January 21, 2020

How We Made Our Own Curved Waterfall Desk From A Piece of Birch Plywood + Video

DIY, House Remodel

Curvy furniture is all in right now and I’m totally into it! We had a desk that we purchased from a garage sale that we gave a quick makeover, buuuutttt things started yellowing about a yearish later (check out this post for what not do to when painting wooden furniture and for what our old desk looked like). I sanded the desk down to the raw wood so that I could just clear it buuuutttt I didn’t like it. So naturally I had an idea and naturally Leo said “uhhhhhhh.” 

A few months later and where we are! Check out the video for a quick tutorial and scroll for more detailed instructions. Also, alllllll the BTS is on insta under my “Waterfall desk” highlight!



Music: Apart by Ikson

  •  10 ft. piece of birch plywood
  • enough poplar to use as trim
  • wood glue
  • skill saw
  • table saw
  • tape measure
  • speed square
  • 23 or 18 gauge brad nail gun
  • 1 in. screws for pocket holes
  • Kreg pocket hole set
  • impact drill
  • jigsaw
  • clamps (if needed)
  • 120/150 grit sandpaper
  • wood filler
  • paint sprayer
  • paint/primer

1. Measure to Cut

  • find out what the size you need for the desk to be (we had to use a 10 foot sheet of birch plywood because our table in total was around 9 ft before we bent it)
  • make sure to measure the width with a tape measure too so that you don’t end up with a narrow or too wide desk/table
  • mark on your sheet of birch with a simple pencil for where you need to make your cuts

2. Cut to Bend

  • first thing first, in order to create a bend, you cannot cut all the way through the sheet of birch but just a little over half of the thickness of the sheet (see pic above and below for clarification)
  • our sheet is a 3/4 inch of birch plywood and so we used a circular saw that was set at about 1/2 
  • after marking the height that we wanted the desk to be, we went 1.5 inches both ways from the height line to cut the lines every 3/16th of an inch in order to get the plywood to bend (we 100% recommend on doing a test run on a scrap piece to see what kind of bend you want) 
  • use a trim square to cut against and ensure that the cuts are straight and consistent

3. Bend to Glue and Secure

  • bend the wood a few times to make sure it’s the way you want it and to make the bend less “stiff” (just don’t overdue the bending as there is still a chance that it will snap)
  • glue generously where your cuts to bend are with a strong wood glue and then bend it once more (both sides of course)
  • lay the table down sideways in between two objects that would hold the table in position with clamps while the wood glue dries 
  • or/and add some scrap pieces in an X shape to temporarily nail to the back and/or front of the desk to ensure it stays curved

4. Attach Back

  • as much as I loved having no back to the desk, it needed something to support it and help with the slight wobble
  • to fix that, take another piece of birch plywood to use for the backside as shown above
  • we used a 10 inch (width) piece and placed it underneath the desk, with the desk being on it’s back so that we could trace where to cut (as seen at 1:30.3 in video) and get a nice fit
  • use a jigsaw (or a handsaw) to cut along the traced line
  • use a Kreg pocket hole drill set to make holes on the back of the desk to keep from screws showing and to make drilling sideways easier
  • take the pocket hole off and use 1 inch screws and drill to drill the back piece into the sides (we used two screws each for the sides of desk to attach the back), making sure the backside goes in snugly

5. Add Trim

  • the trim we used was just basic poplar with a one inch width and thickness being a quarter of an inch
  • cut trim for the sides of the desk and for the top to complete the front – get as close to the curve as you can, mark and cut as shown above
  • attach with nail gun using an 18 gauge or use wood glue
  • when it comes to the curve, you have to have a piece in the shape of a square-ish so that you can trace where to cut your trim 
  •  use a jigsaw to cut along where you traced, just make sure the piece is clamped to keep it from moving
  • sand the curved trim as best as you can with 120 grit sandpaper and then attach to desk

6. Wood Fill and Sand

  • as per usual, use wood filler where there are any imperfections and over the nail holes  
  • we also filled the space between the trim and plywood to get rid of any gaps 
  • use 120 grit sandpaper to sand the desk down and then top it off with 220 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish

7. Prime and Paint

  • give the desk a good few wipes all over after sanding with lint free cloth
  • prepare a little area in a shed or garage where you can make “walls” with painters plastic and painter’s tape and cover the floor with builder’s paper and tape if you are spraying the desk with a spray gun like we did
  • use painting tripods to place the desk on so that you could spray the bottom comfortably
  • since Sherwin Williams only offers paint by gallons, we bought a quart of primer and a quart of our choice of paint color at Lowe’s  – it was the perfect amount for our desk
  • once preparation for painting is done (and you’re sure that over spray won’t get on anything important), begin with priming the desk – please wear a respirator mask while painting
  • let that dry for at least the length of time that it says on the primer quart
  • if needed, use fine grit sandpaper to sand down any drips/imperfections and wipe down dust from that
  • spray desk with your choice of paint color – we used this paint from Lowe’s so we didn’t need a second coat
  • let dry until the desk isn’t sticky to the touch and then wait another 24-48 hours so that it can cure properly

birch plywood

***Check out my “Waterfall Desk” highlight for all the BTS

Curious about our accent wall and the big difference it made? Check out the tutorial here!

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