Thursday, May 25, 2017

DIY Copper + Wood Laptop Stand

In my One Room Challenge reveal post earlier this month, I shared the new stand I made to go over my laptop and clear up space on my desk.  Today, I'm sharing the steps I took to make it so you can make something similar for your own purposes.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project


When I got a big new computer screen for my birthday last year, I quickly realized I needed a better way to situate my laptop during use to keep my desk uncluttered.  


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Though I much prefer working at my 'desktop' computer, I now have to make room on my desk not just for a laptop, but also a mouse, a keyboard, and the monitor.  In addition, I need a few desktop lamps to bring light to my dark, overhead-light-less work nook.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

The method I use for my laptop is this:  with the monitor attached and power settings adjusted to remain turned on when the laptop is closed and plugged in, I turn on and sign in to the laptop, then close it - and the image then appears on my big monitor and I can push the laptop out of the way.  

Since I need to access the laptop every day to turn it on, I needed to come up with a way that it to be easy to access, but also easy to tuck away.  And any way that I could maximize the space it occupies would just be icing on the cake.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project
Replacing the blackout lining with sheer curtains certainly helped brighten my nook, but despite the natural light from the window, the desk area remains dark.
My original plan was to use some kind of wooden box (on top of which I could put books or one of my many lamps) to slide the laptop into when not in use.  That didn't take into account the mass of cords - HDMI, power, USB drives, etc. - that would be attached to, and therefore need to move with, the laptop.  As I worked in the office space clearing out clutter, I thought about other solutions.  I remembered having seen tutorials on copper and wood tables and I realized that making a much smaller piece similar to these would solve my problem:  it would leave the sides, front, and back all open for easy access to cords and plugs and I would easily be able to move the laptop to turn it on each day while still using the space it occupies to store books and papers within reach.  I pulled out the graph paper notebook I use to draw out projects before jumping into them and sketched up a potential design.    


Here are the steps I took to make this awesome little stand!


Gather supplies
  • 1 x 5-foot copper tube, 1/2" diameter (Get the slightly more expensive, slightly thicker tube for a more stable stand)
  • 2 x 1/2" copper Tees
  • 4 x 1/2" copper elbows
  • 4 x 1/2" copper end caps
  • 2 x 1/2" tube straps - I wasn't able to find copper ones so headed over to the metal conduit aisle and found what I needed - but make sure to test these against your tube before you leave the store.  These are apparently measured two different ways, so one 1/2" size will be way too big for your 1/2" copper tube, but the other will fit just fine.
  • Copper tube cutter - make sure it will cut the size of tube you purchase
  • Strong, quick-drying glue
  • Small piece of wood (mine is about 11" x 17")
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer, nail, screws, screwdriver
  • Paint + supplies
  • Ketchup (not kidding!)
  • Nail polish remover + 2-3 cotton balls
  • A rag
*Note:  If you choose to use a different diameter tube, just make sure all the pieces you get are for the same size tube!!


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project


Cut tubes
It should be noted that I used the laptop as a template instead of using actual measurements (going off of sight rather than math), but I have included my approximate measurements below.  Referencing my sketch, I cut the tube into 7 pieces:
  • 1 Long piece, a few inches longer than the length of the laptop - about 17" for laptop with 13" screen
  • 2 Shorter pieces, slightly longer than the width of the laptop  - about 9" each (these will both be cut into two smaller pieces later)
  • 4 legs, tall enough to allow room for my external hard drive to stack on top of the laptop - about 2" each
Using a tube cutter is pretty straightforward, but so you have a better idea than I did going into it, here are some tips for cutting your tubes:

Use a pencil to mark the location of the cut.  Gently tighten the cutter, making sure the blade stays straight/parallel to the line you want to cut.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

With the tube resting in the cutter, hold the cutter steady while twisting the knob to tighten the blade against the tube.  Make a small turn, then rotate the tube within the cutter, and repeat until the tube breaks into two pieces.  Making too tight of a twist will make it very difficult to rotate the tube.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

To make things easier on yourself as you continue, make sure the blade stays in the track of its original cut; hold the cutter level each time you tighten the knob.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I had to use a vise grip to twist the knob as the blade cut deeper into the copper.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Tightening the cutter while only holding the tube - like in the photo above - makes it more likely that you'll make a messy spiral cut.  Ensuring the first rotation around the tube is level helps to prevent a messy cut.  Once the blade starts to move in a spiral, it's very difficult to correct.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project


Test and assemble
I laid the pieces down on the laptop to make sure my measurements worked before I began assembly.  I wound up cutting down the width pieces to fit more snugly.  I didn't want the stand protruding farther out on the desk than it had to.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I mentioned earlier that the width pieces would ultimately be cut into smaller pieces.  This was to allow the Tee pieces to fit into them.  I couldn't wrap my head around the exact length I needed to trim it down to very well, so can't repeat my exact process for you.  But the basic idea is that I cut out a slightly smaller amount of tube than the T piece is wide, so that when the now 2 smaller width pieces fit into it, the final piece would still be roughly the same size as it was before I cut it down.  Clear as mud now?  Hopefully the next two pictures will clear it up a bit:


