Building a (macbook) Laptop Drawer

Introduction: Building a (macbook) Laptop Drawer

Although i have a big desk at home, i want it to be clean and without piles of stuff that i still have to finish. I also don't use my macbook as a laptop, but as a desktop, connected to a 24inch screen and controlled with an wireless mouse and keyboard and i really hate all the cables behind my desk. So to gain more space on my desk and to get rid of all the cablestuff, i've decided to build a drawer underneath my desk that holds my laptop. The problem is that it had to be one that makes it able to use my laptop as a desktop and that my desk had no drawers originally. The total costs of this project where less than 20 Euro (aproximately 30 Dollar).

This is my first instructable, so please ask/comment if something is wrong or not clear!

Step 1: Materials

The costs for this DIY project depend like many instructables from the ammount of materials that you already have laying around. The indicated costs of €20 / $30 are based on having to buy all the materials except screws, bolds, glue etc. A little list (all the dollarprices are aprox):

- The runners (50cm) for the drawer: €8, $11
- The metal hooks (5cm) to mount the drawer: €4, $6
- The handle (10cm) for the drawer: €1.5, $3
- The wood (bought a piece of mdf from 0,5x60x120cm and 1 lath 1x3,5x200cm): €7.5, $10

I bought all the stuff at a DIY store. (I had the thicker lath on the photo laying around, but a didn't use it in the end.)

Step 2: Tools

For this project i used quite a lot of tools, but but the average handyman has them probably all in his house or garage. Except from the screwdrivers, pencil etc. you also need a multitool like a Dremel, a drill a fetsaw, and a jig saw. Ofcourse you can also do this by hand, but it's going to cost you a lot more time...

Step 3: Preparing the Runners

Because the drawer has to be hanged underneath the desk, the runners that make it move, need to have enough space between them and the desk. With the metal hooks you can mount and keep distance at the same time. Actually speaks the mounting for itself. But depending on the holes that are already in the metal hooks you might have to drill some new holes. I had that on one side.
At first i mounted the rear hooks with bolds that had the long ends on the inside of the runner, as shown on the photo's. But when i closed them i noticed that they didn't run to the end as is to be seen on the last photo of this step. So my advise is to mount them all to the outside and then use you're multitool to get rid of the useless ends.

Step 4: Sawing the Wood

To decide what the size of the drawer should be, i measured my macbook (3x23x33cm) and added 2 cm for the wooden sides and 2 cm to be able to get the laptop out and let the ventilation work. For the length i chose for the full length of the runner: 50 cm. This because you also need to manage the cables that have to be connected to the laptop.
The size you make your drawer is up to you ofcourse. If you have a bigger laptop you can make it another size without a problem.

After measuring and marking the mdf, use your jig saw to 'cut out' the piece you need.
As you can see on the photo's, i've cut the laths at the right size staight away. 2 times 50 cm, 1 time 26 cm and 1 time 24 cm. On the pictures you see an extra 24 cm lath, but i didn't use that in the end because of the ventilation.
The long laths have a sloping end on one side. I chose for this because of the cable management. At the other side mitered the ends so that they joined together nicely. i also did this with the front lath (26cm).

Step 5: Assemble the Drawer

Now that all the pieces of the drawer are roughly ready it's time to assemble it. First drill the holes for the handle that has to be mounted on the drawer. Make sure it is straight in the centrer. Some brands make this easier by adding the excact space between the two holes on the packaging (second photo). Because the screws that came with the handle where to long, i had to cut them with my multitool first. Make sure you do this in a straight way, otherwise you will mess up the screw (photo 3).

After mounting the handle, it's time to mark the holes that have to be drilled for the screws that hold the runners and the holes for the nails which reinforce the connection between the sides and underside from the drawer (photo 5,6,7). I drilled the holes trough the mdf and the laths because i didn't want any of them to tear apart when hammering down the nails.
I used normal wood glue in combination with the nails to make the drawer extra strong.
After finishing the drawer itself i mounted the runners at the right way and checked if they worked all the way.

As you can see at the last photo, i've decided to mount three small pieces of wood againt the front of the drawer. This is because of the air ventilation and to be able to get your laptop out easier.

Step 6: Make It Ventilate

A laptop needs air! So to build a drawer that closes 100% is nice to see, but probably the worst thing you can do for the temperature inside your laptop. That's why the metal hooks on the runners are a little higher than the drawer itself (photo 1).
But to let the laptop breathe easy and to give it some extra cooling, i've decided to build in a laptopcooler that i used on my desk before (photo 3).

To mount the fans, i used two 24 cm long laths that where not used when building the drawer. To calculate the place where the fans should come i marked the end of the laptop and drilled two holes at the same distance from eachother (the distance that they are mounted from eachother on the two laths).

After mounting the fans under the drawer, i used a small drill and a fretsaw to make the hole for the usb connector and on/off switch.

Step 7: Mounting the Drawer

When the cooling 'system' is installed, it's time to mount the drawer and to finish the project. Depending on the type of laptop you've used and the size of your drawer, you should measure at which place the metal hooks should be mounted. In my case it had to be 10 cm max, because you have to be able to open the drawer far enough to get out the laptop, connect the cables and to open the laptop when starting it (photo 5,6,8).

It might be handy to ask someone else to hold the drawer with the runners attached to them, so you can lay on your back and mark the places where the screws have to come.
After mounting the drawer and connecting my laptop, i realized that the space between the wood and laptop would be very little for a decent airflow. That's why i added 4 black caps straight at the place where the rubber caps underneath my laptop are (photo 7).

By the way, the second photo, shows that i haven't cut off the rest of the bolds that connect the runners to the metal hooks. That's because i'm not sure yet if i want to mount it a little closer the desk.

If you want to, you can ofcourse always paint the drawer, so it matches your desk. But that would ofcourse be between step 5 and 6 or 6 and 7.

Good luck, and questions/comments are always welcome!!!

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    5 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Did you do anything fancy to handle cable management? I'm building something similar to this for a kitchen work station, where I'll be passing power and various hookups through the wall (from under the counter to above where the flat panel monitor will be). Without some sort of cable management, it seems like you'd have lengths of cable dangling beneath the drawer (slack for when you pull the drawer out). I have 2 small children, so they'd be yanking on those before I finished installing it for sure...


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i was thinking of a docking station thing..but this idea is much better.. maybe i will add a cooler and thats it


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, indeed a cooler is quite necessary to keep the temperature low in your laptop. That's why i added the fans from my coolermaster laptopstand. Have fun diy'ing!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    oh..dint notice the fan at the end of the instructable till later ..

    diy'ing...almost looks like diying haha


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, well accordingly to my newspaper this week, it isn't a big difference in realtime ether! DIY'ing kills about 3 to 5 persons a year in the Netherlands! So who knows how high that rate is in other countries...:P