Laptop Desk: Episode 1

Laptop Desk EP1 Keyframe

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With the wood milled, we’re ready for the first stage of the project, laying out the joinery on a storyboard. Paul goes through the details step-by-step to get all the correct angles and tapers cut. Then the mortises can be laid out onto the legs.

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  1. Michael Barnes on 28 June 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Too short, quality over quantity for sure but these videos are getting too short.

    • oldman118 on 28 June 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Michael, there is a question:”, How does a pygmy eat an elephant?” The answer is…One small bite at a time. Relative to Paul, despite my age, I am a pygmy. I appreciate these ‘small bites’. Allows me to digest one complex procedure before going on to the next.

      • Edmund on 28 June 2017 at 4:36 pm

        Agreed, John. It’s also easier to keep up with the project when it’s one small bit at a time for those of us who are neither skilled nor experienced. Gives us time to ask questions, correct mistakes, learn new techniques, mentally digest complexities, etc, while still being current.

        We should keep in mind that Michael didn’t specify — he might agree with us on the relatively limited number of woodworking procedures in a video, and would just prefer the video be longer so Paul can be more expansive about those procedures, about the piece, the design, or whatever else. I certainly wouldn’t object to that.

      • canoe on 1 July 2017 at 6:13 pm

        To me, it’s all about the quality and little about the quantity. If I’ve learned something and it took Paul only a couple minutes to do it in, It’s all good!

        That’s what I signed up for…to learn. It’s Paul’s job to teach, and mine to learn. I feel Paul and the crew are keeping up to their end of the bargain. It’s up to me to keep up to my end.

    • James Savage on 28 June 2017 at 5:06 pm

      The videos are around 30 minutes long which is what was stated they would be before I signed up, no complaints here.

      “New paid project videos are published every Wednesday, with a running time of about thirty minutes each. They aren’t available anywhere else.”

    • Greg Jones on 28 June 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Just curious if you saw where Phillip addressed your concern about the length of the videos in episode 3 of the keepsake box?

  2. fudoka on 28 June 2017 at 4:35 pm

    It’s not Linux – I’m on openSUSE (42.2) and it works fine under Chromium.

  3. James Savage on 28 June 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Really looking forward to this project. I must get some 6mm ply in for laying out, I’ve used my last big bit backing a mirror on your mirror project 🙂
    Loving the videos, where else could you get this much quality tuition for £10 a month? Keep up the good work, it is appreciated.

  4. Craig Milroy on 28 June 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I might be missing something… What comes up as Episode 1 has the wood all milled and ready to work on the top. Did the milling get done somewhere else, or are my episodes mixed up?

    • Peter Bernhardt on 28 June 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Stock preparation is assumed in most of these projects. And I think for good reason as it is usually the same process for every project. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. For me, stock preparation is one of the more enjoyable and rewarding phases of a project. I do it (mostly) by hand. Taking rough boards into a stack of accurately dimensioned stock is fun and helps me (at least) helps me get into a rhythm with the project. What’s not to like about a shop floor full of shavings and a brow glistening with well-earned sweat? 😉

      • FrancoUnamerican on 24 October 2017 at 1:42 pm

        How long does it take you ? I have a hard time to split 8/4 cherry or maple into 7/8 boards. it seems to take forever.

    • Joseph Sellers on 29 June 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Craig,

      You aren’t mixed up. As Peter says this is often repetitive between projects, so some projects we just start with the wood milled. We do this, so we don’t keep saying the same thing over again.

      Our stock preparation videos combined with the cutting list given on the introduction episode should give you everything you need.

      Here is a link to a collection of helpful stock preparation videos:



      • Sven-Olof Jansson on 29 June 2017 at 9:11 pm

        Beg to disagree, Joseph. The preparation part is where very important teaching can take place, as evidenced in the superb videos on preparing wide boards (Dining table project). Each tree is unique and that is inherited by the wood, while one mortice is much the same as the next one; and I can’t remember a project without mortising.

