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I wanted a lapdesk that was exactly sized for my laptop without spending an arm and a leg for one. I know you can get cheap lapdesks from Target and the like, but I found that those were much too big for my purposes, and especially in a tiny apartment where space is at a premium.

This instructable involves ironing, cutting etc. suffice it to say, there are many points at which you can hurt yourself. So please be careful.

You don't have to use the same materials but I used many of these as they were leftovers from other projects.
 
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Step 1: Supplies

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Besides your toolbox you will need:

A cutting board - I got this one from Ikea on sale, but you can use any flat surface that will be the top of your desk. One thing to keep in mind you want it to be hard and heat resistant (those laptops get molten hot). Finally in my case it was the color that I wanted the top to be, so i didn't need to paint anything.

Some fabric - this one looked fun so I took a 1/2 yard to be safe.

Liquid nail to do the final glueing. if you don't want to drill and have screws on the surface, but this can be bypassed.

Some scrap wood- this can be multiple pieces or a panel, use what you have.

Filling like pillow stuffing, foam or polyfill.

Some screws - I used drywall screws.

Step 2: Measure and plan

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The key step before we start cutting up the fabric till be to determine how big you want the "pillow" to be. The easiest thing i found was to use a pencil to stencil the cutting board on the back of the fabric then using a ruler take away ~2 inches from each side. This will be the biggest panel of the pillow. So redo the measuring if you need to.

Next you want to plan on how deep (high) your pillow will e. to mine I added 3 inches to each side. I did it so high because i wanted to have stuffing between the top panel and my legs when the weight of the laptop was on top of the desk. Think 3d and you should be able to get this step done with not too many issues.

When you have that done, set it aside.

Step 3: The core

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Lets make the top of the pillow that will join to the bottom of the desktop. To do this take the measurement of the largest panel from the previous step and create and cut a panel from scrap wood that is the same size.

In my case I took three similar pieces and screwed them together. then I cut off the tips of the screws that pointed out of the top.

It's important that you have a flat surface, as this is where the desk attaches to so you might want to do this step on a hard surface. If you have a nice panel of wood to work with then just cut it to size and you should be good.

Step 4: Empty pilow

Going back to the fabric, you have to fold and crease it to look like the final pillow.

First plan on cutting the outer most perimeter that you drew on step 2. Before you do that though, plan on leaving some extra on the side of each edge ~1 in so you don't have to be precise.

****This additional fabric we will used to staple the pillow to the core. If you cut it to the exact measurements from step 2 your pillow will be too shallow. ****

So just leave some extra to each side.


Then fold it to look like a box. This is somewhat difficult at first but if use an iron to crease the length and width of the "pillow" you will see that it sort of comes together. This can be a lot like wrapping a box in wrapping paper, but there is no box, so you are just trying to fold the paper (fabric in this case) in the shape.

To get the corners to stay together I folded then sewed the edge of where the long and short sides meet. Look at the pictures. The final picture is what it should look like if you did everything right.

Step 5: Getting someting... finally!

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ok so it's time to put this thing together. at this point you should have a desk core, a pillow case, and a desk top ( that we didn't do anything to)

The key here is that the flat side of the core is facing out and being stapled on. resulting in the pillow being perfectly flat on the hard side.

First, line up the core to the pillow case and staple one long side. The do one of the short sides, then the other long side. I used a heavy duty stapler with 1/4" staples. Be careful with this.

You should have left one side open. Before you staple this side closed you want to stuff the pillow with stuffing foam fr polyfill . Stuff it to the harness that you like to have when done. Then staple the final side.

Check out the pictures.

Step 6: Pretty much done

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At this point you are all done, just glue the desktop and pillow together.

This is where the careful work in step 3 and 5 comes into play. if that surface was flay, then you should have no problems. Just rough up the bottom of the "lapdesk " surface and slather some liquid nail on it. put the pillow and top together and then weigh it down so that it sticks together.

I used a bunch of books and left it overnight.

That's it.

Some other things I learned in this project:

In step 4 sewing the corners together took 2-3 trys. so get some help from someone who knows what they are doing.

Instead of putting together a desk core it would have been way easier to use a single piece of wood instead of "making my own.

The handle on the cutting board is really handy, and in theory you can cut out a circle to have a cup holder or whatever you want to make room for on the finished desk. You would just have to have a bigger "top" and compensate for where the hole will fall, when you are making the pillow.

why not just use a second cutting board instead of the wood? do all the same steps but glue the fabric onto the second cutting board instead of the wood. since it's not going to be seen you could use super glue which would be very sturdy

attgig3 years ago
I like the cupholder idea.

You can also cut a hole in the middle throw in a case fan and a fan guard, connect it to a usb cord, and move air out of it. heck, maybe even throw a small usb hub in there too :-)
mman15066 years ago
like it but i but i bought one fore 7$ not an arm and a leg maybye just a finger or two
Looks good. It could be useful also as a table for eating at parties. I think I will make one.
kathynv6 years ago
Instead of apiece of wood, do you think that a piece of sturdy cardboard would work? You are gluing it to a board, after all. I still think it's a brilliant project. Thank you for posting it.
The problem with that would be using it for writing. You would score the surface, making it look like crap, and difficult to write on. I would love to make one these, as it is very difficult for me to focus at a desk or table when I'm doing my homework.
I think what he had been referring to was the piece of board that the pillow case gets fixed to, then gets glued to the bottom of the work surface, rather than the actual work surface itself.
But still, using cardboard to fit the pillowcase to may be a bit problematic, as it'll not be as smooth and regular a surface to glue to the work surface.
Very nice instructable. :) Thanks for sharing it.
c0lin6 years ago
This is brilliant.
mg0930mg6 years ago
I would make one... but I don't have a laptop. If you send me one, preferably a macbook, but anything works. I'll make this project. XD 5/5 stars
i signed up for a free macbook air, i had to sign for 3 credit cards though.
tell me if you get it?
Oh, dont worry about that one, i'll post a huge forum topic about it. lol
YAY!
rerat mg0930mg6 years ago
macbook? baaarf.
mg0930mg rerat6 years ago
ahhh.... phooey. I heard the video editing on it is beastly. =D and I like that.
Heath ledger. SOrry I've been looking at batman fanart for the past 3 hours.
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Now what would be completely awesome is if you somehow incorporated a protective pouch and zipper to make this both a lap desk and case all in one. I'm not good at making this kind of stuff so please steal this idea as your own ;)
BentCanuck6 years ago
Thanks....I've been thinking about throwing one of these together actually.....now Ijust gotta find that wicked fabric I picked up last year.
valter6 years ago
Awesome Job! I may just make one of these for myself.