DIY Lap Desk

Finished Lap Desk1

My son has to go back to college this week. I am never prepared for it.

I have been trying to focus on back to school, and there is just one more thing we are missing. Well not really, we are missing a bunch of things, but they can wait until tomorrow.

Today, we are missing a cool Lap Desk.

However, I have not seen any Lap Desks that I approve of in the stores. They are ugly. They are plastic. They are ugly. They are too small and too ugly, and too light weight. They aren’t masculine enough. Did I mention they are ugly?

I know I have issues.

It’s just a lap desk after all, not an engagement ring.

However, I just can’t spend money on something that I don’t completely LOVE.

Opportunity strikes for another DIY project!

Board before


I found this old board in a trash pile recently. It was the trash pile of my dreams, with lots of beautiful old wood. I hauled it home before I knew just what I would do with it.

The board was probably a shelf in a kitchen or basement. It had a bit of water damage, but over all was very solid. It measures 11 1/2″ wide (I suppose it’s really a 1″ X 12″ piece), and 3/4″ thick. It was just what I needed for this project.

sanded lap desk

I cut the board down to a length of 20″. Then I gave it a good sanding. I was amazed at how easily the water stains came out.
Lap Desk Supplies

I rummaged through my kids closets and came up with some very masculine things to add to the lap desk. A couple of old leather belts, and an old plaid shirt that no one wears any more.

Lap desk in progress

I trimmed the leather belt into 16″ pieces, one for either side of the desk. I wanted the belt to be old and worn looking, so I chose the parts of the belt that were the most used. As it turned out, I only needed one belt for this project.

I love worn leather. There is something about it.

Have you ever seen Harrison Ford’s leather jacket in the Indiana Jones movies? Did you know that the costume designer beat that new leather with chains and scraped it up with sandpaper to give it that worn patina?

Worn leather = masculine.

Masculine = sexy.

I rest my case.

The belt was cut long enough to span the width of top of the desk and get anchored on the other side with a few screws. I left the belt loose over the top of the wood so you can slide a book or papers underneath as you work on the desk.

Lap desk in progress-2


I almost forgot, but before I attached the belt, I used some creme wax to finish the wood. I gave it two coats. I love the natural color of the wood, and the wax leaves a nice smooth finish for writing. I finished both sides to make it look great.

Lap desk in progress-3

I cut the shirt into two rectangular pieces the same size as the wooden top, 12″ x 20″.  I focused on keeping the button placket centered and even keeping the breast pocket for extra storage (it’s there although it is hard to see in the photo).

I sewed the edges together (right sides in) with a 1/2″ seam allowance, and turned it right side out. I opened the button placket and inserted an old bed pillow (I cut it in half to get it to fit), then buttoned it up again.

Back side finished lap desk

WHAM! It’s done!

The last step, I secured the pillow on to the bottom of the board  and the pillow with some stick on velcro pieces. So far they have held up, I may need to stitch around the pillow pieces if they come loose in the wash the first time.

The pocket comes in handy as a place to store extra pens and pencils.

Finished lap desk3

The leather belt works great to hold a book in place, it keeps those pages from turning when you don’t want to loose your place.

Finished lap desk2

The belt can also hold papers and pencils.

Finished lap desk4

Looks like it’s going to be a great year!


I will be demonstrating this DIY project at the Randolph Street Market event coming soon!


Hope to see you there!

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