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A better laptop stand for bed

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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!
 
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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).
jasonprahl4 years ago
Fantastic instructions!  I made mine a bit wider so I could put my mouse on there and added some fold-able support legs.  The added support legs means it can't lay as flat, but it's still able to be flat enough to fit under my bed when not in use.  I still need to add a hole or two for ventillation and I want to add a few more notches on the lower legs so I can put it at different angles.  My local hardware store didn't have the knob type screws that were big enough so I used more of a thumb type.  Thanks again! 
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jumpfroggy (author)  jasonprahl4 years ago
Jason, looks great!  The notches are a great idea.  Mine is still going strong with just a very tight friction screw, but if I were remaking it I'd got for something more like this.  Plus, those hand-knobs I have are basically unfindable... no one else has found them anywhere.

I'd love to see it in action.  How do you keep the mouse from falling off?
If you look in the third picture there's a nail sticking out so the cord goes around that and plugs in on the other side of the laptop.  It sort of just hangs there when I'm not using it.
surfreak4 years ago
BANK! The checkers are a bomber idea. I was just thinking about making a stand for bed when I ran across your instructable. Should be posting my variation on this stand shortly.
drinkbleach4 years ago
Wow!! Everyone’s versions are awesome. Here is mine. used Peg board for top - has holes already allover board and one piece 10 foot fir - legs 4 x 1.5' , 2 x 2' cross pieces. Top piece is 2' x 1'. Used metal brackets already cut and with holes cost about $1.25 each. Regular nuts, bolts & washers 1/4' for hardware. Thanks for all the inspiration.. now i can really become the lazy sloth that i am and never get outta bed!!
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starmoon1254 years ago
太美妙了。可惜我什么工具也没有,以后我会闹一个玩玩的! So wonderful!What a pity.I have no any tools,I'll make it in the future!
bpruett4 years ago
You might be able to solve over heaing in most notebooks just by using peg board instead of solid press board. That way you would have holes all over the back of the notebook and you would not have to worry about positioning like if you would if you cut a hole. I do like the wire shelf idea though, may try that instead. As far as the friction joints go, two discs of cork from the auto parts store should work very well. You also might be surprised how well a couple of discs of felt will hold.
where does the air flow pass through for heat build up?
jumpfroggy (author)  ladyharley054 years ago
It depends on your laptop, as each has different air vents for heat radiation/convection. On my laptop, the vents are on the sides & back. Since there are no sides or back (just a flat bottom) to this laptop stand, this laptop stand design works perfectly for my laptop. If your laptop is designed this way, there is no "heat buildup" unless a fan is broken or something is stuck in one of the air vents. Some laptops, however, have a single air-intake port on the bottom. If this is blocked, then the laptop has a hard time cooling itself. This is horrible design, since most of the time a laptop is used it will be on a flat hard surface. It is even worse when it's used on a soft surface like a bed (since then the port is completely obstructed and the heating issue is worse). If you have a poorly designed laptop like this, I'd recommend figuring out where the air intake/exhaust ports are and cutting some holes for those areas. A few of the other builders have posted pics of this type of modification, I'd look to those for examples. I'm not trying to be condescending about your hardware; I know you didn't design your laptop, so any deficiencies are not your fault. They are the fault of bad laptop designers/manufacturers (of which there seem to be a whole lot). I have both a Core 2 Duo 2.4ghz laptop and an old G3 powerbook, neither has any trouble cooling itself. However, many laptops I've worked on or fixed do have cooling issues, and it's amazing that manufacturers are fine creating such garbage. The fact that there's such a huge marking for "laptop cooling pads" points to one thing; badly designed hardware. Sorry for my mini-rant, I'm off of my soapbox now.
