DIY kids’ fold-away desk

Kids' fold-down plywood desk | Growing SpacesHe has his climbing wall in his new bedroom, but Fonz is also very keen on colouring, so creating a workspace was also a must. To save floor space for playing, I thought it would be a good idea to build a desk that could be folded away when not in use. Ikea sells a wall-mounted drop-leaf table, but ideally I wanted something in plywood to match the climbing wall and if we constructed something ourselves then I knew that we could make the most of every last inch of space.

DIY plywood desk collage with textThe back plate is just a sheet of 18mm plywood. My husband built the storage box (used to hold all Fonz’s colouring books and comics) out of the same ply – it just needed three sides and the bottom, as the back plate forms the fourth side. The box was attached by screwing through the back of the back plate to make sure it’s as secure as possible, as this is what supports the desktop when in use. The whole unit was then screwed to the wall.

The desktop (another piece of ply) was fixed to the back plate using a long piano hinge, and when it folds down it rests directly on top of the storage box.  To finish it off, we glued a shallow shelf to the top of the back plate. This provides a spot for a pen pot etc, plus when the desktop folds up, it’s held in place by the friction between the shelf and the desktop edge. You could use magnetic fixings instead, though.

My other half was dubious about the fold-away concept. He was convinced the desktop would be permanently left down as it would always be piled high with colouring books, pens etc. But actually, Fonz is really good about popping his books back into the storage box and folding up the desk when he’s finished colouring or writing. I think he’s pretty proud of it!



  1. February 5, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    I love raw plywood, and this desk is so perfect!

    • Heather Young February 11, 2015 / 9:16 am

      Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with plywood at the moment I think.

  2. March 5, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    what a brilliant idea! love it..

  3. March 5, 2015 / 11:30 pm

    That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this
    one. A must read article!

  4. Kittelach's mama
    November 22, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    I hope you don’t mind a comment a year and a half later! How does the desk stay up when it isn’t folded down?

    • Heather Young November 22, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Of course not! We were lucky that the fit between the top of the desk and the shelf is close enough that the friction holds it up. Otherwise we had planned to put a little latch on to keep it in place. Hope that helps!

      • Kittelach's mama
        November 22, 2016 / 9:42 pm

        Yes, very much!! I’ve been pondering a DIY desk in my living room and REALLY want a sleek fold-down option. The fold-up option (think drop leaf tables) was nowhere near sturdy enough.

        As long as I’m asking questions–how do you get your right angles so precise? All of my DIY projects (especially with plywood) end up wonky.

        • Heather Young November 24, 2016 / 3:10 pm

          This is definitely sturdy! I asked my other half about how he gets his edges so straight and he recommends clamping firmly, and using a straight piece of timber as a guide to follow along when you’re sawing the ply. Hope that helps – good luck!

  5. Leon
    November 21, 2018 / 2:06 pm

    I really like your table and thinking to build something similar for my partner and some for my kids. I especially like the storage box that doubles as the support for the table. Do you have any drawings with measurements so I can get an idea of scale? that would be really helpful. Thanks

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