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Hi, I could use some advice on a project I'm planning. I've never really done a woodworking project before, but I'm considering building my own desk. Partly to make it just how I like, and partly as a fun project to do in my down time.

I originally thought about using MDF, as it's cheap, strong, and is pretty common for desk building. However, I've decided that I'd like something with a grain that I can stain and make look nice. I'm on a budget, so I was considering using plywood. I was thinking after I sand it down smooth and put a stain on it, it could still look nice, even though it's a less expensive wood type. I'm wondering if that's a good idea or not? And, if so, what kind of plywood?

Also looking for any other tips for someone that's new to woodworking, or any "gotcha's" that you've run into when building a desk.
 

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I originally thought about using MDF, as it's cheap, strong, and is pretty common for desk building. However, I've decided that I'd like something with a grain that I can stain and make look nice. I'm on a budget, so I was considering using plywood. I was thinking after I sand it down smooth and put a stain on it, it could still look nice, even though it's a less expensive wood type. I'm wondering if that's a good idea or not? And, if so, what kind of plywood?

Also looking for any other tips for someone that's new to woodworking, or any "gotcha's" that you've run into when building a desk.
Whatever plywood you decide to purchase will have a very thin veneer of the relevant wood species. You need to be very careful in sanding. I would only sand by hand. Power sanding can easily take off the face veneer.

As for "gotha's" just about any details of how to attach the trim mentioned in other replies, how to join the pieces, how to avoid tearout when cutting the plywood across the grain, how to get the stain to apply even colour between plywood and the solid wood trim, how to apply the final finish, e.g., polyurethane.

You do not mention the tools you have available, which could add to the list of "gotcha's".
 
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