A Better Laptop Stand for Bed

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Posted in TechnologyLaptop

Introduction: A Better Laptop Stand for Bed

Make a simple but incredibly useful Laptop Stand for around $15 and 30-60 minutes! Great for use in bed while typing, browsing, and especially watching movies.

When I use my laptop in bed, it's often uncomfortable. I have to balance the laptop on my lap and sit up, or on my chest when laying down. This laptop stand makes both laying and sitting laptop use a whole lot more comfortable, and it's simple to make... about $15 and 30 minutes. Let's do it!

Step 1: The Background

I use my laptop in bed a lot, as it's more comfortable for me. However, it's hard to balance the laptop on my chest and type with my hands sideways, so I needed a laptop stand. I found this one, but I'm a cheapskate and it looked simple, so I decided to make one myself. Turns out I spent just over $15 and took 30 minutes in the garage to make it, and it worked great for months! I just made another one, so I've chronicled it here for your building pleasure.

Another commercial stand is the Lapdawg laptop stand - possibly the worst name ever.

Materials Needed:
-wood strip, .75 in x 1.75 in x 6 ft. Just about anything of the right size will do.
-hard board, MDF board, etc - I used MDF the first time due to the clean white melamine coating, but the plain hardboard looked better and seemed more durable.
-two knobs attached to screws/bolts
-two big washers
-two socket anchors
-2 very short wood screws (for the lip)
-4 medium wood screws (for the legs)
-4 small nails
-4 plastic checker pieces (optional)

Tools:
-circular saw (could use a hand saw, but it'd be messy)
-power drill
-(Optional) dremel w/ sander bit

NOTE:
This was made to be simple and quick. You don't really need too many measurements; just line things up and saw away. I only measured the tray itself (11 x 20 in). The rest are self-evident as you're going along. Even the lips were circular-sawed freehand. Be careful where you put your hands! (If you want to keep them).

Step 2: The Legs

-Cut in 4 pieces
First, get the .75 in x 1.75 in x 6 ft stick. The height/width dimensions are not important, just something about that size. You should have at least 6 ft. Cut it the stick in quarters (in half, and then each part in half again). This should yield (4) 1.5 ft sticks. Great.

-Round the corners
With the circular saw, cut off the edges on one side of each stick. Be careful! This is to round the corners so they don't stick out as much. Optionally, you can take a dremmel and smooth the edges here (I made them very round... really doesn't make any difference).

-Drill holes
Pair up the pieces, and stack them so you can drill through 2 at a time. Now drill a hole big enough for your big screw/bolts and socket/anchors through 2 posts, and then the other 2 posts. This makes sure that the holes are aligned. Make sure you're holding the drill completely vertical! (unlike what I did this time... still came out ok).

Step 3: Leg Hardware

Now install the leg hardware. Put in the socket/anchor, and put a small nail through the hole so it doesn't turn. It should fit snugly, and the nail isn't really necessary. Then put the knob through the washer and feed it through the opposite side into the socket. Repeat for the other pair, and you should now have two working joints.

Finding the Hardware

The black knobs + screws that I used are very hard to find.  Most places do not have these.  Big chain hardware stores (lowes/home depot) carry similar 3-prong triangle knobs with screws attached, but the screws are usually not very long.  For alternatives, the easiest thing to find would be a normal bolt and a wingnut.  Instead of turning the knob/screw into the T nut, you turn the wingnut on the stationary bolt.  Same effect, different parts.

Those stores also have wingnut/bolt combos - basically a bolt with a wingnut on the end.  If you can find one long enough, these are probably the best alternative.

Optional jackfishjoe checker mod:
Thanks to an idea by Strapped-4-Cache , which was tested out by jackfishjoe , we have a great mod for the joints. Normally the joints are held in place by the friction of the wood, and the pressure of the bolts holding the wood together. This requires a lot of pressure and can be a pain sometimes. A better way to do this is to insert plastic checkers pieces so the "teeth" grab each other and prevent movement.
-drill a hold through the center of 4 checkers
-carve a circular impression/hollow in each leg for the checkers to be inset slightly. This will be on the sides facing each other, so the knob goes through each checker.
-assemble the legs like so: knob - washer - wood - checker - checker - wood - socket.

The checkers should face each other and lock into place via the teeth, and when assembled you shouldn't really be able to notice the checkers. This will allow you to use less pressure to lock the feet in place, and avoid cracking the wood (or having the platform slump down and accidentally drop you laptop).

