Friday, June 3, 2011

Roadtrip Project #2 - Magnetic Chalkboard Lap-desk

A lap-desk is pretty much an essential for kids on a road trip.  I considered buying one, but decided I could design one with more features than what I could find already made... and for less money.  I really couldn’t be happier with my version!  It’s just right for a kid sized lap, the lip keeps pencils and crayons and whatever other little bits from rolling onto the floor, it’s magnetic (more on why that’s important in a future post!),  the “pillow” is comfy and squishy enough to create a level table top, and the surface is chalkboard.  Want to make one for your kiddo?  You’re in luck, I put together a tutorial for you, with a video even!

You’re gonna need:
A small cookie sheet.  It should be a cheap one… I got mine at Dollar Tree.  Your life will be much easier if it’s not coated in anything.
Fabric a little bigger than your cookie sheet
Dried beans
Latex primer made specifically for metal – The guy I talked to at Home Depot recommended the automobile primer, so that’s what I used.
Sanding block
Chalkboard spray paint
Industrial strength glue
Foam core, matt board, or some other stiff but cuttable material
Prepare your cookie sheet
This seems like a lot of steps, but if you don’t do them all the paint will chip/flake off (trust me on this one!). 
wash the cookie sheet with hot soapy water
sand the entire surface (top, bottom, & sides) with a sanding block
wash it again and dry it completely
paint the top, sides, and the edges of the bottom with the metal primer & let dry
lightly sand the entire surfacespray the top, sides, and the edges of the bottom with chalkboard paint & let dry (I had some metal paint in black on hand from another project, so I used it instead of the chalkboard paint... a.k.a. a crafting staple for me... on the bottom of the tray)
lightly sand the entire surface

spray a second even coat of the chalkboard paint on the top, sides, and the edges of the bottom & let dry
spray one last thin coat of chalkboard paint on the top
Create the “pillow”
Cut a piece of your fabric 4” bigger than the bottom of your cookie sheet.  My cookie sheet is 9x13, I added 4” to each measurement & cut a 13x17 rectangle of fabric.
Cut a 2.5” square out of each corner of the rectangle.
Match the right sides of each corner and sew to create the bottom and sides of a box shape.  I made a little video for you of that piece:
Press the raw edges down a half inch
Measure the opening “top” part of your box from corner to corner and cut your foam core/matt board to that measurement.  I had a plastic placemat on hand that had seen better days, so I recycled it for this step of the project.
Hot glue the half inch edge you pressed all around the board, leaving an opening in one of the long sides. 

Fill the pillow (now with the hard top of the “box” hot glued on) with dry beans.  I like beans best because they make the pillow conform to your lap which is key to getting a level surface. 
Hot glue the opening you filled the pillow through closed.
Attach the pillow to the top
Depending on what material you used for the top of the pillow, choose an industrial strength glue to adhere it to the under side of the cookie sheet.  Gorilla glue and E6000 are good options for lots of materials.
so the chalk "markers" didn't work so well... I almost had a panic attack when I couldn't erase them... I suggest sticking with plain ol' chalk!
Check back to see more of the projects I have planned for our road trip this summer!



Lissa (Bellenza) said...

Wow, how resourceful and clever you are! This would make a wonderful DIY present for a child (even not for a road trip)!

Unknown said...

This is great!!
Would you be willing to share this at our Weekly Playdate link party?
It is here:

Come & Play :: Playdate

Amanda said...

This is a wonderful idea, it looks great, and I'm sure will provide hours of distraction for little ones, especially if they can play with magnets on it too!

Such a creative idea, thanks for sharing.

Cara said...

I found your post (and blog) when I did a Google search for "magnetic travel desk." I am so thrilled! I started work today on three of these desks for my three little people. Thank you so much for the wonderful idea!

Lap Desks said...

A lap-desk is pretty much an essential for kids on a road trip. I considered ...

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