yeah...I have a Sony FZ490 and it's a great laptop but the heat build up is awful. I took one mod... took a CPU fan (the 12 volt obviously wouldn't work) and wired it to a USB cable and I have the lap top on two 4x10 blocks of wood on each side of the laptope with the cpu fan blowing up towards the hard drive which is underneath the vicinity of the touchpad... I'm going to be building the PVC stand which I think is cool as heck. I paid enough money for this laptop and should have gotten an a different one for less money. This sony is dual core, 2G mem ..... I appreciate what you had to say :-) The fan blows out the left side but the vents are underneath...
jumpfroggy (author)  ladyharley054 years ago
I would definitely cut a hole right beneath the intake vent, and it'd be very easy to add a slimline fan underneath there screwed onto the bottom. If you USB powered it, it'd be running at 5v instead of 12v and would run very slow, but very quiet... that's a good thing in my book. I'd look at the 70mm x 15mm fans or something similar, and pay attention to the noise rating (dB)... I just got one from svc.com, it's loud! Good luck, post up pics once you build!
thanks...absolutely! :-) thanks for your input
angelala4 years ago
I L-O-V-E this idea!! I just noticed the numerous posts about the legs and I joined the board to post this... how about locking table or folding chair legs? Not the legs themselves (unless you can make that work) but the little folding/locking joints? You can just remove them from the table/chair and attach them to the top and bottom legs - no? I have yet to try it myself, but I will get right on that... just didn't want to wait to post :) If anyone has tried it, let me know how it goes! Thanks!
jumpfroggy (author)  angelala4 years ago
Sounds interesting. Definitely post pics of what you're thinking of using, and let us know how it goes. I'm all about finding better ways to handle the joints, as that's really the only weak part of this. That being said, I'm on my second one with just a simple tighted-bolt, and it works perfectly fine for me.
rosewood5134 years ago
Hey I like the original, though the others are great. I need mine for the couch, I have a battery pack sticking out the back of my lap top so I have to cut a "well" along the top part, so it will sit in it and won't move, that's good. Thanks this is my next project.
itsfash4 years ago
awesome...............................................! I have found it today, will make one for me soon........! hats down to you..@ jumpfroggy
snowpenguin4 years ago
Wow nice license plate!
discovering5 years ago
Kool, welldone
Garbit5 years ago
Woo i've just made one i'll get a pic in a bit, im just testing it out by typing this :P yey.
MaDoGK5 years ago
And walyou.com and repair4laptop.org :p
wat5 years ago
EDIT: After I posted my comment below, I read superfly's comment and believe me, it worked magic! I just drilled holes there and placed nails and it is holding as tight as it can get and you can adjust it how you wish by drilling more holes. Of course, you can use anything that can get into the holes and because nails are sharp, I am covering their sharp tip with cello-tape so all is working great. Thank you superfly!
wat5 years ago
Thanks. That was helpful. I did everything as said but have no plastic checkers. And the stand is not holding in place. It only holds well when it is on an angle of 90 degrees but if I want it to slide and bend it, it just falls down. Any idea as to how I can make tighten it when it is in a bent position? Thanks in advance.
rfid5 years ago
Great :) Try now
cynvision6 years ago
For an immovable joint-- I had a wooden drafting table that used a pair of toothed disks that the backsides were ribbed to be inserted into a slot in the wood and screwed in. A wing nut secured bolt went through the center. I'm unsure what hardware place would have these.
jumpfroggy (author)  cynvision6 years ago
I can't tell, but you might be referring to something like this from a commercial stand (LapDawg and LaidBack both). I'm positive that's what I want. Now I just have to find it cheaply, or a way to make it cheaply. Have any ideas on sources? I don't even know what to call it to search for, but I'd love it if they could be found cheaply.

That picture looks like it. Another commenter called it "ratcheting hinge" and that didn't describe it well for me. The drafting table did not have screws in the face of the teeth, they were molded into the surrounding outside the teeth. The other place I see the toothed washers (for lack of a word) is on my mother's Walmart double chair swing's awning. Those were spot welded to the stretcher pipes. Maybe that's a clue to which parts supplier that can locate them.
I've seen this in adjustable stroller handles as well.
