Build a Furniture Quality Laptop Stand and TV Tray

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Introduction: Build a Furniture Quality Laptop Stand and TV Tray

Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest

Finalist in the
Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest

An easy to build and assemble Laptop Stand/TV Tray that will become an integral part of your living room. With an adjustable tilt top, it can adjust to hold a laptop computer at the perfect typing angle, or go flat to hold a glass and plate for a meal in front of the TV. The parts are readily available at your local hardware store, and just a few basic tools will enable you to complete the project.

I chose this design so that it would be easy to build by anyone with basic tool skills, and so it can be easily customized .

Features:
-PVC conduit fits neatly over the pipes and can be color matched with the base for a nice aesthetic appeal.
-A spring based tilt adjustment, that is both strong and flexible so that you won't bang your leg on it.
-Can be built using used material.

The video below is for clarification and reference. To build, follow the more detailed step by step instructions in the panels above.


Step 1: Parts and Tool List

i. 25lb barbell plate-Olympic size
ii. (2) 1-inch pipe floor flanges, galvanized
iii. 45 degree 1-inch pipe elbow, galvanized
iv. 90 degree 1-inch pipe elbow, galvanized
v. 1-inch close nipple, galvanized
vi. 12 in. 1-inch pipe, galvanized
vii. 18 in. 1-inch pipe, galvanized
viii. (6) 1/4-20 by 1/2 inch set screws
ix. 36 inches of 1 1/2 inch Schedule 40 conduit
x. (4) 1 1/4 inch 1/4-20 Flat head bolts and nuts, washers, and lock washers
xi. (4) 3/4 inch 1/4-20 Flat head bolts and nuts, washers, and lock washers
xii. (5) 1/2 inch #10 Flat head wood screws
xiii. (2) 1/2 inch #8 Pan head wood screws
xiv. 2 inch length of 1/4 inch copper tubing
xv. 8 inch x 1/2 inch extension spring
xvi. 5 inch wide gate hinge
xvii. 3/8 inch pipe coupler, brass
xviii. 1 Adjustable chair/table leg foot, metal with 1/4-20 stud
xix. (2) 3/4 inch x 3/16 inch doughnut magnets
xx. (2) 1 1/2 inch Aluminum binding posts (Servalite part -Available at OSH stores)
xxi. (2) 1 inch round 1/8 inch hole fender washers (steel)
xxii. (1) 11 inch x 14 inch x 3/4 inch bamboo cutting board

Tools List
i. 1/2 inch Power Drill
ii. 1/8, 1/4, 9/64, 13/64, 9/16 Inch Regular Drill Bits
iii. 3/8,1/2 inch Bullet Point Drill Bits
iv. Counter Sinking Bit
v. Dremel Tool and 1/8 inch round, flat bottomed side cutting bit
vi. Vise and clamps
vii. Hack saw
viii. 1/4-20 Tap and handle, with correct drill bit
ix. 3/4 inch Forstner Bit
x. Allen wrench for set screws
xi. #2 Phillips screw driver

Step 2: Drill and Tap Holes for Set Screws

The first step is to drill and tap holes in the elbows and flanges for the set screws that will enable us to lock the pipes in place once we have the stand built. Mount one of the elbows and center punch dimples in the middle of the small ridge on the edges of the elbow. Drill holes using the correct bit for the 1/4-20 tap. Do the same for each floor flange. There should be two set screws in each elbow and one in each flange.

Note: No need to be intimidated by the tapping procedure. It's a lot of fun, and the cast iron metal of the joints and flanges are very easy to drill and tap. Once you master the tapping of threads you will think of hundreds of applications to do so in your projects. Get in the habit of using a little oil, like Tap Magic, and the process is even easier.

Step 3: Mount Flange to Base

Temporarily mount one of the flanges to the base by placing the flange equally between the edge of the inner base hole, and the outside edge of the base. Drill one of the holes using a 1/4" bit, bolt it, then drill the rest of the holes. Insert and tighten the rest of the bolts.

Step 4: Modify the Hinge

Start by clamping the hinge to your work surface and drilling out the hole on the end of the long part of the hinge using a 9/16" drill bit. This will allow the spring to easily pass through.

Then place that end in a vise vertically so that the new hole is completely covered and down in the vise about a 1/4 of an inch from the top. Put a slight bend in the tab pushing toward the inside, closed position of the hinge. Approximate a 10 to 20 degree bend. It can be adjusted later.

Step 5: Mount Hinge to Flange

Start by placing a floor flange in the vise so that the bottom is facing up. Place and tighten a bolt in the closest hole to the center of the hinge through one of the flange holes, as shown in the picture. Align the hinge on the flange so that there is an equal distribution of space on either side. Drill the second hole through the existing hole in the hinge next to the bolted hole, through the flange. Drill the third hole through both the hinge and flange in the center at the bottom of the hinge. Counter sink that hole and then bolt it all together using flat and lock washers. Steps:

a. Bolt first hole
b. Align and drill second hole, and bolt it
c. Drill third hole (Image)
d. Countersink hole
e. Bolt third hole

Step 6: Install the Magnetic Popup Tabs in the Top

This is a multi-step process. Start by determining which side of the cutting board you want to be the bottom and have that facing up when you start.

