Custom Desks | an Introduction

Custom desks are the perfect solution for those looking for a unique and personalized piece of furniture to fit their specific needs and style. Whether you are looking for a desk for your office, home office, study, gaming room, or library, custom desks offer a level of customization that is unmatched by mass-produced furniture companies. In this article, we will explore the benefits of having a desk purposely built for you, as well as the specific advantages of custom solid wood desks, custom made desks, and custom wood desks. We will also delve into different styles of desks available, including traditional, modern, industrial, and rustic just to name a few. Additionally, we will cover the different hardware and finishing options available for custom desks, which can add an extra level of personalization to your piece. But before we get into all the details let me start off with the obvious. When having a custom desk built you, the customer specifies just about everything… include the size and height. Over the years one of the most common questions, we get is “Can we get a desk a little taller”? Or a little longer? Etc. Because in the mass-produced area, all desks come in pretty standard sizes. I get it, it’s for the masses, those manufacturers sell thousands of units… it’s just not for me.

Custom Solid Wood Desks

Mid Century Modern Desk The Ania

The Ania - Mid Century Modern Desk

A custom piece in the MCM aesthetic

See more about the Ania Mid Century Modern Desk at this link.  (Ania)

Custom solid wood desks are an excellent choice for those looking for a durable and long-lasting piece of furniture. Solid wood is a natural material that is strong and resilient, making it an ideal choice for a desk. Additionally, solid wood desks offer a warm and inviting aesthetic that can add a sense of warmth and character to any room. Custom solid wood desks can be made from a variety of different types of wood, including oak, cherry, maple, elm, ash, and walnut, just to name a few species each of which has its own unique characteristics and grain patterns. Custom desks can also mix species. A very popular combination we see is Walnut and Maple (or Dark with light accents).

Durability and Timeless Aesthetic

Solid wood desks are also known for their durability, they are able to withstand heavy use and last for decades, making them a great investment piece. They are also a great choice for those who are looking for a desk that is not only functional, but also has a timeless aesthetic. When it comes to custom solid wood desks, the options are endless. From the type of wood to the design and size, a custom solid wood desk can be tailored to fit any space and style. Let’s dig in a little more on durability and talk about


First the carcass, because of the choice of style dictates the construction, it is difficult to write something that blanketly covers the building of the carcass. But there are a few things to consider: The first thing we need to consider (and I touched on it in the very first paragraph when I said that the customer can specify just about everything) and the reason I say just about is because the choices you as the customer make, say on style, will dictate the construction method. Remember solid wood desks they key phrase is ‘solid wood’ and as such is prone to seasonal wood movement and our handcrafted desks must allow for this or overtime the wood will split, bend, or warp. Things we don’t want to happen.

Then the innards (love that word), maybe I should say drawers. Drawer construction is a crucial aspect of custom desks, as drawers are often used frequently and can take a lot of wear and tear over time. One of the most important factors in drawer construction is the type of joinery used. Dovetails, rabbets, sliding dovetails, box joints, and butt joints are all popular options that offer different levels of strength and durability.
Dovetails are considered one of the strongest options and are a traditional and popular method of joining the front and sides of the drawer. They create a tight, interlocking fit that ensures stability and longevity. Rabbets, box joints, and sliding dovetails are also strong options and provide a secure fit for the drawer, while butt joint is the weakest option.

Another important aspect of drawer construction is the type of wood used. Many custom desks are made from solid wood, which is durable and offers a natural beauty. However, plywood is also an option which is strong and cost-effective. The key is to consider the durability and aesthetic preferences for your custom desk when choosing the type of wood.

In summary, attention to joinery and wood choice is vital when building a custom desk as it ensures the best durability and longevity. At Dovetails and Stitches, we specialize in using traditional joinery methods such as dovetails and use only the best quality of solid woods and cabinet grade plywood to guarantee your custom desk will last for years to come. If this seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry, we really make this as painless as possible, I promise.

Custom Hardware and Finishing Options

One of the many benefits of having a custom desk made is the choice in hardware. The options for drawer hardware include the type of drawer construction, drawer slides, materials used for handles, knobs, and pulls, as well as the fit of the drawers.

Mechanical Drawer Guides:

Full extension: Offers the ability to access the entire drawer but can be more expensive.

Side-mounted: Less expensive but slightly limits the amount of access to the drawer.

Undermount: Gives a sleek and modern look but takes up more space in the drawer.

Soft close: Offers a smooth and quiet closing experience but can be more expensive.

Center mount: Offers a balanced and stable fit, (center mount soft close is also more expensive) and can be more difficult to install.

