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Cabinets and Best Material to use with Pocket Joinery

Hi guys, I am looking to make a "U" shaped desk on my second floor. I am not too sure which material to use. I am looking between melamine, paint grade birch, paint grade maple. The area will be upstairs and not really susceptible to any water or anything. I want it to be structurally sound. I plan to cover it up with some MDF panels. Can someone tell me what material works best with kreg screws? What kind of material have others used? Again this isn't for a kitchen but rather for my desk upstairs. Also what is a comfortable height from floor to top of desk to leave for leg space? I'm planning on 25 inches. The desk will be 32 inches high with the top on it. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

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Standard desk height is between 28 and 30" although some desks have a return as low as 25" for a computer keyboard.  If the choice is between different species of outer layer on plywood, it's hard to beat the beauty of maple.  I'd steer clear of melamine and MDF as much as you can for structural elements, they don't hold screws well.  Do you have a sketch you can post?  It depends very much on how it's going to be put together.

I’d recommend a modular construction---separate top(s) and storage bases/ file cabinets.

 

I’d suggest making a working height of 30”.

 

Allow a minimum of 24”, for leg clearance---28” allows more wiggle room, for a larger person. 

32-36” leg clearance will permit swivel chair rotation and knee clearance, from hitting an adjacent structure or member. 

 

A worktop can be made from MDF, with a top surface covering of melamine or heat resistant (Formica, or equiv) sheet material.  The edges around the perimeter should also contain the covering.

 

The top can be made to rest on a supporting base, or file cabinets, located in strategic locations. 

 

A supporting base, frame structure, cabinet, or the like, can be made from plywood or solid wood (pine, fir, maple, oak, poplar).

 

Suitable fasteners can be used successfully in MDF material.

Thanks guys. Russ I'm doing a sketchup drawing shortly. I will share that with you guys. I decided to go with maple veneer core ply. Hopefully this turns out as I want

Here is what I am in the middle of right now.  I am building a rail system underneath that isn't shown in the picture.  I used 3/4" pressed pine for the top, using maple 3/4" for the vertical supports, and 2x4s for the rail system.

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