Upcycling - The Alternative To Skip Hire

Skip hire versus upcycling!

We have to admit, sometimes it’s time to scrap everything, and look into skip hire. Your house is cluttered with those old bits and bobs you know might be useful at some point, but you are just missing the ideas and plans to get the ball rolling.


But what if that tired old set of drawers could be re-purposed and given a new life? What about those planks you had left over from your last DIY project that have been cluttering up the garage? Could they be given a new lease of life? Here at HSS we’re all about saving money by reworking old pieces, or building new ones. With some help on design and some basic tools, you can make a high quality piece of furniture instead of hiring a skip to get rid, or having to replace it with low-quality flat pack.

HSS spoke to inspiring USA-based homes and gardens DIY-er Ana White of ana-white.com to get your creative juices flowing. Ana shared with us a great plan for just what we mentioned above; follow her great build below to turn those pesky offcuts into a great (and useful!) new piece of furniture – from planks to the perfect multi-use table – use it as a coffee table for your living room, as a mini desk-cum-storage receptacle for your little one’s room or even as a lap desk for your teenager, ready for revision time.

Coming in at £10-£15, and rated an ‘intermediate’ build by Ana, here’s her brilliant, great-value desk design, for you to try at home!

Scrap Lap Desk

Shopping List:

  • Standard Hinges:
  • 1 – 1×12 @ 4 feet long
  • 1 – 1×4 @ 6 feet long
  • 1 – 2×2 @ 6 feet long
  • 1 – 1×3 @ 8 feet long
  • 2 inch screws
  • 2 1/2 inch screws
  • 1 1/4 inch finish nails
  • wood glue
  • wood filler
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • primer
  • wood conditioner
  • paint
  • paint brush
  • Tools:
  • measuring tape
  • square
  • pencil
  • safety glasses
  • hearing protection
  • drill
  • circular saw
  • sander
  • open top lap desk ana white

General Instructions:

Start by cutting all your boards. Use 2 3/4″ screws and 2″ nails unless otherwise directed. Always use glue. Predrill and countersink all screw holes.



24″ Wide x 14″ High x 14″ Deep

Cut List:

A)1 – 1×12 @ 19 1/2″ (Bottom of the top storage compartment)
B) 2 – 1×4 @ 11 1/2″ (Sides of the top storage compartment)
C) 2 – 1×4 @ 21″ (Front and Backs of the top storage compartment)
D) 4- 2×2 @ 13″ (Legs)
E) 2 – 2×2 @ 10″ (Top Trim)
F) 2 – 1×3 @ 10″ (Bottom of the Side Compartments)
G) 4 – 1×3 @ 4″ (Sides of the Side Compartments)
H) 4 – 1/4″ Plywood cut at 10″ x 4 3/4″ (Front and Back of Side Compartments)
I) 1 – 1×3 @ 11 1/2″ (Divider for the top compartment)
J) 1 – 1×3 @ 6″ (Short Divider for the top compartment)
K) 1 – 1×2 @ 24″ (Top, Back, Fixed)
L) 1 – 1×12 @ 24″ (Hinged Top)

Step 1:

step 1 Ana White lap table

Nail boards B to board A, keeping outside edges flush, as shown.

Step 2:

Ana White lap desk step 2

Nail boards C to boards A and B as shown.

Step 3:

Ana White lap desk step 3

Screw the legs to the top storage compartment, as shown.

Step 4:

Ana White lap table step 4

The Top Trim, E, is screwed to the top storage compartment with 2″ screws (you can also use 2″ nails). Make sure you also screw through the legs into the end edges of the Top Trim, E.

Step 5:

Ana White lap table step 5

The easiest way to construct the side storage compartments is to first nail boards F to boards G. Then nail through boards G into the legs.

Step 6:

Ana White lap table step 6

Add the plywood to the backs of the side storage compartments with nails.

Step 7:

Ana White lap table step 7

Then plywood the front, as shown above, again with nails and glue.

Step 8:

Ana White lap table step 8

Add the dividers, I and J, to the storage compartment as shown above, using nails through the sides of the top storage compartment. You can adjust the dividers to suit your needs.

Step 9:

Ana White lap table step 9

Nail the top back piece, K, to the top of the lap table, as shown. Keep outside edges flush.

Step 10:

Ana White lap table step 10

Use hinges to attach the hinged top, L, to the top back, K.

And there you have it, an astounding little table built from all your offcuts! What an excellent alternative to skip hire, courtesy of Ana White.

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About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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