’ very roughly from some cheap plywood and Ikea desk legs. Just what I needed – wide and narrow. It was fine for a while but it was 100% function, 0% beauty and I got tired of looking it. Why can’t a desk, the place where you spend so much of your day be an inspiring object in and of itself?

Eventually I found a way to address all the problems in the list above, and not only for myself but for just about anyone who wants a custom desk. The MYO system is so simple and flexible that this desk is truly multipurpose. Designed in Ply now has a workshop, helpline and processes in place that strike each problem off that list for you. let’s take them one at a time:

I need a custom desk becasue my desk is too small for my stuff.

Traditionally suppliers tell you the size of ‘their’ desk is and you have to make it fit. We’ve turned that around. The MYO is your desk. Tell us what size you need, make it big enough for all your stuff, but don’t make it…

Too Big for your room.

See above.  No more squeezing by – you can match our custom desks to the depth of the alcove, the width of the window, the span of the wall that lets you fit the filing cabinet in perfectly next to the door, the exact gap in the hallway… you get the idea.

Badly made & wobbly.

We make our custom desks from furniture grade plywood. Not to be confused in any way with what you get at a local DIY store. The Birch through and through ply is a solid 18mm thick, has 13 layers, is FSC sourced and is stored correctly to prevent warping. The ply is then cut on our table saws to the millimetre using your measurements and our formula to ensure all the joints of your custom desk are square and strong.

Too Ugly? Dealt with that too.


Says Nothing about Me

Of course I think it’s beautiful, I designed it, but the point is YOU can personalise it further. Not just the dimensions, but the MYO is available in a range of finishes from us or BLANK so you can apply yourself to it. In fact, there will be a competition along these lines very soon!

Too Expensive

We have worked hard with suppliers, costings and projections to bring you a superbly designed and made product and we have done it at a very competitive price. We invite you to waste your time looking around your local department store or furniture warehouse to see if you can meet all the requirements on the list near the top of the page for the prices and quality we offer.


Made to Measure Custom Desk

The point is that what any one person requires for a desk may be different for another. By designing our desks as a flexible item and building a process around it that allows for custom desks to be made quickly (yet carefully) we can meet YOUR requirements.

We can even supply coloured tops using EGGER laminates (or your preferred supplier).

If you want to style decorate or finish your MYO yourself, that’s great, we love that. If not we can customise your desk further, pretty much any way you like – height, materials, multiple orders, branded desks, L-shapes, T-shapes…. contact us if you have some ideas. I’ll be reading your email or taking your call at my own custom desk.

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Plywood Furniture

MYO and OSOP the same thing? Not quite. The design and production processes are the same, but they come from different desires.

Essentially, OSOP aims to make furniture with zero waste from One Sheet Of Plywood. MYO gives you the freedom to Make Your Own by measuring your space, choosing your finish (or finishing yourself) and have a beautiful, personalised item that fits perfectly where you need it.

OSOP: One Sheet of Ply

OSOP stands for One Sheet of Ply. The original idea was to see how big a desk could be made from one sheet of ply and how efficient we could make the process, minimising any wastage of time and material. Everything in the OSOP range uses a minimum of 95% of the sheet. Any offcuts are either used for packing your table / desk, or as support rails on other items.

Every item in every range uses minimal material, but in the OSOP range almost the full sheet is utilised to make your furniture.

The OSOP Table / Desk

At 160cm x 90cm this is the biggest surface we can make from one sheet. Use it as a deep desk against a wall or a conversation desk. It is big enough too for a meeting table that sits six comfortably. It can also be used as it is for a dining table (see below). Trade discounts for this product start from 12 units. Enquire

The OSOP Table / Desk with Drawer

To make a desk with a drawer from one sheet whilst keeping the style and proportions consistent took several attempts. But now it’s perfect. The OSOP Table Desk with Drawer is our personal favourite. Trade discounts for this product start from 12 units. Enquire

The OSOP Dining Table with EGGER heat resistant top

EGGER provide a huge range of MFC laminates in an array of textures and colours. If you are looking for a table to coordinate with your kitchen this is an ideal way, applying this to an OSOP or MYO makes a superb kitchen dining table. Trade Discounts for this product start at 12 Units. Enquire

On the Drawing Board:


OSOP Stacking Shelves

The OSOP shelving range (still in the prototype stage) continues that ideal. There are two sets of shelving and storage on the drawing board and a smaller children’s table coming very soon. Enquire

OSOP Kids Table

A smaller children’s table with benches – all from one sheet of ply, coming soon. Enquire.


MYO: Make Your Own Plywood Furniture

MYO Stands for Make Your Own. We have developed a flexible manufacturing process that allows you to tell us the size you need and the finish you want. All items are made to order yet all can be delivered in just a few days. We limit each product to one sheet of ply to minimise wastage, ease production and ensure a consistent look and grain on each item. Any excess material is held in stores to make subsequent orders.

Each item in the MYO range is multipurpose. Combining our suggested sizes and finishes should cover most situations but you can of course use them any way you like.

