Secretary Desk

Secretary Desk

Turn a bookcase into a secretary desk by adding a fold away shelf!

5 col

Difficulty: Easy

Used bookcase
Pre-cut wood piece (preferably oak or pine cut to size of shelf)
3”x9”x¾“ Wood blocks (2)
Screw gun (with #1 Phillips Head bit)
Drill (with 1/8” bit)
Traditional hinges (2)
(12) ¾” Wood screws
(2) 1¼” Wood screws
Counter sink bit
Sandpaper (150 grit)
Dry rag
High gloss paint
Painters tape
Paint roller
Paint brush
Paint tray
Tape measure
Decorative knob



1. A standard computer desk is usually between 28”-30” in height. Using a tape measure, determine which of the shelves in the bookcase is closest to that height. If the shelves are repositionable, adjust one of them to be within the 28”-30” range. This will be the shelf that the folding desk attaches to in later steps

2. You will need a piece of wood that is the same dimensions as the shelf you chose to use for the desk in Step 1. Measure the width, depth and thickness of the chosen shelf and make a note of the measurements. Have a piece of wood pre-cut to match those measurements at your local hardwood store

3. Take your pre-cut wood and measure 4” in from both edges along the long side. Mark with a pencil. These will be the placements for the two hinges used for attaching the wood to the bookshelf (See image below)

4. Place the hinge over the edge of the wood at the 4” mark so the hinge is able to fold closed. Mark the drill holes in the hinge with a pencil (See images below)

5. Using the screw gun with the Phillips head bit, secure the hinge to the wood piece with (3) ½” wood screws into each marked hinge hole

Tip: When using small screws, use the screw gun to create a small hole that the screw can sit in. This will help to keep the screw in place while drilling.

6. Repeat Steps 4 – 5 for adding the second hinge along the same long edge of the wood


7. Hold the pre-cut wood piece flush to the bookcase shelf where it will be attached. Secure it to the bookcase using a screw gun to screw in (6) ½” wood screws through the hinges. Now the pre-cut wood piece is attached, it will be able to fold in and out of the bookcase (See images below)



Become a member of P&G everyday and get exclusive offers!

Become a member

8. Two wood blocks will be attached underneath the shelf with the desk to act as supports when the desk is open. Measure 5” on the long side of each wood block and mark with a pencil. Position the wood blocks on the inside of the hinges with the longer end (5”) on the inside of the bookcase, and the shorter end (4”) to extend over the edge of the bookcase shelf (See image below)

9. Using a pencil, trace a line onto the bookcase shelf along the side of the wood block, opposite of the hinge. Remove the block. In the center point between the edge of the hinge and the pencil mark, measure 1” from the edge of the bookshelf and mark with a pencil. This is where the block will be secured (See diagram below)

10. Drill a pilot hole using a drill with a countersink bit through the pencil mark in Step 9

11. Hold the wood block underneath the bookcase shelf, aligning the 5” pencil mark from Step 8 with the edge of the shelf. Use a screw gun with a Phillips Head bit to secure a 1¼” wood screw through the top of the shelf and into the wood block underneath. The block will now be able to be pushed into the bookshelf when unused, and be pulled out to support the desktop wood board when the board is in use (see images below)

12. Repeat steps 9-11 for the second wood block support


13. Inspect the bookcase for areas where there might be a varnish finish or pealing paint. Use sandpaper to smooth these areas wipe away excess dust with a dry rag

Tip: There is no need to sand if there is already a rough finish. Only sand the smooth, shiny spots to create teeth for the paint to stick better and last longer

14. Use painters tape to mask off the back of each open shelf area, except for the shelf where the desktop wood board attached

15. Paint the back of each open shelf using a paintbrush in the corners and tricky areas and a roller for the second coat. For the shelf with the desk, paint the entire open shelf area, plus both sides of the desktop wood board. Also paint the wood blocks under the desk. Add a second coat of paint and allow to dry for 30-45 minutes before moving on to the next step (See image below)


16. Open up the desk and use a tape measure to find the center of the outer edge. From this center mark, measure 1” in towards the back of the desk. This will be where the knob is attached. Use a drill with a ¼” bit to make a pilot hole through your mark (See image below)

17. Attach the knob through the pilot hole making sure it’s on the underside of the desk when the desk is open (See image below)

Complete your personal information

Please fill in the information marked with an asterisk to proceed; if you want to get tailored offers and content, don't forget to fill in the optional fields.