Building a desk out of plywood

I'm planning on building some simple desks and hutches for a home office, to replace the assortment of desks and tables we have now. My thought is to use plywood, I saw some nice sanded maple plywood (3/4") at Lowes. One desk will be 48 by 30 inches, the other 96 by 30 inches. I'd like to attach them to the wall, nailing studs along the back and one side, and possibly using a wood pole of some sorts as a leg for the other corner. I'm concerned, especially with the longer desk, that I'll need some supports as well to prevent sagging, any suggestions?
I don't plan on building any draws in the desks, I have enough file cabinets for storage of papers. I do however want to build some custom hutches, especially one for my various ham radios and accessories. They are fairly deep, around a foot, plus I need additional space for the cables coming out, so I'd like to build the shelves and sides of the hutches 18 inches deep, which works well considering I can use the leftovers from cutting the desktop surfaces from the plywood. I'm thinking now about how I am going to go about attaching the various pieces of the hutches together. Can you nail or screw into the edges of plywood? I'd be concerned about splitting the wood, and how well it would hold together. Any recomended ways of attaching them?
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Chris Smolinski
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Biscuit Joinery would apply.
http://www.woodzone.com/articles/biscuit/biscuit_joiner.htm

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I build a whole office out of plywood. I have a 10' desk with two cabinets and 3 drawers. There are also 3 sets of bookcases on the sides. Doors, drawers ... everything is plywood. It is all painted a cream color and looks great. To put it together just use glue and nails. If you not going to paint it I would use real wood for a face frame just to cover the plywood seems. You could also hold the face frame on with pocket screws which work great.
Tim

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Thanks for the suggestions. You didn't have any problems with the nails splitting the plywood when nailed into the end? What size nails did you use?
I was thinking of staining everything. And using the thin wood veneer that you iron on, for the plywood edges to cover them.
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Chris Smolinski
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You can use 1 1/2 finish nails along with glue to put the joints together. Mine were rabbeted in to form a tighter joint. If I had to do it again I would definitely use pocket screws. These will not split the plywood and form a very tight joint. I didn't have a pocket hole jig when I built mine. The Kreg jig is a real pleasure to use. The screws are self taping and hold very tight.
Tim
wrote:

cabinets
looks
paint
seems.
great.
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For your desks, I didn't hear you mention lipping of any kind.
If you want them to avoid sagging, put a dropped lip on either side, particularly on the long desk. This takes almost zero time. Here is an idea---while you are at the hardware store, buy two 8-foot lengths of 1x2, I prefer KD fir but even #2 pine will work. Also buy some 2" wood screws. Glue and screw the 1x2 to the front and back of the 96-inch desk, like this: ________________________________________ | |____________________________________| | |_| |_|
It won't sag, particularly if you lag that back lipping into the wall. You can make it prettier by also putting lips on the ends and mitering the joints. Definitely use a leg on the unsupported corner.
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Thanks for the suggestions. I agree the leg in the corner is a must. I was planning on using a 2x4 on the back side of the desk into the wall. I wanted avoid a lip on the front side if possible, to make it easier to slide a chair under the desk. But I'd prefer to have a non-sagging desk as well, so I'll consider it.
I'm planning on staining the plywood, is there a filler or wood putty I can put over top the screw heads to hide them when I stain?
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Chris Smolinski wrote:

I've had problems with Borg grade plywood warping, sometimes down like a sag, sometimes up.
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I built a home office desk into a horshoe shaped alcove that we have in our house. It is made of 3/4" baltic birch plywood. On the ends it is supported by vertical sides of double thick ply (1 1/2") attached by biscuit joints. At the suggestion of a friend, I supported the rest of the top with a series of double thick triangular korbels, which keeps the knee space clear for a couple of rolling office chairs. These are biscuited to the underside of the top and screwed to battens that are, in turn, screwed to the studs. Each section of the top is biscuited to the next. If this isn't clear, e-mail me for pictures.
Ian

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