DIY Compact Portable Magnetic Laptop Shelf Build Instructions

Page 7 Read More, FAQ, Recipient List

Page 1: Overview & Step 1: Drill Holes
Page 2: Step 2: Mount Brackets
Page 3: Step 3: Glue Magnets
Page 4: Step 4: Add Anti-Slip
Page 5: Options & Variations
Page 6: Photos of Shelf in Use (IUEC)
Page 7: Read More, FAQ, Recipient List

Read more

I just added this bc I found it helpful on other posts to keep pages shorter but give more in-depth info or explanation for those interested. 2022_06

Simple vs Pro Versions
The “Simple Version” is cheaper, easier to build and takes less time, material and tools yet gives adequate results.
The “Pro Version” takes considerably more expertise, time, material, tools and is more expensive to build but is a better end product.
Whether the Pro Version is worth the extra time and expense is unique to each individual with consideration to the intended use and resources available including money, time, tools, and workspace, etc.  If you are fortunate enough to purchase one and expense it to your company as a “specialty tool” then the choice is easy, get the Pro Version.

Pro Level:  Why it’s better to sand the folding brackets to the metal before gluing magnets. 
I have found that the magnets have a stronger, longer lasting bond to the brackets if you at least scuff the paint and the magnets before glueing.  The magnets and bracket are just too slick for a great bond.  It is even better if you sand the bracket all the way to the metal.  Use 80-120 grit so the metal is scuffed for a better bond. The magnet being even closer to the metal by removing the thickness of the paint will create a stronger attraction between the metal bracket and the magnet.  Magnetic strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance so closer to the metal (even by a little) will drastically increase the magnetic strength.  The reason we want this is because if the magnet has a stronger attraction to the bracket than to the metal surface your attaching the shelf to, then we are less reliant on the glue bond to keep the magnet attached to the bracket.  Ideally the very thin glue gap between the magnets and bracket will be less than the coating on the magnets whether it be electric tape or paint.  That way the attraction is always stronger to the bracket and keep in mind most surfaces we attach the shelf to, will be painted metal which increases that gap.  As an experiment I used a sanded bracket with magnets not glued and set on a painted metal then removed to see what the magnets would do.  The stayed on the sanded bracket.  So between that and the additional bonding of the glue you shouldn’t have an issue with magnets detaching but if so they can be re-glued.  See illustrations below.

Pro Level: Why it’s better so sand/scuff both sides of magnets.
You want the glue side of the magnet scuffed so the glue bonds better. If you are painting and/or clear coating the magnets rather than applying electric tape, you want to scuff that side as well for the same reason, so the paint bonds better. You will want to sand with 80-120 grit in at least 2 directions but circular or diagonal as well may be better.

Pro Level:  Why it’s better to glue brackets and add filler glue under the mechanically fastened brackets.
I scuff the paint on the back of bracket edges and add a bead of glue down each edge adding a little filler glue on each side of the fastener holes and at the two ends.  The scuffing is for a better surface to bond to. The glue is just to help bond the bracket to the board completely so no gaps or flex between fasteners.  The filler glue is to fill the U shaped cavity at each fastener and the ends.  This will make the final product much more solid once the glue dries.  The U cavity is also why we don’t over-tighten the fasteners and only snug them, because it will actually pull and flex the board into the U cavity creating a smily face board “ask me how I know”.   Because we are just snugging the fasteners we will use locktite or glue on the threads (aircraft nuts too tall to use).  All this is not necessary but I prefer the results of glued and fastened vs just fastened.

Pro Level:  Why it’s best to bevel the board edge at the bracket on Recessed Top models.
The locking brackets open and lock at 90 deg but can actually open a little more than 90 creating a prying action just barely flexing the board away from the bracket weakening the glue bond.  If your brackets are not glued it’s not really an issue but either way we can eliminate it with 5 strokes of a flat file to remove 1mm of material from the edge giving it a slight bevel. If you routed a recessed board for a flat top model just be sure your route is 1mm deeper than flat (as seen in photos) for the same reason.