        Watching dimensioning by planer and thicknesser is of course uninspiring, particularly to subscribers who have no access to those machines, but the evaluation and selection of the wood and pieces will always allow for a good class.


        • Edmund on 29 June 2017 at 10:38 pm

          I think it would depend on what actually happens when the wood is chosen and the stock prepared, perhaps also if the project contains new elements which require adjustments to the standard approaches to stock preparation. If there’s nothing in the preparation of the stock for this project that hasn’t already been covered, there’s simply no point is showing it.

          Perhaps you’d agree with this analogy — Each person is unique, but for 99.9999999% of all people you can just say “Hello”, you don’t need to be told 6.999999999 billion times how to greet another human. For the Queen, OK, some special tweaks to the greeting, if you’re in some nation with a very different culture, OK, some changes, etc.

          So if the stock preparation for this video was very “vanilla” / normal / standard / straightforward, what would we learn if they showed it?

          OTOH, I’d agree that if anything unusual, previously undiscussed, etc did occur during stock preparation, it definitely should be shown and perhaps even have its own episode, depending on the amount of tuition required to convey the new material.

          • Sven-Olof Jansson on 30 June 2017 at 3:22 pm

            Accepting your analogy, ‘Hello’ would (with substitutes depending on prevailing language), when used randomly, on average be a good enough greeting. But, neither human interactions, nor Mr P. Sellers’ choice of wood are random instances. Personally, when in France, I prefer ‘Bon jour’ above ‘Ca va’ when addressing anyone except my next door neighbour. Similarly, Woodworking Masterclasses (Shows[?]) prefer a few species (oak, sapele, and cherry); often further limited to straight grained, knot free, and quarter sawn. With these confinements, I agree no additional teaching on stock selection and preparation is required – Hello would be fine. Then again, it should perhaps be recognised that many (majority possibly) do not have access to such exquisite stock, or for whatever reason prefer other species; and are likely to benefit from information on when specific qualities of the wood are mandatory, and how to look for those properties both before and after dimensioning, which in itself I think does not need to be shown. Given that wood prices are not always of the benevolent nature found in Britain and North America, layout for optimal cutting should in my view also be presented.

            Basically, I just believe that challenges make for good learning and that perfect stock should only be used when absolutely necessary (as in door frames)


        • dude on 3 July 2017 at 11:24 pm

          Guys it’s depressing to read all this pointless exchange of ‘opinions’.
          Use your energy on something useful instead like practicing on your planing technique. That way you can get over your need for Master Sellers to show over and over what anyone watching these videos and considering building a piece should have mastered a long time ago.

          • silmarils94 on 5 July 2017 at 11:47 am

            Did you considered that not everybody subscribed years ago? Your case is not the only one.
            In your point of view , it’s not necessary to show tenon making, dovetail making….ect, do you realy want a laying out video, because everybody knows all joinery for years…..
            Not agree with you in this point

          • Craig on 5 July 2017 at 1:13 pm

            Access to all previous material is available to Premium ( paying) members at $15.00/ month.
            A spectacular value.
            By working through those you can catch up pretty quickly.
            And, ” wait there’s more”, over 100 free videos on Pauls Youtube channel.

    • bigaxe on 29 June 2017 at 9:39 pm

      I like wood preparation. There is something very satisfying in taking a rough board and turning it into a lovely piece of wood perfectly square and smooth with a nice grain pattern.

  5. joeleonetti on 29 June 2017 at 1:49 am

    Thanks Paul. With all of these angles, I had thought we were going to be using a bevel gauge (I that’s what it’s called). Was interesting to see that with the story board you have another way to do this. I love learning all the different ways to do things.

  6. Ed on 29 June 2017 at 2:18 am


    Was the layout for the second set of lines transferred from the story board or from the newly cut pair of legs? I’m guessing you transfer from the newly cut legs rather than from the story board so that things come out as identical as possible.

