Considering we’re all just apes who’ve convinced ourselves to get about on two legs, it makes sense we’re happiest with bits of trees around us. Biophilic design uses materials like wood to bring natural elements into built environments – especially offices, where we can probably use a little extra health and wellbeing. For a small dose of workplace wood, we’ve turned to Tuckbox furniture designer Dan de Groot, who knocked together this exclusive DIY for a wooden laptop stand. If you feel like a spot of weekend carpentry (and a lot of weekday wood appreciation), here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own.
YOU WILL NEED:
2 x FSC- or Responsible Wood-approved 18mm ply boards, cut to 450mm x 300mm – we used ArmourPanel Spotted Gum from Big River Group (Australian owned and manufactured)
3 x lengths FSC- or Responsible Wood-approved 25mm hardwood dowel, cut to 540mm each, plus 3 shorter off-cuts around 80mm each, sanded all over
Phillips head screwdriver
4 x 30mm screws
25mm Forstner-style drill bit
Piece 80-grit sandpaper
Piece 120-grit sandpaper
Piece 180-grit sandpaper
Small brush for glue
Mallet or hammer with small wood block
Danish wood oil
Brush for wood oil
Medium-grade industrial steel wool (optional)
Water-based wood filler (optional)
1. Using the pencil and metal ruler (and with the bottom side of your ply facing upwards), mark the first board halfway along each short edge. Then use the ruler to draw a line between each mark – right down the middle of the board.
2. Measure back 150mm from the edge along this line, and mark. Do the same on the other end of the line.
3. Centring on the marks you’ve just made, use the compass to mark a semi-circle at each end of the board – this is the shape of your new laptop stand tabletop.
4. Use a right angle to draw a straight line between the beginning and end of each semi-circle: this will mark the start of your cuts.
5. On one end of the board only, mark the centre points for your 3 dowel uprights. These will be 25mm in from the edge at the end and two sides of the semi-circle. Draw a circle around each of these marks: they will guide your drill holes for the uprights.
6. Finally, draw a few squiggle lines in the corners, shading the areas to be cut off. You should be left with an oval shape marked on your rectangular board, with three circles to mark out where the dowel legs will go.
7. Place the marked board on top of the second board (both with ‘bottom sides’ up), and square them up to the corner of your workbench. Secure with clamps.
8. Using a power drill, create pilot holes in each of the shaded corners – these needn’t be exact as they won’t form part of the final product. Drill all the way through the top board and partway through the bottom board.
9. Secure each corner: use a screwdriver and the 30mm screws to sandwich boards together.
10. Next, attach the Forstner-style drill bit to your power drill.
11. Using small off-cuts as a guide (or even just by eyeballing it) hold the drill bit up the side of the sandwiched boards, so the tip is roughly 3 to 5mm off the workbench. Mark the place where the drill bit hits the top of the boards with tape, leaving a tail to flap off the side: this way you’ll know when to stop the cut.
12. Using your pencilled dowel marks as a guide, drill down on the first mark till the masking tape hits the board: the hole should go through the top board, and partway through the bottom board.
13. Take your time to cut accurately at this point – don’t rush! You don’t want too much chip tearing off, as this will mean more finishing work later. (Note: you may have to empty the head of your drill bit as you go along, to stop sawdust accumulating there.)
14. Next, move the still-sandwiched boards so one end overhangs your workbench; re-secure with clamps.
15. Using your jigsaw, start cutting along the semi-circle – you can use the marks you made earlier to find the beginning of your cut. Stay close to the line, and just a little bit outside of it – the more accurate you are here, the less sanding and finishing required at the end.
16. As you cut around with the jigsaw, insert the 80mm dowel offcuts into the holes – this will act as a size check, and also keep the boards secured as you go.
17. Move the boards, re-clamp, and repeat along the other semi-circle edge.
18. With boards still sandwiched together, sand the sides down with 80-grit sandpaper (using a small wood block to keep it neat). Angle along the edges to create a slightly rounded profile.
19. Repeat with 120-grit, then 180-grit – till it’s nice and smooth.
20. Remove dowel off-cuts. You should now have one board with three holes drilled right the way through, and one board with three holes drilled only part-way through.
21. For an extra-neat finish, treat any uneven sections with water-based wood filler, then sand all over with 180-grit sandpaper, making sure to sand with the grain of the wood.
22. Starting on the board that’s been drilled completely through, brush inside each hole with PVA glue: you want a good coating.
23. Now brush one end of each hardwood dowel piece: all over the circular face, and 10mm or so up the side.
24. Making sure the ‘top side’ of the board will be facing up, insert dowels in each hole – use your mallet to knock them in. You’ll be able to hear when each dowel is in place: the sound will change a little once it’s solidly inserted.
25. Now repeat the process for the tabletop: paint glue into each hole and at the end of each dowel, and use your mallet to knock into place.
26. Dampen a bit of scrap fabric or cloth and carefully wipe off excess PVA.
27. Leave to dry for 10 or so minutes.
28. Using a brush, apply one coat of Danish wood oil, wait 10 minutes, then wipe off.
29. Optional: use steel wool to burnish the wood while the oil is still on, gently smoothing the surface in circular motions.
30. One hour later, repeat: apply oil, let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe off. (Burnishing if you like.)
31. Leave for an hour or so, then stand back and enjoy your handiwork. You’ve just knocked together an extremely handsome wooden laptop stand.
32. Take it to work, use it in the home office, or just casually admire its glory.
This excellent DIY was brought to you by our friends at Planet Ark’s Make it Wood campaign. They really like Australian timber.
And you can see more of Dan’s stuff here.