Here's how I built my three-way lap desk. It can either have two legs to support it above your legs, one leg whilst resting the other end on a chair's arm, or no legs, when it can rest on both arms of an armchair or your lap. The handy drawer stores a pencil or pen so you're never without one.
The video shows all the steps, including the optional use of a drill press (hand or motor powered) which would be sensible to use if available These written instructions will be useful to keep you headed in the right direction.
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Step 1: Starting Out
You'll need to prepare a top and two legs, as shown. Sizes should be to suit you and what you intend doing with the desk - remember that the legs will end up shorter by the thickness of the top
Mark out for a knuckle joint at each end. My video on this joint will help, but for this desk it wants to just open to 90°
Step 2: Prepare the Nuckles
Saw and chop away as much waste as possible
A 'v' groove is worked to allow the hinge to open to 90°
Then the knuckle is rounded to a cylindrical shape
Step 3: Cut the Fingers
The individual fingers of the knuckle joint are cut and pared accurately, and rounded cavities formed to take the opposing fingers
When completed, the joints should stay tight from 180° (fully open) to 90° (right angles - legs down)
Step 4: Drill for the Hinge Pins
With the joints tightly held together, bore a concentric hole through the knuckle joints
Start one side, then flip over and bore from the other side until the holes meet. Do the same for both legs
Insert tight hardwood dowels as hinge pins
Step 5: Finish Edges
Bevel all the edges, to make using the desk more comfortable and reduce the chance of splinters
Step 6: The Drawer
Bore a 1" (25mm) hole about 10" (250mm) deep into the front edge of the desk
Turn a corresponding rod, with a larger diameter 'pull' on the end
Saw and chop out a cavity to hold a pencil
File in finger slots on the pull, to give better grip
Step 7: Finish It Off
A coat or two of finishing oil will bring out the beauty of the wood, and help protect it
A little wax on the drawer will help if it binds at all
Now sit back and use it!
Thanks for reading my instructable. Let me know what you think, and please vote for it in the Hand Tools Only, and/or Furniture, contests.