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Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

My favorite place to write my tutorials is outside on our screen porch when the weather is pleasant. I love listening to the birds and feeling the breeze blow through the screens. Up until this weekend, I was using an old card table as a desk. But, it was heavy, large and awkward. I wanted a table that was the perfect height and that I could fold and store away when I wasn’t using it.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

As a brand ambassador for Dremel, I enjoyed the challenge of designing plans for this simple farmhouse style folding laptop/writing table. The materials are simple 2 x 4’s and 3/4 inch plywood. The majority of the steps can be done using simple handheld tools like a drill, Dremel Multi-Max and the Dremel Ultra-Saw. (Feel free to use other tools or alter the plans to fit your size preferences.)

Materials:

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Cut list:

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Top:

  • 3/4″ finish grade plywood cut to 18″ x 36″

Apron (use 1×3 boards or you can rip excess plywood):

  • 2 – 1″ x 3″ cut to 14 1/2″
  • 2 – 1″ x 3″ cut to 34″

Legs:

  • 2 – 2″ x 4″ cut to 28 1/4″
  • 2 – 2″ x 4″ cut to 26 3/4″
  • 1 – 2″ x 2″ cut to 14 1/2″ (if ripping a 2″ x 2″ yourself, remember actual size is 1.5″ x 1.5″)
  • 2 – 1″ x 4″ cut to 14 3/8″

Hardware:

Tools:

Additional materials:

Instructions:

Cut your lumber to the size specified above in the cut list.

Drill 2 holes in the ends of the front and back pieces of the apron. Drill pocket holes into the top of all the apron pieces (spaced approximately 8″ apart.)

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Sand all edges and pocket holes on the apron pieces with a 60 grit sandpaper on the Dremel MultiMax.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Assemble the apron pieces. Pay attention to make sure all the pocket holes are facing the same direction to attach to the underside of the table top. The sides of the apron should be set inside the front and back pieces as shown below:

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Secure the apron pieces with pocket hole screws.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Center the apron on the bottom side of the table top. Measure all sides to make sure they are even. Attach the apron to the table top with pocket hole screws.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Cutting a notch in the legs:

Line up all four legs next to each other. Use a carpenter square to square up the bottoms. Mark 4″ up from the bottom of the legs. Line up the 1×4″ with the mark and trace the other side onto the legs.

Set the combination square to the depth of the 1×4″ board (it should be 3/4″). Mark this depth on the sides of each leg to denote the area that needs to be removed.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the depth of the Dremel Ultra-Saw to 3/4″ deep.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut stripes inside the guidelines you made on the legs with the Ultra-Saw.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Use a hammer and chisel to knock out the strips. Use the Dremel Multi-Max with a wood flush cut blade to clean up the edges of the notch.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Test fit the 1×4″ boards into the legs. Shave off more if needed with the Multi-Max.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the 1×4″ boards into the leg notches.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Secure the 1×4″ boards with wood glue and finish nails.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Secure the cross piece 1×4″ from the back side with one wood screw into each leg.

secure-cross-piece

To allow the legs on the desk to fold neatly, one side has to be raised up to fold on top of the other legs. Use the 2×2″ board you cut for this purpose.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Drill a pocket hole into each end of the 2×2″ board. Add wood glue where the 2×2 will rest. Tap the board into place.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Secure the board into the table apron with pocket screws.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Rest the shorter legs onto the 2×2 board. Clamp or support the legs in place.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the utility hinges to the top of the legs and the 2×2 support.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Rest the longer legs in place.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the remaining two utility hinges to the top of the legs and the underside of the table top as shown below.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Test fold the legs to make sure they fold neatly and don’t rub on the sides of the apron. Make any adjustments to the hinges or sand the legs to eliminate rubbing now.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Add the lid support hinge to the bottom folding legs (the longer legs). Follow the directions on the package of the lid support for proper installation.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

The opposite side will not accommodate a lid support. You need a barrel bolt to keep the legs from folding accidentally. Glue and nail a scrap of 2×4 to the inside of the table apron next to one of the legs (I added a barrel bolt to both side, but you only need to add it to the one side when using the lid hinge support.)

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Rest the barrel bolt onto the scrap wood. Mark where the bolt hits the leg. Drill a hole into the leg to accept the bolt.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the barrel bolt to the scrap wood with the provided screws.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Sand all parts of the desk starting with 80 grit sand paper, then 120 and finish with a 220 grit sand paper.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Add edge banding to the plywood top.  a) Cut the band slightly longer than the edge. b) Use a hot iron with foil over it to heat the banding glue and secure to the table edge. c) Use a piece of scrap wood to press and rub the band on securely. d) Use a blade or Band-It tool to trim the excess.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Fill any holes or seams with wood putty. Sand and wipe off the desk before staining or painting.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Finishing touches:

I stained my desk with Minwax Dark Walnut. After the stain dried, I added a hand-painted vine border. First it was sketched in chalk.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Then I painted the design using a watered down white chalk paint.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

The apron and legs received a mixture of chalk paints in a yellow color. The edges were sanded off to reveal the dark stain beneath.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

The desk top received several coats of General Finishes High Performance water-based top coat in the flat finish. The legs and painted areas were waxed.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Add a handle to the center of the desk apron.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

This table can be used anywhere! It’s very sturdy, but doesn’t take up much space.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

I can fold it up and bring it inside and work in front of the TV. Or it can be used as a small sewing table, crafting table or just an extra buffet in the dining room.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

When I’m done, it folds up and stores behind a bench or sofa.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

If you like this tutorial, be sure to pin it for future use or to share! Cheers!

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

 

 

PHGFancySign

Disclosure: As a brand ambassador for Dremel and a #DremelMaker, I was provided with the Dremel Multi-Max to use for a project and product review. I was also compensated for my time, but I was not told what to write or what project to complete. All opinions and ideas are mine. As always, I am very particular about the tools and products I chose to work with and will always let you know the details of my involvement with a brand.

11 replies
  1. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    You did a great job! Do you sell some of these if you make doubles? I’d love one! I wish I was that handy with a drill! Geez, it was all I could do to put that desk together, haha.

    Reply
  2. Hayley
    Hayley says:

    I would use something like this every day, what a great idea! I can’t wait to tell my sister about it. I can build but she can paint way better than I ever could 🙂

    Hayley
    ElizabethsForrest.blogspot.com

    Reply
  3. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    You have the best tutorials ever! Great pics & information. This little table is so cool, how hand this would be to have…another to do list coming up for me. Thanks for this & would I ever love this tool…entering now!

    Reply
  4. maggie
    maggie says:

    Excellent tutorial! I love this folding table. I’d love to enter the giveaway too, but there is no rafflecopter showing up on your blog for me. 🙁

    Reply
  5. katherine
    katherine says:

    You are amazing and I wish I had the courage to try some of these projects!! Love your blog (but don’t subscribe to email updates….. don’t need to as I check it frequently on my own:))

    Reply
  6. Monique
    Monique says:

    I love this table and I am going to make it, just the exact thing I was looking for, but I wish you had printer versions of these tutorials. Your directions are clear and concise and pictures are great. But….my printer wants to print it in 48 page!!!! Lots of paper and lots of ink.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I built a folding writing desk so I could work outside.  Now my family knows I’m most likely on the porch when they […]

  2. […] Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl, created this Folding Laptop Writing Desk […]

  3. […] Folding Laptop / Writing Table by Pretty Handy Girl […]

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