3-Way Lap Desk With a Pen/pencil Drawer




About: Happy in wood shavings YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/WOmadeOD Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WOmadeOD

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.

If you enjoy it, let me know what you think, and please vote for it in the Hand Tools Only, and/or Furniture, contests.

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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.

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    28 Discussions


    Reply 1 year ago

    You can have this one for £100GBP+Postage if you want ;-)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Just Curious...How Much is That in US Dollars?( To Make & Ship ) REALLY SUPER COOL PROJECT ! Very NIcely Executed ,Job Well Done ! LOVE IT!.....I kinda REALLY WANT ONE AS WELL...It Looks as if You may have just started a small business for Yerself ! 2 Cool ! OH ! ANOTHER THOUGHT...COULD it possibly hold a 130 lb Person as a Stepping stool....4th Option of use? NOT Sure About the sturdiness of particular wood & Gorgeous joints. Thanx, Jeannette


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, that's kind. Sorry it's taken so long to reply - I've been off Instructables for some time.

    It takes my 80kg (176lb)!


    Reply 1 year ago

    100Gb Pound should be round about 200US Dollar


    1 year ago

    Impressive work! The finished product looks great.

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    While this is not at all within my abilities to make, I am very impressed with your craftmanship (well shown in your video) and the beautiful, useful end product! Where I live, something as functional and well-crafted as this, an heirloom to pass on, would indeed be a rare find. Thank you for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much for those kind comments


    1 year ago

    I have been jousting in my mind for something similar. This one nails it!

    1 reply