DIY Lite: Brighten Your Workday with an Easy-to-Build Desk Organizer

Keep pen, paper, and your phone right where you can see them using a colorful wooden desk organizer. Build it this weekend, and you may find yourself excited to get back to work on Monday.

By Ama Ryllis | Updated Nov 4, 2017 3:31 PM

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DIY Desk Organizer - For Paper, Pencils, and Phones

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finding a home for every single possession—and remembering to return them to their specified spots—is always a challenge. Take the home office, for example: Stuffed with miscellaneous papers, tiny clips, writing utensils, tech accessories you use every day (as well as the ones that have become obsolete), it’s no wonder your desktop is in disarray. What better way to bring order to a crowded workspace than by that of a tray built to fit all of your favorite supplies? Customized with one notch to hold important mail and another to stand your phone, this beginner-friendly DIY aims to put days of scavenging for things beneath stacks of paper in the past.


DIY Desk Organizer - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

TOOLS AND MATERIALS Available on Amazon
Wooden plank (3⁄4inch thick)
Wood chisel
Sanding paper
Wood glue
Bar clamps



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Check out your scrap lumber pile or run to the hardware store. You’ll need three pieces of wood: two rectangles each 9 inches by 3 inches, and one piece measuring 9.5 inches by 3 inches. All planks should be 3⁄4-inch thick.

First, you’ll want to create a space for your phone rest. Take one of the 9-inch planks and lay it out horizontally in front of you. Starting at the edge of the right side, center and draw a smaller rectangle that is 3 inches long by 3⁄4 inches wide. Use a handsaw to make cuts along the long sides of the penciled rectangle, then take a chisel and hammer to cut the snick out completely. Sand all edges to remove splinters.



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue the cut plank to the top of the second 9-inch piece of lumber.



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Press with bar clamps for at least an hour until the glue dries. (For a more accurate dry time, check out the wood glue bottle.)



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now that you have layered these two wood planks, you can draw the mail notch and the pencils holes. On the top plank (which should already have one slot), draw a vertical line 1 inch from the left edge and six (or more, if you’d like) marks for pencil holes, arranged uniformly at about an inch apart.



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Time to make your cuts. Saw along the line drawn in Step 4 so that you’ve cut through both planks; you’ll be left with a short block 1-inch wide and the rest of your project. Use a 1⁄2-inch drill bit to make the holes, and bore through both planks. Sand the pieces.



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue both chunks onto the third longer slat. You’ll position the short piece to align with the left end of the 9.5-inch length and the other piece to align with the right, deliberately leaving a space between them for mail storage. Press with bar clamps until the glue dries.



DIY Desk Organizer - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, brighten up your newest desktop accessory with a little paint. We picked three shades in the same color family to brush over the edge of each plank for a trendy ombre effect, but you could choose a single color or pick a complementary set. When the paint dries, finish with a coat of clear varnish to make your handiwork (and your everyday work) shine.


DIY Desk Organizer - Final Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.