Goals of the project:
- To create a base just large enough to set the computer on.
- To hide a usb hub and multicard reader.
- To hide cable from keyboard.
- To have one less plug to attach to my computer everyday.
- A saw.
- A length measuring device.
- Jig Saw.
- Dremel Tool.
- Safety glasses and hearing protection (if using power tools).
- Staple gun
- 5/8" square wooden rods.
- Tape (preferably a combination of Duct, Gaffers or Masking Tape).
- USB hub.
- Card reader.
- Thumb tacs or staple gun staples.
Step 1: Prepare the Frame
The first step is to create a frame to set the laptop on.
This step requires the most planning. You must first plan out what you are going to put in the base and then determine the appropriate sizes for the pieces of wood. Remember that you should subtract two times the thickness of the wood from the length of the two sides that will be inside so that the frame is not too large. Then you should measure twice and cut once.
I used the dremel sanding bit to sand some of the frame, especially the end, and also sanded by hand in some areas.
Next you should mark where wires are to run and use the dremel to cut grooves so that the wires can pass from one section to another, or outside of the frame.
Finally, I used the dremel to drill pilot holes and screw the frame together.
I specifically used 5/8" square wooden rods to construct the frame. Due to my lack of a power saw I used a hand saw which took longer but worked just fine. I choose to not have the usb ports exposed because I wanted to stick as much with the square frame as I could to ensure durability.
Step 2: Attach a Base
Next you need to place a hard bottom on the frame. I choose cardboard since it was free and easy to cut. I basically just taped it to the frame really well and then covered it in tape on the inside to make it uniform and well insulated against electronics. I used gaffer's tape but that is most likely overkill and duct tape should work just as well for this step.
Step 3: Cover the Base
Next I attached cloth to the base to cover the outside. I cut a piece of cloth approximately the right size and began with one side attaching it. I used thumb tacks to attach the cloth on the inside of the base then pulled it tight around the underside and attached it to the opposite side. The wood was rather hard for a thumb tack so I enlisted the aid of a hammer, at times using a scrap of the 5/8" wood as a nail set. I then cut off the excess cloth and taped the edges of the cloth.
I would have used a staple gun instead of thumb tacks but I do not own one.
Step 4: Place Components
Finally, you should place the electronic components inside of the frame. I used gaffer's tape to tape down the wires and multicard reader as well as the hub. I also used the tape to tape down the wires leading out of the frame to insure that they would not come out of the grooves cut for them. This tape is all seen as temporary and removable which is why, in this instance, gaffer's tape is important since it leaves no residue. This way all of the component can be removed again and still used independently. If you do not have gaffer's tape my next choice would be masking tape.
Step 5: Optional Additions
I also did several other things. I used cardboard, tape, and more cloth to make both a lid and cover for the laptop's keyboard.
I made a cover for the laptop's keyboard to have something nicer than a folded piece of paper to keep me from looking at the keys on the laptop's keyboard. (As you can see from the external keyboard I have painted over the letters to help me improve my typing speed and finally learn those symbols on the number keys.)
I made a lid which I thought I would set the laptop on. I decided that it looked better just setting the laptop on the bottom piece without a lid, but kept the lid around in case I want to have something to place over the frame when the laptop is not on it. You can see a small dent on the cover because I cut holes in the cardboard for the cover to improve ventilation should I set the laptop on it. If you do not need access to the inside of the base you could simply stretch bare cloth across the top and use thumb tacks to attach it, thus maximizing airflow.
Additionally, I have left space in the case should I decide to add a few small fans to improve cooling of the rather hot Macbook Pro. Designing the specifics of such a system is left as an exercise to the reader.
Lastly, I did add small rubber feet to the bottom of the stand to keep it from sliding on the table. Whether or not this will be important to you depends on your use and surface.
Step 6: Use It
Set the laptop on top and you're done. Now you can sit back, relax, and have to look at a few less cords. Plus, I have easier access to my optical drive. And, despite being made out of mostly cardboard and tape, the stand is still fairly sturdy due to the good frame.