Lap Desk

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 11-15-2013 02:39 AM 5768 views 12 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I saw my first lap desk at the reenactment of the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon of 1790 in Lafayette, ind. this fall. They had many varieties of them and most had a square hole for the ink well. I thought it would be nice to have one when I’m out away from home and want to do some design work. I can carry all the materials inside. I made mine a bit more modern.

They scrapped these old wine crates at the party store where my daughter worked and she asked if they would be of any use to me. I never say no to free wood so I chucked them in the wood room for a future project and this is it. The crates were pretty rough and with the inked writing on them that I wanted to preserve, I could not sand them at all. I tried to center the wording on each piece but some got cut away with the tapered sides

The box is built with lock miter corners so I really did not need a spline to hold it together, but this is the project for which I built the X spline jig. The sides are 3/8” French wood?? and the bottom is 1/4” of the same. The top is 5/8” wood that I built my second folding stool out of and I don’t know what is it but it is light weight. I veneered all the sides so the end grain did not show.

I like special features so I put in a pencil drawer that is held in with 2- 10mm rare earth magnets. The brass pull has a 40 cal shell front soldered to it just for looks. Then when you take out the drawer, there is a hole for you to push out the inner panel which is a hidden dollar bill tray. It is held in with 2 of the same magnets.
The bottom has a pocket milled in that is 1×3 x 1/8 deep so you can pick up paper easily. The top has a pencil groove milled in with a wide spot to pick up the pencil easily

The splines are walnut. I had to cut and finish one half and then load the box in the fixture and cut the other half and finish it. That is the only sanding I could do without ruining the lettering. It is finished with Satin poly but the surface is not all that smooth. That’s okay because I foresee some rough use for it.

The last shot is the desk before I glued on the top. It is located with 2 dowels and just glued together.
It is 3 5/8” x 12 3/8” x 13 3/8”

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

30 comments so far

View nomercadies's profile


590 posts in 2484 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 02:47 AM

Beautiful. That never would have jumped from my mind. So interesting.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View brianadams's profile


183 posts in 2790 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 02:56 AM

Very unique, Jim!


View BusterB's profile


1970 posts in 2153 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 02:56 AM

Nice build buddy. Can always tell the well to do woodworkers…if I was to stage a pic like that…it would actually be dollar bills or more likely monopoly money….lol Another fine job sir.

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2812 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 02:57 AM

Interesting build with some unique character build in .
Great up cycle job my friend .
Love the original printing ,well done .

-- Kiefer

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3449 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 03:05 AM

really nice box here jim, its always a bit fun making something for yourself one in awhile, especially when it will be used to further your woodwork…i like the corner splines…thanks…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View luv2learn's profile


2848 posts in 2448 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 03:17 AM

Jim, what a novel project. Thanks for sharing it with us. Not all things from the past are obsolete as you just proved.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View doubleDD's profile (online now)


7702 posts in 2188 days

#7 posted 11-15-2013 03:45 AM

Jim, most wood with stamped ink has a lot of character, looks like you gave this one a name. Well done and very useful.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View tyvekboy's profile


1807 posts in 3158 days

#8 posted 11-15-2013 03:54 AM

Nice lap desk. I wish I has a supply of wooden wine boxes like you do. Now we know what the X-Spline jig was used for. Thanks for posting.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10265 posts in 4197 days

#9 posted 11-15-2013 05:33 AM

COOL Lap Desk!

Love the design features!
... Back storage box & Secret box!
... Nice feature to make it easier to grab a pencil!
... COOL lil shallowing area so to get individual sheets of paper picked up!
... Perfect use of a wine box! Looks like expensive wine!

Is that an old Screen Door latch to keep the Top down?! :)

COOL… Very COOL project!

A Modern Day version of the Thomas Jefferson lap writing desk! (smile)

Thank you very much!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Cliff 's profile


1302 posts in 1869 days

#10 posted 11-15-2013 08:04 AM

I like the character that recycling has, It is a really nice looking Box…..the printing adds to the mystique of the finished project…...helps preserve an old world charm….....Don’t forget those Dollar Bills hidden away inside!!!!! you could buy a pack of MOLSON or COORS BEER and ponder on the history of old wine crates while sipping on a cold beer. A good Friday evening project!!!!!!



-- Cliff Australia : Snoring is good. It blows away all the Sawdust.

View Doe's profile


1415 posts in 2975 days

#11 posted 11-15-2013 09:59 AM

That is really cool and I love the Jakosh Spline!

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View stefang's profile


15947 posts in 3479 days

#12 posted 11-15-2013 10:51 AM

Nice work Jim with some neat features. I like the way the X splines match the X’s on the end of ‘Bordeaux’ on the sides. Not to sure about the secret compartment for the money though as I’m sure a thief would want to take the whole box, lol.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1969 days

#13 posted 11-15-2013 11:10 AM

Very nice project of recycling Jim… the pencil draw and the hidden money tray is very cool indeed. I see you have your X spline jig at work again, looks really good…

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View poospleasures's profile


775 posts in 2629 days

#14 posted 11-15-2013 12:01 PM

Very neat. I just love all your ingenuity with all the cubbies and using the printed sides. X splines really look good.

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

View Roger's profile


20948 posts in 2949 days

#15 posted 11-15-2013 01:06 PM

Luv it Jim. Really like the hidden compartment also. Gr8 thinking, and designing.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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