How to Make a Wooden Desk Organizer (DIY)

By Brittni • Updated on 01/21/2024

This wooden desk organizer is a great beginner to intermediate weekend project. You can use it as a catchall for everything you want to be able to access quickly and easily, as a desk paper organizer, or even turn it into a planter!

minimal wooden desk organizer with notebooks, scissors, and a small plant

I’ve been in major organization mode lately (hence my recent hall closet organization). So I made a wood desk organizer to keep my papers, notebooks, and scissors close without taking up all of my desk space. Because previously I just had piles of stuff on my desk, which gets annoying after a while. 

Honestly, it’s a pretty straight forward project. So even if you’re a beginner with power tools, you can still easily make this. There’s only a handful of cuts needed – no screws or specialty tools needed.

So if you wanna learn how to make a simple organizer like this one, click through for the tutorial. 

wooden desk organizer with gold scissors and muted notebooks inside, with flowing plant

instructions for making a wooden desk organizer

Materials Needed

  • wood pieces (exact dimensions below in step 1)
  • compact circular saw (I use this one)
  • measuring tape or ruler
  • pencil
  • table clamps
  • wood glue
  • damp cloth or paper towels
  • sandpaper or electric sander (optional)

How to Make a Wooden Desk Organizer

1. Cut down the wood.

Start by cutting down all of the wood you need for the project.

I was able to find a few of the pieces at my local art supply store in the exact dimensions I needed, so I only had to make a few cuts for the extra pieces that I needed.

As you can make straight cuts, it’s super easy to do yourself. Especially if you’re using a smaller power tool, like this one (which is what I use). Once you have the pieces cut, sand if necessary for a super smooth finish. 

Here are the dimensions….

  • 2 wood pieces that are 4.75  x  7.5 inches (these are the side legs)
  • 2 wood pieces that are 6 x 12 inches (these are the long side pieces)
  • 1 wood piece that is 5.5 x 4 inches (this is the inside divider)
  • 1 wood piece that is 4 x 12 inches (this is the bottom piece)

2. Add wood glue.

Next, add wood glue to the two long sides of the bottom piece of wood (the bottom piece is 4 x 12 inches).

The piece that I’m holding in my hand in the photo is actually the bottom piece and the one that’s on the table is one of the side pieces that will soon be attached.

3. Attach the sides.

Attach the two long side pieces (the 6 x 12 inch pieces) to the bottom piece.

These two long side pieces will cover up the sides of the bottom piece to create a seamless look.

4. Attach bottom to sides.

Next, add wood glue to bottom and two sides that will touch the other wood pieces for the middle divider (which is the 5.5 x 4 inch piece) anywhere you’d like to the inside.

I did mine off center, so I’d have one large side for notebooks, etc and a smaller side for pens, pencils or even a plant.

5. Clamp everything and wipe excess glue.

Use two table clamps to clamp everything together while drying, as shown in the photo.

Then, use a slightly damp cloth or paper towels to wipe away any excess wood glue that you can see coming out from the joints.

Let the entire piece dry overnight (or according to drying instructions on your wood glue packaging) with the clamps still attached.

6. Remove clamps and add more glue.

Remove the clamps, make sure that the entire piece is secure / solid and then move onto the raised sides.

Add wood glue to both of the remaining sides that are still open.

Then, flip over (so the very bottom of the piece is facing upward) and attach the two remaining wood pieces (these are the 4.75  x  7.5 inch pieces).

You want the ends of each of those two pieces to be up in the air, like you see in the photo.

Those excess ends will become the legs of the organizer when you turn it back over to use.

7. Clamp everything and let it dry overnight.

Clamp everything together one more time.

Use a slightly damp cloth or paper towel again to wipe away any excess wood glue that you can see coming out from the joints.

And let the entire piece dry overnight (or according to drying instructions on your wood glue packaging) with the clamps still attached.

8. Remove the clamps.

Remove the clamps, flip the organizer over and it’s ready to use.

If there are any areas that seem un-level, you can easily fix it with an electric sander or sand by hand (which will take more time but still totally works).

Just be sure to dust off all of the sanded areas before using.

Note: If you want one side (or both sides for that matter) to be used for housing plants, be sure to insert a plastic liner or something similar before adding your plant. The liner will catch the water and keep your wood from getting wet.

Closeup of plant flowing out of wood organizer, sitting on a desk

More DIY Organization Ideas

Start here: with 42 organization ideas for your home – so many good ones to go through. And then also check out…

  • A DIY hanging wall organizer made of canvas that can hold almost anything you can think of. I had this above my desk for years and it held all my office and craft supplies. Now I use it in my son’s room for all of his toys and books, etc. 
  • One of my favorites…a wooden storage shelf / mini vanity, which you can see here: diy small bathroom storage ideas.
  • DIY office organizer made of cork – You can hang these on the wall or use them as containers on your desk.
  • Make your one pencil organizer that doubles as a makeup caddy. I love the way this one turned out. It’s make of wood.

minimal wood planter / desk organizer with notebooks and scissors

Back to School DIY Ideas

While I feel like this project is a good one to make year round, it’s also a nice one for back to school. So, if you’re thinking of using this for one of your kids during that time of year, here are a few more DIY back to school projects that you may like…

minimal modern desk space with wooden caddy and planter, calendar hanging on the wall

minimal modern desk space with wood organizer and calendar on the wall

closeup of wood desk organizer with plant and notebooks inside

closeup angled view of desk caddy with gold scissors and cute artsy notebooks  

How to make a Wooden Desk Organizer

This wooden desk organizer is a great beginner to intermediate weekend project. You can use it as a catchall for everything you want to be able to access quickly and easily, as a desk paper organizer, or even turn it into a planter!
Keyword: diy, organization
Author: Brittni

Equipment

  • compact circular saw (I use this one)
  • measuring tape or ruler
  • table clamps

Ingredients

  • wood pieces exact dimensions below in step 1
  • pencil
  • wood glue
  • damp cloth or paper towels
  • sandpaper or electric sander optional

Instructions

Cut down the wood.

