My girlfriend has given me an assignment: build a breakfast bar for the corner of the kitchen, with a tabletop that is 55" by 13". We would buy two stools to go with it. She wants me to build it myself so it's (a) as cheap as possible, and (b) exactly the way we want it. I have no experience with carpentry or DIY but I have a hammer and an electric screwdriver.

  1. Is it feasible to build a breakfast bar that could double as a standing desk for me? This would involve positioning the tabletop so my MacBook would sit at eye height (55") and putting in a second shelf so my keyboard would be at arm height (36"). Would a breakfast bar that's 55" high look ridiculous?
  2. If yes to #1, what's a good design that would accommodate a laptop on top and a second shelf for the keyboard?
  3. Where can I buy the wood shelf/tabletop and legs? I live in New York, where Home Depot does not offer cut-to-fit services for wood. Ideally I could order online, and ideally the legs would come with a screw/bracket kit to attach them to the tabletop, the way these legs do, though I'd prefer wood legs if possible. As for the tabletop, no need for an expensive antique oak slab--just simple and beautiful light wood would do fine.
  • 1
    You want to build a custom piece of furniture, with only a hammer and screwdriver?
    – Tester101
    Jun 4, 2014 at 10:48
  • 1
    I've also never heard of a Home Depot that won't make a few cuts in-store, although they may charge for it. A quick survey of a few Home Depots on Yelp in/around NYC shows that they do.
    – Doresoom
    Jun 4, 2014 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


I like the enthusiasm, that's great. A couple suggestions: 1. Start off with a solid design, including what sort of materials might work. Let the wood material options drive some of the design which would help to save costs.
Explore the wood section at the depot and see what is offered.
Wood can get expensive. So let the options of wood drive the design.

  1. Break down the pieces into their own distinct unit and determine the best way to connect them. It sounds to me you want a lot in your first project, so break it into pieces and build the breakfast bar first. This way the project wont take weeks to complete. You build the bar, it gets installed and you can work on the other pieces.

  2. Decide the finish, if you plan to paint, the quality of the wood can be less as it will not be seen, however if you plan to stain, the quality needs to be higher. For example a 2x4 can be painted and look great, but try to stain over the ink stamps and its awful.

As for legs, be creative, since you don't have any saws, get a hand saw at least, and be creative. I bought a bunch of 1 inch square 36 inch in length pieces for some furniture pieces I was building. They worked great as the legs and were cheap, and already precut.

Final suggestion is to go slow, as this is your first project take your time, plan accordingly and have fun!

  • It seems the consensus is that the idea of building in a standing desk with keyboard tray is too ambitious. I'll revert to the original plan, i.e. to attach legs to a wooden tabletop type thing. If I get the legs from Ikea, I assume I can do this with just a screwdriver? Are there any good places to order cut-to-fit wood online? Jun 4, 2014 at 17:04
  • By a slab from Home Depot or Ikea etc. and then take it to a local custom cabinet shop, or find a high school/trade school with a industrial arts program and have them knock it down for you. Most will usually do a job like that for a straight hourly rate (50 to 60 in my area, probably double that in yours) it shouldn't take more than a couple minutes.
    – user23534
    Aug 3, 2014 at 19:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.