    Is there anything that needs to be a mirror image on the second set of legs so that the two pairs are mirror images rather than identical? Looks like they are identical.

    • Ed on 29 June 2017 at 2:19 am

      oops…I mean second set of legs, not second set of lines.

    • Philip Adams on 29 June 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Good question Ed. The preference is indeed to use the other legs, as that removes any margin for error from transferring from the story board.

  7. red58impala on 29 June 2017 at 7:43 am

    I’m running Linux Mint 17/Firefox and no problems with videos, past or present here. I’m sure the team will help you get this sorted out.

  8. Mark Hawkins on 29 June 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Hello Praki, Just a note to say I finally emailed you back! Sorry about that. This issue does pop up from time to time, it’s usually pretty short-lived. DO email me back, and I will endeavour to respond a bit more swiftly next time.

  9. Salko Safic on 29 June 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Its a cookie issue, you have to accept cookies to view these videos, unfortunately it happens every time you enter the site so you’ll have to accept them everytime.

  10. avlijaner on 29 June 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I like story board thing, but it got me thinking… From rough sawn wood, and not having power tools, isn’t it more efficient using templates (like rocking chair video)? It seems like less work and less waist wood… Or I’m more likely to make mistake that way? I could go back to story board after, but save time of squaring all sides on all components and then tapering? Don’t laugh at me for this question 😊

    • Philip Adams on 3 July 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Hello Ivan,
      You could experiment and templates are very effective. Having all your stock square beforehand make a big difference when transferring your layout between legs and helps you to stay consistent with sizing, so keep an eye on that.
      Best, Phil

  11. hachten on 30 June 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I like the design, but I need drawers. Could this design be the basis for a writing desk with two drawers? Could I replace the front board but with a dovetail across the top span and a mortise and tenon connecting the legs below it? And a mid-board mortised between those two between the front and the back?

    • Craig on 1 July 2017 at 2:13 am

      Of course…it’s your table.
      You’ll need to figure out the runner placement obviously.
      I’d recommend a full scale dwg to sort out the details.

  12. bobmccct on 3 July 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Paul – At 12 minutes you are ripping the leg to size. What are the specifics of that saw?

  13. Philip Adams on 4 July 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Hello Bob,
    They are a Spear & Jackson saw as mentioned in the following posts:
    Paul uses both a 7ppi and 10ppi that he has sharpened for a ripcut.

  14. Sandy on 9 July 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Another great instruction Paul and crew. I look forward to starting this project. I can see where a desk or two might be great gifts for the grandchildren.

  15. Robin Douglas on 30 March 2018 at 12:15 am

    Is there any videos where Paul talks about story-boards? I’m a recent paying member and going through the videos in a haphazzard fashion. This project and the step-ladder one use story-boards but no real discussion about them.

    • Philip Adams on 4 April 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Paul uses story boards in the bench stool. That is an earlier project that may have extra useful detail. He tends to use story boards where there are complex angles involved, otherwise scale drawings are used. We plan on covering drawing and design more in the future.

  16. Andrew Konopitski on 30 October 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Having just ripped my legs today out of Sapele today, I’m again amazed at Paul’s endurance with the hand saw. I’m a 20-something year old former athlete and I find myself stopping every 50 strokes or so to shake out my arm or stretch my hand. Paul just cruzes through this oak without even getting out of breath. Truly an expert at work. Thanks Paul and team for this project, I’ll upload some pictures of the final result!

  17. sohare on 25 January 2021 at 8:09 pm

    Hi there, in following the dimensions and instructions given in the video, my back leg lower mortice hole is 50mm wide, yet the drawings show it to be 38mm – which is correct please? thanks in advance…

    • Izzy Berger on 4 February 2021 at 4:31 pm


      Thank you for pointing this out, it should be 50mm. We will get this changed on the drawing ASAP.


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