Picture of Collapsible Desk
When I set out for college, my dad gave me two books: Nomadic Furniture and Nomadic Furniture 2. These books by James Hennessey and Victor Papanek contain tons of great projects and commercial products that were available in the early '70s.

Projects from those books and several Instructables (like the Nomad Desk) inspired me to make a new desk that easily folds and collapses for flat travel.

All materials were acquired for roughly $100 from a local hardware store, making this an effectively inexpensive project
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Call Forth the Tool Army

Picture of Call Forth the Tool Army
I've split the list into parts based on what I would like to have had, and what I actually had. It's doable either way, but I probably could have cut off a good bit of time from the project given more suitable tools.

Ideal Tools:

Table Saw
Drill Press
Miter Saw

Actual Tools:

Handheld Circular Saw
Cordless Drill
Concrete Floor/Random 2x4s and 4x4s
Home-made plumb bob (thread and weight)

Misc Tools:

Tape measure
Drill Bits
Utility Knife
Wood Files
Wood Glue
Wire Cutters
Safety Glasses
Stud Finder

Step 2: Assemble the Materials

Picture of Assemble the Materials
No project is complete without something out of which to make it. I called upon the ease-of-use of plywood and pine board, stained and coated to perfection. All pieces are screwed together or hinged or both.


(2x) 2' x 2' x 3/4" Plywood Squares
(2x) 1" x 4" x 8' Pine Board
(1x) 1" x 2" x 8' Pine Board


(1 box) 8 x 1-1/4 Wood Screws
(6' - 8') #4 Braided Picture Wire
(4x) 2-pack Hinges (1.5" long non-removable pin 4 screws each)
(4x) #210 x 1-3/16" Eye-screws
(2x) Quick-Release Keychain Dealy-things

(1qt) Stain
(1qt) Acrylic Coating


When selecting the plywood squares, lay them flat on the floor to check if they are shaped like a potato chip. Flat is good.

Look down the length of the pine boards to check for straightness in all directions. It is worth your time to get straight wood. You may have to go through a few dozen before you find a good one.
wftilly7 months ago

I've been looking for this plan for a long time. My ather-in-law gave me a plan like this and I lost it. Thank you.

Bando_Red2 years ago
How much force/weight do you think this could stand up to? I like it but I'm skeptical of its strength and stability.
Freelog5 years ago
Could you put your arms on it and for example read a book or would it break?
BeanGolem (author)  Freelog5 years ago
 It's quite sturdy, actually. I wouldn't sit on it, but that's what the chair next to it is for. It has held up quite nicely so far.
wilwrk4tls5 years ago
i dont know what you have done or in mind for a latch mechanism but a simple solution maybe be to get a barrel latch lock

that way the lock can be locked up and out of the way or down to hold the desk upright for (hopefully a lot) less than $5
Warlrosity6 years ago
I would get an old table, cut it in half ( widthways) add hidges to the legs and back of table, drill on wall
drzcyy6 years ago
The support cables get in the way, i think legs would be better.
I agree, although i wouldn't do legs, just move the cables to the corners rather than straight down, would be more asthetically pleasing in my opinion as well.
BeanGolem (author)  drzcyy6 years ago
That depends on how you use the desk. I rotate around in my chair more than I move around on the desk. The computer is in the middle and all my messy crap is on the sides. So far it has worked out quite nicely and I've never snagged my fingers on the wires. Plus, they're fun to pluck and play music with. You can press on the desk to change the pitch.
i want to make one from cardboard
BeanGolem (author)  imthatguy11256 years ago
I was just looking at some old cut'n'fold cardboard stuff I designed a while back and thought I might design some shelves. hmm...
i made a few to hold like ipod speaker but they were badly designed but they held the speaker fine but not a heavy digital ararm clock
sgsidekick6 years ago
I like this a lot! Maybe if you had swing braces that were firmly screwed into the studs and could fold in against the wall under the desk when it is folded up. that way you have complete floor freedom as well as no wires on top.
finfan76 years ago
I'd do this with swingdrop legs. That way there aren't any wires in the middle of my workspace. It would be kind of interesting to do an entire room like this. Drop down bed, table, desk, and everything else.
BeanGolem (author)  finfan76 years ago
I don't use the desk for a "workspace" as it were. I just use it as a computer desk, so I don't need to lay out a bunch of stuff and have big open areas. I also have somewhat restricted space around the desk, so it's nice having no legs under the desk to get in the way.