A simple, easy-to-follow tutorial for building a wooden, folding lap desk or bed tray table! Make yourself a DIY lap desk and get cozy on the couch or use it as a bed tray table and have breakfast in bed!
Anyone else like me and wish they could move their desk to the couch so they can watch TV while they work?? I’ve been dying to be able to do that ever since Chris bought me the laptop last December… And this week, Chris was kind enough to build me a convenient DIY lap desk that folds up for storage and then folds out to hold my (giant) laptop and mouse! It’s so wonderful… I can sit on the couch and marathon watch Netflix while I work on images, posts, or even just peruse Pinterest! It could even be used in bed for reading, eating, etc. So fun!
I hope this simple step-by-step tutorial makes it super easy for you to build a lap desk or bed tray table of your own. 🙂
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DIY LAP DESK
OR BED TRAY TABLE
Materials & Tools Needed
- 1 1”x12”x4’ common board
- 1 1”x2”x6’ common board
- 4 Connecting Bolts
- 4 Nut Inserts
- Nails & Nail Gun
- Stain (I used Early American by Minwax)
- Matte Polyurethane
- Pocket Hole Jig & Pocket Hole Screws
Instructions for Making a DIY Lap Desk or Bed Tray Table
STEP 1: CUT BOARDS
Using a table saw, cut three pieces from your 1×12 – one at 24” and two at 8”.
Rip down the two 8” pieces to 8” wide.
Cut four pieces from your 1×2 – two at 22.5” and two at 8 1/8”.
STEP 2: ASSEMBLE THE TOP
Using a pocket-hole jig (we love this one) screw your 1×2 pieces together into an upright rectangle.
Then, using a nail gun, center that box on the underside of your top and nail it in.
You should now have the top of your DIY lap desk complete – it should have a flat top with what looks like a “skirt” underneath it.
STEP 3: INSTALL NUT INSERTS AND BOLTS
On the long side of each corner of your top’s skirt, measure and mark 1/2” up and 1 ¼” over for your bolt hole. Drill a 1/8″ pilot hole and then a 3/8” final hole all the way through the 1×2 in each corner. This is where your bolt will go through your DIY lap desk’s top into the foldable leg.
On each side of the legs, measure and drill a 11/32” hole centered and 3/8” from the bottom for your nut inserts. Screw in the nut inserts with an allen wrench until flush with the wood.
Now that all the mechanics are installed, test assemble to make sure it all works good before staining.
STEP 4: SAND, STAIN AND SEAL BOARDS
It’s easiest to do this when the desk is disassembled, so pull the three pieces apart. Begin by sanding all of the pieces nice and smooth. We chose to break the edges (making them a bit rounded and not sharp) so that it’s more comfortable when being used.
Next, cover all of them in stain. Let it dry overnight.
Then, cover all three pieces with two coats of polyurethane sealer. We typically go with a matte finish because it makes the wood look most natural but still protects the stain. Let it dry overnight.
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE AND ENJOY!
The last step is just putting all three of your pieces together! Tighten the bolts as tight as you see fit to keep the legs in place when you’re working. The tighter they are, the harder the legs are to collapse underneath. And now, you can enjoy using your DIY lap desk on the couch or bed table tray for breakfast in bed!
I LOVE MINE! It’s so convenient and the fact that I can fold it up and stow it away when it’s not in use is huge.
A big shout-out to Chris (aka my husband and handyman) for designing and building me something perfect. 😉
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