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header craftytravels Travel Laptop Desk

laptopdesk finished Travel Laptop Desk

I find using my laptop on my actual lap to be very uncomfortable. For one, it gets really hot. For two, if I have anything plugged in to the ports on the side, I can’t sit cross-legged for fear of bending the port or unplugging my external hard drive in the middle of an upload or video export. I find putting a pillow between my lap and the computer to alleviate some of the problems, but it’s really not stiff enough to prevent wobbles. I’ve also been thinking it’d be nice to have a mousing surface while laptopping; the trackpad aggravates my carpal tunnel. I came up with this design for a laptop desk using a piece of stiff material (MDF, plywood, or even a few stiff layers of cardboard would work), some upholstery foam, and a fabric cover. Now I can use my laptop more easily while traveling away from my desk to motels, friends’ houses, or even just my couch. Read on to see the plans for making your own.

laptopdesk materials Travel Laptop Desk

Materials and tools:

  • stiff material (MDF, plywood, or several layers of cardboard), cut to desired size
  • upholstery foam sized to match stiff material
  • fabric for cover
  • spray adhesive
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (optional)
  • iron
  • needle and thread

laptopdesk fitcover Travel Laptop Desk

Create a sandwich from your stiff material and foam. Use your spray adhesive to stick them together. Size up your fabric by placing it face up on the table with the foam/wood sandwich on top. Wrap the fabric around the sandwich and pin. Mark the pin line on both sides and remove the fabric.

laptopdesk lineupandpin Travel Laptop Desk

Line up and sew this line on your machine or by hand. Trim the excess seam allowance.

laptopdesk ironends Travel Laptop Desk

Turn the cover right side out and put it over your foam sandwich. Place the seam at the back (so it won’t hit your legs or the computer). I then lifted the fabric away from the desk top surface and sprayed more adhesive between the MDF and fabric to create a smooth flat top that won’t shift or bunch while I’m using my mouse, but this step is optional. Fold the ends like you’re wrapping a gift, and press.

laptopdesk pinlikeapresent Travel Laptop Desk

Hand sew the ends shut and enjoy your laptop in a new found comfortable position! If I had this to do over, I might angle the foam piece so that it forms more of a wedge than a rectangle, which would angle the computer’s keyboard towards me. Create whatever shape you like!

becky stern headshot Travel Laptop Desk

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site:

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