6 Best Woods For a Desktop and a Buying Guide

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When I first started crafting desks, I thought it would be a straightforward woodworking project. Boy, was I wrong! Beyond the construction itself, I quickly realized that the quality of the desk greatly depends on the wood chosen. If you’re like me and you’re wondering which wood to pick, I’ve put together a list based on my experience to help guide your wood shopping decisions.

6 Types of Wood To Use For Your Desktop

#1: Maple

I’ve always been drawn to the stunning color, graining, and density of Maple wood. Whenever I take on projects like desktops, it’s often my go-to choice. Its solid durability reassures me that any furniture piece I craft from this hardwood will be robust and capable of withstanding various conditions.

#2: Birch

If you’re planning to stain your DIY desk to match the vibe of your home, it’s recommended to choose lighter-colored lumber like Birch. Birch is known for its dense composition, making it a popular choice among woodworkers for furniture projects.

Baltic Birch Plywood

#3: MDF

Although it’s often compared to plywood, Medium Density Fiberboard is actually more solid and delivers a higher density level. I’d advise keeping the MDF desktops at 20mm thickness for added durability if you plan to use this material. 

#4: Walnut

Using walnut for furniture can be tricky because it continually changes color as it ages [1]. However, the grain on its surface remains uniform even as time passes. If you look closely, it has a slightly open grain and straight pattern that gives the piece a remarkably classic aesthetic suited for different interior designs. 

walnut wood

#5: Oak

When you shop for oak material, you’ll bump into two varieties; red oak and white oak. The major difference between the two is their colors, where red oak is darker and white oak is lighter. When stained, both wood pieces absorb the application quite nicely.

#6: Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood can be a fantastic choice if you’re aiming for that rustic desk look. While some might dismiss it as just ‘scrap wood’ from old barns or factories, I can vouch for its strength. Believe me, it often proves to be harder than many types of freshly cut lumber.

Also Read: List of Lumber Terminologies

A Guide in Choosing a Desktop Wood

Hardness and Density

When selecting the best wood for a desktop or even natural wood for home use, go for hardwood. It may sound like generic advice, but this type of lumber has fewer chances of decaying than woods with softer density. Plus, they’re more suited to cater to long wear and tear usability.

Color and Texture

The main nemesis of good wood color and texture is the way the lumber changes. You can take Walnut woods as an example. These options tend to fade lighter in color, but the pattern and texture it creates over time are beyond attractive. 

Oak wood

When choosing wood, I always recommend considering how its grain changes over time, depending on the look you’re aiming for. From my expert perspective, it’s often best to opt for woods with uniform graining.

Checking the Moisture Content of the Wood

Most casual DIYers don’t know this, but it’s crucial to check the moisture content of the wood. These factors highly affect the changes in size and shape of the lumber. To test it out, you can simply weigh it and dry it out to see the difference it makes depending on harsh conditions. 

Making Your DIY Desktop

Securing the Joint

For the desktop to be tough and strong, any wise woodworker would secure the wood joints. With these features on the construction, you can avoid producing a wobbly table. I recommend using binders, adhesives, or fasteners. 

Through Dovetail Joint

Finishing the Wood

Adding an extra layer of protection like a finishing beeswax isn’t bad when dealing with wood materials, which is why finishes are a big deal for home furniture experts. You decide whether to apply a clear coat, wood stain, or different paint colors to your desk, just as long as it fits the look you’re going for.

Products to check: 


How thick should a wood desktop be?

A wood desktop should be at least 19mm thick. The thickness of your desk should increase or decrease according to the purpose of the furniture and available space. With thicker wood, you can be reassured that the desk can remain sturdy and withstand different conditions and circumstances. 

Also Read


In my years of experience, I’ve learned that not all wood is created equal, especially when constructing a desk. The selection process is crucial; I can’t stress that enough. It can truly make or break your entire project. Ultimately, the best wood for a desktop is the one that perfectly aligns with your project’s requirements.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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