I wanted to make a laptop stand from parts and tools one could find in the supply closet of your typical office. Office supplies that are expected to be disposable. No nuts or bolts, no plywood, hot glue guns or Hinkley T-9 Flange Valves (part #K2391861F).
I travel for work, and can spend up to two weeks at my destination. While there, it's never worth trying to track down a laptop stand in the office. Especially if I'm at a client site, and don't want to be difficult.
Step 1: The Design Criteria
There are more than a handful of instructables on laptop stands. Each one perfect for their time and place in this universe. I, however, have a long and bossy list of "must have" features. Most of these features are actually things the stand should NOT DO.
- Sturdy enough to never wobble.
- No pieces or parts sticking out from a basic, simple shape.
- Easy to construct in an office on a small desk
- All tools and materials should be standard in most business offices. **
- All materials should of the 1-time-use variety, or at minimum, so cheap nobody cares.
- Easily stored
- Smaller footprint than the base of laptop
- Ventilated to keep the laptop cool
- Should not obstruct any fans, or any part of any edge of the laptop (port-friendly)
- Front edge of laptop should be as close to the desk as possible
- Based on Dell Latitude D620
** I used electrical tape in the construction of this stand. This is not something you'll find in every corporate office supply closet. I happened to have some with me. Address labels would work VERY well for this, especially if you're starting with a white binder.
Step 2: Materials and Tools
- Laptop - Turn the laptop on before beginning, and allow it to get hot. We'll want to discover it's hotspots on the bottom.
- Stiff 3-ring binder. The size of the binder depends on your desired angle. I used a 1.5".
- Sheet of paper (Basic copy paper, letter or larger)
- Writing utensil
- Scissors and maybe a good paper cutter if you're fortunate
- Tape (quality address labels would do fine)
- A straight edge (entirely optional)
Step 3: Creating a Template of Hotspots and Fans
1. Turn your pre-heated laptop on it's head, exposing it's toasty underbelly.
2. Lay a sheet of paper over it, with one edge along the back edge of the laptop, centered as best as you can.
3. Draw boxes around the hottest parts of the bottom of your laptop, and around any fan ports. You may need to lift up parts of the sheet to find them. Keep in mind that you'll be cutting these parts out of the binder, so consolidate nearby spots if you can.
Note: Don't go crazy cutting out every area. Get your fans, and then 1, maybe 2 hotspots. The more cover you leave, the sturdier this will be.
Step 4: Transferring Template to Binder
1. Turn your template face down (flip horizontally), and redraw your boxes on the backside of the paper. If you used cheap-o copy paper, you should be able to see through it. If not, poke the corners with the thumbtack.
2. Align the top edge of the paper with the spine of the closed binder. Center it as best as you can. (double check that when your laptop sits down on the binder, that these areas line up with the hotspots and fan ports.
3. Using the thumbtack, poke a hole in the corner of each box, through to the binder, to mark your cutting areas (does not have to fully penetrate binder).
Step 5: Cut Out Ventilation Holes and Trim to Fit.
NOTE: Stiff binders are just vinyl or other plastics wrapped around cardboard. They are rarely glued TO the cardboard. As you cut, make sure to tug the plastic back into place if you see things shifting around.
1. Use the scissors to cut out your ventilation holes, using the thumbtack holes you poked as guides. Again, feel free to draw yourself some cutting lines with a straight-edge.
2. Place your laptop on top of the binder, with the back bottom edge flush with the top back edge of the spine of the binder (3rd image below). Drag the tip of one of the scissor blades along the binder, using the front of the laptop as a a guide.
3. Cut off the front edge of the front cover of the binder at the line you scored. Here's where a nice paper cutter would come in handy.
4. Cut off the front edge of the back cover using the already-cut front cover as a guide. Again, use a paper cutter if you have one.
Note: It may seem unnecessary to trim off the front edge of the binder. If you neglect this step, a large part of the laptop's weight (and your wrists) will be pressing down where there is no direct support underneath. Plus, this keeps the stand completely out of site.
Step 6: Tape It Up
1. Apply tape anywhere the scissors made a cut. Note the direction of the tape in relation to the cut. A single piece of tape going along a cut edge will never stay put. Multiple strips wrapping perpendicular to the cut is the way to go.
2. When taping the long front edge of the binder, tape the binder shut (instead of taping each cover individually). This will lock the shape of the binder into place.
Step 7: Final Notes
The rubber feet on the bottom of most laptops, against the vinyl wrapping around most binders, is a fairly sticky bond. I added no slip guards. The one shown in this instructable slides around my desk with ease, and doesn't let go of the laptop unless I lift it straight up.
If you used printable mailing labels, slippage might be an issue. Any thoughts on a fix to this (within design criteria - step 1) would be appreciated!