What do you call the lecture-hall chairs that have the arm that folds up and down?

I Googled and couldn’t find a name specific to that kind of school desk – but that’s what I’m talking about here – a DIY doll desk, or DIY doll chair with side-arm desk.

Let’s just go with doll desk (for 18″ dolls).

If you have any kind of scrap wood pile at all, you won’t need to buy a single piece to build this DIY doll desk – if your pieces are too small (like mine were), use a bit of wood glue, clamp them until dry to create larger pieces that you can cut to size.

When it’s all said and done, no one will notice the seams – I promise.

You will need 5 pieces of wood (or MDF) cut per below, and a piece of 3/4″ dowel.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

To cut the arches in the chair legs, just trace a sour cream container or something similar and cut with a jig saw.  Ignore the notch in the seat piece – that was an error.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

I wasn’t able to show it in the below building plan, but you can see above that the arm desk portion narrows at the point where it will connect with the chair.  Mine is 1 1/2″ narrowing to 3/4″ wide at that point.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Once you have the seat back cut per the specifications above, angle your mitre saw to 10 degrees and cut the base – this will give the seat back a bit of an angle and will help the doll to sit better.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Start by rounding any edges you want rounded and then sanding all of your pieces smooth.  For best results, pre-drill all of your holes before screwing into place and use wood glue for extra strength.

Attach the chair legs to the seat section (countersink the screw heads for a nicer finish).

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Pre-drill, glue and screw your seat back onto the chair base – you may need an extra set of hands here – I struggled to hold the angled edge in place and drill it at the same time.

At this point, I sat the doll on the chair to mark the height I wanted the desk to be at.  You’ll want the desk to be close enough to her legs so she doesn’t flop over, but loose enough to make it easy to get her in and out… I attached my chair arm to the DIY doll desk at  2 3/4″ up on the seat back.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Cut your dowel to the same length as above – so for me it was 2 3/4″ long.  Glue it to the chair seat and underside of the desk and clamp or weight it until completely dry.  Your desk should be level.

I have the worst time with MDF, so while filling in the countersunk screw heads with wood filler, I also touched up any cracks that were created by drilling into the MDF.  Touch up any seams at the same time and once all the wood filler is dry, sand smooth with a 220 grit sandpaper.

Miss Chloe wanted her desks to be black “so the dolls wouldn’t mark them up”, so I used a spray paint primer and two coats of satin black spray paint.  Primer is important if you are using MDF – it keeps the top coats of paint from just soaking into the wood.  Two or three coats may be necessary on any cut edges – but it’s up to your discretion.

I decided the desks were a little bland, so I taped off a small rectangular section on the desktop and sprayed it with three coats of chalkboard paint.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

This gave Kit and her friends a place to practice their math and writing, and gave the desks a little more “oomph”.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

I had enough scrap pieces (after gluing and clamping several) to finish up three DIY doll desk s for Kit and her friends.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

If you don’t attach the desk portion, these make great chairs for American Girl and other 18″ dolls.  Heck, forget adding the chair back and you have bench seating!

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

So easy, so cute and so much less expensive than anything you can find in stores.

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Save for later:

DIY doll desk, American Girl desk, 18" doll desk, DIY doll furniture

Happy doll, happy daughter and happy Mom because I managed to use up several pieces of scrap wood and create a bit of space in my wood bin!

Have a great one!

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