DIY Rustic Wood Desk with Cedar Log Legs | Part 1 – Inspiration


funky-junky-farm-desk via Candi on Pinterest

Inspired by Funky Junk Interiors 12′ farm desk made from pallets, I dreamed up my own 11′ diy rustic wood desk. I love the look of Donna’s reclaimed pallet desk but decided to go with a wide pine board that we had laying around the yard. For the legs, I wanted something organic and flowing so my sweet man let me use the cedar logs he’s been saving for a couple of years.

When I first shared my idea with Mark, he didn’t think it’d look good but we cut the cedar logs anyway. To his surprise, he really liked the look of the table and it was very stable to boot.

The Beginning of my Rustic Desk:

rustic log desk

This is a shot of my desk before I started sanding it. It’s in pretty rough shape but I like the rustic look of the logs and the natural staining on the pine board. What I really love is how easy this desk is to make. We are using an 11′ long live edge Pine board that’s about 25″ wide and 3 – 1/2 round cedar logs.  After sanding and finishing the wood all we have to do is attach the legs.

Before, we got started, we did the desk height test to find the right size for our desk. Not only does the desk need to be the right height to use our computer, we also need to store file cabinets underneath it as well. The cabinets we like are 26″ and the height of the logs is 26 1/2″ – perfect!.  Add another 1 1/2″ for the table depth and the final height is 28″.

The Materials:

The table top came from a Pine tree our neighbors wanted out of their yard.  Mark milled it with his sawmill and it’s been waiting for the right time to shine. If you are looking for a board like this call your local lumber yard and ask  for an extra wide live edge board. We used Pine but you could use hardwood as well.

One of the unique features of this desk is the half round cedar logs. I choose half round logs because we didn’t have whole logs. When Mark harvested the cedar, he had other intentions so he split the logs in half to make it easier to lug them out of the woods. At that time, he had no idea we’d be building a desk with them or he wouldn’t have split them.

Unfortunately, large cedars like this are rare in our neck of the woods and I loved the look so I decided to stay with the half round cedar logs.  Don’t you just love the nooks and crannies in these babies? Just wait, they get even better with sanding.

Three half red cedar logs

After figuring out the height of our table, Mark used a chain saw to cut the cedar logs to the right height. We found working with cedar tricky so we finished off the legs with a friend’s band saw and used a grinder to level them even more.

Our wide pine board was too large for our planer so I used a hand power planer to take off the saw marks to prepare the board for sanding. When using a hand planer it’s very easy to get lines and marks from where the planer cuts into the wood. If you don’t like this, you may want to skip this step. Mark used a large grinder with 100 grit paper to sand the backside of the board. I liked the hand planing because it added interesting marks to my final board. Mark isn’t into distressing freshly planed wood and would prefer I used the grinding method instead.

After using the hand planer, I used my rotary sander to finish off the boards with the following grits: 60, 80, 120 on the pine board and up to 220 on the cedar legs.

Sanding the rustic pine live edge board

Here’s Mark taking a spin at the power planer. I love how long the board looks in this photo.

Day one sanding over

Day one sanding is over and the tools were put back in the shed.

It took about 4 hours to get the pine board sanded. I left lots of little marks and edges created by the hand planer. Mark and his dad were horrified that I plan on whacking it with chains, dropping rocks on it, and scratching it up to give it a distressed look.

Practicing finishes on spare pine board

Testing the finishes on pine board.

Above is a sneak peek at the finishes I tried. First starting at the bottom, I added some light distressing with black walnut stain and a dark Briwax finish. Next, I used a washed black walnut stain with dark Briwax finish. The last finish is simply dark Briwax over pine.  At this point, I’m not really loving any of the finishes. I’m waiting for a clear Briwax to come from Amazon and I’m going to keep playing around until I find the perfect finish for my table.

Sanded Cedar Logs with practice table

Testing finishes. Love the white of the pine and cedar so I’m going to try to keep it as light as possible.

After three days of work, we made a lot of progress but we are not quiet done. Stay tuned for the final reveal which will include the distressed finish and crate book case in my revamped office.

Almost finish rustic pine desk