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How to fix a desk top (without pre-drilled holes) to a desk frame

Read our related posts:

1) ‘Pre-drilled hole’ options explained
2) Do you need to drill pilot holes when attaching a solid wood table top to a desk frame with wood screws?

What you will need

  • An electric screwdriver: You will really, really struggle to do it with a manual screw driver. The electric drill need not be heavy duty or expensive.
  • Wood screws: We use ‘Goldscrews’ in the workshop when making furniture, but any good quality screw will do. They do not need to be brass, some desk frame manufacturers supply screws. Make sure the length of the screw makes as much use of the thickness of the top as possible, but does not exceed it. The screw head should be larger than the opening in the frame, if the opening in the frame is very big, you can use a washer.

The process

  1. Make sure you have plenty of space, and a second person available to help.
  2. Place your solid wood top facedown on the floor. The chamfer can help you identify which side is the top, or the grommet hole location if you specified it to be on the left/right.
  3. Centre the frame upside down onto the solid wood top. Most frames are assembled upside down, so you likely just have to move it into position at this point. Note: a small amount of frames do not centre the frame to the top, this will be very clear in the manual.
  4. Optional: using a drill attachment with a diameter much smaller than your screw, pre-drill a small pilot hole in the centre of each available opening to remove some material. Consider using screws with a small diameter to negate the need to drill pilot holes. Tip: mark your drill bit to ensure you do not go all the way through the top. (Is drilling pilot holes required when attaching a solid wood table top to a desk frame with wood screws?)
  5. One by one loosely screw the self tapping screws into all the required openings. As the screws are inserted, frequently check the frame is in the correct position; when they are all in place, gradually and evenly tighten each screw. Note: not all openings in the frame require screws, consult the instructions.

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