The list above is not meant to be all inclusive but more of a general overview. As a rule, Dovetails and Stitches primarily use Blum Hardware for our drawer guides/slides (and hinges for that matter). We have been using them for more than 30 years and in our professional opinion, they are best choice for mechanical drawer slides and hinges. Blum’s engineering is second to none and their innovation is wonderful. More info on Blum is here should you want to visit them.

Traditional Drawer Guides:

Piston fit: Each drawer is meticulously built and custom fit to each opening, without the use of mechanical hardware. This option is the most expensive as it requires a craftsman’s time to fit each drawer to each opening but OMG, what an experience that is (especially when combined with dust panels, this is my personal favorite because of the craftsmanship that goes into this).

Center mount: Offers a balanced and stable fit, using a wooden sliding dovetail. This is a very old technique and not widely used anymore. It does require a little upkeep, like putting some wax on the dovetail once in a while.

Power and Convenience

In today’s world, having access to power and charging options for all our devices is a must. Custom desks can be designed with built-in USB ports, lighting, wireless charging, power outlets, and more to make working more comfortable and convenient.

Lighting: Custom desks can also be designed with built-in lighting options, such as LED strips (we do this often on PC gaming desks) or built-in desk lamp style, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Not only does this add a touch of luxury, (such as these beautiful brass options) but it also helps with task lighting, reducing eye strain and fatigue.

Power Outlets: Custom desks can also be designed with multiple power outlets, strategically placed to accommodate all of your devices top help with cable management and reduce the need for unsightly power strips.

USB Ports: USB ports can be added to the desk, making it easy to charge your phone, tablet, or other devices while you work.

Wireless Charging: With the option for built-in wireless charging, you can easily charge your devices without the need for cords and cables.

Ethernet Ports: We get asked frequently about this, especially from commercial buyers wanting executive desks or reception desks. And yes, custom desks can also include built-in Ethernet ports for a wired internet connection, ensuring a faster and more stable connection for your devices.

Monitor Mounts: Another consideration on many custom desks is how a computer monitor or multiple computer monitors will be attached. There are a few options here too, one of my favorites to incorporate is a motion monitor lift, which lifts the monitor up from below and when closed, its hidden. Like these units from Touchstone you can click the link here (link) or Volgel’s Rise version from Tradeinn click the link (here).

Incorporating these power and convenience options into your custom desk will make it a more inviting and comfortable space to work in, and it will help you to be more productive.

Handles, knobs, and pulls

One of the most exciting aspects of designing a custom desk is choosing the hardware. Knobs, pulls, and handles are small details that can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your desk. They can be simple and understated, or bold and eye-catching, depending on your personal style and the style of your desk.

These elements can completely change the look of your desk, from a traditional, classic feel to a more modern, contemporary look. They can also be used to tie in with other design elements in your room, such as matching the hardware with other furniture or décor. With many materials and finishes to choose from, you can create a cohesive look that is uniquely yours. Whether you prefer metal, glass, crystal, or wood, the possibilities are endless.

At Dovetails and Stitches, we understand the importance of these details and offer a wide range of options for knobs, pulls, and handles. We work with you to help you find the perfect hardware for your custom desk, ensuring that it not only functions well but also look great.

Metal pulls come in a wide variety of materials, including brass, stainless steel, bronze, and iron. Each metal has its own unique characteristics and can offer a different look to a desk. For example, brass pulls give a warm and traditional feel, while stainless steel offers a sleek and modern look. Bronze and iron can add a rustic or industrial feel to a desk. Metal pulls are durable and easy to maintain, making them a great option for high-use areas. They can also be customized with different finishes, such as polished, brushed, or patina, to create a unique look.

Glass pulls add a touch of elegance and sophistication to a desk. They are available in a variety of colors and finishes and can be frosted, textured, or beveled for added visual interest. They are also a great option for those looking to add a touch of color to a desk. Glass pulls are fragile and must be handled with care, but they can create a stunning, one-of-a-kind look. They work well in a more formal or elegant setting.

Wood pulls offer a warm and natural feel to a desk. They can be made from a variety of woods, including cherry, oak, maple, and walnut, and can be finished to match the desk or provide a contrasting accent. They can also be carved or turned for added interest. Wood pulls provide a unique and organic look and work well in traditional or rustic settings. They can also be a great way to add a personal touch to a desk, with options for custom shapes, sizes, and finishes.

Finger pulls are a sleek and modern option, typically a groove cut into the drawer front that allows the user to open the drawer by sliding their fingers into the groove.

