167: Living Hinge Monitor Riser

One of the side effects of the global pandemic is a dramatic increase in remote work, and my situation is no different. While I have a good desk and workbench set up for laser work at home, I wanted to keep my daytime career work separate, so I set up a second desk with some older computer equipment to use as a work-from-home station. In this dual-monitor setup, one monitor can be adjusted up to the appropriate height, but the second ViewSonic monitor has no height adjustment and is far too short to be ergonomically sound with my arrangement.

Current work-from-home monitor solution is a little uneven

I’ve been able to get by for a while using an A+ certification training book as a makeshift riser, but that’s not a great solution, especially since I’m not finished with that certification yet and need to use the book! Thankfully, I’ve got a whole bunch of wood and a laser cutter, so I set out to make my own monitor riser.


I wanted to accomplish a few things with this project:

  • Raise the ViewSonic to reach the max height of the other monitor
  • Provide storage space for a future NUC or similar miniature computer
  • Use no more desk space than the monitor’s existing footprint
  • Test whether I could use a living hinge to create curved tab/slot construction

I wanted to make the shape of the riser match the odd, uneven squircle shape of the monitor’s existing stand, so I traced the shape and digitized it, then created a vector outline. Early on in the design I would just use two pieces of 1/8″ thick birch plywood in the shape of the monitor base, connected with a few boring straight walls on the sides held in slots. The squircle shape turned out to be too much fun to just ignore in the wall design, though. I planned to bend the wood by turning the entire wall into a living hinge, and my hope was to secure it in place with the same tab/slot construction, despite it being curved.

Prototype Design & Construction

The prototype took a lot of time to math out. The floor (and identical ceiling) was about 7.5″ by 8.5″ but followed a strange curved path. In order to precisely control how often the wall slots would appear in the floor, I used the dashed line feature in Illustrator to create an appropriately bent rectangle at 1″ increments. Unfortunately, unless the total length of the curvy wall was an exact integer, Illustrator would automatically adjust the increment length to make the design work on a closed path. I ended up having to use the Offset Path function to slowly creep the wall inward until its total length was almost exactly 24″ long. Once that was done, each dash of the dashed line was exactly 1″ long. I set the stroke to 0.135″ thick, and then used the Expand and Expand Appearance commands to create workable vector shapes out of the bent slots.

Proto proof that the living hinge tabs will fit just fine, as long as you leave a little wiggle room

The walls would have to be 3.5″ tall, the amount of height I needed to reach the other monitor’s top bezel. They would also be 12″ long each, so that when assembled they’d enclose the entire 24″ circumference of the floor. I laid a wider living hinge pattern on top so that when cut, tiny little holes would let you see through the walls. I also carved out some windows front and back so that cables could fit if I wanted to hide a NUC or similar computer in there in the future.

The bottom of the proto was easy to install, but the top was a nightmare

I cut this prototype design out of baltic birch as I had plenty of spare material available. The living hinge worked out as planned and had enough flexibility to follow the tabs in the floor. The circumference measurements worked out so each tab lined up exactly with each slot, and those tabs held the walls in the appropriate shape almost the whole way around. There were two sections of wall at the end that didn’t have a tab to hold the wall into shape, so I’d adjust that for the final piece.

The proto shape is a little too rounded at the front, but is the right height

In fact, fitting the tabs into the floor slots was almost fun, bending the material to meet each new tab. In comparison, attaching the ceiling was an absolute nightmare. Trying to lower the top squircle onto the tabs was a tedious, meticulous process, and once it was done I realized I would never want to remove and reseal the ceiling to install a computer. I modified the final piece to cut a fairly large hole in the ceiling, one that would be hidden by the monitor anyway.

Final Design & Construction

In addition to the tab adjustment and ceiling hole mentioned above, I very slightly altered the squircle design to match the front of the monitor’s stand just a little bit better. I also made sure to widen the tab slots in the floor and ceiling just a little bit as I discovered I needed a little more wiggle room to assemble curved tab/slots than the traditional kind. This extra space would be filled with wood glue in the end, though, since I knew I’d no longer need to open the ceiling. I adjusted walls so that the two 12″ pieces would meet at the sides instead of the front and back, and moved the small cut out cable windows down a bit since that’s where the cables would be. That last move was a mistake.

With limited supply of cherry, this design mishap meant the sides would have to be made in bamboo

I originally planned to use cherry wood for the entire project, but by moving the cable windows down, I didn’t realize I’d compromised the living hinge cutouts and I unintentionally created walls that literally fell apart because the vectors for the window and living hinge pattern crossed paths at just the wrong spots. This mistake ate up the rest of my cherry wood stock, so the walls would need to be cut out of another material. I settled on bamboo, a nice material of almost exactly the same thickness, so I wouldn’t need to modify the slot thickness again.

The stand pieces are almost complete, but we still have to struggle to get the top onto the tabs

Both the ceiling and floor came out beautifully in cherry, and while I lost the cherry walls, the bamboo walls also cut out great and assembling was a breeze—at least until it came time to put on the ceiling. It took some more tedium but once the ceiling was on, I liberally applied wood glue to all of the tabs, clamped where I needed to clamp the pieces together, and let it rest.

This is what bad wood glue technique looks like

I was a little over-generous with the wood glue, figuring that I’d just sand off whatever residue was left. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to completely remove the surface wood glue, and when I oiled the finished piece, it was blatant. Even though this piece was going to be covered by the monitor most of the time, I didn’t want that surface discoloration to be visible, so I used some cork—the same kind I would be applying to the bottom—and cut out a thin strip to go on the ceiling. This would hide the bad wood glue job and also provide a tiny bit more grip for the monitor once it’s in place.

The finished monitor riser in cherry, bamboo and cork

The finished piece looks very pretty, and is more than sturdy enough when the monitor rests on top. I’m a little worried that if I ever do add a computer inside, the cables might damage the living hinge walls. Jen recommended I use some washi or rubberized tape to protect the window sills, so to speak, so that might be a future mod. But for the time being this stand is a much prettier way to reach my ergonomic desk goals, and it’ll let me get back to A+ training!

Project Gallery

One thought on “167: Living Hinge Monitor Riser

  1. alainb1 says:

    A couple of very nice catches on the bobbles. Cork was a nice touch. Time will tell how well it works as a monitor stand but it’s still a super cool looking basket.


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