  • Start by cutting down all of the wood you need for the project.
  • I was able to find a few of the pieces at my local art supply store in the exact dimensions I needed, so I only had to make a few cuts for the extra pieces that I needed.
  • As you can make straight cuts, it's super easy to do yourself. Especially if you're using a smaller power tool, like this one (which is what I use). Once you have the pieces cut, sand if necessary for a super smooth finish.

Here are the dimensions....

  • 2 wood pieces that are 4.75  x  7.5 inches (these are the side legs)
  • 2 wood pieces that are 6 x 12 inches (these are the long side pieces)
  • 1 wood piece that is 5.5 x 4 inches (this is the inside divider)
  • 1 wood piece that is 4 x 12 inches (this is the bottom piece)

Add wood glue.

  • Next, add wood glue to the two long sides of the bottom piece of wood (the bottom piece is 4 x 12 inches).
  • The piece that I'm holding in my hand in the photo is actually the bottom piece and the one that's on the table is one of the side pieces that will soon be attached.

Attach the sides.

  • Attach the two long side pieces (the 6 x 12 inch pieces) to the bottom piece.
  • These two long side pieces will cover up the sides of the bottom piece to create a seamless look.

Attach bottom to sides.

  • Next, add wood glue to bottom and two sides that will touch the other wood pieces for the middle divider (which is the 5.5 x 4 inch piece) anywhere you'd like to the inside.
  • I did mine off center, so I'd have one large side for notebooks, etc and a smaller side for pens, pencils or even a plant.

Clamp everything and wipe excess glue.

  • Use two table clamps to clamp everything together while drying, as shown in the photo.
  • Then, use a slightly damp cloth or paper towels to wipe away any excess wood glue that you can see coming out from the joints.
  • Let the entire piece dry overnight (or according to drying instructions on your wood glue packaging) with the clamps still attached.

Remove clamps and add more glue.

  • Remove the clamps, make sure that the entire piece is secure / solid and then move onto the raised sides.
  • Add wood glue to both of the remaining sides that are still open.
  • Then, flip over (so the very bottom of the piece is facing upward) and attach the two remaining wood pieces (these are the 4.75  x  7.5 inch pieces).
  • You want the ends of each of those two pieces to be up in the air, like you see in the photo.
  • Those excess ends will become the legs of the organizer when you turn it back over to use.

Clamp everything and let it dry overnight.

  • Clamp everything together one more time.
  • Use a slightly damp cloth or paper towel again to wipe away any excess wood glue that you can see coming out from the joints.
  • And let the entire piece dry overnight (or according to drying instructions on your wood glue packaging) with the clamps still attached.

Remove the clamps.

  • Remove the clamps, flip the organizer over and it's ready to use.
  • If there are any areas that seem un-level, you can easily fix it with an electric sander or sand by hand (which will take more time but still totally works).
  • Just be sure to dust off all of the sanded areas before using.
  • Note: If you want one side (or both sides for that matter) to be used for housing plants, be sure to insert a plastic liner or something similar before adding your plant. The liner will catch the water and keep your wood from getting wet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @paperandstitch or tag #paperandstitch!

Photography Amelia Lawrence

What do you think of this DIY desk organizer? Would you use it as a notebook and pencil caddy, plant holder, or something else?

14 comments | Click here to reply

This is so cute! I definitely need to make myself a desk organizer! It gets out of hand so fast!

Paige
http://thehappyflammily.com

Paige Cassandra Flamm

Awesome. Let me know how it goes.

Brittni

This is so cute! Definitely want to give this a go!

Natalie Redman

Thanks Hanna. Agreed – it’s pretty neutral for any decor. And you could paint or stain it as well, so there are a lot of options. 🙂

Brittni

Hi Brittni!

I really appreciate your DIY projects! I love this particular project, it’s something that you can use for anything and it matches well with any decor as well 🙂

Cheers!

Hanna

Hanna Dumlao

Thanks Baia and Ann. Happy to hear that.

Brittni

I really love wood DIY, as its easy and looks very beautiful in making for all ages.

Aun kumar

Love this DIY!
WWW.BONNIE-BANDIE.COM

baia

Thanks Ursula. That plant is one of my absolute faves in the house.

Brittni

The combination of unfinished wood + the plant is lovely!

Ursula : {modern diys and home decor inspo}
https://kraftmint.com

Ursula Rosien

Thanks Jessica. Big plant baby fan over here too.

Brittni

great DIY !! loove the plant babies 🙂

Jessica Brigham

Thanks Michelle. I really appreciate that. 🙂

Brittni

I love the simplicity and the addition of the plant, it looks so good!
https://www.makeandmess.com/

Michelle
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