I've always wanted to build a no-compromises lapdesk that could rival the comfort and control of my desktop experience. Over the years I have become accustom to using mechanical keyboards and high precision mice. It's hard to go back to a track-pad and/or cramped non-standard keyboard after using a nice desktop setup.
If you don't have a decent mouse and keyboard, I suggest you make a small investment and pick one up. A decent mechanical keyboard can be had now for under $40.00 and about $25-$40 for a mouse with adjustable DPI. The difference is night and day over a traditional keyboard/mouse.
Another aspect that can’t be overlooked is your mousing surface. For less than $10 you can buy a nice mouse pad designed to work specifically with laser/optical mice.
Here is the lapdesk right off the CNC machine. All the mounting holes have been drilled and all cuts made. I’m getting ready to apply the first coat of stain.
I ended up using a very light stain that is barely visible. It’s almost like a white-wash. I just picked out the stain because I wanted to see what it would look like. I wouldn’t use it again on this type of pine.
After I applied 3 coats of stain I applied 5 coats of polyurethane over a 3-day period. When working with wood the poly acts as a moisture barrier and prevents the wood from warping.
This project incorporates several 3D printed parts. They can be broken down into 3 different sub-systems. The Surface Pro 4 mount, the mouse bungee, and wire management.
The Surface 4 Mount - The tablet can be rotated by loosening the knobs on both sides, moving the Surface to the desired angle, then re-tightening the knobs. In practice this works well. I’ve found that I don’t have to adjust the knobs once they are set. Even with a loose setting, the friction is more than enough to hold the surface in place while adjusting.
The Mouse Bungee – I had never heard of a mouse bungee until a few weeks ago. Now that I’ve tried one, I think it improves my “gaming” mouse experience significantly. The basic premise of the mouse bungee is that it allows full use of your mousing surface without any interference from the cord. It feels very much like having a wireless mouse but with benefits that come with a corded mouse.
Cable Management – These parts merely make it easy to wrap and secure excess cords to the lapdesk.
Steelseries makes some of the most popular and affordable mousing surfaces. I’m using the standard sized QcK surface which is still very large by most standards. You can purchase this mousepad on Amazon for under $10.
When I was cutting out the lapdesk I created a 4mm deep recess in the wood. The X and Y dimensions are within 1mm of the QcK’s dimensions. This does a good job at preventing the QcK from slipping.
This project went from Idea to CAD to completion (minus the staining/poly) in one day. It has several flaws that will be addressed in future revisions. One is that it’s just way too big. I could cut 4-6 inches off the length and still have plenty of room. Another issue is the cable management, while functional it doesn’t look very nice. I would like to hide all the cables and make it look more presentable. I would also like to add room for a USB audio source. This would reduce the number of cables going to the tablet/notebook to just one.
This project will most likely move fairly slowly unless I get a lot of positive feedback. I do think there is a market for a very well made, fully adjustable, gaming lapdesk. I'm just not sure that it should be made out of wood. Something with plastic injection molded parts and a proper lap-cussion would make a better final product. Please let me know your feedback via email or on Reddit.