Build a Carver’s Lapboard

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Build a Carver’s Lapboard

Carve in your living room with this simple shop-made board

by Gary MacKay

This article was first published in issue 49 of Woodcarving Illustrated.

When I first started chip carving, I would place a towel on my lap to catch the chips. With chip carving, you should have your thumb, knuckle, and knife point in contact with the wood you are carving. That’s not normally possible when you carve the chips near the edge of the blank. To help support my hand while I carve these chips, I created a lapboard

  I made my lapboard with 11/2″ wide sides to allow plenty of surface contact when carving chips near the edges of my stock. The sides are the same thickness as the wood I normally carve and help to lock the blank in place. Additionally, the lapboard gives me a solid surface to carve on and I can sweep the chips into the drilled recesses to keep them out of the way while I work.

If you increase the height of the sides, you can use the lapboard to hold extra tools and catch wood chips when you work on any type of carving.

Step 1: Cut the sides to size. I chip carve mainly 3/8″-thick wood, so my sides are 3/8″ thick by 11/2″ wide. The length of the sides depends on the size of the lapboard you want to make.

Step 2: Cut the base to size. I made my lapboard 10″ by 12″, but you can size the board according to the scrap wood you have or what is most convenient for you.

Step 3: Drill the chip collection holes. Use the drawing to determine the position of the holes. I use a 11/2″-diameter Forstner bit to drill 1/4″-deep holes. Alternatively, cut a piece of 1/4″-thick plywood to the size of the base and drill the holes with a spade bit. Glue the 1/4″-thick plywood to a 1/2″-thick piece to get the 3/4″-thick base.

Step 4: Assemble the lapboard. Glue and clamp the sides to the base.

Materials & Tools


  • 3/4″ x 10″ x 12″ plywood (base)
  • 2 each 3/8″ x 11/2″ x 12″ scrap wood (long sides)
  • 3/8″ x 11/2″ x 7″ scrap wood (short side)
  • Wood glue


  • Forstner bit 11/2″ to 2″ diameter
  • Clamps


About the Author

Gary MacKay is a lifelong woodworker who embellishes his work with chip carving. He has been selling his wooden items at juried craft galleries for 22 years.

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