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

My measurements didn't have to be exact; as long as the pieces were even and large enough to fit around the laptop, everything would turn out fine.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Once I knew my pieces worked, I assembled them into the right shape, reinforcing them with hot glue.  Gorilla Glue or some kind of epoxy would probably have made things more secure, but I really didn't want to run out to buy any, and many of the pieces fit so tight I couldn't pull them apart even without glue.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Prepare wood top
Before I made any cuts, I wanted to test how the stand would look and function on the desk, so I grabbed a large cookie sheet (which unfortunately had no cookies on it) and laid it on top of the stand, just as the piece of wood would sit once complete.  I liked its size so decided to cut my wood piece slightly larger than the cookie sheet, about 11" x 19".


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I found a scrap of wood in my stash that was about 17" on one side - the exact length I needed - and set up the sawhorses in the garage to cut it down to about 11" wide.  If you are buying your piece new, have it cut down to size at the store.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Sanding the wood came next; I rounded my edges off with the sandpaper.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Filling holes in the sides of the wood with wood putty gives the completed project a more finished look.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Painting the top and sides came next (This is a good time to paint your tube straps if they are not copper and it will bother you that they don't match.  The copper spray paint I bought is the wrong color copper, so mine still don't match.  Wish I hadn't spent the money on the paint!)


Clean the copper frame
Watching paint dry is boring.  Here's something you can do while it dries: Your copper probably has some dark greasy marks on it.  It probably also has letters on it.  These just won't do on your finished new stand.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

You can use nail polish remover to buff these letters out.  You could be like me and use Goof Off! because it's right behind you and the nail polish remover is upstairs and you're feeling lazy, but this would be a mistake.  It will work pretty well to get the letters off, but it will also leave behind extra grease marks, creating more work for later.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Fun fact:  ketchup brings copper to a brilliant shine.  So while your painted pieces dry, use the ketchup and rag to clean the frame until it shines!  Wipe it off well.  I'm not sure if it's required, but I washed and dried my frame after the fact to make sure it wasn't sticky.  A small amount of research would have probably revealed whether this was actually necessary, but it put my mind at ease to do it anyway, so I didn't mess with researching it.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Attach frame to wood top
After letting the wood piece dry overnight, I flipped it over and held the frame where I wanted it, placed the tube straps over it, and traced the openings.  Using a small nail, I made a pilot hole in the center of these little circles, then replaced the tube straps and screwed them on.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I also used a little more hot glue to make sure the frame doesn't shift within the straps during use.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

Once secure, I flipped it over to see my finished project.  Piece of cake!


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I added felt circles to the bottom of the legs to make sure I don't scratch the desk when moving the computer, since the shelf does sometimes move during this process.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

After I got the new laptop shelf into place, organizing the remainder of my cluttered desk easily fell into place.  


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I was even able to empty out a few compartments in the white cubes!  They'll stay that way for now.  I know that as I continue to get comfortable in this space, items will find their way into new and more convenient places. 
DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

There's plenty of room for the external hard drive and additional USB ports to sit on top of the computer and out of the way.

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I love the outcome of my new shelf - and especially love how inexpensive and easy it was to make.  It's made a huge difference in keeping my desk clear and organized.  

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

But we're not finished yet!

As I sketched out the design of the laptop stand, I realized that I could make a matching plant stand to replace the TV tray.  That would allow me to buy the more cost-effective 10' pieces of copper tube and contractor packages of some of the connector pieces.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project
I was actually able to use the same piece of wood that had been 'protecting' the TV tray.

For the plant stand, I followed the same steps, just with longer measurements.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

If I were to make another taller stand like this (it's about 29" high), I would probably use at least a 3/4" tube.  The 1/2" tube looks a little small and unsubstantial in such a long cut, though it seems to actually function fine.  I will probably go back and add a support tube running the length of the bottom to connect the two legs, sort of like the connector piece running the length of the laptop shelf, to make sure the legs stay parallel.


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

It's certainly a major improvement over the TV tray!


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project
The air conditioning unit under it looks pretty rough, but it's definitely a necessity in here!

DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project
Replacing the plastic juice jugs with glass wine bottles certainly looks nicer and also keeps plenty of water handy for watering my basil.
You can read more about how these projects fit into the Office/Sewing Room here!  


DIY copper and wood plant stand, laptop shelf - easy cheap inexpensive project

I hope you're able to apply this idea to a stand, shelf, or table to use in your home.  It's a quick and inexpensive way to create exactly what you need!  The supplies for both of these projects cost about $33 (I didn't include the cost of the tube cutter since it's a tool I will be able to use for future projects; it cost about $8).



Have you made a similar project?  Use the hashtag #homespunbylaura to share it!  I'd love to see it.

Thanks for reading!



Other DIY projects you may enjoy:

 DIY Coffee Table             DIY Curtain Finials

 DIY Medal Display             DIY Laundry Rack

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