Pro Level:  Why it’s better to match mag config & polarity on lock closed magnet rather than simply using a 1/2×1/4×1/32 magnet.
It’s easy and acceptable to just use a 1/2×1/4×1/32 locking magnet but some of that magnet will overlap and interfere with the fields of the magnets on the other side.  Practically speaking this is insignificant but I prefer to match the lock magnets with the bracket magnets so the fields reinforce each other making the locking magnets even stronger.  As a general rule is best to use magnets in pairs.  

Pro Level:  Why It’s better to use 3 columns of 1/4×1/4×1/32 rather than 4 columns filling the entire width of the back.
The edges of the brackets are rounded and the magnets come to that rounded edge.  With 1/2×1/2×1/16 magnets this isn’t an issue as the magnets are thick enough and the glue can act as a filler on the rounded edge so the magnets should’t crack if hit on the edge.  On the smaller thinner magnets this gap on the rounded edge is an issue and can even prevent the magnets form laying flat trying to conform to the curve and the shatter potential is high.  I have cracked some edge magnets on the only one I built with 4 columns, albeit I was intentionally rough with it.   I found its best just to eliminate a column.  It’s still plenty strong enough with only 3 columns (4 is almost too strong and will hold much more than you think).

Why it’s best to alternate magnetic poles.  Wouldn’t it be stronger if all poles face the same way?
Poles alternated reinforces the near field while facing poles the same may interferes with the fields weakening them.  Alternating the poles increases the near field but it weakens the far field which is safer and more ideal.  We only want to magnet to stick to metal close to it, not attract metal from a distance See illustrations below.

Cool video distorting the near and far fields for “seemingly” impossible results:  https://youtu.be/h69bbH1PwU4

Grippy magnet coatings vs slick coatings explained with Pros & Cons of each.
Originally I thought I needed a grippy surface so the shelf wouldn’t just slide down when loaded.  I have come to find that I prefer a semi-slick to slick surface though so that the shelf will slide down when overloaded rather than detach and fall.  With electric tape (and some flat paints, flat clear coats) the shelf with hold more weight but will fall once overloaded or pushed down hard on.  This friction coefficient varies of course depending on the surface you attach the shelf to but on a painted metal surface like an elevator controller I found a gloss paint or clear coat gives a good combination of weight capacity and overload protection.  As the surface gets roughed up over time it may need a wet sanding with1000 grit or conversely if you find it too slick you can rough the surface up slightly with some 220 grit sand paper.
Grippy Surface Coating
– Pros:  Higher weight capacity, won’t move as easily if bumped or pressed on.
– Cons:  Detaches and crashes when overloaded rather than slide down.
Slick Surface Coating
– Pros:  Slides down when overloaded rather than detach and fall.
– Cons:  Lower weight capacity.

FAQ

General FAQ
Q – Do you sell these, can I buy one from you?
A – Sometimes & Maybe. I don’t build items with the intent to sell them. Sometimes as I am fine tuning a build I will sell off variations to mitigate my monetary losses. Notice I said “mitigate losses” not maximize profits. In some builds a lot of material is purchased in R&D to see which works best. Those are loses I will not recoup, I have never broke even selling off variations of any build. My least expensive model is $185 not including shipping. Most purchases have been from co-workers & local members who want them really bad and either swipe their company credit card or expense it as a “specialty work tool” and I have bartered for tools, material and knives.
*See availability list below

Q – Can I use a different cutting board?
A – Yes but keep in mind that you may need different length machine screws and the material properties will vary. Some boards will be stiffer and more brittle. I prefer the Dexas/Mainstays for their somewhat pliable properties but some prefer the rigidity of Faberware Basics.

QCan I use different magnets? Can I use cup magnets?
ADon’t! I highly recommend using the magnets I link in the exact configuration shown. It’s more work to mount cup magnets, it’s not as low profile and the magnet is more dangerous. Stu-Baby built his own with cup magnets and it’s absolute garbage. Sorry Stu!

