Introduction: Build a Furniture Quality Laptop Stand and TV Tray

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!

Comments

author
jpdid made it!(author)2015-11-06

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

author
halibetlector made it!(author)2009-01-06

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).

author
Toga_Dan made it!(author)2012-09-11

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.

author
Greg+Pless made it!(author)2009-01-06

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.

author
Greg+Pless made it!(author)2009-01-07

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

author
xr7vr0 made it!(author)2009-01-07

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.

author
bagherifar made it!(author)2012-05-25

thanks .
very good

author
dbinnc made it!(author)2011-07-07

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.

author
flex001 made it!(author)2011-05-26

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

author
TojoReeves made it!(author)2011-05-08

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.

author
idacil made it!(author)2010-12-30

Muito legal.Parabéns!
Very nice.Congratulations!

author
syn123 made it!(author)2010-09-30

Nice work!

author
Hisart made it!(author)2010-04-20

Very professional!

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jerfalcon made it!(author)2010-04-20

Very nice work, and this is simply a strking demonstration of creativity! Good job. Thank you

author
napoleaum made it!(author)2010-02-10

outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!
nicely done!!!
the only change i would do to it is building it with some adjustable stuff instead of the elbows, because it would make it easier to use in bed.
otherwise, congratulations!!! this is one of the best i'bles i've seen here!
5/5 stars!

author
explosivemaker made it!(author)2009-12-13

would be either a good idea to put wheels on it, or add a piece of felt/etc. to the bottom to prevent scratching the floor....

author
kilroy1958 made it!(author)2009-08-12

fantastic! i have been trying to figure out some thing like this for some time. i will save my weights for lifting though... as i work in the oil patch, i have access to threaded and 'blind' flanges. threaded, of course have a threaded hole of almost any size you want, depending on the flange. usually they are half inch thick or more, depending on the pressure rating. a three inch 9/1500 (900 to 1500 psi) threaded to two inch would be plenty heavy enough. i will check at work tomorrow. if i go with this idea, (going through separation at the moment) i will post pics. i will try to remember the camera and get some flange pics for "y'all"! later....

author
bobbeth6 made it!(author)2009-04-16

As another commentor suggested, wouldn't regular PVC joining give you the same asctetic at a fraction of the cost? Cementing PVC is so easy, and doesn't require machining. I don't know if it is rigid enough or of sufficient mass for the purposes of stablility need for this project. The tilt table with springs, hinge, and magnetic fixtures is another matter, but as for base and leg, PVC could be filled with sand or other material to accomplish these characeristics of mass and rigidity. This is not a criticism as I think the poster did a masterful job in his design and production including the professionally done video and instructable text. Well done. Thank you!

author
waisto made it!(author)2009-04-10

Very cool and unique laptop stand. I want one, but I'm not sure I could build it myself. How much would you charge for one of these? I'm interested in having one built if the price is right. Thank you.

author
Greg+Pless made it!(author)2009-04-14

Hey!

Thanks for the interest. I would love to build one for you. You might be surprised by the cost though. The materials alone are $115. If you add labor, crating, and shipping, we're probably looking at $250. If you are still interested, let me know and we'll get the details on the what color you would like, and shipping costs.

You can see my site for similar products...

http://www.gaplessproductions.com

Greg

author
arc_13 made it!(author)2009-03-19

love it, time for me to make one. the video was great!!!

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soujanya made it!(author)2009-02-03

Great Invention. I will surely try it, I use laptop a lot mostly on my lap and for long hours and already strained my neck this one is simple and good. Great job and Good Luck - Soujanya

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Michael+R+Lacey made it!(author)2009-01-12

Functional and fun to look at due to its uniqueness. I would like to buy one.

author
lpless made it!(author)2009-01-10

Great laptop stand!!!!! This sould come out as a kit for people to build, no trips to the hardware store, Lowe's or Home Depot. Keep up the good work.

author
shiks made it!(author)2009-01-09

Great project and Great thinking. I will surely try it at my end. Most of the time, I end up keeping the laptop on my lap and long hours means sprain in neck :). but this one is really good. It is light and handy....great job and all the best. Shikha

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wilsonmanhem made it!(author)2009-01-07

its really a simple and cool idea-gr8

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krishmuddana made it!(author)2009-01-07

good work its realy a great job ..

