Folding Laptop or Writing Desk

With more of us working from home and needing to create a space to work, this folding laptop and writing table is just the thing you need to make any room into an office!

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Folding Laptop and Writing Table Tutorial

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 large, awkward, and not the correct height for my needs. I wanted a table that was the perfect height and that could fold and store away when not in use. Enter the idea for thus folding laptop and writing table!

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

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, multi-tool, and a circular saw. (Feel free to use other tools or alter the plans to fit your size preferences.)

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Cut list:

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Top:

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

Apron (use 1″ x 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 per the above cut list.

Building the Apron:

Drill two 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 tabletop. 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 tabletop. Measure all sides to make sure they are even. Attach the apron to the tabletop with pocket hole screws.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Notching 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″ x 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 your circular saw (or 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 your oscillating multi-tool 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 (or circular saw).

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

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

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

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

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

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

secure-cross-piece

Connecting the Legs:

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″ x 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 on top of 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 tabletop 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 sides, 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 sandpaper, then 120 and finish with a 220 grit sandpaper.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Add edge banding to the plywood top. You can watch my video below to learn how to finish off plywood edges!

It’s not hard and edge banding is a great way to finish off plywood to make it look like a more expensive board.

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, I sketched the design 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

Finally, the desktop received several coats of General Finishes High Performance water-based topcoat 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 if you want to be able to transport it easily.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

This table can be used anywhere! It’s 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

I’d love to hear if you make your own folding laptop and writing table!

PHGFancySign

3 sanders

Welcome to another tool tutorial. Today I’m going to save you time and effort by teaching you how to use a sander.

How to Use a Sander

How to Use a Sander

If you don’t have a power sander, you’ll likely recognize this contraption below. That’s a manual sanding block. It’s great, but personally I like to move quickly through the sanding phase of a project.

Reclaimed Lumber Farmhouse Table | Pretty Handy Girl

Especially because I feel like I’ve grown out of the hand sanding phase of my life. LOL.

When to Use a Sander:

Using a power sander can speed through the process of smoothing wood and other materials. It’s typically used to either prep a surface or finish a surface before applying paint, stain, or a top coat.

  • A sander can also knock off splinters and round over sharp corners.

  • It’s also great for prepping surfaces to paint (especially pre-finished or raw furniture.)

How to Get a Smooth Paint Finish without a Paint Sprayer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • A sander can also be used to give a beautiful aged finish to any project you are working on.

Chalk Painted Wooden Stool | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Or help eliminate imperfections from a surface.

  • Sanders can also be used to remove rust from metal.

Upcycled Metal Rolling Cart Plant Stand | Pretty Handy Girl

When NOT to Use a Power Sander:

A power sander should never be used when working with materials that would be hazardous when airborne, like asbestos or lead paint. If you suspect these materials in your home, it’s best to consult with a professional abatement specialist. Learn how to test for lead paint in this article. If you have a house built in or before 1978, you might have asbestos. Learn everything you wanted to know about asbestos here.

Need to remove lead paint? You will be much safer if you use a chemical stripper. Learn how to strip paint here.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Personal Protective Equipment for Sanding:

  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Optional: Gloves

When using a sander, it is essential that you wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Eye protection needs to be worn to protect your eyes from sawdust or splinters. And finally, wear hearing protection because exposure to the noise of power tools over time can damage your hearing.

Finally, gloves are not essential, but sanding can dry your hands and make them rough.

Different Types of Sanders:

There are several types of sanders, but today we’ll stick with the most common power sanders used by DIY enthusiasts because of their portability.

  • Sheet Sander
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Detail Sander

Sheet Sander:

The first is a sheet sander. This sander is named because you cut a sheet of sandpaper to attach to the sander.

How To Replace Sheet Sander Sandpaper:

When the sandpaper gets torn or shows wear, it’s time to replace it (or if you need to switch the sandpaper grit.) Look for the clamps on each side of the sheet sander base and release them to remove sandpaper.

replacing sheet sander sandpaper

Mark the size of your sander’s base on the sandpaper.

Cut a piece of sandpaper to size (add about a 1/2″ on each end to be able to clamp to.)

Feed one end into one side clamp and depress the lever to hold the sandpaper.

Feed the other side under the clamp and secure.

