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—less than $10 or free in some cases—and 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 Cheapest viagra online 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 Instructables.com 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 Discount levitra creative laptop stand ideas you may have in the comments below!

Sincerely,
The Closet Entrepreneur

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70 Comments

  1. Hey, great piece! I really like your design…well thought out for sure.

  2. TOMAS

    Thanks Tim! I just wish I would’ve paid more attention to the cardboard pieces since I ended up with a logo showing on one side, but oh well, the cardboard was free.

    :)

  3. Being a frugalista, I love these ideas. You get the creative expression of finding an alternative use for an item, the satisfaction of solving a practical problem inexpensively, and on top of that, you have something new that works!

    For years, I had a cheapskate monitor stands (i.e. a stack of old phone books) until I decided that was too cheap looking and I made something from wood scraps.

    Keep up the great work, Tomas! Love what you are doing!

  4. TOMAS

    Charlene! Wood scraps – now that’s inventive! :)

    Yeah, I’ve reconnected with my inner frugalista as of late – I used to be uber-frugal back in my college days and would even haggle with people after I graduated and was working full time. Over the years I got lazy and would just settle for regular price but the challenge of finding a bargain and re-purposing everyday items is quite satisfying – so it’s nice to be able to say that I saved some cash doing something out of the ordinary.

    :)

  5. jeffroward

    Awesome idea! i’m going to pull over on the way home, nab some of those “new condos, this way–>” signs (made out of coroplast), and whip some of these up this weekend! Thanks for the pdf, too… makes it all too easy.

  6. TOMAS

    jeffroward, coroplast will definitely make a durable and strong material! Also, glad you liked the pdf, I’m trying to whip up a printable template that people can use to cut out their material and Cheap viagra will post it to the article once I’m done (I’m not well versed in Adobe Illustrator so the process has been slow to say the least).

  7. Scott

    The secret to using cardboard for these things and having it be stable is to use hot glue at the joints. It’s simple and like welding cardboard.

  8. TOMAS

    Scott, you make a good point and it’s something I completely forgot about when I was putting the stand together – thanks for the tip!

    :)

  9. Very cool ideas! Thanks!

  10. TOMAS

    Hey Doug, glad you liked the ideas – nice blog by the way!

    :)

  11. dcisfun

    the ikea holder is great! The plexiglass can easily be substituted by using a kitchen cutting board made of plastic for just a few bucks.

  12. TOMAS

    @dcisfun – Great tip, and I’ve actually seen some stylish cutting boards at IKEA and elsewhere so it would be a great alternative to plexiglass.

  13. This is one of the best deals I’ve seen around.
    Gave you a plug on facebook for it.
    Now I think I gonna do twitter.
    Lot of people in college or just plain poor folk, maybe just
    cheap folks can use this information.
    Joyce Christopher

  14. @Joyce Christopher – Thanks for the plug! I’m planning on giving a few away in the months to come, just need some time to have them made so stay tuned!

    :)

  15. Ghostofchris

    Thanks!

    Great design, sure beats my laptop being raised by a few books :D

  16. Great works. Really like your ideas

  17. @Ghostofchris – Hey, using a few books is cool too—whatever works right? :)

    @mech – Glad you liked the post!

  18. Tomas,

    Cleaver idea. Reduce, reuse and recycle! I’ll use this idea to celebrate Earth Day today. Thanks

    @AprilMWilliams

  19. @April M. Williams – You’re welcome; I hope the instructions were clear and easy to follow! :)

  20. DIY

    Great stuff, but cardboard whould not last too long, aluminium were cool.

  21. Joanna

    I just made this cardboard laptop stand for my 17″ MacBookPro and I think it is the best thing ever! All it took was an old box in good condition/three prints/a good cutting mat/heavy duty box cutter/tape/and about 20 minutes. I LOVE THE FINISHED PRODUCT, IT LOOKS SOOOOO COOL. It is the prefect height and much better than any piece of plastic I could waste my money on. THANKS!
    Joanna

  22. @DIY – True, although my cardboard stand has held up to 6 months of abuse and Cialis online sale is still going strong. :)

    @Joanna – That’s great to hear! Feel free to share any pics of the final product in use! ;)

  23. Jason

    Thanks a ton Tomas!

    I gave it a shot with an old USPS box and it works like a charm with my Macbook. It’s open design makes it great for keeping it cool too.

    Cheers!

  24. @Jason – Glad you found the stand useful, and also great to hear that it is helping keep your MacBook cool. I don’t have any real data to support this, but I too find that the fans inside my MacBook Pro don’t really kick on as much as they used after I started using the stand. ;)

  25. oo

    A simpler cardboard construction method… one fold and two straight cuts or 3 cuts maximum.

    http://www.studio-oo.eu/?p=134

  26. @oo – That definitely is simple, thanks for sharing. ;)

  27. For my Macbook I really like a product called Laptop Smart Feet. They are a riser and cable organizer in one. I ordered the pink set, they make my computer look cool. Found them at http://newpcgadgets.com/products/smartfeet/index.html

  28. Danny

    I made my own version of your stand this evening. What a fun and functional project–thanks for sharing!

  29. Mary Sims

    The Laptop Flip is a great way of raising your laptop and storing it in the vertical position when not in use. I really like the space saving aspect of this product

  30. Gabriel

    The cardboard stand could also be easily done up with plywood. That way it could be stained and look all expensive and nice.

  31. I like your frugalness!
    I cut down an old plastic milk crate so that the laptop is about four inches above the desk. I also cut out the front to provide a bit of storage. I plan on painting it with plastic paint.
    If I was doing it again I would cut the crate at an angle so that the laptop angled towards me.

  32. 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).

    http://www.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-Rolodex-Ventilated-Adjustable-48626/dp/B002QA3XQA

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

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

  34. 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: http://oneway-up.com/?p=873

    Hope that’s ok with you Tomas.

  35. ALLEN SKINNER

    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!

  36. 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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