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A shelving unit next to a wall with shelves and drawers in it, a plant next to it and a chair in front of it

Overview

Is working from home now a part of your weekly routine? If you need a desk but don’t have the space, this simple D.I.Y. project transforms a storage unit into a desk, creating a flexible option you can use during the week when required and quickly and easily pack away when you don't.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, ear muffs, gloves and mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment.

Steps

1Remove existing shelving

If you already have a storage cube, you will need to remove everything from it before getting to work. This includes any inserts or books – we need a blank canvas!

We need to remove some of the shelves from the storage unit to make room for our desk. This model uses an Allen key for its screws. Start with the top ledge, unscrewing all of the screws and removing the shelf and divider from the unit. Remove any dowels that might be sticking out, as well. Make sure to put all of the screws and dowels in a safe spot – we’re going to need some of them again!

Next, move to the left and the right of the unit, unscrewing the screws that keep the top horizontal shelf in place. Remove the top vertical shelf and its dowels, placing these in your safe spot. Repeat with both the horizontal and vertical shelves until half of the unit is empty.

A Bunnings Team Member holding a piece of wood over a shelving unit

2Screw the bottom ledge

Now we need to replace the top ledge. Place the dowels in the top holes on both the left and right sides of the unit. Carefully snap the top ledge back into place and secure with screws, using your Allen key. Once they are secure, flip the storage unit so that the empty half is now at the bottom, with the four existing shelves remaining at the top.

A Bunnings Team Member using an ellen key to screw in a screw to a shelving unit

3Measure and mark

Our desk will run on tracks, making it easy to slide in and out. Using a tape measure and a pencil, mark where your tracks will go on the inside edge of the unit. We suggest approximately 30mm from the shelf above. Make sure you mark at both the front and the rear of the unit. Use a spirit level to ensure your marks are level, drawing a line from one mark to the other. Repeat on the other side of the unit so that you have two level lines running from the front to the rear of the unit.

Green Bunnings hammer
Tip: Make sure you measure twice and mark once so your desk is even!
A person holding a measuring tape and a pencil

4Install drawer slides

Now we’re going to screw in our tracks on either side, where our marks are. Screw into place using a drill, ensuring that you are following your marked line. Repeat on the other side.

A Bunnings Team Member holding a cordless drill, drilling a screw into a shelving unit

5Cut MDF to size

Using a tape measure, measure the inside length and depth of your storage unit so you know how big you need the hidden desk to be. In this case, ours is 35cm deep and 69cm long.

Mark out these measurements on your MDF panel. Use a spirit level to draw a line between each mark, creating a stencil for you to follow.

Now it’s time to cut the MDF to size. (You will want to be outside for this part.) Put on your safety equipment. Using a circular saw, carefully cut along each of your line markings to cut out your hidden desk.

A Bunnings Team Member using a circular saw to cut wood

6Screw MDF boards together

Now that you have your two panels cut to size, it’s time to screw them together. Place the long edge of the shorter piece against the face of your desk at a right angle. Carefully screw together – one screw at either end and one in the middle – using a drill and screws.

A Bunnings Team Member holding a cordless drill, drilling a screw into a piece of wood

7Patch screw holes and lightly sand

Carefully place some quick-dry filler onto your spatula and apply over each screw. Be careful to remove any excess filler. Leave to dry.

Once dry, lightly sand each screw to remove any final filler and create a smooth finish. We’d suggest using 220-grade sandpaper or sanding block.

A Bunnings Team Member holding a spatula over a piece of wood

8Apply undercoat

Now it’s time to apply the undercoat. (Lay down a drop sheet or old pieces of cardboard over your working area to protect from paint splatters.)

Once the undercoat has dried, there’s an option to apply a coat of coloured paint. Just make sure to cover all visible sides of the MDF. You don’t need to do the underside, but can if you prefer. Leave to dry.

A person with a paint brush painting a piece of wood

9Screw in the drawer slides

Place a runner along one of the long sides of your desk. The end with the wheel should sit on the open end of the desk (opposite to the corner). Screw into place using screws and a drill – there should be four spots for screws. Repeat with the other side.

A Bunnings Team Member drilling a screw into a piece of wood

10Attach the handle

Using a tape measure and a pencil, measure and mark the exact middle of the shorter MDF panel. Drill a hole at this point, and then screw your handle into place. The handle should face outwards.

A person holding a drawer knob next to a piece of wood

11Slide drawer into tracks

Your desk is now ready to be installed! Slide the desk into the tracks, with the drawer front facing outward.

Now all that’s left to do is replace the décor on your existing shelves and enjoy your desk!

A Bunnings Team Member holding a shelve in front a shelving unit

12Time to get started on your desk!

Check out our range of MDF panels, which are perfect for your new desk.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.