Scrap Lap Desk

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If you've built up a pile of scraps, this is the perfect project to take on. Perfect for your teen's room or even as a occasional work surface on the living room floor, this lap desk features sturdy construction and lift top storage.

24" Wide x 14" High x 14" Deep


Shopping List

Standard Hinges 

1 - 1x12 @ 4 feet long 
1 - 1x4 @ 6 feet long 
1 - 2x2 @ 6 feet long 
1 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
Common Materials
2 inch screws
2 1/2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

A) 1 – 1×12 @ 19 1/2″ (Bottom of the top storage compartment) 

B) 2 – 1×4 @ 11 1/2″ (Sides of the top storage compartment) 
C) 2 – 1×4 @ 21″ (Front and Backs of the top storage compartment) 
D) 4- 2×2 @ 13″ (Legs) 
E) 2 – 2×2 @ 10″ (Top Trim) 
F) 2 – 1×3 @ 10″ (Bottom of the Side Compartments) 
G) 4 – 1×3 @ 4″ (Sides of the Side Compartments) 
H) 4 – 1/4″ Plywood cut at 10″ x 4 3/4″ (Front and Back of Side Compartments)
I) 1 – 1×3 @ 11 1/2″ (Divider for the top compartment) 
J) 1 – 1×3 @ 6″ (Short Divider for the top compartment) 
K) 1 – 1×2 @ 24″ (Top, Back, Fixed) 
L) 1 – 1×12 @ 24″ (Hinged Top)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Start by cutting all your boards. Use 2 3/4″ screws and 2″ nails unless otherwise directed. Always use glue. Predrill and countersink all screw holes.


Step 1

Nail boards B to board A, keeping outside edges flush, as shown above.

Step 2

Nail boards C to boards A and B as shown above.

Step 3

Screw the legs to the top storage compartment, as shown above.

Step 4

The Top Trim, E, is screwed to the top storage compartment with 2″ screws (you can also use 2″ nails). Make sure you also screw through the legs into the end edges of the Top Trim, E.

Step 5

Step 6

Add the plywood to the backs of the side storage compartments with nails.

Step 7

Then plywood the front, as shown above, again with nails and glue.

Step 8

Add the dividers, I and J, to the storage compartment as shown above, using nails through the sides of the top storage compartment. You can adjust the dividers to suit your needs.

Step 9

Nail the top back piece, K, to the top of the lap table, as shown above. Keep outside edges flush.

Step 10

Use hinges to attach the hinged top, L, to the top back, K.


J (not verified)

Sun, 01/31/2010 - 19:27

We're in the process of making this and I think there might be an error in the materials listing:
21" 1x12 should be 24" for the hinged top.
The other 1x12 should be a 24" 1x2 for the fixed top.
Other than that it was great! Can't wait to try more of your cool plans!


Wed, 07/06/2011 - 05:04

I would like to incorporate this desk with the C table plans on this site. I also would like to turn the table top sideways to where it is 20 inches wide vice long. The only problem is that it is only going to be 11 inches from back to the front and I don't know if that is going to be enough to pull it close enough.

here are my questions.

If I made the compartment a 20"x20", would the 1x6 still support the weight of a laptop computer and misc stuff stored in the compartment.

Would I need to shorten the height? Do I need to strengthen the base any?

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Kassi (not verified)

Sun, 05/06/2012 - 17:04

The second I saw this I thought "this would make an amazing conductor's podium" I am a band director and I have fiddled for years to create an organized space around my podium. This year I decided my only options were to pay hundreds for the custom systems (which are really cool) or make it myself. You've inspired me. I will make it myself this summer.

I will be making a few changes to your awesome plans to make this lap desk into a conductor's podium:
- taller legs (waist high)
- put the storage compartments within reach while standing
- enlarge the actual desk to hold full sized music scores
- change the configuration of the interior dividers
- small shelf under the desk top.
- Make the desk top an incline with a little band of molding to hold the music on the desk top.

Thank you SO much!

Jil (not verified)

Sat, 01/12/2013 - 12:13

I would love to make this with legs that fold under. My hubby and I travel a lot (we just bought an rv!) and would love to be able to easily store this in a closet on the road. Any ideas? Thanks!

Ps. LOVE your blog!