QCan I use a different folding bracket?
ADon’t! This is the lowest profile quality folding bracket I could find and I bought over $100 worth searching. Others had sharp edges, poor or no coating or they just weren’t low profile. These brackets are ferrous so the magnets stick to them, some aren’t which means only the glue holds the magnets to the bracket. The Folding Brackets and Magnet Configuration is what makes this shelf uniquely compact and light. If not for that just buy the Magbench, Utilishelf or Omnishelf.

QHow much weight can each magnetic configuration hold?
A – More than a laptop! I may do a giveaway with the winner being the one who can guest the closest for all magnetic configurations. If interested in this giveaway idea comment below!
The current list of magnetic configurations is as follow:
1/2 x 1/2 x 1/16 Magnets 6 total per bracket.
1/2 x 1/2 x 1/16 Magnets 8 total per bracket.
1/4 x 1/4 x 1/32 Magnets 60 total per bracket.
1/8 x 1/8 x 1/32 Magnets 280 total per bracket.

Real Questions & Conversations
QWhy so much To purchase one from you? I really want one but don’t want to spend that much.
A – I have given full instructions and material list with links to build your own. Answer the question of why you don’t want to build it yourself and then you’ll better understand why I charge what I charge.

Q – Can you use a different fancier board so it doesn’t look homemade and simple?
A – This is intended to be “homemade and simple”. It should be understood without me stating that you can use whatever you like to build your own. I specifically chose this material because it’s light weight, inexpensive, durable, readily available and suites the task perfectly. Please feel free to send me photos of your masterworks and I will post them on my website and credit you. I do enjoy seeing other peoples works.

Q – Will you build me one for free? I can’t be bothered to take the time, get material & build.
A – Will you cut my grass for free? I can’t be bothered to take the time….

Q – Will you text me a link to the material I need?
A – It’s on my website.
Q – I can’t be bothered to look for it, can you just take the time to text it?
A – I took the time to post in on my website, that is the extent of my labor which you will receive for free Flim Flam Andy.

I may start adding FAQ and real conversations to each post because they are getting more ridiculous and hilarious as the years go by. The fast pace of the internet in your pocket and social media is re-wiring peoples brain to just blurt out things confidently and as quickly as possible with little to no thought.  

I am also going to add a quote to each post. I have some gems here
“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while stupid people are full of confidence.”

The Dunning-Kruger Effect “Mount Stupid” YouTube Video
Why is Company Management Always Terrible?  YouTube Video 
Unrelated but I will make a full post on the adverse consequences of Dilberts and such.

