My goal for this project was to have a stand for my laptop that was:
4) a good height
So, to make it cheap, I decided to use cardboard. To make it simple, I went with five flat pieces of cardboard held together with slots. To make it sturdy, I decided to have multiple crosspieces going from side to side.
I also needed to raise the laptop to a height that was similar to my extra monitor, so I measured the distance from the top of the desk to the bottom of the monitor.
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Step 1: The Idea
I decided that I wanted the keyboard of my laptop to be at an angle, which meant I had to make the front and back of the stand at different heights. My first drawing was a simple sketch on a post-it note of the dimensions of my laptop and the height of the stand. I went with 4in at the back to correspond with my monitor height, and 2in at the front, resulting in a 2in drop over the course of 10in. I wasn't positive that those dimensions would result in the angle I wanted, so I made a simple prototype out of paper. It's a good thing I did because I ended up changing the dimensions to 4in at the back and 1.5in at the front. I drew where the crosspieces would slot in, and made a paper prototype for those as well. I made the crosspieces 11in with the slots 1in from each end. This put the sides of the stand approximately 2.5in from the edges of my laptop, a good distance that will provide plenty of support.
I always recommend making a prototype before you jump into the project itself so you can see how the final project will look with the correct proportions. If it is a large project, you can always scale it down. Prototyping can save you a lot of extra work and headaches if your original design is flawed or undesirable, as mine was.
Step 2: Cutting
Because I had made full scale prototypes of the sides and crosspieces on paper, I could simply trace that onto the cardboard I was using. I only had one piece of cardboard, so I rearranged the pieces so the two sides and three crosspieces would fit and then I traced them with a pencil. I made sure to mark where the slots were, so both sides were identical. An alternative method would be to completely cut out one side and then copy that onto the cardboard for the other side.
I cut out all the pieces using a cutting mat, metal straight edge, and xacto knife. This method worked great especially when I needed to cut sharp corners.
Step 3: Assemble and Test
The assembly of this stand is rather straightforward. Each of the crosspieces are identical so they can slide into any of the three slots on the sides. Insert all three and it is ready to test.
Step 4: Slight Modification
I decided to utilize the space underneath the stand to store some things, like extra papers. To do this I cut a 3/8in wide slot out of the bottom crosspiece. I made it as long as the distance between the two sides. Doing this left about an 1/8in of cardboard to hold the bottom crosspiece in place (see pics). This definitely weakens the stand somewhat, however there is not that big of a difference because the other two crosspieces are still holding strong.
Step 5: Final Thoughts
This stand holds my laptop perfectly without any troubles. It is extremely sturdy due to the three crosspieces, and I have no worries whatsoever of it falling apart on me. It raises my laptop to a perfect height so it is easier to look between multiple screens. It was also very easy to cut and assemble, as well as being cheap (free).
If I were to redo this, there is only one thing I would change. The tab towards the front of the sides that is meant to hold the laptop up is a little small and squarish. It holds the laptop, but next time I would increase the size and probably make it curved so it fits the laptop better.
This design is easily modified to fit your own laptop. However, if you would like me to provide my plans for this I can, so just leave a comment.