Made to Measure Table / Desk

Available in any size from 40cm x 40cm to 90cm x 160cm. Offered in natural finish, furniture wax or hard lacquer.  Trade discounts for this product start from 12 units. Enquire

High Gloss Made to Measure Table / Desk

Also available in any size from 40cm x 40cm to 90cm x 160cm. We have six colours in stock – Dante, Submarine, Fargo, Pitch, Sinatra and Eden. You can also supply your own colour for us to match. Send us a Pantone reference or a colour sample.

Trade discounts for this product start from 12 units. Enquire


Further Customising

We have everything we need to make further custom changes – different heights, different finishes, or even different materials. Enquire


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Bespoke Desk

Bespoke desk for office or home office

All our desks are bespoke, but items such as the OSOP (One Sheet Of Ply) desk and dining table are made from set sizes to maximise use of the plywood sheet. The fundamental idea behind our service though is that you measure your own to make a bespoke desk.

In most cases you can simply measure your nook or cranny to make the most of the space you have. When doing this make sure to measure at the skirting board level (assuming it is the narrowest distance) and leave enough room for your computer and keyboard. Below is a guide of common sizes to help you guage how much space you might need for a bespoke desk or table.

A standard desk is 120cm wide by 75cm deep. This gives plenty of room for a keyboard, a couple of monitors, books and papers. This is also the size of a small dining table and will seat four comfortably. If you have more room of course you can go as wide as 160cm. 160cm is the limit because all the designs at Designed in Ply are made from no more than one sheet of plywood. Any wider and we would not have enough room to cut the legs and rails from the same sheet.

A full size dining table is 160cm x 90cm and can seat six people comfortably (eight at a squeeze) with room for serving dishes in the middle.  We receive regular enquiries about making a narrow dining table for small rooms and our advice is always to consider the depth. We advise that 70cm is the minimum you should allow for comfortable seating at the ends of your table.

Finally, if you require a larger bespoke conference table or other size of bespoke office desk, for home or a set of bespoke office desks for the workplace please get in touch as our experienced team of cabinet makers can make anything you can think of.

Sizes below offered as a guide only. You can, of course, provide your own measurements.

Standard Desk 120cm 75cm
Large Desk 160cm 75cm
Meeting Table 160cm 90cm
Small Dining Table 120cm 75cm
Full Size Dining Table 160cm 90cm
Hallway Table 160cm 45cm
Bedside Table 60cm 45cm


Final Checklist

  • If fitting a table in a gap between walls - MAKE SURE you measure at the narrowest point - usually down at the skirting boards
  • If using a MYO as a dining table, be sure you have room to slide chairs in and out.
  • Remember - the MYO is a custom product and we cannot accept returns, so please measure carefully!




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Plywood Desk Assembly: The MYO Plywood Desk

It was immensely satisfying to take our first order on launch day for a MYO plywood desk, and even more gratifying that it came from the MD of Cool & Duke – dealers in designer and retro furniture. Obviously they have fabulous taste. We talked with the customer, Gareth, and asked if we might deliver the 1600mm x 700mm MYO ourselves to watch how he got on with the assembly instructions so that, if necessary, we could refine them. He kindly agreed.

Upon our arrival the Cool & Duke warehouse was packed with excellent finds from local auctions, as well as imports from Europe, and Gareth had set a space aside in the corner for the assembly of his MYO. He had told us he wanted a desk in the warehouse as a permanent place for his laptop, paperwork and coffee cups – he could sometimes spend all day in the warehouse restoring and repairing furniture, and he didn’t want to miss out on enquiry emails and auctions he was bidding on. He also wanted something big enough to be used as a meeting table for his team.

One of our guiding principles is simplicity, and of course ensuring the product is simple to build is part of that. This principle carries right through from the beginning, with one sheet of plywood to make the desk, to the end when you complete the build with your cut pieces and a box of screws.

How to assemble your plywood desk

Lay the plywodd top face down on a soft surface (such as the cardboard packaging) and group the other pieces around it.
Arrange the rails on the top so you have an even space around the edge.

componenets laid out

To make the legs line up with the pre-drilled holes of the plywood desk support rails, line each up so that the layered edge of the ply is touching the longest side of the top.

Line up the layers
The short rails must be screwed into the legs first.
Do this at both ends.
Make sure the rail is tight into the corner of each leg.
Use the top of the desk to work on so you know you have a perfectly flat work surface.

Line up your two matched sets of legs with the ends of the desk top.
Ensure it’s snug to create a tight joint.

line up side rail

ensure side rail snug
Square up the legs and rails (now all fixed together into one piece) with the top.

If you have a large plywood desk we will have also sent you a mid rail.
Using the underside of the desk to keep everything flat, screw in the cleats.

Fix the mid rail in the approximate centre of the long rails.

mid rail in place
Work around the top, slotting the cleats into the grooves of the rails and screwing them to the underside of the top to fix the top to the rails.
Keep an eye out that the corners of the legs stay lined up with the corners of the top.


Once you have worked all the way around the plywood desk it is ready to be turned over.

plywood desk finished

All that was left to do was to open his laptop and arrange a few props.


And get photo bombed by a happy customer!


Order your plywood desk here.

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