a. Measure 1 1/4" from edge 5/8" from bottom (Image)
b. Drill two 1/8 pilot holes perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the cutting board. (Use a drill press or drill guide for all these procedures if you have one.)
c. Counter bore a 3/16 deep hole with a 3/4" Forstner bit so that the magnet fits flush with the top. (Image)
d. Flip board over and counter bore slightly less then 1/16" deep with 3/8" bullet point drill or Forstner bit (Image)
e. Very carefully widen the through hole with 13/64" drill, ensuring that you do not wobble the bit in the hole. (Image)
f. Insert pop-up from the top of the board and pencil a line around the top (Image)
g. Route material inside scribed line with Dremel tool so that pop-up fits flush with board (Image)
h. Glue magnet in hole (Image)
i. Assemble pop-ups, inserting steel fender washer under bolt

Step 7: Mount Hinge Assembly to Cutting Board

We'll now mount the hinge assembly to the modified cutting board...

a. Pencil center lines vertically and horizontally on bottom of board
b. Place hinge resting the bottom of the hinge on the horizontal line, ensuring that the hinge closes toward the pop-ups (Image)
c. Mark the center of the center hole on the vertical line
d. Important - Using masking or duct tape wrap the tape on an 9/64 drill bit so that the drill will only penetrate the cutting board within 1/8 of the other side. Do this by holding the bit on the edge of the board to gauge the depth.
e. Drill the center hole and tighten with a #10 1/2" screw (Use a center punch to accurately mark and start the holes)
f. Now mark and drill the other four holes

Step 8: Make the Spring Mount

Follow these steps to mount the spring to the cutting board...

a. Close the hinge and using a 1/2 bullet point bit, drill an 1/8 deep relief hole through the end of the hinge (Image)
b. Smash the ends of the copper tube so that they are even and about a 1/4 in from the ends of the tube(Image)
c. Drill a 9/64 hole in both ends of the tube in the center of the flat spots (Image)
d. Center the tube over the relief hole parallel to the bottom edge of the board
e. Mark the two holes and drill with an 1/8 bit (not too deep!)
f. Place the end of the spring over the tube and mount to the board using the #8 screws (Image)

Step 9: Build Adjustment Lock Collar

In this step we'll build the adjustment lock collar for the spring...

a. Drill and tap a hole in the center of the brass 3/8 pipe coupler, using a 1/4-20 tap (Image)
b. Thread in the adjustable table leg foot and place over the spring and cinch (Image)

Step 10: Measure and Cut PVC Conduit

a. Assemble the stand starting at the base and tighten by hand (Image)
b. Precisely measure the distance between the elbows, and the two flanges. Mark the pvc accordingly, subtracting 1/16 to 1/8 to allow for tightening of the fittings. There should be three pieces, one very small piece on the bottom.
c. Cut the pvc using a hacksaw (Tip: mark the cutting length 4 times around the pipe at 90 degrees each. Wrap a piece of masking tape around the pipe to create a cutting line.)

Step 11: Prep and Paint PVC Conduit and Base

Prep and paint the PVC Conduit and the base...

a. Disassemble the pipes and remove the flange from the base
b. Sand the base and PVC with 220 grit paper
c. Prime the base with a quality primer
d. Paint the PVC with a plastic grade paint (hammer finishes work great here.) You can also paint the base with the same paint.

Step 12: Assemble, Adjust and Enjoy!

Once the paint is dry, let's put it together!

a. Start with the base flange, this time using the flat and lock washers
b. Slip the PVC Conduit over the pipes as you assemble
c. Tighten the pipes until they are snug against the PVC and aligned in their proper positions. The lower pipe should be centered over the hole in the base.
d. Thread on the top assembly and align it
e. Once satisfied with the alignment, tighten down the set screws
f. If necessary, adjust the bend angle of the hinge tab with a large Crescent type wrench so that the spring is perpendicular to the tab. Do this if the spring is not stable and allows the top to collapse when downward pressure is put on it.
g. Stand back and admire your work!

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43 Comments

yea, I wish I had his resources and workshop. you make it look so easy.it is for me but .....

Great project, but it would be nice for some explanation as to why you constructed it the way you did. For example, is there a functional purpose to the PVC, or is that purely decorative? Also, why use a spring instead of a non-threaded rod the same size? What's the benefit / tradeoff? A small description for what each step is for could be good too (at first I was baffled as to why you'd tap holes into the elbows, as it was never explained).

Steel pipe thread can be a bit sharp. I suspect the pvc might make it more comfortable to grab + move. I might go with ABS and no paint. Perhaps find the right solvent to take the lettering off.

Thanks for the comment and feedback. The short response to your request for more detail, is that my external hard disk fell on the floor and I lost 60 percent of my footage, so I had to paste together what I had left before the deadline. :-) The PVC is for decoration, to cover the pipe threads and provide a more finished look. The spring is used instead of a rod, so that you don't injure your leg when moving around the stand, and because it's an interesting characteristic of this type of spring that it is very strong when compressed vertically. I'll add some more detail in the descriptions. Thanks for the feedback.

No, not from the stand. It hit the floor in Key West, 3000 miles from the stand. ;-)

Ouch. I hope your hard drive didn't fall from this stand. That wouldn't be the best boost for your project. If it fell from this stand maybe a modification is in order (i.e. added storage). This would also set your stand even farther apart from the traditional, store-bought laptop stand. This is a very cool project and you have an awesome shop.

would love to see this updated to be articulated. I want to be able to put it on the floor to the right of my couch and be able to swing it out or to me.

wow wow wow, great suff, i love to build things.i love thinking out side the box  to make stuff, spending a weekend to make something which you would probably spend a couple of hundred bucks to purchase. whats your next project....????.

http://www.mobile-gadget-place.com

Seth Elliot

I imagine if one were to make one of these but to make it telescoping, it'd be a great Rock Band 3 keyboard stand.