I was getting to the point where my desk space was so cluttered with cables, monitor stands and my laptop that I no longer had much room for anything else, like my Mac Mini which has been sitting patiently dormant on top of a filing cabinet for most of the year.
Inspiration struck when I saw a DIY project on Lifehacker a while back where someone used some black plastic pipe to create a cheap riser for their monitor. Being someone who appreciates the finer details, and not being able to find black (only white PVC), I turned what might have been a 10 minute hack into about two hours, but I love the results.
Helping the success of the project, I have an older computer desk of the same "wood grain" and color which now only stores our printer, the UPS, and a lot of old game CD Jewel cases. The keyboard pull out drawer was no longer in service at all, except to hold a couple odd bits of junk, so I pulled it to become a new monitor stand.
I picked up a 24" piece of PVC for $2.46 at Home Depot. Using my mitre saw for straight cuts, I measured out 4 3" sections and cut it up. A hand file and skill knife were needed to get the melted plastic burrs off. Then I painted the sections with two coats of gloss black, sanding between coats. The top coat was Krylon Crystal Clear. I finished the surface with some 000 steel wool which gave it a rubbed rather than high gloss look. As it turns out, matching the luster on the Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard rather closely.
You can see in the picture above that the Mac Mini is now back in the realm of the living and my laptop is tucked back under the shelf with plenty of room for air to circulate around it. The only challenging bit now is getting media in and out! It does slide out easily and I left myself some room on the right to get SD cards in and out to transfer pics from my camera to my laptop.
After removing the slide rails from the keyboard tray, no further assembly required. