One thing I need when working on a project is a lot of desk space. The moment I feel cramped, I start to shut down. Previous to this project I had only been working off of a small hand-me-down desk from Walmart, and once I put an oscilloscope and multimeter on the desk, I barely had room to set a book down. So while I was house-setting for a friend who had a fully-stocked wood shop, I decided I should utilize it to build myself a big desk (as cheaply as possible). I started by designing a model in SketchUp 2015.
It's very simple to look up what's available at your local Home Depot, and model 2x4s, plywood et cetera. I took some measurements on myself and found the ideal location for the bottom braces (because I like to rest my feet on them). Then I took measurements on all of the important things that needed to fit on my desk like books, the oscilloscope, my old CRT TV, and made sure they would all fit together.
Once I was happy with the model, I purchased all of the 2x4s. You can get 2x4s at a very low price, which kept the price of this project down. I added up all the lengths of the 2x4s from the model to get my estimate. When I started cutting all of the boards, it was important to cut all of my long boards first, because some of the remnants could be used as short pieces (IE the shelf supports). Keep in mind that I was doing all of the cutting at a friends house,l and would have to take them back to my house where I would not be able to make any adjustments. So I pieced the frame parts together to make sure everything fit as expected.
Once I was done house setting, purchased some screws and began assembling the desk frame. I had to get creative doing this part alone, by using some scrap blocks to hold parts at heights I needed, etc. Once the frame was done I purchased some oak plywood. It was a little expensive, but it's going to be a lot more resistant than particle board, and better to write on than OSB. The plywood was delivered by my father (couldn't fit this wood in my Jeep! Thanks Dad!) and cut with a skill-saw. The rest of the desk was screwed together with no issues.
The only thing I would have done different is pre-drill all of my holes on the edges of 2x4s. Not doing this resulted in a lot of splits. Later on I purchased a nice swivel chair with no arm rests (they'd get in the way). Still very happy with this desk! If you have any questions or would like a copy of my model, I'd be happy to help, leave a comment below!