Wooden Laptop Cooling Pad

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About: Too much wood, too little time.

Intro: Wooden Laptop Cooling Pad

Because I have an obsessive video game addiction I thought "Why not fuel it by helping my computer run more intensive games." instead of just admitting I have a problem. And that's how we get here, with your very own laptop cooling stand and a miserable GPA.

My cooling pad ended up lowering my CPU heat by 60 degrees Fahrenheit. to get yours to do that, you're going to need:

  • Plank of wood at least a half inch thick,
  • 2 Computer Fans at minimum
  • Power Outlet or USB Cable
  • Extra Wire
  • Scissors? or like a pointy sharp thing
  • Wood Polish / Glue / Just wood tools really

Step 1: Selecting Your Fans

Almost all standard computer fans are 12 cm, which is what I went ahead with using. However not all fans are created equal. I specifically chose two extremely quiet but fast spinning fans. In case you want to use the same pair I bought you can find them here. Along side the fans I bought two protective cover cases for them so that I wouldn't, I dunno stick my fingers in them on accident.

  • Remove the 3 point connector with some scissors and identify which wire is your positive and negative and your tach. All you're going to want is the positive and negative so get rid of the tachometer.
  • Strip the wires of their covering and you're ready for the next step.

Step 2: Fan Direction

To maximize results figure out how your laptop already cycles air. I noticed my laptop sucked air in from the bottom, and blew it out the back. You can test this by holding a tissue next to the openings when your laptop fans are running.

Since computer fans only spin one way, I decided to simply flip the whole box. You can see in my design that the fans are upside down when you turn the cooling pad over. Test this for yourself though, as all computers are a little different. (Thank you Tweakerz for the photo)


I ran a few tests on what would work for my fan and in the end forcing the air into my computer was what worked best for me.

The only problem I ran into by flipping the fans was that the ugly underside was now visible. To make it less noticeable I placed the two layers of protective covers on it, which did not affect cooling temperatures at all.

Step 3: Connecting Your Adaptor

This is where you can get creative with your fans. Most computer fans run at a 15 volt charge so to get the most air current out of them you want to run that much electrical current through them. USB's run at a third that voltage, meaning you fan will spin just a bit slower than what you want.

I used an old computer charger that already ran at 15 volts for my project but if you chose to use a USB you will find 4 wires inside. Keep only the red and black.

Step 4: Turn Me on Baby, and Off, and On, and Off...

You don't want your fans running all the time, I hope, so to get a little freaky let's add this switch. Since every electronics store in the world is going out of business I found, a slightly bulky, lamp switch at the Home Depot.

Cut one of your wires, in this case it really does not matter, but you do want to connect both of them to screws in the switch. Don't forget to keep testing your fans that they work and all your wiring is solid.

Step 5: Lets Get Jiggy With It

There are many ways to do this but because I wanted the fewest amount of cuts I used a jigsaw.

  • Trace out your fans where you want them located
  • Slowly cut out each square, focus on the corners if your fan has rounded edges.
  • Test that your fan actually fits, who knows maybe your tracing skills deteriorated.

Step 6: Side Supports

Now that the top is finished we're going to raise the whole stand so that we can maximize airflow. Cut from the excess wood we have two very thin triangles. Test them on your board to see if you like the height.

I decided that my switch was going to go on the supports so that I could easily turn the fans on while I was playing games. measure the depth of your cut and make that ditch.

I also ended up cutting out part of the top board with a chisel so that the switch would be closer to my hands. That was just a personal preference.

Step 7: Wiring and Glueing

In an attempt to make the underside of my pad clean and neat I placed the wires as nicely as I could and then glued everything in one go.

A side note here is that I did not solder my wires. I did twist the life out of them, but I didn't have a soldering iron at home at the time of making this. So far I've had zero problems with the connections.

Step 8: Coating

Cover any parts you would rather not damage with masking tape and with a 150-200 grit piece of sandpaper gently smooth out your project.

I used Lacquer for this project because I wouldn't need to sand between each coat and it would give the wood it's natural and gorgeous shine.

Step 9: Benchmarking Your Fans

Laptops, and most computers usually fail at 100 degrees Celsius. My laptop was easily reaching 80 degrees after only an hour and a half of heavy gaming. With the fans going my laptop now stays at a steady temperature of 50 degrees Celsius overall, which is even better than anticipated.

Order of photos

  1. Computer idling, not doing any heavy work.
  2. Gaming for an hour.
  3. Fans on for 20 minutes.
  4. Fans on for 30 minutes while game ended.