When sanding a lot, I like to load several sheets into my sheet sander. This way I can quickly tear off a layer when it’s worn or when I need to move to the next grit.

Random Orbital Sander:

The second most common type of sander is a random orbital sander. Named because the base moves around in a random elliptical motion. Personally this is the type of sander I use most for handheld sanding. It’s lightweight and allows me to get the majority of the sanding done quickly.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Replace Sandpaper on a Random Orbital Sander:

The random orbital sander saves you time when it’s time to change the sandpaper. The sandpaper discs are held on with a velcro-like hook and loop system.

To remove, simply pull the sandpaper off the base of the sander. Then replace it with a new sheet being careful to line up the sandpaper with the vent holes on the sander.

removing worn orbital sander paper, replacing hook and loop sandpaper

Easy and quick. Now you can continue sanding.

Detail Sander:

Most sanders lack the size to get into tight corners or grooves. Those tasks are best left for the detail sander.

Rustic Pallet Serving Tray | Pretty Handy Girl

Smaller in size, and usually with a pointed head, detail sanders typically use a hook and loop sandpaper system for quick changes.

How Much Do Sanders Cost?

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

3 sanders

A good power sander shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Prices will range from $20 to over $200 for brand name sanders. But, you can purchase a good sander for $50-$100.

Personally I have a cordless sander and a corded sander. I love the ability to use the cordless sander in the yard without needing to pull a power cord with me. But, I usually prefer the longevity of sanding with a corded sander. My sheet sander is old and gets less use because the vibrations are much stronger leaving me with numb hands after sanding for a while.

About Sandpaper:

Sandpaper comes in a wide variety of colors and grits. The colors do not mean a specific grit across brands, but within a brand they help easily identify the sandpaper grit.

  • Coarse Grit: 40 – 60
  • Medium Grit: 80 – 180
  • Fine Grit: 200-600
  • Super Fine Grit: Over 600 grit

When sanding a raw piece of wood or something that needs aggressive sanding to remove a finish, start with a rough sandpaper with a 40- to 60-grit. For smoothing out imperfections and scratches, you need to move on to a 80- to 180-grit sandpaper. The final finishing of a wood piece requires a fine-grit sandpaper with a 200- to 600-grit. Super fine grit is usually reserved for metal, glass, or other non-wood surfaces.

How to Use a Power Sander:

Sanders are either battery-powered or corded. If using a battery-powered sander make sure you have a charged battery. Plug in your corded sander.

SKIL orbital sander

Attach the appropriate grit sandpaper to the base.

Look for the on/off switch on your sander. Turn the tool on and gently set it on the material you need to sand. Use slow sweeping motions to methodically sand your workpiece.

How to Fill Holes and Knots in Wood | Pretty Handy Girl

Once you have a uniform finish, switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the process above. Continue sanding until you have a super smooth surface (or desired finish.)

sand all boards

Wipe off sanding dust with a damp rag or tack cloth. Empty the dust collection bag on your sander if you have one.  Now it’s time to finish your project! Add stain, paint, or a top coat to protect your project.

Video Sanding Tutorial:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you want to see a video of using a sander, watch how I finished a branch to use as a towel bar in my sons’ bathroom:

Happy sanding!

Organize Your Sandpaper and Sanders:

Once you find a love for sanding, you’ll probably want to store your sandpaper and sanders neatly. Learn how The Handyman’s Daughter built this simple sanding station.

Get the plans to build this sander and sandpaper storage unit at The Handyman's Daughter!

Scrap Wood Wine Holder

Hey everyone!  Katie here from Addicted 2 DIY.  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go of good scrap wood.  If I think it could be used for anything in the future, I try to hold onto it.  Plus, my kids love to go through the scrap bin and see what they can put together.  It’s good, family fun!  I dug through my scrap pile recently and built this simple wine holder.  It was inspired by one that my aunt has in her kitchen that I just love.  It’s simple, it’s rustic, and it can be customized to hold however many bottles you like!

