Do It! How to Build a Child’s Wall-Mounted Folding Desk

This child’s craft desk mounts on the wall with folding legs that give the appearance of a picture frame when the desk is closed. When open, the picture frame forms the legs, and the picture is hidden from view on the bottom of the desktop.

The size of the desk will vary, depending on the size of the poster or painting that’s used for the picture frame.

Wall mounted desk during assemble.

To build the folding child’s craft center desk:

  1. Cut Plywood for Cabinet to Width: Rip 3/4″ plywood for the sides and shelves to the desired width to accommodate the items that will be stored on the shelves.
  2. Cut Cabinet Pieces to Length: Cut the cabinet pieces to length.
  3. Rout Dado Slots in Cabinet Sides: Cut 3/4″ wide by 3/8” deep dado slots in the sides of the cabinet with a router or table saw to support the shelves.
  4. Assemble Hanging Cabinet: Assemble the sides, top, bottom, and shelves of the cabinet using wood glue and nails.
  5. Attach Face Frame to Cabinet: Attach a solid wood 1” x 2” face frame to the front of the shelf unit to hide the plywood edges and give added strength to the cabinet.
  6. Attach Shelf Dowels: Install dowels across the cabinet at each shelf to hold the craft supplies in place.
  7. Cut Plywood Desk Top to Size: Cut the plywood work surface to size and cover the edges with solid wood banding to hide the plywood edges. The finished dimensions of the top and banding should be the same dimensions as the cabinet.
  8. Cut and Assemble Mitered Leg Frame: Make a mitered frame for the legs from 1” x 4” lumber. The outside of the frame should be the same size as the desk top.
  9. Cut and Assemble Mitered Brick Mold Leg Frame: Cut a second mitered frame from brick mold with the same outside dimensions to give the legs strength and the frame depth.
  10. Assemble Mitered Leg Unit: Glue and attach the two leg frames together.
  11. Prime and Paint: Fill any nail holes, then prime and paint the entire unit.
  12. Hinge Top to Cabinet: Attach the desk top to the bottom of the cabinet with a piano hinge.
  13. Hinge Top to Legs: Attach the desk top to the folding legs with a piano hinge.
  14. Attach Cabinet Latch: Attach latching hardware to the cabinet top and desk top to hold the desk closed.
  15. Hang Cabinet on Wall: Hang the craft center on the wall with screws in the wall studs, making sure the cabinet is at the right height for the folding legs.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Reading

Allen Lyle: The legs right here is actually a frame, so when you fold it up, it looks like it could frame a picture on the other side.

I’ve got a little six-year-old that wants a craft desk, and I’d like it to be a homework desk, too. But, on the front of it, remember we talked about this? I love this. When the desk is folded up, the legs actually become a picture frame. And so, on the front side of this, which would be down in this position, we want this poster. And of course, she’s a big Disney fan. So, I’m going to have this poster on the front of it. So, the desk I build has to fit the poster.

Danny Lipford: So after a little layout, he starts making his cuts. A cut list is a big help when it comes to getting the most from the materials you have.

Allen Lyle: Oh! Oh! I can get two right there.

Danny Lipford: The sides, top, and bottom of the unit will all be the same width. So, Allen is using a table saw to cut them all to exactly the same width before he uses a sliding miter saw to cut them to length. Putting them together will require a different kind of cut called a dado.

Allen Lyle: And basically, a dado is where the shelf will fit into the side. Just like that.

Danny Lipford: To make those cuts, he’s using a router and a straight edge to cut that three-quarter-inch groove, or dado, into the sides. That way, they support the shelves, and the glue and the nails that follow are only needed to hold the pieces together.

And because he’s using plywood for all of these parts, Allen is covering the raw plywood edges with narrow strips of solid wood to hide that fact. The frame that doubles as the legs for the desk is made from solid wood. So the corners are mitered together to help it look like a picture frame.

To add strength and a little dimension, he’s adding a layer of brick molding on top of that before he begins priming.

Danny Lipford: Once the primer has dried, it’s time for a little putty and light sanding before the top coat goes on.

Allen Lyle: Watch this.

Danny Lipford: And finally, this Pinterest project is ready for installation.


  1. Nice idea!!! Am building one of these units as we speak.
    Seems to me, the cabinet latch mentioned in the instructions should alleviate any danger of the desk falling on a child. Making it a spring-loaded, positive-latching configuration would take care of a forgetful user when closing the unit. An auxiliary unit, under the wall unit, could accomodate the drawers my daughter has asked for.

    • Aaron,
      We don’t have a cutting list with the video since the size of the desk will vary depending on how big the poster is.

  2. What size poster did you use in the How To video? I know it can be made at any size but the size you created looks like the size I want.


  3. Nice idea but there needs to be better instructions besides cut things and glue things, how about more details?

  4. Hello! Loved the video and have been looking for this for a very long time! I do want to ask about how much did you spend to DIY this desk?


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