Sunday, November 8, 2020

Building a Tablet Computer Stand


Stand for my tablet

It's been a while since I made some real sawdust in the shop and the opportunity finally arrived when I started getting a bit annoyed with how I was using my tablet computer the other day. 

I find tablets to be a very handy gadget - you pretty much have the capability of a full PC in a format that is totally portable. They are much nicer than a smartphone since they also carry a much bigger screen - an added bonus as my hair is starting to go grey.

The only annoyance I have is when I don't need to have the portability, but rather I need to use it sitting down at my desk or I need to have it sitting on my workbench so that I can use it to look at something while my hands were busy.  The issue in those cases is that this often means that the tablet is sitting flat on the tabletop, which makes it a bit hard to read without doing a bit of neck calisthenics.

To solve this problem I really needed some sort of stand that I could set the tablet on, with the screen positioned at an angle to allow for easy viewing. 

As luck should have it, I just recently got my hands on a couple of pieces of 3/4 inch thick spalted maple that I scored from the "Free Wood" bin at my local cabinet maker. 
Spalted maple is really partially decayed maple that has fungi growing in it. If captured at the right moment, before the wood is too broken down, spalting produces wood of exceptional beauty.  The fungi will create areas of pink, white, purple, and brown delineated by fine black lines that appear to be drawn by hand.  This creates wood that has a visually distinct and unique design.

Obviously, I really wanted to do something with this unique find that would allow me to show off the wood's natural beauty. Building a stand for my tablet would be an excellent choice!

In designing the stand I aimed to make the design as easy as possible to construct while making it look as attractive as possible. 

After brainstorming, I came up with a design that only needed 3 parts to construct. 

Plans for the stand

At its core, the stand is a 12"X6.5" base that has a 10"X6" front face that sits on top of the base at a 30-degree angle. A small triangular piece of 1.75" X 10" wood, with one side of the triangle, also cut a 30-degree angle sits behind the front face, and acts as a support for the face.

A slot is cut along at the front end of the base in order to allow the tablet to sit into the stand with the front face of the stand located just behind the slot. 

To start I first cut one of the maple pieces into a 10" X 6" size board which will serve as the face of the tablet stand.  

Face board

To have the stand sitting at the correct angle on the stand's base, I needed to have one of the 10 inch long sides of the board to be cut at a 30-degree angle. There are a lot of ways to do this, the easiest being to cut the angle on the table saw with the blade set at that angle. 

However, I also happen to have a small benchtop joiner that I don't use very often so this offered the perfect excuse to use it. 

I set the fence of my joiner to 30 degrees and I ran the piece of maple through it a few times until I got the angle cut along the edge of the wood.  

30 degree angle
Setting the joiner fence
Cutting the angle
30 degree angle

With the face of the stand cut out, I next cut out the triangular support for the face, To do this I did end up using my table saw with the blade set to a 30-degree angle. To make the support, I set the fence of the saw to about 1/8 inch from the bottom of the blade and I cut out the support from a 1"X2" block of leftover maple. 

Blade set to 30 degrees
Triangle cut
Front support made

The last major component to make was the base for the stand. To make this I cut a 12" X 6.5" board out of my last piece of maple.

In order to create a bit of a resting place for the tablet, I wanted to create a bit of a recess in the base that was as close as possible to one of the long sides of the base. 

The groove needed to be wide and long enough to allow for most tablets to sits in. After looking up the specs on a number of commonly available tablets, I figure that a groove that was about 3/4 inches wide and 10 inches long would work the best. 

To make the groove, I installed a 3/4 inch straight bit into my router table and set the fence so that the groove was about a half-inch in from the edge of the board. As a bit of a test, I did a couple of test grooves on a scrap piece of wood and adjusted the router fence until I was happy where the groove would be situated. 

In order to ensure that I had the grooved centered as much as possible, I also placed a clamp 5 inches away from each side of the bit in order to act as a stop for the board while I was cutting the groove  

To cut the groove, I pressed the maple board against the fence and centered it over the router bit. While the bit was spinning I slowly lowered the board until the bit fully cut into the wood. 

I then moved the board along the fence to the left until the board stopped against the clamp that I had placed. I then move the board to the right until the board was stopped by the other clamp. 

Once that was done I had a nice recess cut into the front edge of the base.  
Stand base
About the cut the groove
Cutting the groove
Groove in place

As a final preparation step for the base, I did want to round over the front edge of the base to add a bit of comfort to my wrist while using the tablet on the stand. 

To round over the edge, I swapped in a round over bit on my router table and readjusted the table's fence so that I was able to nicely round over the top edge of the base in front of the recess that I had just put in. 

Round over bit
Rounding over the edge
Edge rounded over

At this point, the major parts of the stand have been made and I was now ready for final assembly.

Ready to assemble

To start the assembly process I first attached the triangular support piece to the back of the stand's face by running a bead of white glue along the 30-degree side of the support and attaching it to the back of the stand face so that it was flush along the bottom of the angled side of the face 

I then held things in place with a clamp until the glue dried. 

Gluing the support piece
Clamped together

The final step in the assembly process was to attach the face of the stand to the base.  To do this, I once again ran a bead of glue along the bottom of the stand face and attached the face so that it was as close as possible to the back edge of the groove that I've cut into the base with the face angled away from the groove. 

Again I clamped the pieces in place and let the glue dry. 

Once the glue had dried I further reinforced the joint by driving a few 2-inch brad nails through the bottom of the base. 

Attaching to the base
Glue along the front
Clamped toghether
Waiting for the glue to dry

That completed the construction of the stand. After a few coats of varnish, the stand was ready for use. 

Ready for use

I've been using the stand for a while now, I've it had definitely improved the viewing of the screen from my desk while looking quite good when it's not being used.  

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