I made this portable desk, also called a campaign desk, for my daughter. She was heading off to another state to start her first engineering job, and she needed to travel fairly light.
I didn’t take any pictures of the construction. It’s a box with a lid, and the sides have mortises (slots) in them for the legs to fit into. The legs are then held tight with bolts.
The wood is laminated 3/4″ pine from Home Depot. The two cleats are meant to keep the lid from bowing. The full-length piano hinge may be overkill, but I wanted it to stay sturdy through a number of moves.
The bolts screw into T-nuts and hold the legs. It just takes a second to release them.
And they just fit inside for transport.
The lid is secured with a sash lock, and the box can easily be carried by the handles. I think it weights less than 15 pounds.
The strip along the back is to hold papers when you open the desk.
I stained it with Minwax Whatever Color (a mixture of leftover stains) and sealed it with Polycrylic satin finish.
This diagram shows the slots in the sides. I dado-ed the the sides into the cross pieces to keep them rigid.
Time and Money
The total cost was about $35 for the wood and hardware. I already had the plywood for the bottom and the finishing supplies. If you had to buy everything, it would be about $50.
This is a great rainy Saturday project, with maybe an extra bit of time to apply the sealer.