Introduction: Flatpack Laptop Stand

About: Woodworking hobbyist in Rochester NY and a high school science teacher. Follow me on instagram at @newmanspecialswoodwork

As a full time educator, and the parent of 2 high school age kids, I know that this year is going to be difficult for everyone in my house. I’m anticipating being on my laptop computer for many hours each day and into the night, which can be uncomfortable over the time. I don’t like having a pillow on my lap to help with the heat so I’ve used a flat board in the past, but I wanted something a little better for all of us for this year. I do not, however, want to have a whole bunch of laptop stands floating around the house so I decided to design one that could easily go together and come apart for storage. I went through a few designs but stuck with the same overall concept throughout. I'm going to layout the design issues I've gone through and the solutions I used to fix them and some of the ways that I used the Easel software to make this.


CNC - mine is an x-carve from inventables
Software - I use the free Easel software to design and then download the g-code
UGS - universal G-code sender to run the program
1/4” up/down compression bit
Blonde plywood from Lowe’s
Sandpaper for smoothing the issues

Patience dealing with trial and error

Step 1: Laptop Measurements

First thing I did was measure my laptop for length and width. My school laptop is 13” by 9”. I knew that I wanted the laptop stand to have an angle to it so I planned on the front being about 2 inches and the back at 4". I decided that the easiest, most comfortable way to have the stand on my lap would be to have a box like configuration. The picture shows my first drawing and plan for the stand - I decided on 15" for the overall width and depth of 10"

Step 2: Design 1

The first trial of the stand came together ok except for the major issue of falling apart when it was in your lap! The overall design I’ve used throughout my versions has 2 side pieces with a front and back rail piece. The front is 2 inches tall and the back is 4” tall. The side pieces are triangular shaped and measure 2” in the front and 4” in the back. I’ve used a slotted configuration on all the versions to hold the pieces together and this one had the front and back rail pieces sliding down into the side pieces.The plywood I decided to use, the blonde plywood from Lowe’s, has a thickness of 0.475 so I’ve made my slots at 0.49" thick.

Issue: The stand fell apart when in the lap from the downward pressure of computer over the lap. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of this one

Step 3: Design 2

Solution to the issue from Design 1, turn all slots over in the front and back so that the pressure from the legs keeps all pieces together and add a locking mechanism. For this design I used a locking mechanism that went from side to side within the body of the structure and was designed to hold the pieces in place as it sat on your lap.
Issues: I designed it so the width of the locking piece end was the same as the width of the slot on the side pieces and I needed to trim the ends for the lock to be used. Once I got that trimmed and inserted into the lapdesk in the whole thing shifted and did not lock well and felt unstable.

Step 4: Design 3

Solution to locking issue of Design 2 - create sliding lock pieces to hold the sides, front, and back components together. I decided a piece that could slide in through a slot on the side pieces and pull tight against the front and back supports was going to be the easiest way to do this. The first picture show the locking slides on the bottom, side pieces with openings for the locks and slots for the front and back pieces. The second picture shows the measurements I used:

A = overall length of 10.25"

B = the width of the portion at 0.5" width

C = width of 2" at the widest portion

D = The interior space of the lock (inside the "hook") is 0.85", allowing the pieces to pull tight and lock everything together.

E = the overal length of the lock portion is 3.5"

Issue - the way I designed this the front piece sits into the front slots of the side pieces at an angle to create a lip to provide a support for the computer. The slots for the side locks don’t line up with the slots for the front and back slots
Solution - I increased the width of the slot to 0.6” and moved the height to 0.8” so when it is slanted there is space for the side locking piece to sit at an angle. The third picture shows the markings for the side pieces:

1 = front rail lock height at 0.8"

2 = height of front rail at 2"

3 = height of the side lock slide slot is 0.75"

4 = height of the back rail is 4"

5 = back rail lock height at 0.75"

Issue - the Easel software I’m using does not easily do this type of design with multiple slots and easy manipulation of the design.
Solution - I inserted cut outs to the design software that overlapped the shapes I already created. In order to have the pieces the correct height and/or width I used the cutouts I inserted with a height that equaled the distance I wanted the slots to be from the bottom and sides and used that to align the cut outs. The fourth picture shows the measurement box in light gray with the cut out areas as black

The remainder of the pictures show the locking slide in action

Step 5: Design 3.1

The version 3 design worked out really well - I was able to lock all the pieces together firmly and securely and hold the stand on my lap. Using it, however, one of the things I really felt was missing was a place to put a mouse. My first design for the pad was sitting on the side piece from the top down and that didn't work. I decided to instead do a rounded piece that could slide into the side locking slot and use this to lock into place. This works out really well and is very secure. The mouse pad itself is 6 inches wide and 11" long and the round portion makes it comfortable - plus I've found that I can rest my phone on the mouse pad and lean it on the back rail!

Step 6: Final Project/Thoughts

The only major difference I have made to the design is to round over the corners of the front and back rails to make them more comfortable over time. The program is easy enough to design - the major points have been all laid out here. The key part for me was making sure all my measurements were in the right place and I was able to do that using the methods of making boxes that matched the measurements I needed and then moving the components the spacing that I needed them to be. All said - I'm nervous about teaching this coming year but I know that I will be able to create the materials I need for my students in comfort! let me know if you have any questions or thoughts on my flatpack laptop stand

CNC Contest 2020

Participated in the
CNC Contest 2020