In this post, I will explain how to build a dual-purpose laptop shade / dew shield for a cost of approximately £20 (GBP). As explained in Dew Formation and Prevention, the simplest way to prevent dew forming on equipment is to shield it from direct exposure to the night sky.
Using this shield will help to extend the life of your equipment and avoid invalidating the warranty, though to be honest I’ve used my trusty laptop for years without a shield and it is still going strong. This shield is also helpful for solar imaging, making it much easier to see the screen in bright sunlight. Read on for full instructions and plans.
The exact size of laptop shield you require will of course depend on the size of your laptop, but the plans presented here will accommodate a large laptop quite comfortably. If you have a small laptop, you may be able to save on materials by scaling things down, but don’t forget to allow room for cables and connectors around the edges of the laptop and also leave sufficient space for your head and arms.
You will require the following materials for this build:
- Black Correx sheet: I have based my design on 4 x A1 sheets (594 x 891mm each). These cost approximately £4.20 (GBP) each, and can be obtained from Amazon or eBay in a variety of sizes. Correx is a lightweight, waterproof and strong plastic sheet, commonly used for making signs and models.
- Hot Glue: The high temperature variety of hot glue is effective for joining the various seams in this build and takes a few moments to set hard, giving you time to align the joints. If you don’t have a hot glue gun, then “Super Glue” (cyanoacrylate) is reported to be quite effective on Correx, but be aware that you will need reasonably large quantities for this build, and it sticks almost instantly. Test your glue on an offcut before proceeding.
- Methylated Spirit: You you will need some form of solvent to remove grease and manufacturing residue from the surface of the Correx prior to gluing the joints. I found methylated spirit worked fine, but test whatever you plan to use to ensure it doesn’t dissolve the sheet.
- Paper Towels: Paper towels will be needed for the cleaning process.
- Duck Tape: A roll of Duck Tape will be needed to strengthen the joints.
- Stanley Knife: A fresh blade is essential for clean cuts.
- Scissors: A large, sharp pair of craft scissors is useful for cutting tape and scoring the Correx.
- Large Steel Ruler: A large straight edge will be needed to mark out the cuts and help when making them.
- Cutting Surface: I used a few sheets of corrugated cardboard as my cutting surface. Don’t undertake this project on the best dining room table, but equally don’t use a rough/uneven surface which will damage the Correx.
The plan for this build is shown below:
Cutting and Folding
Mark out each piece using the ruler and a ballpoint pen (black ink will show up reasonably well on the black Correx surprisingly enough). Measure twice and cut once; note that parts A and B and D and F are mirror images of each other so once you have cut the first, you can use it as a template to mark out the second piece more quickly.
When cutting the Correx, use the ruler to guide your knife, applying a firm downward pressure to avoid it slipping. Make a first shallow cut, then a second firm cut all the way through the sheet for best results. The Correx will withstand the weight of your hand easily, but don’t kneel or stand on it otherwise you will crush it.
Score along the dotted red lines where shown on the plans. Use the ruler and the back (blunt) side of the scissors firmly to make a deep impression in the sheet, but don’t cut in to the surface with a sharp edge. Note that the scoring should be on the top side of each sheet as shown in the plans.
Start folding the scored edge upwards (towards you as shown on the plan). Grasp the rear of the tab with your fingers and press down on the front of the sheet with your thumbs and fold gently, working your way along the scored line. You should find that the sheet folds readily and you will end up with a straight fold. Bend the tab right over flat to the surface of the sheet; it will spring back, but that’s fine for now.
Assemble the shade in the following order:
- Place part E on top of part C, so that E folds up towards you. Tape and glue as explained below and then proceed to the next part.
- Parts D and F are placed on top of E, again so that they fold towards you.
- Parts A and B are placed on top of Part C, again folding up towards you.
The first seam is assembled as follows:
- Step one is to lay part E on top of part C, so that E folds up towards you. Align the parts as shown in the assembly diagram. Now turn over the two pieces together so that the underside of the seam is facing you (the tab of part E should now be underneath part C). Clean along both sides of the seam facing you using a paper towel and some solvent. This will remove any grease or other residue and ensure you have a good bond. Take care to ventilate your working area as set out on the solvent’s instructions.
- Step two is to take a length of Duck Tape and stick along the seam. Take your time to keep the edges of the seam aligned and press the tape down firmly, removing any air bubbles or creases. If you get it wrong the tape will peel off easily and you can try again.
- Step three is to fold together the two pieces using the Duck Tape as a “hinge”. Now turn them over again so the top side of part C facing you with the tab of part E protruding from underneath it. Clean the tab and the adjoining surface of part C.
- Step four is to apply glue along the whole length of the tab and then flip part E out from under part C using the Duck Tape “hinge”. Press the glued surface of the tab on to the top of part C; the Duck Tape should ensure that the two pieces align properly but adjust so that the scored seam on part E aligns with the corresponding edge of part C before the glue hardens.
- Step five is to clean and then tape the top side of the seam as you did for the bottom side.
- Assemble the other parts in exactly the same manner, in the order set out above. You should end up with a flat assembly as shown above.
The last part of the process is to fold and stick the flat assembly in to the 3D shape of the laptop shade as follows:
- Step one is to fold the scored seams between A-C, C-E and D-E together to create one side of the shade. You are aiming to align the black dotted line of part A (as shown on the plan) with the adjacent edge of part D. Note that A should end up underneath D. The scored folds in the Correx will be quite springy and the whole assembly will want to fly apart, so an extra pair of hands may be needed.
- Step two is to hold the joint between A and D temporarily using a scrap of tape or through the aid of your assistant. Mark the edge of part D on to part A using a ballpoint pen. Now release the joint and clean the two facing surfaces to be joined.
- Step three is to apply hot glue along the edge of part A and then re-fold the shield together, aligning parts A and D along the line you marked in step two. Work quickly before the glue sets and then hold the parts together until the joint is secure.
- Step four is to clean and tape both sides of this joint as you did for previous joints.
- Repeat steps one through four for the other side of the shade so that you join parts B and F in the same manner.
- Finally take part G and glue/tape it to the bottom front edge of the shade as shown above. Note that I have used a thin strip for part G as I want to place this shade on top of a tool chest that holds my laptop. If you wish, you could make part G from an extra sheet of Correx to make a solid base for the shade, e.g. if your laptop sits on a table.
- You may also want to chamfer the corners of the front/top of the shade as shown in the photographs to avoid them getting bent or poking you in the eye.
Below you can see that the completed shade sits on top of my laptop box (made from a tool chest), which has a shelf mounted in it for the laptop. The laptop screen can be angled back for best viewing according to whether you are sitting or standing and to reduce any remaining reflections from behind you: