How to Build a Sliding Shelf for a Laptop

Updated March 23, 2017

Smaller computer desks do not necessary have the surface space for a laptop and working space. If a small desk is all you have room for, you may find that installing a sliding shelf for your laptop provides an ideal option. While desks with sliding shelves for laptops can cost a fortune, you can easily build and install your own sliding shelf on your old existing desk unit. Installing a sliding shelf will not only provide more work space, but will also save space when the desk unit and laptop are not in use, as it is hidden beneath the desk's surface.

Measure your laptop and the available space underneath your desk to determine how large your laptop shelf needs to be. A standard size laptop shelf would be 7 inches by 22 inches.

Lay out the plywood on a flat surface and mark the size of the shelf on it.

Cut the shelf out with the jigsaw.

Use the sandpaper to remove splinters, cracks and uneven surfaces, and paint or stain the plywood shelf using the paintbrush. Let the shelf dry overnight, especially if you have applied several coats.

Take one of the two sliding tracks and separate it. A sliding track is composed of two parts -- one being the base piece, which will be installed on the desk, and the other being the sliding part, which is installed on the shelf itself. It is 3 inches tall. Separate the second sliding track into two pieces as well.

Line the sliding part of each track up to the 7-inch sides of the shelf. There should be one sliding track on each side. Attach the track to the shelf with screws and a screwdriver. Hold the shelf with tracks attached underneath the desk and mark with a pencil where the base pieces need to be installed.

Line the base piece tracks up to the marks drawn underneath the desk surface and install them using 1/4-inch screws and a screwdriver. The tracks must be securely installed in order to safely hold the weight of your laptop.

Place the shelf so the sliding tracks line up with the beginning of the base tracks. Insert the sliding tracks into the base tracks at an angle and apply pressure. Once the tracks reconnect, pull the shelf in and out before placing the laptop on it. Pull the laptop wire out from behind the shelf.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood, 1/2-inch thick
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Jigaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain
  • Paintbrush
  • 2 large keyboard shelf sliding tracks, at least 3 inches in height
  • Screwdriver
  • 1/4-inch screws
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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.