Laptop Stand (With Plans!)

Published Tuesday, April 2, 2024 by Bryan

I've been sitting at a desk to write and edit video more often recently. It's a nice change from hacking on the couch once in a while. But a laptop on a bare desk encourages me to hunch over it, and I do enough of that throughout the day. Time to make a stand to get my screen up to eye level.

Three images of me sitting at the desk using my laptop, as described.
My posture with various desk arrangements. Left to right: Flat on the desk makes me look down and reach out. An IKEA bookstand raises the screen, but won't get the screen to a good viewing angle, so my neck suffers anyway. My new stand gets everything aligned well.
A laptop with many stickers on its lid sits on a wooden stand several centimeters tall, on top of a desk, with an external keyboard in front of it.
Laptop on stand.

This is what I came up with. It has some similarities to commercial stands I could have bought, but I had a lot of fun building it. That fun came from the usual places: the chance to try new materials and techniques!

A close-up of one of the wedged tenons. The wedges are a darker wood than the rest of the tenon.
The through-tenons extend about 5mm past the outer face of the foot and riser.

One of those new techniques was raised wedged tenons. I've done wedged tenons before, but I've either hidden them or planed them flush. I've always thought the raised through-tenon end looked like a fun thing to try. I think I've exaggerated them more than necessary on this piece, and I'll make them half the height, without the flat in the middle in the future. But it is cool to be able to see the flourish from where I'm sitting.

Three pictures showing a notched board between a bandsaw blade and its fence, a piece of dark walnut stuck into the notch, and finally a pile of walnut wedges.
A small notch in a cedar scrap makes wedges quickly.

Wedge tenons in general were a great excuse to try yet another bandsaw jig I've seen for years. This is the simplest jig I've ever made - just a shallow notch cut in the side of a board. By sticking the end of a piece of walnut into the notch, and then holding the board against my saw's fence, I cut a handful of wedges in no time.

I have to take a moment to say that this bandsaw has been a game changer. I have long dreamt of one for making resawing easier. I was right - it makes that task a breeze. But I didn't know how much it would improve cutting curves, circles, and small pieces. I'll still go to my table saw for extremely precise (straight) cuts, that are glue-ready off the saw. But I expend far less mental energy working around cuts that are awkward on that machine now. If you're on the fence about getting one, I recommend it.

A closeup of one tonge-and-groove joint, showing the center third of the rear riser sandwiched between the outer thirds of the arm.
Each part of the side assemblies is connected to the next part via tongue-and-groove joints.

But speaking of extremely precise straight cuts, I still used my table saw to cut those tenons, as well as all the tongue-and-groove joints on the corners. And to do all that, I finally built myself a tenoning jig. It's possible to cut the tenons and tongues using a dado stack with the piece laying flat on the table. The grooves, though, require the piece to stand on-end.

Two images: one a good view of the tenoning jig sitting on the fence, with a piece aligned with the saw blade; the other a closeup of the end of the fence, showing its shape better.
A simple tenoning jig for the table saw. The green arrow points out the cleat holding it securely to the fence.

My tenoning jig is similar to others you'll see online. There's a tall face on the blade-side of the fence for clamping the piece to. And then there's also a support running over the fence, and down to the table on the other side to keep the clamping face stable. The additional feature that mine required has to do with the differences between my fence and the typical one you'll see elsewhere. Other fences are somewhat wide, with two parallel faces. Mine is narrow, with one face being a piece of extruded aluminum in a somewhat complex shape, and the other being the star knobs that tighten the bolts holding that extruded aluminum. My jig's off-blade side can't ride against the fence. Instead, I added a small ‘L’ to the top, near the blade side. This L engages the lip of that aluminum shape. It took some thinking and fiddling to get everything attached securely and snugly (but not too snug!), but once complete it worked a treat!

I mentioned new materials. The stand is cherry, with walnut wedges. I've worked in cherry before, and loved it - it tools well, and provides all sorts of suprising beautiful character. This particular bit of cherry comes from a friend of a friend, who had a tree from his yard milled up years ago. He's reducing his time spent woodworking these days, and needs to get the material he has left out of his storage space faster than he can use it himself. This was a small piece to decide if I could use more. I think I can.

Blueprint-style drawing of the laptop stand.
Click here for plans to build your own!

If you've gotten this far, I have an extra treat for you: plans to make your own laptop stand! I haven't done plans like this in a while, but these shapes were fun to model. Dimensions and step-by-step instructions are available at https://woodworking-plans.beerriot.com/laptop-stand/. Or, as with the other plans on that site, if you'd like to tweak the dimensions to your needs, the OpenSCAD models are available on Github: https://github.com/beerriot/woodworking-plans/. Let me know if you build one, and good luck!

Categories: Woodworking