Hanging Laptop Digital Painting




Take your old laptop, matte it, frame it, and convert it into a hanging framed digital lcd screen to do with as you like.

Step 1: Remove Hinges (free the Display)

Caution: The first thing to realize with this project is you can easily destroy your laptop. Weigh your options carefully. I actually made mine smoke and thought it was destroyed for a few hours, this was quite depressing.

I used my first generation G4 powerbook for this project, which already had the hinges broken, so this was a bit easier for me than it will be for you. Although, you can easily break the hinges off by folding the monitor back. I also ripped off that little back flap before I began, but be WARNED a little piece of metal might fall into your laptop when you do this, ruining it. I would finally suggest doing all the work on a soft surface, I used a towel on my bed.

To remove the hinges on this laptop take a torx-8 screw bit and remove the two screws in each hinge. (You can get these bits at radio shack if you dont have them.)

Pull off the hinge caps, though you may need a small flat head screw drive. NOTE: always be careful of the cables that carry the data (little and green). They're actually very small coax cables and can easily be ruined.

Now remove the inner metal hinges with the same screw bits. These should just come off after you unscrew them.

Step 2: Ditch the Battery, Fold It, Tape It

Take out your battery, there is no need, this thing is going to be plugged in and removing your battery will give the laptop a bit of extra ventilation space, if you dont agree, dont do it.

For me I had to tape the bottom of the display back in place with electrical tape. After that I went ahead and taped up all of the display wires with electrical tape.

Finally I used some clear packing tape and blue painters tape to keep the thing together. Make sure you dont tape over the vents or fan openings. Use the tape sparingly, your gonna need as much air flow as you can get.

Step 3: Framing Challenges

So before you can go any farther you need a wooden frame. I looked at a few options and realized that buying a semi-beatup "shadow-box" would be the best option. I went to a frame shop near my work and looked through a stack of semi-beatup frames. I found a nice deep maple frame that was a bit too tall for what I wanted. So for a couple bucks I had the owner cut the frame down to the size I wanted.

I ended up going with about 5/8" matte around the screen and the frame. I thought this was enough to leave a nice border without getting ridiculous. As well, the matte holds the laptop in ever so slightly from the front, so i didnt want it to be too weak.

I would suggest just taking your laptop to a framer and trying out some frames there. Then tell the owner what you want.

Step 4: Matting It

So now that you have a frame, you need to cut a matte to size. I used number 4 black matte board, but you could use white or a number 8 matte if you wanted to. I had my friend cut it for me at work because he knows what he's doing with the matte cutter. If you don't know what your doing, measure out what you want and have a framer cut it out for you.

After getting it cut out, I did a dry fit just to make sure everything looked right and fit, do this with the computer on! So that your looking at the actual displayed image.

Upon doing the dry fit, I realized that the electrical tape I had used to mask the display would reflect light and slowly come up. So I sliced down the middle of the electrical tape that was masking the display, and removed the inner section.

Using blue painters tape and a piece of paper mask the whole display as well as around all of the edges of the computer. Lay it down on some newspaper, and spray two coats of semi-flat black spray paint. This will give it a nice matte finish that wont reflect.

Remove all the tape.

Finally, epoxy on the whole matte with a thin bead of epoxy around the outer edge of the display DONT GET IT ON THE LCD! Make sure its all square before you leave it to dry. I used 5 minute epoxy which I love.

Step 5: Vent It, Set It, Hang It

Sit your laptop/matte combo into the frame and mark where your power cord connects to the laptop. Drill a hole! For this powerbook I needed a 1/2" bit. I like these bits instead of regular drill bits because they leave a nice clean edge.

Next drill holes for ventilation purposes. I did little holes where the vents for the laptop are, and a 1/2" hole on the bottom in the middle where the fan is.

Next I used small pieces of foam board to secure the laptop into place. At first I was scared about this but then realized that unless there was an earthquake, these wedges wouldn't come out. It also leaves a lot of room for ventilation in the back which is very important.

Finally I screwed in two eye-screws and ran some picture frame wire. Using two hooks on the wall so that the nail wouldn't hit the track pad.

Step 6: Software Setup

Currently I am using the screensaver as the picture display software, but there are so many options, from videos, to flash things, to art, to whatever, it is limitless.

I would suggest using the energy saving features in mac os x that allow you to set when the computer turns on and off, this was a great feature because the display is in my office at work.

I set the laptop up on a wireless network with my desktop and I have access to it, so i can upload pictures into the screensaver folder whenever I want, and I don't have to take the frame down.

I hope you have fun building your own, its a great project, and a great thing to do with your old laptop!

Go to town!



    • Barbecue Challenge

      Barbecue Challenge
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    54 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Nice !

    This project is really neat, minimal, looks amazing. Reminds me of one of my favorites in digital art framing, FRAMED* which is more than just a frame. Google it.


    13 years ago

    Hey, I was wondering, all I have is an old Dell laptop screen (without any wires). I dont want to turn it into a wall mounted screen because I dont have the computer to go with it. I want to turn it into a desktop monitor. Any ideas of what I could do?

    8 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yes you can turn it into a desktop monitor you just need to buy the correct lvds adaptor......got mine off of ebay. I used an old dell monitor stand and JB welded my old hp pavillions lcd to it...



    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You can't. It's driven by a raw signal, and nothing bar the graphics interface inside a laptop or the beefy circuit inside an lcd monitor will drive it. You can't adapt it to vga, svideo, anything like that.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Since you seem to know what your talking about, what parts from my laptop are need to turn it into a lcd monitor for my 360? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    didnt u understant u cant! well in my case i can :D i can get hsync vsync r g b contrast and more :D the thing is its realy hard to do with my monittor....


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, so what I can do my laptop screen ? how I can utilize my screen?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Without spending about five times what the screen is worth, not a lot. You can use it to make a lovely flat-panel light - arrange a couple of these in picture frames and just power them up with no data cable attached and it's very spacey. Other than that... not a lot.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    For a mac if you have Timbuktu installed on the G4 you can control it from any other computer with Timbuktu (or other remote desktop app). I happened to have Timbuktu installed on the G4 to be used so it was a logical choice. Great idea!


    9 years ago on Step 6

    How long do you keep the screen on ? 24/7 ? Anything to worry if you do so ?

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice instructable, I'm gonna do it with my old laptop.

    I feel bad for the MacBook though. (Apple rules!)


    10 years ago on Step 4

    Did you shave your arms? Green shirt = hairy Black shirt = hairless

    oh yeah, cool instructable too!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I have an old windows 95 lappy (I got it from a friend) and I wish to do this. I have one problem, though: my brother took it apart, and when he put it back together, it would boot, tell us it overheated, then shut off. he later realized he accidentally removed the heatsink. is there a way to bypass the overheat shutdown cycle?

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You had best replace the heat sink. Running it longer than the overheat warning would make it quit permanently :(