High Desk from IKEA Bed Frames

Materials: Malm

Description: Every time I poke around IKEA’s clearance area (‘As Is’ area) I encounter a broken bed frame from the MALM/HOPEN lines, which rely on torsion boxes for strength.

I picked up a few dozen of these torsion box bed-frame members on a whim and didn’t know what to do with them for a long time. Recently I encountered Pottery Barn’s amazing high desk (their Bedford line high desk) and a 20-watt light bulb went off.

The torsion boxes are excellent table top surfaces because they are perfectly flat, super strong, and light weight. All I needed were ‘legs’. Why not create bookshelves for my legs and enjoy the ‘high life’ using a bar stool.

Steps to completion:

1. Measure torsion boxes you want to use. Especially the exact location of the dowel holes in the bottom of the torsion boxes.
2. I used Sketchup to visualize/create/dimension the entire desk, then laid out the parts in Sketchup and printed their dimensions.
3. I routed dadoes in the plywood, then cut out the plywood parts.
4. Glue the plywood boxes together and drill the dowel holes exactly where they will meet the torsion box dowels. Use a 7/16″ drill bit here.
5. The only modification to the torsion boxes is to drill out the dowel holes to 7/16″ – it is next to impossible to find metric wooden dowels here in America (note to self: grab as many as possible during next IKEA visit). I think the dowels are 11mm from the factory. Good luck finding 11mm dowels.
6. Time for face frames. Cut out the face frame pieces. You will need a lot of face frame pieces because you must build face frames on both sides of each box. A pain in the butt but whatever.
7. Nail-gun time: nail the face frame pieces to the plywood boxes. This has to be pretty close to perfect because the human eye can/will catch errors.
8. After the face frames are attached, stain/paint your boxes.
9. Add adjustable feet to the bottom of your new bookcase ‘legs’.
10. Insert dowels and line up everything to create the desk.

The exercise was fun and now I have two fewer torsion boxes clogging my basement.

See more of Pete’s high desk.

~ Pete Kuhns, Indiana, USA

Jules Yap