List of Serial Numbers & Recipients

Serial No.BoardModelEtchingsMagnet
Configuration
Magnet
Coating
Recipient
KTFG_P1MSRed
Recessed
Bar Cub
Magnets – 4
Electric
Tape
Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_P2MSRed
Flat
SN WS2
IUEC.60
1/2×3/4×1/16
– 14 Full
Electric
Tape
Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_001MSGray w/b
Recessed
SN
Initials
???Electric
Tape
David
Luther
KTFG_002MSRed
Flat
SN1/2×1/2 – ?
1/2×3/4 – ?
Electric
Tape
Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_003MSAqua
Recessed
SN
Initials
1/2×1/2×1/16
– 8
Electric
Tape
Eric
King
KTFG_004MSGray w/b
Flat 1/2
SN
Initials
???Electric
Tape
Fabian
Bravo
KTFG_005WMSGray
Flat 2/2
SN
Initials
???Electric
Tape
Fabian
Bravo
KTFG_006MSGray
Recessed
SN
Initials
??????Andrew
Sauer
KTFG_007FBRWhite
Flat/Flat
SN WS21/2×1/2 -6
1/2×3/4 -2
Rustoleum
Flat
For Sale
$185
KTFG_008FBRWhite
Flat/Flat
SN WS21/2×1/2×1/16
– 8
Rustoleum
Flat
For Sale
$185
KTFG_009MSGray w/b
Flat 1/2
SN??????Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_010WMSGray
Flat 2/2
SN??????Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_011MSBlue
Flat 1/2
SN Initials
IUEC.100
IUEC.50
1/2×1/2 -4
1/2×3/4 -4
Auto
Paint
Travis
Hutcherson
KTFG_012WMSBlue
Flat 2/2
SN Initials
IUEC.100
IUEC.100
1/2×1/2 -4
1/2×3/4 -2
Auto
Paint
Travis
Hutcherson
KTFG_013MSWhite w/b
Flat
SN WS21/2×1/2 -6
1/2×3/4 -2
Rustoleum
Flat
For Sale
$185
KTFG_014MSRed
Recessed
SN1/2×1/2×1/16
– 8
Electric
Tape
Raul
Ramos
KTFG_015MSWhite
Flat
SN WS3Board OnlyNot Built
KTFG_016MSGray
Recessed
SN1/2×1/2×1/16
– 8 ???
Electric
Tape
Bud
Oneal
KTFG_017MSRed
Recessed
SN
Name
1/2×1/2×1/16
– 8
Electric
Tape
Jimmy
Jones
KTFG_018MSBlue
Recessed
SN1/4×1/4×1/32
– 80
Rustoleum
Flat
Kevin
Gittemeier
KTFG_019MSBlue
Recessed
SN2 WS3
IUEC.62
IUEC.100
Board OnlyNot Built
KTFG_020???????????????Missing
KTFG_021DexYellow
Recessed
SN2 WS3
Name
IUEC.50
1/2×1/2×1/16
– 10*
Nail
Polish
Tony
Carter
KTFG_022DexGreen
Recessed
SN2 WS2
Initials
1/2×1/2×1/16
– 8
Auto
Paint
Frank
Mellor III
KTFG_023DexBlue
Recessed
SN2 WS4
IUEC.100.2
1/4×1/4×1/32
– 60
Auto Paint
& Clear
Frank
Mellor Jr
KTFG_024DexYellow
Recessed
SN2 WS31/8×1/8×1/32
– 280
Nail
Polish
For Sale
$225
KTFG_025DexRed
Recessed
SN2 WS3
IUEC.62
IUEC.100
Board OnlyNot Built
KTFG_026DexBlue
Recessed
SN2 WS2
IUEC.62
Board OnlyNot Built
KTFG_027DexGray
Recessed
SN2 WS2
Board OnlyNot Built
KTFG_028DexGray
Recessed
SN2 WS2Board OnlyNot Built

MS = Mainstays Recessed Board 11 x 14.5
Dex = Dexas Recessed Borad 11 x 14.5
MS/Dex = Either or. Dexas makes Mainstays for Walmart.
FBR = Faberware Basics Flat 11 x 14.

Recessed = Recessed Top
Flat = Flat Top
w/b = With Velcro Cable Bag

H = Hand Engraved
LE = Laser Engraved

W = Wide Brackets to stack in pairs
1/2 = 1 of 2 of Stackable Pair
2/2 = 2 of 2 of Stackable Pair

Flat/Flat = Both sides of board are flat (Faberware Basics)
NH = No handle (None built yet bc I like the handle)

SN# = Serial Number by number of times etched
WS# = My website Kevin Gittemeier .com by number of times etched
(etchings are on front and back)
Name = Recipients Name
Initials = Recipients Intials
IUEC.100 = IUEC Logo 100mm .2= 2 times (.50.2 = 50mm twice etc.)