Push-to-open hardware: This option eliminates the need for knobs or pulls altogether, as the drawers are opened by pushing on the front of the drawer, activating a mechanism that opens it.

Recessed pulls are installed in the surface of the drawer front and are flush with the surface, providing a clean and minimal look.

Bar pulls are long and thin, typically made of metal and mounted horizontally on the drawer front. They can add a modern or industrial look to a desk.

Bin pulls are typically made of metal and have two handles, one on each side of the drawer front. They can add a vintage or rustic look to a desk.

Leather pulls: Adding a touch of luxury, leather pulls add a warm and sophisticated feel to a desk. They are available in a variety of colors and finishes and can be embossed with your initials or logo for a truly personalized touch. They require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best, but they are a great option for those looking to add a touch of elegance to their desk.

It’s also worth noting that you can also combine these options, like a wooden finger pull, a metal recessed pull or a glass bar pull. The possibilities are endless.

Finishing your custom desk

The finishing of a custom desk can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of the piece. From a glossy lacquer finish to a more natural oil finish, the choice of finish can add depth and character to the wood, as well as protect it from wear and tear. Some of our popular finishes include:

Oil Finish: This type of finish is popular for its natural look and feel, as it highlights the wood grain and color. It also provides a good level of protection for the wood, as it penetrates deep into the wood fibers. (our most popular finish)

Lacquer Finish: This finish is known for its durability and glossy finish. It provides a smooth and hard surface that is resistant to scratches and stains.

Varnish Finish: This finish is similar to lacquer in terms of durability and protection. It can be used to enhance the natural color of the wood and most varnishes have an amber tint to them. We use varnish to add depth to the look of the grain.  Varnishes are build up finishes, meaning the sit on top of the wood.

Hard Wax Oils: Originally developed for hardwood floors, these finishes have gained popularity in the furniture space due to their ease of application and durability.

This type of finishing is relatively new to the market and while we have used them we tend to NOT use them for our custom work.  We just don’t have enough time tested experience to stand behind this finish.  More on Nano Coatings in a later post.

Different Styles of Custom Desks

In addition to the different types of custom desks available, there are also different styles of custom desks to choose from. Each style offers a unique aesthetic and can be tailored to fit the specific needs and preferences of the customer.

In addition to these styles, there are also different types of desks to choose from such as corner desks, L-shaped desks, U-shaped desks, executive desks, and more. Each of these types of desks has its own unique characteristics and can be tailored to fit your specific needs and preferences.

Corner desks are a great option for those who have limited space but still want a functional and stylish desk. These desks are designed to fit into the corner of a room and can be customized to include features such as built-in storage and a pull-out keyboard tray.

L-shaped desks are a great option for those who need a lot of surface area for their work, as well as built-in storage and organization. These desks are designed in the shape of an L, with one longer side and one shorter side, providing ample space for a computer, books, and other office essentials.

U-shaped desks are a great option for those who need even more space and functionality than an L-shaped desk. These desks are designed in the shape of a U, providing ample space for a computer, books, and other office essentials, as well as built-in storage and organization.

Executive desks are a great option for those who want a desk that exudes power and authority. These desks are typically larger in size and feature ornate details and elegant lines, making them a great choice for a home office or a professional office setting.

Custom reception desks are a great way to make a statement and create a welcoming environment for guests and clients. These desks can be designed to fit a specific space and can include features such as built-in storage, custom lighting, and a wide range of finishes and materials. They can be designed to be both functional and stylish, making them a great addition to any office or lobby.

The time tested roll top desks we still get requests for. And I for one, would welcome a commission on a Wooton Pattent Desk seen here (click this link). I have wanted to make one of these since I first saw one in Fine Woodworking Magazine, 30 plus years ago.

When it comes to custom desks, the options are truly endless. From the type of wood and the style of the desk, to the hardware and finishing options, a custom desk can be tailored to fit any space, style, and need. With a custom desk, you can have a functional and beautiful piece of furniture that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Custom Desk and Our Conclusion

In conclusion, custom desks are a great investment piece that can be tailored to fit any space and style. Whether you are looking for a traditional desk, a modern desk, an industrial desk, or maybe a mid-century modern desk, a custom desk can be designed to fit your specific needs and preferences. With a custom desk, you will have a functional and beautiful piece of furniture that is truly one-of-a-kind. With the options available to you, it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase your unique style and make it a statement piece in any room it is placed.

Thank you for stopping by, we look forward working with you to create your perfect custom desk! Get in touch with us today, click here (link)

January 22, 2023