1-board Cedar Desk Accessory Set

Submitted by JoanneS on Sun, 08/18/2013 - 14:40
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Build a 1-board Cedar Desk Accessory Set.

From just 1 cedar fence picket, you can build a 4-piece desk accessory set. The set includes pencil cup, paper clip tray, business card holder, and mini desktop crate (great for post-it notes, markers, etc). The goal for this plan was to create something that would make a nice gift, would require only 1 board (cedar fence picket is about $3 for wood), requires no angles or rip cuts, and can be built using just your miter saw and nailgun or brad nailer. A palm sander is also highly recommended. You can make the whole set in just 1 afternoon.
Each piece has individual instructions and cut lists, so you can choose individual pieces to build if you like. Each instruction shows the total length of board needed to build that piece. The full set takes about 43” worth of the board. I looked up a lot of accessory sizes on Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Amazon, to make sure the plan sizes are comparable to standard desktop accessories, so none of them would have a large “footprint” on your desktop.
The picture shows the set built from a cedar fence picket. This is the board I used:


You could also substitute ½” x 5 ½” craft board if you like. You would need two 24” pieces.

This was my second build using cedar, and for this one I selected the flattest board I could. This board was really very nice and was pretty flat. There are a few places in the plan where measuring before you cut is recommended. This will help everything fit nicely and help to account for any variation in board sizes. Also, sanding all the little pieces before assembly will help make the build and finishing easier. I sanded the picket on both sides with 80-grit then 220-grit, to get them nice and smooth before cutting. Cedar makes really fine sawdust, so I was sure to wear a mask while sanding.

I stained this set after building, but your build will go even easier if you sand and stain or finish your pieces before assembling. Then all it should need is touch-up after assembly. I think I’ll do that on the next set.

Back story: This summer I’m on a mission to make things from as much of my scrap wood as possible. I had several odd-sized pieces of 3/8” craft board, 3/8” wainscoat paneling, 3/8” plywood, ¼” plywood, and ½” craft board in my garage, and I wanted to make some nice gifts from them. I was able to make several sets of these desk accessories using those odd pieces. I made drawings and cut lists to recreate those in a plan using just 3/8” craft boards, ¼” plywood, and a scrap piece of S4S. (I still have those drawings and can post a plan for those too if anyone is interested.) But, I found that nailing into the ½” thick pieces of board was much easier than the 3/8”, and decided to make a few plan changes, so a whole set could be made with only the ½” board, and only 1 piece of it would be needed.

Update: A .pdf copy of the full plan has been attached, and is just below the General Instructions section.



Shopping List

1 cedar fence picket, 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 6'
wood glue
1" finish nails
Finishing materials for desired finish

Cut List

Cut List from ½” x 5 ½” Cedar Fence Picket

Pencil Cup:
2 pc @ 3 ½”, then cut to 3 ½” (front/back, then cut remaining
part down to 1 5/8” for sides)
1 pc @ 3 ½”, then cut to 2 5/8” (bottom, cut to fit, should be
~2 5/8” x 3 ½”)
Total board length needed (includes blade widths): 10 7/8”

Business Card Holder:
1 pc @ 1 ¼”, then cut to 4” (front, 1 ¼” x 4”)
1 pc @ 1”, then cut to 4” (bottom, 1” x 4”)
1 pc @ 2 ¼”, then cut to 4” (back, 2 ¼” x 4”)
Total board length needed (includes blade widths): 4 7/8”

Mini Desktop Crate:
3 pc @ 3 ½” then cut to 3 ½” wide
6 pc @ 1” then cut to 4 ½” wide (cut to length after step 1b)
Total board length needed (includes blade widths): 17 5/8”

Paper Clip Tray:
2 pc @ 1 ½”, then cut to 4” (front/back, 1 ½” x 4”)
2 pc @ 1 ½”, then cut to 3” (sides, 1 ½” x 3”)
1 pc @ 3”, then cut to 3” (bottom, 3” x 3”)
Total board length needed (includes blade widths): 9 5/8”

Cutting Instructions

Sand boards before cutting.

Measure each piece, then cut, then measure the next piece. Don’t mark them all at once, because the blade takes 1/8” for each cut, and there will be a lot of cuts on this board.

Cut Lists for each piece show the parts to cut as you build, to get the best fit.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Miter Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Sand pieces before assembly.

Try finishing pieces before assembly, to make final finishing easier.


Step 1

This diagram shows the cut list, and steps for assembly for the Pencil Cup.

Step 2

This diagram shows the cut list, and steps for assembly for the Paper Clip Tray.

Step 3

This diagram shows the cut list, and steps for assembly for the Business Card Holder.

Step 4

This diagram shows the cut list, and steps for assembly for the Mini Desktop Crate.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Finish Used
For the finish, I followed Ana’s tutorial for the Minwax Express Color in Walnut, on cedar. The only variation was I put the stain on all the nooks and crannies of the assembled pieces with a small paint brush instead of a rag, which worked really well and got the stain on nice and evenly. My first cedar build was going to receive just poly, but after seeing the walnut finish on these pieces, I went back and stained that one too! After all the stain was complete, 1 coat of Minwax Oil Modified Water Based Poly was added as a top coat.



Mon, 08/19/2013 - 17:40

Thank you very much for your nice comment! You're right, the walnut stain does make it really nice for a guy's desk. I'm getting ready to post the inspiration pieces that I made from my scrap wood. Those are for the girls at work, and have a more feminine touch on the painted finish. The finish really makes the difference! :)


Tue, 08/27/2013 - 16:52

=D I added a link to these plans from my humble little blog. I hope someone will find it and will be inspired to make some for themselves or someone that could use them! Thank you for sharing these plans!

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