How to Build a Simple, Cheap iPad Stand
Last updated April 14, 2017
My girlfriend Laura is always watching television shows or netflix on her iPad, but a lot of times it becomes annoying to constantly hold it up or position it so you can see the screen properly. You can buy iPad stands online, but they are clunky, expensive and somewhat ridiculous looking. After a cursory search, I came upon this how-to by the good folks over at Homemade Modern. With some slight modifications I was able to build this iPad stand in a few hours for around $35 in materials.
- 1 2" x 8" common board (at least 2.5' in length)
- 1 3/4" x 18" Steel Pipe
- 1 3/4" x 8-12" Steel pipe (depending on how high you want it to be)
- 1 3/4" Steel Connector
- 2 3/4" Steel Brackets
- 8 1.5" #12 wood screws
- Danish oil or finish of your choice
Always read and follow all manufacturer directions for any type of hand or power tool you are about to use. Wear safety equipment to protect your ears, eyes and lungs. The following instructions are merely meant to be a guide, so use your best judgement about how to approach this or any project.
A Couple of Tips about Building with Steel Pipe
Steel pipe is fun and easy to work with. It is relatively cheap and can be easily disassembled if you want to use it on other projects. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you've never worked with it before:
Black steel pipe that is common in home improvement stores ships covered in grease in order to protect it from corrosion. If you go to the store you may notice the black steel pipe looks like it is a different material than the connectors they are selling (which look a like a very dark gray). Don't worry, they really are the same material, you just need to get a common degreaser and strip away the grease. If you are concerned about corrosion, you can finish the pipe with some paste wax which actually holds up to damage from water quite well.
The connectors do not fully screw into each socket. This means when you are measuring how high you want something, you should account for an extra 1/2" or so on each connection. It is still tight and secure, but you will see about 1/2" of bare threads wherever you are connecting.
Cut Your Blocks
Using a miter saw, mark measure and cut your 2"x8" to a 14" length (for the top), then cut another piece at 16" (for the base). If you have a 12" miter saw, this will be a simple cut. If you only have a 10" (as I did), you can simply cut through and then flip the cut and carefully finish it on the opposite side. This may give you a little bit of leftover wood in a corner, but not to worry, you can clean it up with your orbital sander later on.
Cut your iPad Grove
Set a circular saw blade at a 2.5" depth and a 25 degree slant. We are going to do a few runs progressively further back until we have about 1/2" of a grove to work with. I started at 2.5" from one side, and did my first run using a speed square as a quick fence. Make sure when you are setting up your cut, that you verify that the angle of the cut will be in the right direction here. I actually did my first cut on a piece of wood (as illustrated in the above picture) and then realized the groove would be running in the wrong direction (the iPad would be facing down, not up), so I ruined a perfectly good piece of wood.
After your first cut, move your fence 3/8" or so further down the top piece of wood. We are essentially using the saw to slowly slice away a groove using several passes. Repeat this process until your grove is about 1/2" or slightly bigger.
Smooth that Groove
Reviewing your groove, you may notice it looks pretty rough and nasty on the bottom, so next we're going to clean it up and make it nice and smooth. Grab a thin 1/4" (or 6mm) chisel and carefully smooth away the surface of the cuts you just made until they form a relatively uniform flat surface. This may take some time and you'll want to go slow and easy here, making sure each layer you peel away isn't too deep or takes too much off. Try to focus on keeping your chisel as flat as possible here to keep everything even and you should be fine.
Sand out the Groove
Fold 1/4th of a piece of fine grit sandpaper into thirds, so that you can easily push it against the sides of the groove. Sand out any remaining uneven parts of the groove and make sure that everything is nice and smooth.
Sand All Wood with an Orbital Sander
Using an orbital sander, give the wood a pretty stern sanding all over, making sure to sand away any unevenness in the wood. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you want everything to be nice and smooth. Also, if you had to do two cuts with the miter saw as mentioned above, this is a good time to make sure your cut was even and uniform on the ends. After you have smoothed everything out, make sure to wipe away all of the dust from the wood with a damp cloth.
Finish the wood
Using Danish Oil or your stain/finish of choice, finish the two pieces of wood to your liking. I chose Danish Oil Medium Dark Walnut, but I should have gone with a natural color finish. The darker stains never seem to look right on lighter wood, but I digress.
Make sure you follow the stain and finish guides for how long the wood must dry before you can continue on with the project.
Fit the Brackets for the Pipe
Measure and mark a target 3 5/8" from the side and back of the two pieces. Make sure you are marking the side opposite to the groove you just made for the top piece. Set your brackets centered over the mark you just made and verify that you marked the correct side of the top before you drill into it.
Drill your wood screws into place with the target you just drew centered in the middle hole of the bracket. Continue this for both brackets.
Screw together the Pipe
Screw your longer pipe into the shorter one using your connection piece. Screw the pipe into the base, then the top and tighten until it is straight and isn't going to budge.
I should mention here that you can adjust the height of the stand by substituting a shorter, or longer piece of steel extension or no extension/connector at all. This means it can range in height from 20" to 32" or even more. How high you make it really depends on where you want to use it and what height makes sense for your situation.
Enjoy Your new iPad Stand
Now that you have a handsome iPad stand you are all set to binge watch even more useless crap than you already do. But seriously, now you have a homemade, inexpensive, attractive and modular stand for your iPad that you built yourself. Not too shabby for a few hours worth of work.
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