I was thinking about the friction joint problem while cleaning up some game pieces and think I've found a low-cost solution to the problem. Does anyone have any checkers lying around that they're not using? Even the cheapest plastic ones have toothed sections that lock together. Drill through the center of a couple of checkers to allow the bolt to pass through them, then secure a checker to each half of the joint with small screws. Viola! An instant "ratcheting" hinge that can be adjusted in small increments. As long as the screws holding the checkers don't pop loose the legs should stay in a fixed position without having to over-torque the joint. Hope this idea comes in handy. I plan to work on building a couple of these next week for my wife and myself. S-4-C
Can glue checker on wood leg use 3M 5200 sealant. Never come loose. When cure still some flexable--is much pesos but good product for many use. I use on boat. Very good idea, maybe make leg same size from checker, look very good. Checker is good idea. Muy inteligente! To get checkers steal from old neighbor when no looking. Or better from St Vincent Thrift Store. I not steal from neighbor. Well, maybe one fat chicken... He has many chicken. No many checker.
By Zeus! I'd bet it could work. Maybe Target or K-B Toys outlet could have a package of just the pieces for cheap.
Here's another item that may make it better since they're even thinner - try poker chips. You should be able to get a handful of them for a dollar and it's even easier to drill the bolt hole and the holes for the screws to hold them in place. Since they're wafer thin they won't add much to the size of the joint, unlike the poker chips. The "teeth" may not be as deeply ridged as the checkers but the friction caused by two of them pressed together should work just as well. S-4-C
jumpfroggy (author)  Strapped-4-Cache6 years ago
Looks like jackfishjoe tried out the checkers and it works. Great suggestion strapped, I've edited step 3 and hopefully will get some pics of the mod up sometime
jumpfroggy (author)  Strapped-4-Cache6 years ago
Strapped!! Awesome idea! I remember so clearly playing with those little checker pieces that fit together. I'm definitely going to try that and see if it works, since they're easily available, cheap, and might do exactly what I'm looking for. Poker chips are another good idea; I'm kinda torn which one to pursue. I guess I'll just stop by the store and see which one's cheaper :) Awesome idea(s), can't wait to try them out!
I think I have some checkers pieces lying around (may have to look under the sofa). I'll try to build one this week and let you know how it goes - if you don't finish ahead of me, that is.
Dude, you beat me to it... was just about to suggest the same thing!
checkers! awesome idea.
superfly2895 years ago
Here's something I thought of. A simple solution for the slipping legs.. I drilled several adjustment holes on the base legs and then took a cotter pin that fit tight in the hole (so it wouldn't slide out easy) and you will have no slippage because the pins stop the legs from going any further :) Try and tell me what you think! Worked great for me ;) NOTE: I only use holes 1-3 because a very small adjustment makes a big difference in the angle.. so Drill the holes as close as you can and you will only need a max of 5 holes... This was just my proto-type.
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jumpfroggy (author)  superfly2895 years ago
Awesome! This is the best mod I've seen for the leg-angle problem. I know I keep saying this, but I really do think I'm going to mod my (ie. my wife's) stand this way. Good work superfly. What happened to the other 287 superfly's?
Thanks for the great design. I discovered a couple things when I built mine. I found the knobs used for a folding lawnmower handle. $2.99 at Home Depot in the lawnmower section. I offset the knob because its a little bigger than the width of the wood. I used rubber impregnated cork gasket between the legs. They're holding just fine. I had an extra wire closet shelf that I trimmed to fit my Mac. It looks pretty clean and is coated with a non-slip coating. I drilled holes in the vertical wood and pressed the wire into it. It's angled slightly to create a lip at the bottom. Plenty of airflow.
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jumpfroggy (author)  instructajeff5 years ago
Good build instructajeff! Great find with the lawnmower knobs, no one could find those anywhere. Also, I like the wire rack; clean looking, fun, plenty of cooling. Do you have any pics of the cork gaskets? Where did you get them? I might get something like that. Come to think of it, one of those rubber jar-opener pads might be good for a gasket, just cut up and put between the wood.
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