Step 4: Make the Tray

Now take the big hardboard/MDF board and cut off an 11 in strip. Then cut the width down to 20 in. You can adjust these measurements for your laptop, this was for a Powerbook G4 Aluminum 17 in. It's not even mine. Remember to leave room for the lip, and you don't want to make the width too small - It's got to fit over your hips.

Cut two more very small strips of hardboard, these will serve as the lip. Make sure they're straight (or straight enough), then line them up on one end of the tray and nail them down. Put a screw on either end of the lip, since nails don't seem to hold very well. Use short screws so they don't poke out the bottom of the tray.

Step 5: Attach Legs

You should now have two legs with working joints, and a tray with a lip. Now line the legs up to the edges of the tray, mark the spaces, and drill holes. I drilled the top hole for a leg, put a screw in, then drilled the bottom and did the same. This way they stay aligned, no measurement needed. If I line the top of the leg with the top of the tray, it fits just right for me. If you're skinnier/fatter, you'll need to adjust the leg height. You can do this by drilling a bunch of evenly spaced holes in the legs (every 1/2 in) and then two holes in the tray. This way you can unscrew the tray, and choose a different height. Once you find one that works, you wont need to change it.

Step 6: Celebrate

Your stand is ready to use. You'll have the tighten the knobs quite a bit, takes some force or a neat trick. Balance the stand on it's side, move the leg and knob together. Then hold the knob still and move the leg back. In this manor you can tighten the knob much harder than if you were to move the knob by itself. Careful not to overdo it; the soft pine (in this case) legs are prone to crack, as seen in my previous stand.

You should be good to go. Tighten to where the legs wont move under the weight of the laptop (plus your hands as you type). Put the laptop stand over body, and put laptop on stand resting on the lip. Use laptop freely and abundantly, full of newfound semi-ergnomic convenience. Great for surfing, watching movies, etc. You may notice your arms get tired with long typing; make sure the laptop is as close to you as possible, that you don't have to raise your elbows off the bed to type.

Step 7: Other Thoughts

The most noticeable area of improvement is the joints. They have to be tightened fairly tight to stay put, and this puts a lot of strain on the relatively soft wood. The commercial stands have ribbed disks that go between the two sides to lock the joints in place, and therefore use less pressure. If you can make something similar, or find something cheap, let me know.

Update: view Supafly's comment below for the "leg-nail" mod. Supposedly it works great, and it seems the best/easiest way to assure no slipping. Thanks supafly! If you can't find his comment below, then here's a basic description: Drill holes in the bottom leg starting near the joint and going out along the leg. When you assemble the leg and open the joint, you can put a nail in one of the holes and it'll stop the upper leg from sinking. You can move the nail from one hole to another to accommodate different angles, and you can remove the nail to allow the whole thing to collapse.

The length of the legs will be determined by your stomach size, arm length, and how comfortable you want to be. I make it as short as will fit over my gut. If you wanted to get creative, you could cut out the portion of the lip/tray that touches your stomach, as long as there is enough lip on either side to hold the laptop from sliding off. A small indent like this may give you an inch or so (till the laptop is resting on your stomach), which may make a difference in comfort.

If you make one, please post up and let us know how long it took, how much it cost, and what it's like to use it. If you have suggestions, post them up. Good luck!

2 People Made This Project!

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148 Comments

Good idea. Now add a third strip so the legs form a Z instead of an L, and you can make it into a standing desk platform on top of your desk.

6 replies

Yep, you definitely could. I have an aluminum store-bought one like that (has 3 sections to the legs, locking joints, built-in fan). But I don't like it much, so I got rid of it. If you did the Z thing, you'd have to be even better w/ the locking joints; even a little slip would dump your laptop off.

Here's what I don't know about those aluminum ones or this one. How much weight can something like this support? I don't want just a laptop stand. I want a full desk top with a monitor and keyboard that I can move up and down. (I'd probably want to attach a VESA monitor arm to it.)

For that, you don't want a laptop stand, you want a moving desk. This instructable (and the aluminum one I mentioned) are just for using a light laptop while sitting/laying in bed.

What you *do* want is a sit/stand desk. I have and highly recommend the Ikea Bekant Sit/Stand desk: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/5026322...

It may seem pricey, but this is by far the cheapest one out there by a few $100. Add any table top you want and you have the perfect desk. And it can support quite a lot :)

http://imgur.com/a/1t4sl

There are other options out there, but they're more expensive. This ikea one is great. And it's awesome to be able to stand while working (doing that right now).

