Fast, Cheap, Amazing. Pick Two.
This Instructable is part of a longer exploration of material reuse that I'm calling the Offcuts Series. I hope you find my little project interesting—most of my dimensions were discovered along the way, so making a recipe to built the exact same thing didn't make much sense. However, if you do decide you want to make an identical piece, let me know in the comments and I'll throw a printable PDF in with the dimensions for you.
After working here at Instructables HQ for awhile and staring at a monitor that sits about a foot low for comfortable viewing, it became clear I was going to need to take matters into my own hands if I wanted to be comfortable. What better way than to build my own laptop and monitor stand?
There are many thoughts as to the best way to go about this sort of project, and many trees felled printing books about 'proper' ergonomics. The main targets I wanted to it were pretty simple—keep the centerline of the monitor at bang-on eye level when I am sitting with good posture in my chair, and do my best to center the laptop's screen next to it. In service of these goals, the criteria I chose to stick to were pretty few:
1. Upcycled/reused materials.
2. Simple forms.
3. Minimal fasteners.
Step 1: Materials & Tools
I started out with the idea that all of the materials, aside from fasteners, would be recycled or reused. My last project, the Work/Play TV Tray, used only wood that I found lying around in the shop here at Instructables HQ, so it made sense to follow some similar rules this time.
For this project, I decided to use only wood from a couple of things that I had lying around—a quickie monitor stand built by Mikeasaurus that he'd given me, and a shipping crate that found its way into my hands.
At least for getting the crate and monitor stand apart:
Nail-pulling Pincer Pliers
Cutting & Assembly:
Bandsaw (You could easily use a hand saw)
Table Saw (You could easily use a Skil or other circular saw)
Drill Press (not necessary for this project, but nice to have!)
Step 2: Reuse Disassembly & Material Evaluation
After about a half-hour's easy labor, I was presented with some totally usable wood. Some long, relatively straight sticks of 1.5"X1.5" square, and some shorter sticks of 0.75" by 1.5", various lengths. Also some 0.25" thick Luon ply in three different rectangular shapes.
None of this stuff is amazing lumber, but it's all dry, relatively straight and suitable for my purposes.
Fast, Cheap, Beautiful? Pick two.
Step 3: Monitor Stand: the Base
Start by measuring the two base pieces. In this case, I got a measurement of 13 3/8", which I found the center of, and measured half the width on either side to notch out.
Then, notch out the base. The easiest and quickest method I had available was to make a series of cuts to half-depth between my two measured lines on the bandsaw, then use a chisel to break them out. Because the wood was pretty dry, this was quite easy. I then used the chisel to clean out the bottom of the notch, and fitted them together.
Use the speedsquare to draw an X across the bottom, and pre-drill a hole for the screw that will hole the base on to the main support.
Put a 1.75" square-drive wood screw into the center of the base, and screw the base to the main support.
Measure and cut 45° angles on the ends of the short pieces that will act as lateral supports, then use the nailgun to attach them. I chose not to use glue in this case, but if your monitor is heavier than mine, you might consider it.
Step 4: Monitor Stand: the Mast
The monitor had a nice VESA mounting pattern on the back, which made this part pretty simple. I first measured off the four sides of the square I would need to cut for the mounting panel. I then measured in to the centers of the mounting holes, and marked across the resulting square with the speedsquare. I cut the square down on the bandsaw, using the fence as a guide. It turned out that the guide wasn't completely square, so I had to go back and make a few adjustments, cut again and be sure it would drop into the mounting plate area on the back of the monitor.
After drilling the mounting holes, I checked for fit. One of them was slightly off, so I had to re-drill that as well.
There's a lesson in there somewhere about being in a hurry, but we won't dwell on that. ;)
I then drilled three countersunk holes in the mounting plate, marked them on the post, and drilled guide holes through. Then I screwed the two together using 1" countersunk square-drive wood screws.
After running back upstairs to my desk and checking everything for fit, I mounted the monitor to the stand. It got pretty close to my target height of 16" centerline, although it is rather off-level. I had to shim it up using some (ahem) local materials.
Step 5: Laptop Stand
Put the laptop down on your chosen piece of 0.25" thick panel (in this case, a good-sized piece of Luon panelboard).
Measure the width and cut it on the table saw (you could easily use a hand circular saw for this, Skil or equivalent).
Align the laptop with the back edge of the material, then trace a line across that describes where the laptop ends. You'll use this as a guideline to trace the cross-section of the brace piece on either side.
Cut two parallel lines with the bandsaw, then drill inside the corners and use those as turning points for your hand jigsaw to cut the slots out. Finish them out as necessary on the bandsaw (if, like me, you cut inside the mark a wee bit and end up making the slots a tiny bit small).
Assemble the crossbrace—pre-drill the holes with a countersink bit, then drive home a 1.5" countersunk square-drive wood screw on either side. Check for alignment, and fit.
Put the laptop on the stand and have a look at how long you want the stubs to poke out on the top surface. Once you're fairly sure you have the length you want for the crossbrace, cut the stubs back. Notch them with a hand saw, then chunk it out with a chisel to make the notches that will keep your laptop upright.
Vóila! You have a very inexpensive, and impressive laptop stand.
Step 6: Pretty, Aint It?
Not bad, for a first attempt with some free wood.
If you like this design and want to make your own, hit me up with a PM. I will post the dimensions I used in printable format, and happily answer questions about technique or anything that doesn't appear to have been covered in this Instructable.
I hope this has been informative, and fun to read!
Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and you will be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on Instructables.com and a digital patch.