Introduction: 3-Way Lap Desk With a Pen/pencil Drawer

Picture of 3-Way Lap Desk With a Pen/pencil Drawer

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.

Step 1: Starting Out

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Finish Edges

Bevel all the edges, to make using the desk more comfortable and reduce the chance of splinters

Step 6: The Drawer

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.


jking39 (author)2017-12-10

I want one!

WOmadeOD (author)jking392017-12-31

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

YaronShemesh (author)2017-12-13

very nice! enjoyed it!

WOmadeOD (author)YaronShemesh2017-12-31


BossyRangs (author)2017-12-14

Congrats on winning grand prize, Mitch!

WOmadeOD (author)BossyRangs2017-12-31


jpmarth (author)2017-11-15

Impressive work! The finished product looks great.

WOmadeOD (author)jpmarth2017-11-26

Thanks so much

dekeros (author)2017-11-22

Very nice work and great instructable!

WOmadeOD (author)dekeros2017-11-26

Many thanks

ejaygee (author)2017-11-25

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.

WOmadeOD (author)ejaygee2017-11-26

Thank you so much for those kind comments

fmuhammad4 (author)2017-11-15

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

WOmadeOD (author)fmuhammad42017-11-15

Great, thank you

Wood Eater (author)2017-11-13

Hi Mitch, here we are jajaja

WOmadeOD (author)Wood Eater2017-11-15

Nice one!

Owl Trained ED Doc (author)2017-11-14


Thank you

the norm (author)2017-11-14

With all my power tools, with fences and guages, I could not make that look so good.

WOmadeOD (author)the norm2017-11-15

Thanks, that's generous praise

seamster (author)2017-11-13

This is really cool! Like deluges, I have never seen such a thing as knuckle joints, or even wooden hinges like this. Very clever and interesting technique!

WOmadeOD (author)seamster2017-11-14

Many thanks

deluges (author)2017-11-13

Good project. I had never seen knuckle joints before, so I learned something.

One piece of advice if I may: properly clamp the piece when using any kind of planes. It will make everything so much easier (around 5:10 in your video things are moving everywhere)

WOmadeOD (author)deluges2017-11-13

Thanks. Your right if course, but sometimes filming considerations and distractions get the better of me ;-)

deluges (author)WOmadeOD2017-11-13

I get that, I've dropped a couple things trying to get nice pictures ;)

About This Instructable




Bio: Happy in wood shavings YouTube: Patreon:
More by WOmadeOD:French Polish - How to Apply & Restore/RepairKawai Tsugite - Amazing Three-way Japanese JointMake a Child's Country Chair
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