Introduction: Varifocal Triple Monitor Stand

I spend a lot of time in front of my computer and often get a sore back and head from changing position trying to focus on things after some time. I also found that the shelf I had my monitors on was taking up a lot of desk space so I build this rig to solve these problems. This set up is extremely useful in the forward position for having your tabs open on all screens to compile a report or in the pushed back position for playing games or full screen applications. It was much easier to build and cheaper than going to the opticians! It is constructed from old bed slats! I am sure you could use slats from pallets, old floor boards or anything you have available.

The resulting product increases useful desk space and allows for longer endurance in front of the computer by allowing a comfortable and adaptable seating position for the user. To buy a similar stand could cost you up to £200 and I have not found one yet with this function.

Step 1: Materials

The monitor stand was built, like many project should be, with materials I had lying about. The wood I used was pine bed slats from an old bed. They are roughly 15 mm thick and 60 mm wide with varying lengths roughly 6 metres in total.This is probably the minimum dimensions you can use without compromising strength and sag.

I used 14  M8 x 80mm coach bolts, roughly 40 M8 washers, 14 wing nuts and several M8 nuts. This would cost roughly £6.00 in your local hardware store.

The orange elastic straps came from a pull up bar I bought but I am sure you can find an equivalent material to act as a spring such as a bungee cord. The idea came from my work lamp. It has 4 lengths of metal on 4 pivots to make a parallelogram, there is a spring diagonally across the frame. As the light is pulled over into position the downward force is increased, this is compensated by the spring resisting the deformation of the parallelogram. I have incorporated this feature into my design.

The main components are put together with the M8 coach bolts but the base and hanger are screwed together using 30 mm countersunk wood screws.

I used various tools throughout the build and I will highlight what I used and how I used it on each step.

Step 2: Dismantling the Monitor Stand

The monitors I have didn't have any mounting points for a bracket so I had to dismantle the stands and adapt them to be mounted.

The stands came away from the monitors by pushing a button and sliding them out. The stands them self consisted of a galvanised metal frame encased in a plastic faring. This was removed by unscrewing the screws with a philips screwdriver and levering the plastic away with a flat head screwdriver shown in the photos.

Once the plastic casing was removed I was left with a pivotal metal mount that could be adapted.

The parts that I removed were not used but the screws and bolts removed were stored as they could be useful for another project.

Step 3: Adapting Monitor Mount

The metal monitor mount has tabs formed into slits to restrict its movement back and forward. To be mounted the tabs have to be bent out of the road. To do this I used a set of pliers to lever them out of the way- shown in the second picture. When the tabs have been bent out of the way the mount can be straitened out.

I then measured the 60 mm (the width of the wood) from the pivot point and made a mark with a marker. I then drew a cut line using a square for accuracy and clamped it in the vice to be cut. Note in the picture I have made sure the line to be cut is as close to the vice jaw as possible to reduce vibration when cutting.

I used a hacksaw to cut the excess material off but if you have an angle grinder this will be much quicker. Once cut it is a good idea to use a file and remove any sharp edges left after cutting.

To allow mounting of the brackets to the wooden frame with the M8 bolts an 8 mm hole must be drilled. On the brackets here there was already a hole that could be widened. If there is not you will have to measure and mark the centre before using a smaller drill to make a pilot hole. Once you have a pilot hole you can then drill it out to 8 mm. I have a small press drill but a hand drill would to the job fine.

Step 4: Construction of Bracket Hinges

When making the wooden hinges the sizes were not predetermined but measured as I was constructing it. Each monitor was 520 mm wide. For the side hinge pieces I made them 260 mm plus twice the width of the wood ( 380 mm). I measured and marked the line with a square again before clamping the piece in the vice. Using a tenon saw I cut the piece to size. This design requires 4 parts like this.

When the parts were cut to size I used the metal bracket adapted from the monitor stand to mark where holes have to be cut for the bolts. I used the drill with an 8 mm bit in it again.

Attaching the wooden hinge pieces to the adapted bracket is done in a certain order. The bolt goes into the wood with a washer on top, then metal bracket is placed on the washer with a nut to hold it in place. By tightening up the nut you can press and secure the coach bolt into the wood. On top of the nut I put another washer then another hinge piece with a washer and finally a wing nut to secure it in place.

