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Working With Cardboard: Tablet Stand

As with most gadget, accessories exist which increase the utility of the device or somehow impact how efficiently it can be used. Tablets, those awkwardly proportioned slabs designed to have their displays pecked at, are no exception. Try a search for "tablet stand" on eBay and the number of different types of stands boggles the mind. There seems to be no limit to the variations of color, design and size for them. However this doesn't surprise me, given that stands for any device are relatively dumb accessories to be bought and then serve little other than one limited purpose.

But why buy one when you can make a perfectly good one for even cheaper? Chances are good that everyone has some spare cardboard sitting around in the form of an old box or something, and that's really all one needs to make a fully functional stand for their device. Well, that and a basic idea of how to build a structure. (And maybe some glue.)

My project began quite simply: I was playing with a Samsung Series 7 Slate and decided that I wanted to build a stand for it so as to angle the display at a better angle for use with a keyboard and mouse. Having built a stand for a phone in the past, I decided to copy the basic design and scale it up to match the size of the tablet I was building for:

The end result wasn't too pretty, but it worked. Seen above, this stand was largely based upon the same square-triangle support structure that my earlier docks were based off of. In order to keep it from flexing too much, it required some reinforcement which was provided by small cardboard squares. (Two have been removed in the above picture.) Despite the rather unappealing visibility of hot glue securing all of the panels together, an unexpected but very welcome feature emerged: a large area of closed off space that could be used as a sort of storage area. I quickly took the chance to punch a whole in one of the squares and use it as a holster for a stylus, which worked excellently.

However I wasn't quite sold on the design on account of its rough appearance. It wasn't something I was proud of, so when I found some free time I set myself upon a new design with the ultimate goal of creating a modular stand that looked good and could be disassembled for storage. I grabbed a sheet of grid paper and began to draw:

As you can tell, I sort of let myself initially draw a cross-section by eye, and then later brought out a ruler to adjust the dimensions to match the device I was actually working with and create a much more tailored and snug fit to the Slate than had been afforded by the first rendition. With the final cross-section made bold, I placed the page on top of a sheet of cardboard and, using a pin, punched through both at the key-points of the design. I then connected the dots using a straight edge and a razor blade on the cardboard, removing the pieces once they were free. I repeated this process a total of six times, then hot-glued three pieces together to form one leg, and did it another for the second leg.

It was at this point that I realized the "pegs" I'd created on the bottom of each leg were far too short to be of any actual use, so I abandoned my goal of creating a modular system and instead glued them together with a center piece that I'd built from four cardboard rectangles.

The end result? A very strong stand capable of supporting a weight much greater than itself. As seen above, I was even able to slot in an Ultrabook without resulting in even a hint of instability.

Everything settled and the device the stand was actually built for in place, and it's a perfect fit. The stand works perfectly, and those pegs found at the bottom of each leg actually turn out to be useful after all: cable management. The end result is a stand built at home which comes in at much less expensive than a pre-built stand. Without a doubt, it's also more stable and rigid than one of those cheap stands would be, and did I mention? .... it's eco-friendly!