Vertical Laptop Dock

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About: I am a self taught maker that has fallen in love with making instead of buying. I create how-to videos about the projects I love and make. Check out my YouTube channel for more!

I made a metal and wood MacBook dock that holds my laptop vertically when I plug it into my desk monitor. Docking it minimizes the footprint on my desk and transforms my computer from a laptop to a desktop when it is closed and plugged into my display. Looks so clean, too!

Check out the video above to see much more detail on how I did it

Step 1: Tools, Materials & Measurements

Materials and Tools I Used to make this project:

Step 2: Prepare the Dowel for Cutting

I’m going to cut this dowel down the length of the wood, and doing that on a cylindrical object is tricky. My fix for this was to cut two square scrap pieces and glue them on each end of the dowel, creating a flat surface. I’ll show you how in just a second.

I measured the ends and then cut two square ¾ inch plywood scraps on my miter saw. Then I took the dowel to my miter saw and cut it to length. I left the cylinder a little long so I can trim it to exact length later.

I then took those two square flat ends and glued them on the ends of my cylinder with wood glue.

Step 3: Cut the Dowel (Cylinder) in Half

After the pieces dried I found the center of the cylinder so I can cut it in half. For that I moved to my table saw. And you can see here how those two flat square ends made it possible for me to do this without the cylinder dangerously rolling out of position. I cut down the center of one side and then I flipped it and cut down the center from the other side.

Step 4: One More Cut on the Tablesaw

Now with two pieces, I put them each through the saw one more time, this time on their flat sides, and cut a half inch off of one side.

I was super cautious doing these cuts so I cut too slow and that resulted in some blade burn marks. But no worries… these sides will be hidden in the end.

Step 5: Cut Off the End Guides & Sand

Now, with my cylinder cut up, I cut off the scrap end guides and cut the two pieces to their final length.

I then took my two pieces and hand sanded them just to clean up the edges and make everything smooth.

Step 6: Make the Interior Wooden Tabs

The next step in this project is to make the wooden tabs that I’ll use to hold the computer in place. For this I got a ¾” square maple dowel. I wrapped the end that I’m going to cut in painters tape to minimize tear-out.

Then I cut 4 1/8 inch squares off of one end. And then I cleaned them up with a little hand sanding.

Step 7: Add Felt to the Tabs

To keep my laptop from scratching, I got some felt that I’ll apply to any parts touching the computer. I grabbed some spray adhesive and sprayed one side of the 4 tabs and and one area of the felt. I then placed the sprayed side of the wooden tabs onto the felt and let them dry.

With a sharp xacto knife, I then cut out the felted tabs. But after doing this, I think I some good scissors would have been easier and cut cleaner.

Step 8: Glue on the Tabs

To attach these tabs, I first measured for their placement. I wanted them set just slightly in from the edges. I then attached them using some wood glue and let them dry.

Step 9: Find Dimensions for the Metal Base

For the bottom base of this dock, I decided to use steel sheet metal. I really like the mixed use of metal and wood. Not only did it ascetically appeal to me, it’ll give this dock even more stability as it will add to the weight.

Here, you see me holding the pieces together to get an idea of the size needed for the bottom plate. I then marked the edges on this brown paper which left me with my dimensions.

Step 10: Cut Out the Metal Base

The steel I’m using is 16 gauge sheet metal that I found in a small 18” piece from my nearest home center. I used a sharpie to mark my lines and then cut out my piece using a cut off wheel on an angle grinder. I find it super easy to make straight cuts in shallow passes with this method.

Step 11: Sand and Seal the Metal

To smooth out the sharp edges I sanded all of my corners down with my orbital sander.

I then used acetone and gave it a good cleaning. And finished it up by sealing it with a coat of paste wax. I applied a heavy coat, waited 15 minutes and then buffed it out. This is a great way to seal and polish the metal that doesn’t leave it oily.

Step 12: Pre-drill the Metal & Add Finish to the Wood

I’m going to attach the bottom plate to the wooden sides with screws. To prepare for this, I predrilled some holes in the metal and then used a counter sinking bit and made some recesses so the screws could sit flush.

Before attaching the pieces I finished the wood with a coat of water- based polycrylic in a matte finish. This is a great finish for light colored woods that doesn’t turn it yellow or shiny.

Step 13: Attach the Metal Bottom to One Wooden Side

Using my metal holes as guides, I marked the bottom of the wood… and then pre drilled and attached the first side with screws.

Step 14: Add the Interior Felt Strip

Before attaching the second wooden side, and while my fingers could still access the middle, I cut a long strip of felt and glued it to the metal in between the two pieces of wood with a thin layer of gorilla glue. This will be a soft spot for the end of the laptop to rest while it’s docked.

Step 15: Attach the Second Wooden Side

Then, using calipers to double check the width of the computer, I repeated the process and attached the second wooden side to the bottom metal plate.

At this point I could set my laptop in and see the dock hold it up for the first time.

Step 16: Add Felt to the Bottom

The very last thing I did was to cut one last piece of felt to glue to the bottom of the metal plate. This will keep the metal from scratching my desk or any surface that it sits on.

And with that, the project was done!

I've been using this dock for awhile now and I'm so happy with it. I hope you have enjoyed this build and been inspired to build your own. If you do, I'd love to see it.

For more projects and tutorials, be sure and visit my YouTube page and my website. You can also find me on Instagram @makergray Thanks for following along!

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    13 Discussions

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    NancyK63

    6 months ago

    Is it possible to use the laptop, then, while it is closed? I did not know this.

    2 replies
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    Maker GrayNancyK63

    Reply 6 months ago

    It is, if it is connected to an external monitor and keyboard.

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    Yonatan24Maker Gray

    Reply 5 months ago

    And make sure it doesn't overheat, the closed lid/screen can interrupt the air flow. (My laptop heats up so much I have a fan, externally, on my desk, that blows air on it all the time)

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    jafox9962

    6 months ago

    Love the design and look of the finished product. How stable does this seem to be against accidental bumps and whatnot from tipping over?

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    Maker Grayjafox9962

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks! It is pretty sturdy. And I think a lot of that is thanks to the weighted metal bottom. I also built mine to be a little snug, and I keep it at the back of my desk against the wall.

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    mrwild8

    6 months ago

    I am getting a newer model laptop at work that no longer has a docking station like the old one did - It is all a single USB-C connection. This is EXACTLY what I will be making for it to clean up my desk and cables! Awesome!! I will add pics in the next few weeks once I get it (and dimensions so I can make this). Thank you for the GREAT Idea!

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    Maker Graymrwild8

    Reply 6 months ago

    Wonderful! I'm so glad you were inspired! I use mine everyday and it works so well. You can adapt it to fit whatever laptop width you have. Have fun with the build!

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    BenP162

    6 months ago

    Great tutorial, Maker Gray! Is that a cork yoga block you're using for an iMac riser? Love it!

    1 reply
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    Maker GrayBenP162

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks so much! And haha, yep. Cork yoga block. I've got my eye on making something wooden in the future. But until then, it's worked well!

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    sylviahamilton

    6 months ago

    Thanks for your meticulous work and careful documentation! It's always good to not assume that everyone automatically knows how to do each step

    1 reply