Build a stand for your laptop out of easy-to-acquire aluminium strips using only very limited tools.
- 2 strips of aluminium from the hardware store (about 3mm thick, about 1 m long)
- 4 sets of screws and nuts / wing screws
- a woodworking clamp to attach the metal to a working surface
- A power drill with a metal drill bit
- a rubber hammer / hammer with something soft (like a rag) wrapped around it
The process basically involves bending the metal pieces over a corner into the shapes of two legs and using leftover material to make two horizontal connectors. Most of the time will be spent banging on metal with a hammer. Fun times!
Step 1: Prepare & Measure
First, get a rough idea of the lengths that you will need for the laptop that you're going to use.
Most importantly, the bearing surface, i.e. the part of the stand that will be on the underside of the laptop, should be slightly shorter than the depth of the laptop. The back of the laptop should exceed the depth of the stand by a few centimeters in order to directly support more of the weight of the laptop with the back legs.
As the aluminium is quite soft and bendable, putting much of the weight of the laptop on the front, unsupported arms, might make the construction bend and be wobbly. However, make sure that "bearing piece" is long enough to reach the front and back rubber "feet" of the computer, to guarantee a safe stand.
The laptop stand can be as high as you want it to be, we chose around 20 cm at the back of the stand.
The bottom "legs", that the stand rests on, should be slightly longer than the front arms.
Also measure the distance on the laptop that the rubber feet are apart and double it, as two pieces of aluminium will run perpendicular to the legs, connecting them.
Make sure to buy enough aluminium for the sum of all the parts.
Four our 14" laptops we only needed 2 strips of 1 m each. For larger laptops you might need more.
If you don't have a rubber hammer, used for bending the metal, wrap a rag around a regular hammer, that works too.
Step 2: Make the Bends Forming the Legs
With the measurements in mind, attach the aluminium strips to a sturdy workbench (or a table) that has a strong edge to bend the metal over with a woodworking clamp.
Start with the small piece at the front of the stand. It will need to be longer than in the finished product, so that you can bend it easily. Then work your way down until the rest of the aluminium forms the legs.
Make sure, that while bending, the edge of the workbench is at right angles with the work piece. We taped down the part on the workbench, as the metal tended to move around from the hammering.
Wrap the aluminium surface that you're going to hit with the hammer with some tape, to protect it from scratches.
Try to hit the aluminium near the bend you're creating, so that the rest of the metal is not warped too much.
Step 3: Testing & Cutting
With the two legs finished you can already try out the stand!
Make sure the laptops sits on the legs without wobbling too much.
Now you can cut off the excess metal on the legs. You will need it to make the horizontal connectors that connect the legs and give the stand stability. The horizontal connectors should be the wide enough so that the legs cover the rubber feet of the laptop (remember the measurements of the first step).
Furthermore, trim the bits on the front of the arms that hold the laptop in place. They should be about 5mm higher than the laptop when it is open. Make sure that the laptop is stable when it is closed too, though.
We used a small metal hand saw, but it might be more painless to use a power tool with a cutoff wheel.
Step 4: Drilling & Attaching Horizontal Connectors
You should have two horizontal connector strips of equal length.
Test fit them onto the stand. We placed one connector in the middle of the laptop bearing piece and one about 2/3 the way up the legs.
When you're happy with the look, drill holes trough the connectors and the legs. Make sure that the connectors are horizontal for a cleaner look.
Be exact on your measurements as it is easy to impart wobbliness to the stand at this point.
Using a larger drill bit, countersink the holes at the top and wherever the heads of the screws can be seen.
Step 5: Dremel & Final Assembly
As most of the edges will still be quite rough from sawing, smooth them out.
We used a rotary multitool for this purpose, but some sandpaper will probably also work. If you're using a power tool, do use the special metal bit as other tend to not be up to the task. Also wear googles and a mask. No one likes aluminium dust in their face.
Using four screws and some nuts (we used wing nuts for style points) attach the four pieces together.
Done! Enjoy your new laptop stand!