Trash to Treasure: Sawhorse Desk

The next installment of the Trash to Treasure Transformation guest series is from Miss. B of Besotted Blog. I've been following her for years now as she shares my love for photography and paper as well as being a general style guide. She just moved into a new home so Im so glad she shared a fabulously simple and clever DIY with us today. Add her blog to your list for more eye candy.


Hello, I am Miss B. I am a dilettante of the 'nth degree and like to try my hand at many a practical craft endeavor. I have a few requirements when I choose these projects--the craft must be useful, the craft must be budget friendly and the craft above all else must be easy. I am going to just come right out and let you know that I did get an 'A+' in my 7th grade woodshop class, which basically qualifies me as an expert in my eyes, but don't be intimidated by woodcrafting expertise; I won't need to use the expert knowledge I gained all those years ago for this project and neither will you. So let's get started on the ambitious project of building your own desk!

I was inspired by a custom desk using sawhorse legs in the New York Times which had a rich, worn look and of course can not find the link but these brackets from a Swedish design company are pretty aces as well.

The supply list is short + budget friendly. Don't fear you won't need to saw anything, you won't even have to nail, screw or glue anything either, but you will need to do the tedious of all wood working chores-sand.



I bought a pre-sanded, pre-cut table top. For me, taking sanding out of the equation is worth any extra monies I spent. You can use an old door or plywood cut to the length and width you need. My table top was a steal for $30 but the store I bought it at doesn't have it on their site. Ikea has some nice, inexpensive ones.

There are many kinds in different colors, but I chose the galvanized metal as I felt they went well for the rustic look I was going for.

This is easy, you will need 4 two by fours. I just told the associate at the hardware store what I was doing and we cut the wood to size. For my desk/worktable I cut the legs to 27.25" (no, I am not a mathematical genius there's a guide on the sawhorse bracket box). I needed 8 legs total. For the crossbars that go in the brackets I had 2 pieces cut to 23" as my desk was 24" wide. So if your desk is 30" wide I suggest cutting your crossbars to somewhere between 28"-29".

Just a piece of extra fine should do.

I buy these in bulk. I never want to not have these around. I am always cleaning, painting, staining, stamping and gloves keep my hands from looking like paws.

I used a small can of Minwax in Special walnut. My rag was a soft, old t-shirt cut into smaller pieces.

I used a matte finish sealant as I didn't want high-gloss on my rustic desk. I say optional because if you are going for a rustic look the more wear and tear the better.

Gather your supplies and let's get building! If you bought a pre-sanded tabletop you won't need to sand (yea!). The only pieces I sanded were the ends where the two by fours were cut (the cuts are free and you do get what you pay for). Next step is staining. For the rustic look you can be as sloppy and gloppy as you like, the inconsistencies will just make it look weathered. I just slathered it on like so:

Once you have the stain on everything take a clean rag and wipe up the excess stain. Once dry use your sealant and allow that to dry as well, I waited overnight. Here comes the fun part.

Just slip your wood into the brackets, there's two holes for the legs and a spot on top for the cross bar. After you have everything in place all you need to do is add your tabletop. Guess what? You my friend have just made yourself a desk. Congratulate yourself!


  1. Oh, I love this! It's so substantial and the stain is perfect! Great tutorial.

  2. Love this!! Pinned this!!!

    Loving your new site design as well!

  3. This is pretty awesome! I gotta find me some SAWHORSE BRACKETS and build me a second work station! That stain is great, too, love the dark color.

  4. That is cool! And I love Miss B. and all her great stuff!

  5. Tristan is the best. Love her

  6. you rock tristan--i'm impressed....this would also be great to set up in show booths.....or for extra party tables & for a myriad of things that need displayed!
    love it!!

  7. Tristan you're a whiz! I love this so much! I just might have to build myself a desk after I finish my dining room table! xo Ez

  8. Aw shucks, thanks for stopping by ladies, I feel so special:)

  9. Hi! I just saw this on Creature Comforts and wanted to stop by to tell you that I love it! Nice work-- I see desks like this that go for a few hundo and I'm all about DIY-ing things on the cheap. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Smartredhead046:03 AM

    This looks like a DIY that even I, who really doesn't have the space nor the tolerance to build bulky items, can do.  I would increase the height so I can use it as a crafting/sewing/quilting table.  Thanks!

  11. Brittany Saliba4:59 PM

    Hi!  I was wondering how you attached your cross bars?  Great post!


  12. What a great idea!!  Can you tell me where you bought the table top?  I'm having a hard time finding one that's not from IKEA.   Thanks!

  13.  LK I found the table top at Lowe's it a little bit narrow, but it was inexpensive less than $40 and already pre-sanded!

  14.  Brittany, there's a space in the bracket to slip your cross bars in:)

  15. Beautiful desk Miss B! Thanks for posting your tutorial and I've got this linked to my DIY desks post too today! 

  16. HI!! Love your idea! How did you attach the cross bars to the tabletop? 

  17. After sliding the 2x4 into the bracket (Shown in the PIcture) , stand it up, there is a slot for the cross brace which is clamped into place when you open up the legs. You then screw that section as well. 10 minute job! Great result.


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