The DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand

Some uber creative folks have come up with ways to make $20 laptop stands out of IKEA BENJAMIN stools and wire mesh file organizers, but who has $20 to spare nowadays? Also, anyone with access to a pile of books, a shoebox, or a CD spindle is capable of turning these everyday items into super cheap laptop stands, but where’s the ingenuity in that?

Instead, check out the three creative and inexpensive laptop stand solutions offered below; all are cheap to build&#8212less than $10 or free in some cases&#8212and all can be used to help save your neck when it comes to proper home office ergonomics. Anyway, lets get down to business.

The DIY Cardboard Laptop Stand

Yale Student Tim Xu is a self-proclaimed dabbler and technophile. Not only does his cardboard laptop stand raise his MacBook’s screen to a comfortable viewing height, but it also sports a few integrated cutouts to help hide cable clutter. As far as the idea behind the stand, Tim states “No real inspiration, really, besides utility. I drew some plans up during lunch one day and I just went through with it.”

Creating your own stand from the photo above shouldn’t be too difficult; it appears all you need is four interlocking cardboard pieces sized to fit your laptop’s base and cut to your desired height, then arranged into an isosceles trapezoid.

  • PROS: The design is simple and the material is cheap, especially if you utilize any extra cardboard you have lying around. Also, the stand should be pretty stable and sturdy as long as you use corrugated cardboard; a material that most shipping boxes are made of. Last but not least, cardboard can be composted and recycled depending on the recycling facilities in your neck of the woods.
  • CONS: Aside from having some plain looking cardboard furniture in your workspace, I can’t really think of many drawbacks to this design.

The DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand

I was inspired by Tim’s laptop stand and wanted something that could raise my laptop screen by 8″ and not show too much cardboard. The final result is a stand that is partially hidden by the laptop’s keyboard and takes up a small amount of desktop space. Although this stand has held up well under constant use, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your laptop on it unattended! I’ve included some instructions below if you’re interested in building your own, or you can download a PDF of the instructions by clicking here.

UPDATE (11/18/06): I received a few requests from the commentators on to provide printable templates, so below you will find links to the PDF instructions and printable templates.
The templates are designed for an 8.5″ by 11″ sheet of paper; turn off any options that scale the PDF and print the templates at 100%. Also, only pages three through five of the PDF template need to be printed, and be sure to consider the environment by reusing scrap sheets of paper.
DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand PDF Instructions
DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand PDF Templates


  • PROS: The stand has a small desktop footprint, provides decent monitor height, and is comprised of inexpensive corrugated cardboard. Also, the cardboard can be composted and recycled depending on the recycling facilities in your neck of the woods.
  • CONS: It’s not the most robust or stable stand out there, and CD/DVD slots may be obstructed if they’re located on the front of the laptop. Also, if you consider cardboard to be ugly, then it’s ugly. Last but not least, it’s not advisable to type or mouse on your laptop’s keyboard when it’s sitting on the stand.

(Email and feed subscribers, please visit the blog post to view the instructions)

The Contemporary $10 Laptop Stand

This contemporary laptop stand was created by Flickr user lazymonster, and consists of an IKEA GRUNDTAL paper towel holder ($5.99) bolted to a piece of plexiglass. Luckily for lazymonster, he had a piece of plexiglass lying around but you can also try visiting a local glass shop or hardware store to see if they have any scrap pieces you can use. The instructions for this laptop stand can be found on lazymonster’s DIY laptop stand set on Flickr.

I asked lazymonster about the design and this is what he had to say,

I guess the only thing I would do to improve it – maybe remove the spring from the metal. It can be a bit bouncy if I bump it. I probably won’t get around to it though. I received a lot of encouragement to add vent holes, but that never happened either.


  • PROS: It’s a great looking design, and the stand’s footprint is tiny. There is also plenty of space to store your keyboard under the stand when not in use.
  • CONS: It’s not meant for typing on when your laptop is sitting on the stand, then again what laptop stand is? Also, you’ll need access to some tools that can safely drill through stainless steel.

In Conclusion…

There are plenty of items you can use to create a decent laptop stand, and I definitely encourage you to get a laptop stand whether it’s one of the inexpensive ones featured in this post, or one of the more popular stands like the Griffin Elevator, Rain Design’s mStand, or Ergotron’s line of laptop stands. By the way, I’ve included some additional inexpensive laptop stand ideas below that I didn’t have time to write about, so be sure to check them out too!

Make a Laptop Stand from Cardboard The PVC Laptop Stand Ergonomic Laptop Stand Made From a Coat Hanger

As always, feel free to share any inexpensive and creative laptop stand ideas you may have in the comments below!

The Closet Entrepreneur

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  1. Harvey

    Wal-mart sells a laptop stand for <$15 that does the same thing, has adjustable height, and hides cables well using a heavy duty office paper clip (route the cables under the stand and then through the clip attached to the side of the stand).

    I like the home-built solutions, but for $15, the rubbermaid can't be beat.

  2. Thanks very much for the instructions, I put this together using plywood and it turned out great!

  3. Amazing idea man, love it.

    But I think I have a better idea, that doesn’t need that much work it’s very simple.

    I’m not looking to advertise my website, I just want for the people loving this idea that I have a much much simple one.

    Here’s the link: for the simplest DIY macbook stand:

    Hope that’s ok with you Tomas.


    Great suggestions and ideas for making a notebook stand…especially the template!

    A couple of comments:

    1. The material you are using is actually corrugated fiberboard, not cardboard (sorry, used to work in the industry and there is a considerable difference in the material)
    2. For durability and weight bearing, suggest using double wall corrugated, if you can find it. Normally double wall is used for shipping heavy objects such as appliance containers.
    3. If all you have is a single wall box, use the highest edge crush test (ECT) number = indicates the strongest material. You will find the ECT mark on the bottom of the container, and higher is better.

    Good luck!

  5. Rose

    I love your laptop stands. I was googling for “cardboard joints” to make a desk tidy, now I think I’ll make one of these too. Thanks so much for sharing.

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