Portable/Lap Desk

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Project by bobasaurus posted 12-20-2014 03:59 AM 1420 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this portable/lap desk for a secret santa gift. The recipient likes to read and write, so this was the relevant project I came up with. It’s made from curly maple, African mahogany, walnut, cottonwood, and jatoba. I hand-cut the dovetails, most of the breadboard ends, and the wooden “shipwright-style” hinge in the back (except for the table saw slice holding the brass pivot rod). I used a lot of planes and other hand tools on this project, and did very little sanding (the top maple piece isn’t sanded at all) as a result :).

Using the #4 1/2 for flattening/smoothing the curly maple top:

Making breadboard ends with the #71:

Making a breadboard-end tenon with the skew rabbet:

Cleaning up the tenons with a shoulder plane:

Routing a stopped dado for the bottom:

Cutting a handle chamfer with a block plane:

I finished this thing with amber shellac as a sealer, waterlox original as a clear coat, and renaissance wax to keep fingerprints off and even-out the luster. Hopefully the recepient likes it (cuz the shipping was expensive :). Here is the full build album:

-- Allen, Colorado

8 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


8552 posts in 1257 days

#1 posted 12-20-2014 06:48 AM

Allen, that is beautiful! The top is just stunning. If the recipient doesn’t like it they can just send it to me! Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing!

-- God bless, Candy

View toolfooldan's profile


26 posts in 1056 days

#2 posted 12-20-2014 01:55 PM

Great hand tool work and craftsmanship.

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#3 posted 12-20-2014 03:04 PM

A unique idea and well crafted with fine wood.

-- Custom furniture

View tdv's profile


1139 posts in 2487 days

#4 posted 12-20-2014 03:59 PM

Absolutely beautiful great job!

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View RogerBean's profile


1598 posts in 2370 days

#5 posted 12-20-2014 04:55 PM

You’ve certainly mastered the traditional tools. Nice work. I will look forward to seeing more from you.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 1837 days

#6 posted 12-20-2014 11:21 PM

That will be an outstanding gift!! That’s beautifully crafted with beautiful wood!

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View johnhutchinson's profile


1170 posts in 1046 days

#7 posted 12-21-2014 02:06 AM

Amazing craftsmanship, Allen !!! And cool tools, too.

I was going to ask how the heck you drilled the long hole for the pivot pin, but then I saw the “trick” in the build album. I’ll remember that one.

I had a “small world” moment when I saw your nifty Woodpeckers t-square. I had a nice visit this afternoon with Richard Hummel (the president of Woodpeckers) at their production facility in Cleveland. He’s a great, down-to-earth guy with some lasers and CNC routers that I’d love to play with.

Merry Christmas, friend.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2601 days

#8 posted 12-21-2014 02:54 AM

Thanks for the comments. The lumberjocks user shipwright came up with this neat hinge design. Here is his blog about them:

This is the second time I’ve used them, and I’m really fond of the technique. They line up perfectly, and are not that difficult to make. Plus 1/8” brass rod is really cheap and common.

John, I really love that t-square. I’m jealous you got to tour the factory… I have one of their stainless triangles on order, it would be neat to see the production line.

-- Allen, Colorado

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