1/2 x 1/2 and 1/2 x 3/4 magnets are 1/16 thick.
1/4 x 1/4 and 1/8 x 1/8 magnets are 1/32 think

Bracket Serial Numbers

Bracket SN and data to track durability of magnet configurations, glue, prep and coatings over time. Not started until after model _024

Bracket SNBracket
Magnets
Coats
& Total
Coatings Bracket
Base
Filler
Magnet GlueSanded
Bracket
Mag F/B
001_1/4/32NPC71/4×1/32 (Wht)2 Wht 7 Clear (9)Nail Polish / ClearClear GG 1.75Clear GG 1.75Y/Y/Y
002_1/4/32P2A2C41/4×1/32 (Wht)2Pr 2Wht 4Clr (8)Primer/Auto/ClearClear GG 1.75Clear GG 1.75Y/Y/Y
003_1/4/32C7 1/4×1/32 (CLR)7 Clear CoatsRustoleum Acrylic Enamel Paint+ Primer Gloss ClearClear GG 1.75Clear GG 1.75Y/Y/Y
004_1/8/32C71/8×1/32 (CLR)7 Clear CoatsRustoleum Acrylic Enamel Paint+ Primer Gloss ClearClear GG 1.75Clear GG 1.75Y/Y/Y
005_1/4/32B3C3 (A&B)1/4×1/32 (WHT)3 Wht 3 Clr (6)Behr Gloss White 52 Paint + Primer / Rust ClrClear GG 1.75Clear GG 1.75Y/Y/Y

P = Primer (Etching Auto Primer)
A = for auto paint Duplicolor perfect match
B = Behr
R = Rustoleum
C = Clear Coat Gloss (I don’t use Matt bc too much friction)

Sanded Bracket and Front and Back of Magnets (Most Yes to all buy may leave some unpainted unhanded magnets just to see).

Results immediately and over time

Bracket SNResults ImmediatelyResults over time
001_1/4/32NPC7Thick and uneven,
must be sanded but very strong finish
002_1/4/32P2A2C4Primer or accelerant ate into glue
003_1/4/32C7 Good
004_1/8/32C7Good
005_1/4/32B3C3 Behr “Lifted” between coats
and had to be sanded

General Coating Result Notes

CoatingResults Immediately Results over time
Electric
Tape
Good and easiest to applyWrinkles & must be
replaced periodically
Nail PolishThick and uneven,
must be sanded but very strong finish
TBD
Nail Polish &
Clear Coat
GoodTBD
Auto PaintGoodChips at edges
with hard use
Auto Paint &
Clear Coat
GoodTBD
Behr P&P
Gloss Wt 52
& Clr Coat
Behr Bad, liftedTBD
Krylon
Fusion
GoodDidn’t hold up well

Glue Properties & Results

GluePropertiesResults immediately &
over time
Gorilla Glue
Clear Silicone
Flexible/Pliable
Clear GG 1.75
Super GlueHard/Brittle

Clear GG 1.75 = Clear Gorilla Glue 1.75 oz

Page 1: Overview & Step 1: Drill Holes
Page 2: Step 2: Mount Brackets
Page 3: Step 3: Glue Magnets
Page 4: Step 4: Add Anti-Slip
Page 5: Options & Variations
Page 6: Photos of Shelf in Use (IUEC)
Page 7: Read More, FAQ, Recipient List


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12 Comments

  1. Alex on January 4, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Kevin, how is version 3 coming along? I can’t imagine what your plans are for making it “thinner, lighter and more compact.” I’ve been a lurker for a while as I was going to make my own invention just as you have done, but you have done a ton of the trial and error as well research into making your shelf.

    I came up with the same idea a year ago when I saw a shelf like it mounted with screws in a PLC console and I told the tech I was working with that it would be awesome to mount one of those with strong magnets and have it moveable around all of our different work areas and sites… they just shrugged and I stayed busy with work as I was the FNG. Finally with a little more down time and days of research several months ago, I saw that you had the same drive as I for a product/project like the one you have created. Anyhow, great work thus far on your personal project, I hope to order the materials soon so that I can have a couple of shelves lying around in my laptop bags/work truck.

