Desk Pad - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Desk Pad

 In Projects, Questions And Answers, Techniques

Desk Pad

??A woodworker's touch on an old standby.


Desk pads make a great writing surface and/or mouse pad. Unfortunately, they’re often a bit drab in appearance. Put your woodworking skills to use and dress up this basic office accessory with an attractive inlaid wood tray. The tray looks great and it serves to corral pens, paper clips and other desktop sundries.
Cherry is a good choice as it contrasts well with the black desk pad. The pad itself is made of Rhinolin, a non-reflective, anti-static, fatigue-reducing, self-healing, foam-backed pad made from 43% post-industrial recycled raw materials (Sources, below).

Milling the small tray parts is manageable if you do all the machining on a large piece of wood first then cut the parts loose (Photo 1 and Fig. A).

Once the parts are cut, sand them smooth to 180-grit. Assemble the tray with glue (Photo 2). Spray on a couple coats of satin lacquer after the glue sets.

Mount the tray to the pad with screws. The tray parts make a small target, so it’s best to make a paper template of the tray and use it as a guide for drilling the holes (Photo 3). Locate the holes so each short rail (C) gets a screw in the middle. Place the other screws every 2-3 inches along the long rails. To prevent scratches on your desktop, tighten the screws so they countersink themselves into the foam.


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Discount Office Supplies,, 800-734-6020, Artistic Office’s 12” x 19”
Black Desk Pad, Item # ARZLT91.

Woodcraft,, 800-225-1153, Inlay Banding 1/4-in. x 36-in.,

Fig. A: Short Rails

Mill a cherry blank to 1/2-in. x 3-1/16-in. x 12-in. Rip the blank so it tapers to 2-in.on one end. Rout a shallow dado on the top edge for the inlay. Glue the inlay in place. Lay out the cuts as shown and bandsaw the short rails to length.

Fig. B: Exploded View

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker March 2008, issue #134.

March 2008, issue #134

Purchase this back issue.

Click any image to view a larger version.

1. Cut the tray parts from a 1/2-in. x 3-in. x 24-in. cherry blank. Shape both long edges with a 1/4-in. round-over bit then rip to width and crosscut to length.

2. Glue and clamp the tray together. The joints will be reinforced with screws driven in through the bottom of the desk pad.

3. Pre-drill the pad for #4 x 3/8-in. flathead screws. Use a paper template of the tray as a guide.

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