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Make a quick lap desk using a picture frame and a pillow

This simple and quick lap desk is made out of a pillow, a picture frame and a t-shirt.

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Alina Bradford
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1 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

Laptops aren't very friendly to your lap. After just a few minutes your legs feel like they're roasting. Here's a simple and quick way to make a lap desk out of a pillow, a picture frame and an old t-shirt that will protect your lap and make work-lounging more comfortable.

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2 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Things you’ll need

To build the lap desk you will need a picture frame about the size of your laptop, a pillow the same size or so as the picture frame, an old t-shirt, hot glue and a hot glue gun, some stiff Styrofoam or craft foam, and a pair of scissors. The t-shirt should be a men's large or a woman's 2x for the best fit. This is a great project for saving one of your old concert tees.

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3 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Ready the frame

Take the back off of the picture frame, remove the glass and put it aside because you won't need it. Replace the cardboard in the frame.

If there is a flap on the back of the frame to make it stand upright on a table, you'll need to remove it. Usually these flaps are just held on with glue or small rivets, so it should just pull right off.

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4 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Add the pillow

Hot glue the pillow to the frame. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the glue dry while you move on to the next step.

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5 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Prep the t-shirt

Set the frame and pillow aside and get the t-shirt ready to add to the desk. Lay it out flat and cut off the top portion of the shirt, from underarm to underarm. Now you should have a tube of fabric.

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6 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Fringe it up

Next, cut 1.5 inch (4cm) long strips along the open sides of the tube. The strips should be around a half-inch (1.27cm) wide, but they don't need to be exactly the same. When you're done you should have a tube with fringe at the bottom and top. This fringe will be used to close up both sides of the t-shirt.

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​Stuff and tie

It's time to bring it all together. Put the pillow and frame inside of the t-shirt. Tie the top fringes to the bottom fringes in little knots to enclose the frame and the pillow. Make sure you start on one side and work your way to the other when tying the knots. If you start in the middle, you may come up with an uneven number of fringe on either side. This could leave you with a piece of fringe with nothing to knot it to.

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8 of 8 Alina Bradford/CNET

Finish up

Remember when using your new desk that the reason your lap gets hot is because the fan does not have a way to bring cool air into the laptop, since your legs block it. This desk won't prevent that and your laptop desk will do the same thing unless you have a laptop with SSDs, which do not require cooling.

To make sure your laptop doesn't overheat, you can glue a length of stiff foam (cardboard will also work as long as it's about 1.5 inches (4cm) thick) that is as long as the picture frame to the flat side of the lap desk. This will allow you to prop your laptop up so that air can circulate around the fans on the bottom of the laptop.

At this point, your lap desk is finished. I left the fringe because I like the funky look, but you can tidy it up a bit by tucking in the tails of the knots or by trimming them off.

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