I would like to make some furniture. It'll hold my computer, some books and still need to be strong enough to hold the weight of me leaning on it etc.

How to I calculate what thickness of wood is needed and how regularly supports are needed?

Here is a sketch of the piece I'd like to make:


I am thinking of using Pine, but am not fixed on that (any suggestions?).

Looking at a television stand I have, it seems that 60cm is a reasonable gap for the top, however the bottom will have to support all of the weight for the unit.

I hope this covers the basic information that was missing, feel free to ask more though! Any advise is welcome.

  • Here's a related question: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/8112/…
    – ikumen
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 22:11
  • @user2264997 I saw that question, but it's a bit technical for me.
    – BanksySan
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 23:56
  • If you're worried about load capacity but are intimidated by equations, I'd suggest that you build your furniture very close to the dimensions of an existing similar piece of furniture. Don't forget the type of wood matters as well!
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 13:19
  • 1
    Honestly, in the realm of furniture, assuming the joints are properly built, the material should not break under typical loads. However, the material could bend excessively so that the piece appears much too flimsy. In other words, the crucial property is stiffness, not breaking point. Determining this is still technical, so as suggested, use similar pieces as a guide.
    – bcworkz
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 18:49
  • Thanks everyone, I'll see if I can find something similar. It's quite unique, hence my wanting to custom build it.
    – BanksySan
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


If I were making a desk 3/4" is the minimum that I would go on thickness. You could definitely go thinner with strapping under but I just like the look.

If you are worried about flex I would use the sag calculator. It is great and I use it when I build custom shelves. A desk should inherently have more support than a shelf but a desk will also have more load - so I believe the the calculations should be pretty close.

  • Thanks, It seems that 18mm is the width I can get, I am also thinking of metal supports(actually wardrobe rails) for supports every 600m.
    – BanksySan
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 21:26

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