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:
- Maple Dowel 2" Round
- 3/4” Plywood Scraps
- Miter Saw
- Wood Glue
- Table Saw
- Maple Dowel 3/4” Square
- Spray Adhesive
- Felt Sheet Metal - 16 gauge
- Angle grinder
- Orbital Sander
- Paste Wax
Here are some graphics of the dock’s measurements, deconstructed for better view.
The metal bottom is 8” x 2 5/8”
The wooden frame is 8” long, 1.5” tall, 7/8” deep
The square tabs are 3/4” square and 1/8” deep
** This dock is made to fit my 15” 2017 MacBook Pro** (but can easily be adjusted for other sizes)
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
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.