Make a serious laptop/PC table is somewhat interesting. And eventually we can save a lot of cost. I spent around IDR 235,000 (only US$ 17) includes buying new rivet pliers.
No in-depth knowledge is needed for this project. The result can be beautiful & of course useful as what you can see here.
In the other hand, aluminium has its’ own benefits:
- Super light weight and strong
- corrosion proof (= beautiful & reliable!)
- widely available in material or plumbing shop
So let’s start making it :!
Step 1: Tools & Materials Needed
- Sketching paper & pencil,
Drill with a 4mm drill bit
or a “SketchUp” Software
- Rivet pliers, rivet nails (I used ø4mm x 1/2” rivet depth)
- Angle grinder (with a cutting wheel), or hacksaw
- Measuring tape
- Perpendicular/triangle ruler, or you can make use of floor tile as a template like I did
- Aluminum hollow tubes (calculate the amount from your sketch)
I used 2 sizes: 1”x1½”x20ft, ½”x1”x20ft
- Aluminum sheet or coated steel sheet (e.g. spandex®)
Step 2: Sketching the Design
Before sketching any, make sure you have appropriate ergonomic dimension. If you don’t have, you can simply ask Google. The dimension may vary from country to country, because our body size is different. The size I show above is for a “human” with 140 – 190 cm tall. I encourage you to search according to your country. Caucasian brothers may need higher and longer dimension. The guideline is shown in 2nd picture.
I drew the sketch using SketchUp (freeware). It is very easy sketching using this software. If you are new to it; within minutes the “instructor” will show you live how to use the software easily. You can master it in less than an hour :].
- The main compartment (base) is for putting the monitor, keyboard, speaker satellites, DVD pocket, handphone, a cup of coffee, etc.
- The lower compartment is for foot step, putting the CPU and speaker subwoofer.
- The upper compartment is for putting any accessories, books, etc.
Step 3: Cut All the Aluminum
Cut all the aluminum to your sketch length using hacksaw or angle grinder with cutting wheel.
When you use cutting grinder, you must take care the safety for yourself: goggles, earplug.
I simply used a motorcycle helmet :] which already has an impact resistant face cover and soundproof ear cover :]
Step 4: A Little Riveting Guid3 for Dummies :] (skip This If You Have Mastered It)
There are several sizes of rivet nails. Ensure the rivet diameter and depth match your drill bit and tube depth. The size I used above is applicable to the aluminum tubes I used. When the rivet depth is not as deep as the tubes’ depth, we can simply rivet from the side (see the photo)
To use the rivet technique:
- Drill a thru hole on the 2 aluminum tubes being joined.
- Insert the rivet nail to the hole
- Set your rivet pliers on the nail, squeeze the handle until the nail breaks automatically
- If you feel the join is not so strong, add more rivet join on its’ side
(See 3rd photo above) I used 2 joining method in this project: using aluminum L bracket (I made by cutting the same aluminum tube), and side (angled) join. The side angled join is better: stronger, neater, and firmer. However it needs a little trick to drill an angled hole on the 2 tubes.
Step 5: Build the Pillars First
Join the pillars first. This sequence is essential to ease your next step: joining the 2 pillars horizontally by the bases’ tube. You may notice my pillars outcome is slightly different with my sketch. Some improvement idea was coming into my mind when building them :)
Make use of perpendicular ruler / triangle ruler, or even tile to ensure perpendicular pillar stand to the ground.
Step 6: Assemble the Base and Add Reinforcement: Finish the Skeleton
1. Join the pillar to pillar using cut base tubes. Mine is 80cm length.
2. Add some reinforcement (45 degree bracket to avoid skewing). After adding these supports, you will feel the steadiness difference :]
Step 7: Build the Base
1. Cut the sheet into your base size. Fold all the 4 edges to avoid the sharp sheet cutting our hand/leg. To fold, I draw a line 1cm away from the edges;
2. Put a heavy straight thing on it.
3. Then fold using pliers or other heavy straight thing.
- Ensure the fold is completely hidden to avoid bloody skin cut during table use in future.
- Be very careful during cutting and folding steel sheet because it is very sharp and hard. Use your goggles/helmet when cutting using angle grinder.
4. Rivet the sheet onto your base skeleton (photo #4). The closer rivet pitch, the less bouncing sound during table use. This sheet riveting will eventually reinforce the skeleton and also helps to avoid skewing.
Step 8: Finishing and Testing
If you have excess tube cuts, you can add them as reinforcements (45 degree brackets).
Above photos are finished empty, laptop loaded use and PC loaded use.
Finally: feel free to ask me anything :]