    • Kevin Gittemeier on January 4, 2021 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks,
      Version 3 won’t start for a while as I have other projects to complete first.
      Version 1 took me nearly 20 years to complete when I found the half started project while cleaning my basement and finally finished it. Version 2 had been in my head for years but took that long to find the proper hinges.

      The key to Version 2 is the low profile hinges and the magnet configuration. I will explain the science behind the magnet config in a future update but its important to do the magnets exactly as I have, alternating the poles.

      I have one model that uses 1/32″ thick magnets and holds very strong. Yes 1/32″ paper thin magnets. The key is the alternating poles.

      I will update this post in the future with more info but time is very limited and I make little to no money off these posts (1-3% off amazon links) so its hard to justify the time.

      Good luck and remember you can help support this website and YouTube channel by Subscribing, hitting Like & Commenting on videos.
      Help us get to 100k Youtube Subscribers: http://goo.gl/DDfVab

      Latest YouTube video: https://youtu.be/HyrhW_gnQEM

  2. Mohsen on March 14, 2021 at 1:44 am

    Hello Kevin,
    Fantastic Idea and thanks for sharing with everyone. My question is about the magnet. Does the magnet can damage hard hard drive or any other parts on the laptop? How strong the magnet should be to effect and damage the hard drive?

    Thanks,

    • Kevin Gittemeier on March 14, 2021 at 11:51 am

      Thanks, and good question.
      Anything is possible but practically, no. Remember powerful magnets are in hard drives but fields are shunted. Just don’t store the laptop shelf magnet side touching the laptop (likely would still be fine but just to be on safe side). Store it cutting board side towards laptop. I will make an edit fully explaining the magnetic shielding, concerns etc later today but it’s important to use the magnets I specify and alternate poles.

      I’ll post my edit as a reply here as well.

  3. Kevin on February 15, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    Dude. Can I please just buy a version two from you ? Email me please. Kevdok13@gmail.com

    I do fire alarm programming a lot and am always struggling with my tablet. This is amazing but I want it to be top quality and you seem to have all the small bugs worked out beautifully. If so let me know

    • Kevin Gittemeier on February 19, 2022 at 11:32 am

      Sure for enough money but once you add my price + shipping cost you may just want to build your own for around $50 in material.

      I would be willing to sell some of the versions I already have built for $150 + shipping. I have no idea what shipping would cost but if you are interested I will find out. The remaining models are listed on page 6 towards the bottom: https://www.kevingittemeier.com/magnetic-shelf-v2/6/

      I understand the struggle! Having a portable shelf can be a life saver.

  4. Mohamad on June 14, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    Hey Kevin,

    Have you ever tried this with a wooden board? I don’t see any draw backs.

    • Kevin Gittemeier on June 14, 2022 at 7:58 pm

      I have not.
      I like to use these cutting boards because they are light weight, inexpensive, durable, readily available and most of all suite the task perfectly.
      A wooden board would look very nice and work well but not ideal for a hard use application in the field like I use mine. I have thought about making a nice wooden one just as an example though and posting video and pics.
      Keep a lookout on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/KGittemeier

  5. Aaron on June 23, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    Do you have another source for hinges that you like? As I type this, Amazon only has one of the 8″ brackets of the type you recommend in stock.

    Or even an alternate hinge?

    • Kevin Gittemeier on June 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm

      I have no acceptable alternate (I have tried many) and I have not been able to find that hinge anywhere else. Keep in mind that they are sold in pairs so that “1” in stock will allow you to make a shelf. They come in and out of stock often so keep checking if you want more.

      When I see them in stock I buy several bc more and more co-workers keep wanting to buy shelves from me rather than build it.

      Also note that I just added a page 7 with more info. More pics and info coming soon about “Pro Version”.

  6. Marcus dondlexenuf on July 2, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    What kind of glue do you use? Also if that was a little wider I could clean a fish on it

    • KTFG_ on July 4, 2022 at 4:48 pm

      Elmer’s Glue, and it’s plenty big enough to clean your gold fish crackers.

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