I've tried bookends, and even just thick books but I wanted something stable, that I could adjust to how I want it and, of course, cheap. I also wanted to do it with the minimum of fabrication and modification as possible, i.e. to make it from off-the-shelf parts. This is mostly due to my lack of a proper workshop, but also just because I like the challenge and see no reason why it wouldn't be possible.
So having thought about it for a long time, I saw angle brackets in the DIY shop and realised I could do it with them. So I bought all I needed and it came to about SFr. 20! (=€14 =$16, =£9) That includes absolutely everything I used, a shop-bought stand would cost at least 2 or 3 times that, and it wouldn't have the funky utilitarian look mine does.
Step 1: What I Used
2x Flat Angle Bracket, Perforated, 60 * 40 * 60
2x Flat Angle Bracket, Perforated, 40 * 40 * 200
1x Flat Bracket, Perforated, 60 * 200
6x Hex head bolt, zinc, M4*16
2x Wing head bolt, zinc, M4*10
6x Nut, zinc, M4
2x Knurled nut, zinc, M4
14x Washer, zinc, M4, dia.14mm
14x Felt pads about 15mm dia.
oh and a couple of 7mm spanners.
Step 2: Setting Up
At this point it's a good idea to consider where the cooling vents on your laptop are, and avoid having elements obscuring them. Also a good idea to think about other things like connections and ports, and be sure your stand will not block these. I didn't put enough thought into these.
Step 3: Start Screwing
I then put one of the two smaller angle sections on top, using one of the bolts from earlier. I loosely tightened a nut, with another washer, onto the 2 bolts. This helped keep things in place when adding another bolt to hold the other end of the angle. I then started to do the same thing to the other side. Whilst doing this I realised that the two smaller angles were not reversible, as such one sat a little lower than the other (see pic). This was worrying, but I carried on in the hope there'd be a solution later on. I put the remaining nuts and washers in place.
Step 4: A Little Luck
As I hoped the problem of misalignement was solved be using different holes on the respective support angles, which left only a very slight difference in the position of the two base angles: the left supprt is about 10mm further forward than the right, but luckily there was no difference in the final height of the two support angles.
Step 5: Final Touches
And that's it, finished.
Step 6: Conclusion
The stand is very stable indeed (it's actually quite hard to put it off balance) and allows a little adjustment by hand if required. Though it is completely modular so I can change it as much as I want with just 2 spanners. Which I may do given that the headphone sockets are obscured by the support, but I can slide the laptop enough to get at it without any fear of unbalancing it.
I may well reduce the size of, or change the positioning of, the single flat section to allow better airflow around the fan vent. When I am totally sure it is how I want it I will use a good strong contact adhesive to stick the main support together, this will tidy it up a bit and avoid any problems with the bolt heads. I'd like to add a strut between the two main base angles too, just to tighten them up and eliminate the very slight flexability.
Although I have to admit to be being rather lucky, I'm very pleased with the stand, and am happy to have managed to do it so cheaply, simply and without any drilling, sawing, bending or anything other than bolting the parts together. That said just a little cutting, drilling and bending, and perhaps a coat of paint, could make this very nice looking and a very worthwhile option compared to buying one.
Step 7: Update
The base is now inverted and resting on the edges of the angles. The two supports are now at the outside edges, this improves airflow and access to mic and headphone sockets. The supports are slightly bent to allow the head of the bolt to clear the laptop, it now rests mostly on it's own rubber feet.