Sunday, January 8, 2017

Portable DIY Surface Pro Table Top Stand / Lectern: Computer Woodworking

By Steve Endow

Last week MVP Jen Kuntz posted a neat update on Twitter with some photos of a cool sliding door that she built.

Following her lead on the woodworking post, I thought I would write a post about a small woodworking project that I worked on today.  Computer related, no less!

I needed some type of table top stand for my Surface Pro 4.  I have a situation where I need to work on my Surface Pro while standing, but the space where I'll be working only has a small table.

I didn't want, or need, a typical boxy table-top lectern.  I wanted something simple, compact, portable and light, that I could quickly setup for use, and then easily fold up and put away.  Unlike a typical lectern with an angled top, I wanted a flat surface so that my Surface Pro and my mouse would not slide off. (If you've done presentations with a typical angled lectern, you know what I'm talking about.)

I fired up SketchUp and quickly came up with this simple design, which has a flat top and folding support legs.  I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so that I could quickly build it this afternoon with as little wood and as little effort as possible.

The folding legs would be attached to the back piece with hinges so that they could be moved into place to support the top, and the top would be on a hinge as well, allowing it to fold down.

After some initial testing, I realized I needed to add a folding stand in the back to prevent it from tipping backwards.

With the legs folded flat, the hinged top folds down flat, and the top has a convenient carry handle.  I figured this would make it very easy to setup, and then I could fold it up in 2 seconds and easily store it out of the way, taking up minimal room.

With my rough design in hand, I headed out to the wood pile. Um, I mean my garage.  If you are a woodworker, or know any woodworkers, you probably know that we hate to throw away perfectly good scraps of wood.  You never know when that small off cut will come in handy!

Fortunately, I had the perfect scraps for the project.  I had a scrap of maple plywood that was almost exactly the dimensions of the top, a nice piece of poplar for the center back, and I had just enough select pine scraps for the folding legs.

The select pine was slightly narrower then my SketchUp design, so I had to adjust my dimensions a bit on the fly, but it worked out just fine.

I cut the pieces to length on the miter saw, and things were looking good.  To save time, I didn't bother to taper the legs, like what is shown in the design.

To join the folding legs, I used my Festool Domino, but pocket hole screws would probably work fine as well.

The Domino is a bit tedious to setup, but the results are Extra Fancy.

With the legs glued and assembled, I clamped them up and then moved on to work on the top piece.

The scrap of plywood was so close to my design dimensions that I didn't even have to cut it--it was ready to go.  I just needed to cut the handle out.

I sketched out the area for the handle and I used a large forstner bit to start the handle hole.

At this point, most people would use a jigsaw to cut the piece between the two holes, but 1) I absolutely hate the jigsaw, and 2) I got a new compact router recently, so I figured I would take the path less traveled and cut out the handle with a spiral up cut bit.

So the router was an interesting choice.  The cut didn't turn out perfect, but it was convenient and good enough for this project.

I then got Extra Fancy and chamfered the edges of the handle--again, another excuse to use the router.

Then, every woodworker's least favorite task--sanding--to remove any rough edges.

More chamfering around the edges of the top. Because new router!

With all of the pieces done, I did a dry fit of sorts, just to make sure everything looked right.

Then a quick run to Home Depot to pick up some hinges.  If you want to get Extra Fancy, you could go with piano hinge for just a few dollars more, but I didn't want to spend time cutting the piano hinge, so I opted for the ugly utilitarian hinges.

And with all of the hinges in place, the stand worked perfectly.

And it folded up nice and flat.

It's very light weight and the handle makes it really easy to carry.

A quick test on a table confirmed that it worked great with my Surface Pro and mouse.

During my initial testing, I noticed that it could potentially tip backwards, so I grabbed another small scrap of plywood (perfect size!) and with the one remaining hinge, added the extra stand on the back to prevent it from tipping over.

To finish it off with a touch of Extra Fancy, I'm going to counter sink a few neodymium magnets into the top of the legs and bottom of the table so that the legs will pop into place and be held by the magnets.  I'll probably also add a magnet to the stand on the back to keep it folded flat when closed.

I hope you enjoyed this computer woodworking fusion project!

You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter

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