Building a desk for a child is really not much different than building an adult-sized desk. The only difference is that you are going to take into account the height of the child and build the desk to the appropriate scale. As with all desks, you can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. You can build a basic desk or add drawers and cabinets.
If you haven't done a lot of woodworking projects, start with a simple design for the child's desk. This design will be a basic frame and panel project. First, decide on the length and width of the desktop, keeping in mind the child who will use the desk. The smaller the child, the smaller the desktop. Use the wood of your choice and measure out the dimensions. Cut the desktop out making sure that there are equal lengths in the front and back, and on the left and right side.
Now you can work on the frame that will hold the desktop. Again, keep in mind the height of the child. The desktop should be elevated high enough to accommodate the child and the chair he or she will use to sit at the desk.
The choice of frame is up to you. You can either use solid wood planks all around the desk or legs that are much like table legs. For the wood planks, measure them to fit the desk top, use wood glue to place the planks, and then nail them into place. This is the easiest design, but if you want to desk to feel more open, use table legs. This will require you to install dowels on the bottom of the desk top and screw in the legs to fit.
The desk above is very basic and doesn't provide for any storage. If you are ready to take the design one step further, consider installing drawers. To do this, you are going to use the solid wood plank design where the desk is enclosed on all sides. You will also cut out another plank and install it next to one of the end planks and the back of the desk. This will form the frame for your desk drawers. It is up to you how wide you want the drawers to be.
Decide how many drawers you want and how many will fit within the frame. This will help you to decide the dimensions of the drawers you will build. Make sure that the left and right side of the drawer are the same length, as well as the front and back. On each of the four wood panels that will create the drawer, install a groove that runs along the bottom of the panel. This is called a dado, and it is where the bottom of the drawer will fit into place.
Install a handle to the front and construct the drawer. Put together all of the sides along with the bottom and nail into place.
There are two ways to install the drawers. The easiest way is to purchase a metal track system. One part of the track will be placed on the inside of the drawer frame while the other is screwed into each side of the drawer. These tracks will slide right into each other allowing the drawers to open and close.
To further challenge your woodworking skills, you can create your own drawer assembly. Within the drawer frame, you will install wooden runners. These runners will run the length of the frame from front to back. Next, you will cut out a dado on each side of the drawer that will match the width of these runners. The dadoes should slide right into the runner enabling the child to open and close the drawer with ease.