My work computer is a 17" laptop, and I was tired of hunching over my desk all day to use it. I wanted a stand that would prop up the laptop's LCD screen to a more ergonomic height, but I didn't want to spend any money. This cardboard laptop stand provides a much better work environment at no cost!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Of course you'll need cardboard. The piece I had handy was a little less than 1/4 inch thick. I wouldn't recommend using anything smaller.
You'll only need simple measuring, marking, and cutting tools.
Step 2: The Two Critical Measurements
The first critical measurement is the desired height of the laptop's LCD screen. I propped the laptop up on books until it was roughly the same height as a LCD monitor, then measured from the table to the bottom of the laptop's back edge. In my case, the measurement was 4 inches.
The second critical measurement is the length to be supported by the stand. Measure diagonally across the bottom of the laptop, starting and ending about 2 inches in from the edge. Adjust this diagonal as needed to avoid bumps, feet, and other extrusions from the laptop's bottom. In my case, the measurement was 15 1/2 inches.
Step 3: Measure and Cut Out the Laptop Stand's Legs
First, I measured out the 15 1/2 inch length of a leg, then the 5 inch rear height of the leg. I wanted a "block" at the front edge to keep the laptop from sliding off the stand, so I measured out a small rectangle 2 inches high at the front and 1 3/4 inches in from the front. On this last line, I marked off a point 1 inch from the bottom. Marking a line from this point to the 5 inch point at the rear gives us the cut lines for one leg.
You can repeat these measurements for the second leg or use the first leg as a pattern.
Step 4: Cut Out the "latching" Slots
Next, I cut complementary slots on the legs so that they could be latched together. I first measured about halfway down the middle of the leg's bottom, about 7 1/4 inches, and drew a line at that point. I then placed a mark halfway up that line. This marks the bottom of the slot for one leg and the top of the slot for the other leg. I cut 1/4 inch wide slots.
Step 5: Assemble and Enjoy!
Slot the legs together and inspect them to make sure the stand is level. Trim them as necessary. You're done!
Step 6: Extra Credit - Making a Plywood Stand
After using my cardboard stand for 3 months or so, it started wearing out and becoming a bit sloppy. I could have made another one from cardboard but decided to make one out of plywood. It was simple enough - I just used the cardboard legs as a pattern. It looks like the plywood version will last me a long time.