Well, yes, those products exist. But I don't have that kind of money to spend. So I'm trying to think of cheaper ways to accomplish the same goal.

I'd say no; this laptop stand (and those aluminum ones) are not what you need. You can see a pic of someone using the metal one this way:

http://zapp2.staticworld.net/reviews/graphics/prod...

There's no way that'd support monitors or anything heavy. They're just not sturdy enough.

If you were just doing a laptop, you could do something very cheap like this:

https://www.standstand.com/store/

I could probably make one of those with a jigsaw and a "handy board" from home depot.

But if you want dual vesa arms, that's heavy. I've seen things like this:

http://www.varidesk.com/

You might be able to make one of these out of wood... just pivots up and down. That's doable, and you'd have your monitors, keyboard/mouse, sit/stand, etc. It'll require some trial & effort, but if you don't have the budget for the big ticket ones then that's what I'd try to do.

I haven't seen very cheap sit/stand desks that can handle monitors & other heavy equipment. Especially since monitors must be mounted. You could also try something where you move the monitors from desk to stand & back, I can do that with my ergotrons. But that's a lot of hassle.

Let me know if you try the varidesk-style thing; it'd be a neat project.

So, my question is, given my tight financial constraints, would this or something similar "do the job?" Is it sturdy enough to support my monitor/laptop dual VESA arm, a keyboard and a mouse while adjusting up and down?

I got it from some random hardware store (not a national chain). I haven't found them in any Home Depot / Lowes style stores yet. However, just recently I saw a good replacement; lawn mower handles/knobs:

Here's one example:

http://www.amazon.com/Maxpower-339067-2-Pack-Unive...

And you can find more at local hardware stores. This is probably your best bet, I'd personally get a plastic 3-prong/triangle one. Round is hard to grip, but 3 prongs is the best.

A rubber washer made from an inner tube would work instead of a checker and be thinner.

I followed the directions for this project pretty closely and everything went pretty well except I could not find the hardware needed to lock the legs into place so that the desk could hold up the weight of the laptop. I went to a number of hardware stores but could not find any sort of mechanism to make that design work.

I finally came up with a variation to the design using two flag pole holders and two wooden dowels. This design is actually very straight forward. You need to use slightly wider boards on the outside. Wide enough so that the flag pole holders can mount. I drilled a hole in the dowels so the tightening knob and screw that comes with the flag pole holder would go all the way through dowel so the dowel could not twist in the holder.

I am quite happy with the design. The flag pole holder can be fully adjusted and locks into place for a wide number of angles.

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2 replies

Wow, neat! Do the flag holders tighten w/ friction, or do they have any kind of detents / ridges to hold it in place? Friction works well enough for me, but if these have any kind of ridges in the joint itself that would make it so much better.

The flag holder do have detents with a wing nut to tighten the joint. They are cast pot metal and not particularly light weight, but this is a good alternate use.

It took me awhile, with the staining and cutting, but I like the way it came out. I stole the idea to add independent support bars across the back to help with the weight. Came out pretty good! Thanks for the idea!

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1 reply

Looks nice, I like the supports. I'm assuming you have some kind of bolt sticking in to rest in those notches?

I love this it gave me a great idea to make another thing to invent

Hi there,

thanks for all your great Ideas... here is my Try :) Its really comfty, y Ellbows can rest on the wooden staves on both side and I can screw it in every position, even the underground is not even, so i just screw the both sides differently :)

For the tricky part I used simple Spanner (dont know the word in english) but you all know this :) its cheap and very stable :)

I used for the middle panel pine wood from the alps, nice smell, and for the side some hard wood, walnut... The ornaments are freely designed and they giv good circulation for the machine :) thanks for all your inspirations !

good luck Geggo

HGU_8123_web.jpgHGU_8117_web.jpgHGU_8122_web.jpg
1 reply

Looks great, and neat angle-lock! I still have mine just simply tightened - it works surprisingly well as long as I tighten it once in a while. I like the ventilation holes, looks great.

Thanks for this, I just finished building a very, very rough version. Sort of a prototype. I made mine a little bit too tall for my liking and couldn't get a hold of the adjustable screws this time but next one will be better. Thanks again!

user

I always thought there had to be a better way.I use my laptop in bed a lot, as it's more comfortable for me. However, it's hard to balance the laptop on my chest and type with my hands sideways, so I needed a laptop stand.
http://refurbished-computers.ca/