What is a Slant Top Desk?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A slant top desk is a desk with a hinged front panel which is designed to fold shut when the desk is not in use. When shut, the top of the desk is at a slant, with a small level area at the back of the desk which the folding panel rests on. This style of desk appears to date to the 1700s, and is famously associated with the Chippendale furniture company. It is closely related to the secretary desk, except that it lacks the bookcase which usually tops a traditional secretary desk.

This style of desk is sometimes known as a slope-front, drop drop, or bureau desk. Some American furniture companies refer to it as a Governor Winthrop style desk, despite the fact that the real Governor Winthrop actually died before the slant top desk was in use. The defining feature of the desk, whatever one calls it, is the hinged and slanted front panel which folds down to create a workspace, and may be secured with sliders or chains during use.

Traditionally, the slant top desk was built with a number of large drawers underneath, with room being provided to sit in a chair pulled up to the desk when the top was dropped down. Inside the compartment created by the closing top, there are usually cubbyholes, shelves, and drawers which can be used for storage. Since the contents of the desk need to be cleared away when it is closed, these spaces provide storage for items which need to be kept in the desk.

Some slant top desk designs include a lock for security. When people are done with their work, they can close the top and lock the desk up so that the contents will be inaccessible, and the drawers below may lock as well, depending on the design. The design was intended for use by secretaries, accountants, and others who might be handling personal and sensitive information, and thus would want to be able to lock up when they would not be around.

Many furniture companies make slant top desks in a variety of styles, ranging from replicas of antiques to more modern designs. Such desks are popular with people who have limited spaces in which to work, as the desk is compact and takes up little room when it is not in use, assuming that people close the lid when they are finished at the slant top desk.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I am in charge of a greeting card ministry for my church and love using a slant top desk for this purpose. I send out a lot of cards every month and this way I can keep everything I need close at hand.

Inside the desk I store all the cards, mailing list, postage stamps and pens. When I am ready to sit down and send cards, this gives me a nice clean area to sit and write on.

When I am finished, I know that all my supplies are in one place and will be right where I left them when I sit down at my desk again.


One of the things I love most about a slant top desk is that you can keep your work area clean and organized.

I am one of those people who cannot work or concentrate if there is a lot of clutter around me. When I walk into my office to work, I like to walk into a clean room. This makes it so much easier to get started on the tasks that I need to accomplish for that day.

If my office area is full of stacks of paper and unorganized clutter, much of my energy is directed toward taking care of that first.

With a slant top desk, I can keep a lot of that clutter contained inside the desk so my work area is always clean and neat.

Also, if I have personal information that I want to keep locked up, a slant top desk gives me the option to do that.


My husband is great at building things from wood, so when I told him I wanted a slant top desk for my birthday, he was able to design one exactly the way I wanted it. I wanted to use it for storing important papers in separate compartments, and he made them large enough to accommodate 8.5x11 sheets of paper.

The inside of the desk has two drawers on the left and two on the right. Underneath the drawers is a row of three cubbyholes. Between the two sets of drawers are four smaller storage areas.

I keep papers from the insurance company in one drawer, investment papers in another, tax forms in the third, and receipts in the fourth. Since I have three additional drawers along the bottom of the desk, I have room for whatever other kinds of papers I may need to store in the future.


I am a very organized person, and I really needed a better method for storing my receipts and important papers than simply placing them loose on a shelf. So, I found a slant top desk at an antique store, and it fits my needs.

I keep old empty check boxes for storing receipts. I keep receipts for several months, and I line several cubbyholes with these boxes, labeled by the month. I keep my new, unused checks in another cubbyhole, my transaction register in a separate one, and my savings account receipts and record of deposits in the last one on the right.

I fill the wide drawer with pens, pencils, erasers, and empty little notebooks to serve as transaction registers in the future. I love being able to lock my desk, because this is one thing in my home that I would hate for a robber to see, and he’s not likely to take it if it simply looks like a piece of wooden furniture.


My sister got her nine-year-old daughter a slant top desk for her birthday to help encourage her creativity. She is always painting or drawing something, and my sister stocked the cubbyholes of the new desk with paints, crayons, pencils, and brushes. She put sheets of drawing paper in the drawer.

Her daughter absolutely loved the gift. While most kids are playing video games or watching TV, she is at her slant top desk creating new art every day.

Since she is young and short, she likes to stand and use the slanted surface as an easel. She gathers the supplies she needs from the cubbyholes, closes the lid, and places them in the drawer for easy access.


Slant top desks are handy for artists whose works are small enough to fit on them. I use one while drawing with charcoal and pastel pencils.

I love being able to store all my art supplies in the cubbyholes and the drawer. It sure beats having to dig through a toolbox on the floor, which is what I did before I got the desk. Now, I can keep all my pencils, erasers, rulers, and sharpeners in the little shelves at eye level.

I have the option of either working on a flat surface or a slanted one. I often draw on the slanted surface, because I can get a better perspective of angles that way.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Man with hands on his hips
      Man with hands on his hips