Materials:

  • 2 – 1×6 boards cut to 18″ long
  • 1 – 1×4 boards cut to 18″ long
  • 2 – 1×4 boards cut to 4 3/4″ long
  • brad nailer
  • 1 1/4″ brad nails
  • wood glue
  • drill
  • 2″ forstner bit or hole saw
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • finish of your choice (I used Minwax stain in Espresso)

Instructions:

Step 1: Dig through your scrap pile and cut your wood pieces to size.

cut-wood-pieces

Step 2: Glue and clamp the 18″ 1×4 board flush with the top of the 1×6 boards.  Nail in place with 1 1/4″ brad nails.

glue-and-nail-front-and-back-pieces

Step 3: Glue and clamp the 1×4 ends and nail into place with 1 1/4″ brad nails.  This will form a box. Read more

A refinished wooden sideboard left with a natural stain – not painted! Learn how to refinish this sideboard.

Have you ever turned down a piece of furniture that looks ruined? Aha, today’s rocker is Emily and she has the superpower to make furniture look brand new again!  On the Rockstar DIY stage today is a performance you won’t forget. Emily will single-handedly take you through the steps of Refinishing a Mid-Century Sideboard.

Rockstar DIY Series

If you haven’t met Emily yet, she is truly a Rockstar! Emily lives in Rochester, NY and is ALWAYS working on an amazing home improvement project.

Emily-MerryPad

Emily can be found with a hammer, saw or drill in her hands at MerryPad. She has painstakingly renovated two homes. And, as if she wasn’t busy enough with home projects (and taking care of a baby and her step-daughter), she can also be found blogging at DIYNetwork’s Made + Remade. That girl is a machine!

Oh, I hear the sound of a sander, so put your hands together and give it up for Emily!

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Hey guys! Super nice to meet you. If we haven’t already met, I figured there’s one thing you should know about me: I really like getting my hands dirty. Building furniture can be fun, and learning how to maintain my home has brought me a lot of pleasure, but if you see me and you notice my hands and arms are coated by stain? Well, you’ll know that I’ve been having a really good time (and I’ve probably run out of mineral spirits, again). Refinishing and restoring furniture–and cabinets, and floors, among other things–is one of my favorite DIY endeavors, always a fun learning experience, and always an opportunity to bring new life into an item that was once beautiful. I’ve had some lucky secondhand finds over the years, from bedside tables to chairs, but one of my favorite transformations was this Bassett Sideboard that I scored from a garage sale for $15.

How to refinish a vintage midcentury sideboard with scratches and water damage.

T’was one of my first refinishing projects, swoon.

If you’re tackling your first refinishing project (or just looking for tips), here are the products and tools I used for this makeover:

  • Detail palm sander and normal sandpaper to get into small crevices
  • Rags (general clean up cloths, and old rags or socks for applying the stain)
  • Tack cloths (the tack cloths are wonderful for cleaning all evidence of sanding dust before staining)
  • A paint brush and high-density foam roller (for application of the conditioner and polyurethane topcoat)
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Oil-based stain (for this piece I chose English Chestnut by Minwax)
  • Gloss polyurethane

An extraordinary amount of sanding went into eliminating the damage that had existed in the top surface. Scratches are relatively easy to cure, but you never know how bad the water damage is until you start sanding deep, as evidenced by this progress photo:

How to refinish furniture with scratches and water damage.

Elbow grease and a few more courses of low-grit sandpaper (80-120) helped to transform the surface of the sideboard into a raw wood state and eliminate the visible water rings. You might find that your water damage runs deeper – every case is different. Read more

How to Paint a Deck Mandala Tattoo | Pretty Handy Girl

As promised, I’m back today to show you how to paint a giant mandala tattoo on your deck. Painting a design on your deck can turn an ordinary deck into a beautiful retreat. Add a few colorful accessories and you’ll have a backyard Bali getaway! Creating the mandala is a lot easier than it looks. Ready to get started?

Materials:

Instructions:

Pre-stained your deck with one coat of Thompson’s Waterseal Semi-transparent stain. (I used Acorn Brown.) Allow the stain to dry.

How to Paint a Deck Mandala Tattoo | Pretty Handy Girl

Choose the location for the center of your design. Trace around a small circular object or use the tack and string to trace a small circle.

How to Paint a Deck Mandala Tattoo | Pretty Handy Girl

Place the thumbtack in the center of the small circle and draw circles radiating out from the center. Try to add more distance from the previous circle as you go outward. (i.e. 3″ from the center, 6″ from the inner circle, 10″ from the 2nd circle.)

How to Paint a Deck Mandala Tattoo | Pretty Handy Girl

Divide your inner circle into eight sections and make a chalk tick marks. Read more