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I recently built my own standing height desk, and this video will show you a little more about it.

Like many furniture projects I started out looking for one to buy. As you probably know, buying furniture is an uninspiring event in which you discover:

  1. nice furniture costs money
  2. sometimes more money than wish to part with
  3. custom built is more fun – and ironically costs more money . . .

You know how that fairy tale ends, I bet.

This desk I built is kind of modern and light with a floating top, a floating front panel, thin tapered and curved legs.

This isn’t about how I made it, but how I finished it

Truth is, I don’t think much of my design skills. There are a few glaring details in the design of this desk that still lack a little je ne sais quoi here and there.

However, I do think I have a thing or two to share about wood finishing, and since I used a lot of different techniques on this project, I recorded my entire finishing process to share with you.

If there’s one complaint I get about our other wood finishing tutorials is that we’re always demonstrating on just a medium sized flat piece of wood. And that certainly doesn’t cover the ins and outs of every trick and technique you might have to use to finish an entire project.

So consider this a remedy.

The video above is part 1, and just deals with the urban-modern black base with a weathered gray glaze to highlight the ash grain.

Part 2 is about the solid walnut top with a tung oil varnish. Click Here to check it out >

Watch the video above to see how I finished this base, step by step.

You’ll Learn a Few Things About:

  1. Applying wood dye before project assembly
  2. Brushing sealer in tight corners, reveals, and other hard-to-get spots
  3. Leveling a finish with abrasive pads
  4. Glazing with oil stain to highlight grain
  5. Spraying aerosol lacquer

Products Used:

  • Behlen Jet Black Dye powder (plus Behlen Bekol Solvent)
  • Zinsser SealCoat
  • Old Masters oil based Wiping Stains, Spanish Oak & Pickling White (mixed 1:1 to create gray)
  • Deft Lacquer, aerosol semi-gloss
  • Synthetic finishing pads

Gallery of Pictures:

I hope you enjoy it. If you have questions, post ’em below!


Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Discussion, Questions & Answers

  • AJ

    Great tutorial. Is it necessary to mix the Zinsser SealCoat with denatured alcohol before applying? If so, how much? I’m trying to get the same effect you made.

    • No, it’s not necessary, it’s strictly my preference. I think it makes the application of the SealCoat a little easier.

  • Brian Hill

    Very nice looking desk. How tall is it? I’m thinking about making one that fits my height at 6’8”

    • I’m out of town until June 28. I will reply to your email then.

      Or you can reach customer service at 800-423-2450 or helpdesk@woodworkerssource.com
      Thanks for your patience.

      Mark Stephens

    • Thanks Brian. Desk is 42″ tall. I’m much shorter than you at 5′ 8″, and I spent a lot of time arriving at determining the height that would work for me while standing. Mock it up by stacking boxes, or whatever you can, on a table top until you’re satisfied.

      I also use an adjustable chair/stool with a back. Anyway, 42″ turned out to be my magic number and I wouldn’t want it any lower.

      • Brian Hill

        Thanks for the advice. I’ve watched all of your videos, trying to get enough confidence to cut up this beautiful walnut and oak. 🙂 I really enjoyed your advice on the curly maple. I decided to go with a curly maple table top and walnut base. Now I’m in the process of purchasing one of the 20 board foot deals.

        If my plans call for 8/4 , is it ok to glue up 4/4 to make 8/4 stock?

        Thanks for the advise and all of the information you have on YouTube!

        • It can be done, yes. But there are a few other ways too.

          Primarily, consider a curly maple veneered top. Laminate a paper back veneer to 3/4″ MDF or a good flat plywood then put a solid wood edge around it to make it appear 2″ thick. That would be less $, much faster, and most of the time curly/figured veneers have better and more consistent figure than solid stock.

          Similarly, you could put a false edge around a solid 4/4 top to make it look thicker. It’s a bit trickier thanks to the wood movement in your solid panel. Must be mindful not to trap the solid panel within a solid frame. It needs to be able to expand and contract, and a cross-grain solid wood edge along the end grain sides will produce a failed joint somewhere or possibly a cracked top.

          Usually a thick wood top is just a trick of edging. Admittedly, some furniture designs do need that actual 8/4 thickness in the top, but if you can get away with an edged panel to give it the appearance of 2″ thickness, go for it. It’ll be lighter and cost you less.

        • I should clarify my earlier response. It’s perfectly acceptable to glue up 4/4 material to make thicker project parts when you need to. Furniture legs are a really good example. But if you were asking about doing so with a table top, my reply below still stands. There are other (and economical) ways to create a thick table top without having to laminate 4/4 lumber.