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brd007 made it!(author)2009-01-06

Great idea and great video -- Hope this dream come true. Anjay

author
rick94301 made it!(author)2009-01-06

Great presentation! You have the on-screen presentation skills, and video editing talent to do a TV series! All you need is a tool vendor sponsor and a network introduction. Hope you get "discovered".

author
dianriker made it!(author)2009-01-06

This is not simply a useful piece of furniture but a rather beautiful piece of metal "sculpting."

author
crackerhouse made it!(author)2009-01-06

Super cool idea and great video -- you should be on tv!

author
grapeaid made it!(author)2009-01-06

you make it look so easy,loved the demonstration. thanks.Frank

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gvarga made it!(author)2009-01-05

Great work, excellent presentation. I need to reflect on jogscx’s note above. In my opinion one of the most important points of this work (similarly to the website it is presented on) is creative exploration. Without that you would not have your table much less you would have your laptop to put it on. For this reason I believe that all attempts of art and creativity should be appreciated and embraced. Especially since most people do not have the motivation, talent and courage to explore beyond the ordinary. Unfortunately some will only exercise their gift to criticize the ones who dare trying.

author
grokker made it!(author)2009-01-05

Nice project, & great video! The magnetic pop-ups look like a great touch. Thanks!

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jrnot made it!(author)2009-01-05

Great project! I am going to build one as soon as I finish my honey-do list.

author
allindsay made it!(author)2009-01-03

Instead of tapping iron flanges you could buy Kee Klamps. They are also called Speed Clamps or Speed Rail. They already have tapped allen screws and they come in all the same shapes as iron fittings. You can find them at fencing supply companies or Theatreical Supply companies like BMI (bmisupply.com). These will cost alitte more but save you time.

author
ClayOgre made it!(author)2009-01-02

Some light oil or tapping fluid such as Tap Magic would help with this process and make it so that you are less likely to break a tap.

author
Greg+Pless made it!(author)2009-01-02

Thanks for the comment, and you are right. Oil never hurts, and in solid steel it's an absolute must. The cast iron fittings on this project are surprisingly easy to tap, so you can forego the oil and still get a really nice thread without risk of breaking a tap this size.

author
ClayOgre made it!(author)2009-01-03

I have broken my share of taps (I work in a factory that makes diesel engines), and know from personal experience what a headache they can be to remove (and this is with things like a burnout machine to electrically "dissolve" the broken tap, or tap extractors...which can break, too) ...I'd hate to think what it would be like to try and remove a busted tap without such toys.

author
fwjs28 made it!(author)2009-01-02

that looks really cool, however, it would be even better with movable joints.

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CaseyCase made it!(author)2009-01-01

For those of you out there who don't want to drill and tap, you might consider JB Welding your metal bits and pieces together. Just really prep them well before you get to gluing. Excellent project, by the way!

author
jongscx made it!(author)2009-01-02

I'd actually suggest to just use PVC if you don't have the tapping and drilling parts. Personally, though, I'd just use a table, as I'm not one to appreciate works of art like this.

author
gmjhowe made it!(author)2009-01-01

Excellent work, you have done a great job! I would want a little bit more flexibility, but that would also take away from the stability. Overall, a rather amazing project.

About This Instructable

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Bio: A maker since birth. I love to tinker, design, build and fix.
More by Greg Pless:GT Bicycle iDrive Repair - The ultimate fixBuild a Hanging Shelf SystemBuild a furniture quality Laptop Stand and TV Tray
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