With the hinge section secure I set up all three monitors to gauge an angle and required length of the main centre mount for the hinge parts. As you can see in the last picture I determined the size of this by placing a rule in place of the wood. From centre pivot point to outside hinge pivot was 295 mm. I doubled this and added the with of the wood (650 mm) for the size. 2 pieces this size are required.

Step 5: Main Centre Mount

As before I measured and marked the centre and ends to be drilled. Once marked I drilled 8 mm holes as before.

When duplicating the three pieces for the main centre mount I found the easiest was to use the original piece as a template and take sizes from it.

Once you have the 2 side hinges constructed and the 2 centre mounted pieces, they can be bolted together in a sandwich construction. Note: at this point I turned the centre mounting bracket upside down to make the monitors sit level once constructed.

As before with the side brackets I used a coach bolt in the bottom piece with a washer, a nut and then the bracket. After the bracket another washer and the final piece of wood is screwed on the top with a washer and wing nut. The side hinges are attached in the same way.

This completes the hinged hanging bracket.

Step 6: Main Stand

The main picture shows the parts needed to construct the actuating frame. As the process is repetitive I will give a brief explanation of the sizes and general direction.

For the sizes of the 4 long slats that act as the riser I sat at my desk with a tape measure and made my best judgement of the optimum height that would work in this particular situation. As before, this was not predetermined and was decided upon during construction. The size I chose for the long vertical slats was 500 mm end to end. On each end I measured 30 mm in and 30 mm across to make the holes necessary for the bolts to make the pivot holes.

There are 2 chassis consisting of three pieces of wood screwed in a U shape, one at the bottom bolted to the desk, and one at the top to hang the hinged hanging bracket (this is the longest one on the right).

The bottom chassis that bolts to the desk is 200 mm long and the top hanging chassis is 280 mm long.

Step 7: Base

The three 200 mm pieces as mention in the previous step are shown in the main picture. Like the main 500 mm vertical slats I measured in 30 mm and across 30 mm at each end  of the outside parts to mark and drill 8 mm holes suitable for the pivot bolts. The centre piece has 2 x 8 mm holes positioned further to the back that will be used to bolt it to the desk. **Please ignore the slots cut into the 2 outside pieces this was an iteration**

This part was fixed together with the wood screws. I held one of the outside pieces along the edge to mark where the screws were needed. Using this as a guide I marked screw positions roughly 25 mm apart. I tried to fit as many screws on as possible without sacrificing strength. Each hole was countersunk using a 3 mm drill bit before being screwed together.

Note: In the picture I have inserted the coach bolts for the vertical frame before screwing it together as there is no way to insert them when it is constructed.

The final part of the base is a square off cut of wood 60 mm by 60 mm screwed on with 6 screws marked out in the same way as above. This is for the elastic tubing to wrap around.

The base can now be situated on the desk, holes marked and drilled. It is fixed using 2 x M 8 coach bolts with washers as before. Make sure at this stage you horse the wing nuts or bolts right up as the whole weight of the rig and your monitors are held by these bolts.

Step 8: Top Hanger

Similar to the base, the top hanger part is screwed together with enough wood screws to make a solid secure structure. It is obviously longer (280 mm) but the main notable differences are is the removal of excess material and the 4 holes for the elastic tubing. The 4 holes are 10 mm in diameter and are at the front of the frame.

Note: Similar to the base, I have inserted the coach bolts before screwing it all together.

Step 9: Assembly

You can now bolt the vertical slats to the base with with washers and wing nuts. Each piece of elastic tubing must be slotted through the top hanger, round the base piece and secured to the top before it is bolted to the vertical slats.

Step 10: Finish

To finish it i cut the bolts with excess down to size, removed sharp edges and sanded any pen used in construction.

As this was a quick project I did not treat or finish the wood but think a gloss paint or varnish would look good if you had time.

In this picture hopefully it is clear how this mechanism works. As the monitors are pulled forward more force is applied, the distance between the diagonal pivot points increases which stretches the elastic creating a counter acting force to keep the frame in position. What ever sort of elastic material you use it may need some fine tuning, I think i was just lucky that mine was the right tension.


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