So all in all the fans dropped my temperature by 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while still gaming. Which is freaking awesome! I hope your cooling pad works just as well. take some pictures of your own I want to see what y'all come up with.

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    20 Discussions

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    Peaches and Plumsjbaglio

    Reply 8 days ago

    Since I only bought the fans (23), fan covers (6), and the switch (3) it was about 32 dollars. Everything else was scrap laying around my house if I had to buy the wood, wire, and laquer it could probably have reached 50 dollars.

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    HaunterM

    15 days ago

    Just curious, AS a fellow video gamer/woodworker, If I ever have a laptop, I may build this. I understand that the fans are cooling down the computer, but how does that help the CPU?

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    Peaches and PlumsHaunterM

    Reply 15 days ago

    Much like a desktop, the fan blows in cool air while the computer does the rest of the work and funnels the heat off the parts and out the unit. By having cooler parts and cold air running on the cpu you do actually cool it down, even if it's over working itself.

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    Peaches and PlumsHaunterM

    Reply 14 days ago

    It's like jogging in really hot weather as opposed to jogging on a treadmill in a really nice gym. Your ability to run doesn't change, but the longer you do so the harder it will be to run at your best/fastest in the hot weather. The same goes for computers. In fact a lot of super computers are run in "refrigerators" because of how crazy hot they get.

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    TimF10

    16 days ago on Step 9

    Looks great. Forgive me for skimming the article, but do the fans blow up or suck down? In my mind, sucking down would be optimal. But then you need somewhere for the air to go.

    I'm considering building something similar, but putting a small exhaust fan on the back side to vent the cooling pad and allow the fans to be sucking down.

    3 replies
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    Peaches and PlumsTimF10

    Reply 16 days ago

    I completely forgot to mention that in the post, thank you for bringing it up. Yes, I did experiment with airflow, and found that my laptop sucked air in from the bottom (blew out the sides). The reason it over heated was because there wasn't enough space on the underside for cool air to enter the laptop before the already hot body of the laptop warmed it up. That meant my computer was just sucking hot air into itself. An easy fix would simply have been to raise the laptop into the air. But I added the fans to aid the process by forcibly pushing the now cooler air into the laptop.

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    TimF10Peaches and Plums

    Reply 16 days ago

    Totally understandable. I had a laptop that sucked air from under and exhausted it out the side. My solution was the self adhesive Velcro dots. I put the soft side on the bottom of the laptop, and then the rough side on some pop bottle caps. I cleaned up the sharp edges on the caps and could attach/remove the caps like they were stand offs'. That allowed about an inch (2.54 cm) of space between the laptop and the surface it was sitting on.

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    Phazor101

    16 days ago

    He did say that it reduced the heat 60 degrees so no matter which way the air is flowing his design appears to be working. And it looks very nice as well. :)

    3 replies
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    Peaches and PlumsPhazor101

    Reply 16 days ago

    Aw thank you so much. Yeah exactly, blow away the haters. The fans do however push the air into the laptop in case anyone else was wondering.

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    Phazor101Peaches and Plums

    Reply 16 days ago

    Your're welcome! I am at work now but if I remember correctly my gaming laptop pulls the air from the bottom and ejects it from the side. So I will be building my version like yours. :)

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    Tweakerz

    16 days ago

    I see a few comments asking about the fans... in the way he has them in the pics and assuming he has not changed them since they are blowing upwards and into the bottom of the laptop. Airflow on computer fans sucks in from the sticker side, or open side (on the hub with the name, not the small writing with fan specs sticker) and blows out towards the mounting portions that hold the blade and hub for future reference. I've included an image to show what I mean in case it is not clear,

    fan.jpg
    2 replies
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    Peaches and PlumsTweakerz

    Reply 16 days ago

    thank you for clarifying, yeah the fans are blowing air into my laptop. Ima go add that in the insctructable.

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    TweakerzPeaches and Plums

    Reply 16 days ago

    You're welcome, I guess adding it will help but maybe mention that people should test to see which works best for their specific laptop as it will vary as you seem to be aware. (I didn't go back to check if you added and mentioned that or not, sorry).

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    t0mm0t

    Question 16 days ago

    Are the fans sucking or blowing? Did you experiment with what is more beneficial?

    1 more answer
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    Peaches and Plumst0mm0t

    Answer 16 days ago

    Oh boy that probably was the most important step and I skipped it. I'll go and fix that asap, but the fans are actually blowing into the computer. It wasn't discretely mentioned but I flipped my fans arpund to blow air into the computer.