Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shaker Style Lap Desk

A Lesson in Hand-Cut Dovetails

This is a small project I made this past winter. A gift for my wife, a school teacher who always sits with a pile of books and papers on her lap, it proved to be a pretty useful gift. Although it looks like a simple enough project, the joinery quickly became a lesson in cutting dovetails by hand.
The piece is a Shaker design I modified slightly in overall dimension. This version seemed to actually fit on my lap better and the angle of the top was adjusted as well. I used Black Walnut for the piece, the main carcass has hand cut through dovetails and sliding dadoes house the inner shelf, dividers and bottom.
The drawer was built in a very traditional way, solid wood for the interior as well as the drawer bottom. I used Butternut for the drawer sides and back with Poplar for the bottom. The top lid has battens on the interior to help keep things in place; I fastened these with Maple dowels down through the top for added strength as well as a visual accent. A fun piece to build it didn't take up too much time and doesn't need a whole lot of material. I used a hand rubbed oil finish on the exterior with wax on the inside. You could easily change the dimensions of the piece to suit your size requirements.


  1. Beautiful stuff, but im a little scared to ask...wheres the tablesaw and such? :P

  2. lol.. :)
    It's here,really... stacked away in a dusty little corner; next to my router table, band saw, jointer, thickness planer and drill press. I love using hand tools and seem to lately only write about the use of them but the reality is that a well equiped shop needs to have the power tools as well....
    Thanks for the comment.