Drop by IKEA's as-is section, any thrift store, Goodwill, or yard sale, and you'll eventually run into one of these wooden slat bed bases. Pre-cut and made of real wood, these bed components can be repurposed for a variety of DIY projects, like the following bedroom to home office transformation...
A friend researching affordable college furniture options for her younger brother sent me the heads up about tuttlecr's before and after IKEA hack, and is now inspired to help her sibling make one of these DIY desks to replace a cheap fold-out plastic party table which was filling in as his desk. Reviewing the project, it seems an easy enough construction to complete with only a few basic tools (and would be even faster with a circular saw), as explained below:
This is my first attempt at making a piece of furniture. I found the bed slats at a thrift store for $10. Next, I lined them up with 30" and 20" cuts and built a frame around the desk top with 2x4's I picked up from Lowes for $6. I used slats for bracing in the middle as well as the legs.
Finally, I used a Minwax combo stain/poly and finished it off by rubbing it down with some 00 grade steel wool.
Material cost was around $26-$28 and with tools (handsaw, screws, stain, steel wool) it came out to about $60. Not bad at all considering a) I didn't have a desk and b) similar priced options from department stores are pretty ugly and cheaply made.
If the all-wood route isn't aesthetically doing it for you, consider customizing the desk top using a metal base or leg from one of these resources. FYI: the twin-size slat bed base itself is only $20 brand new from IKEA.
Additional photos showing the placement and construction of this DIY desk available at tuttlecr's Imgur page here.
(Images: IKEA; tuttlecr)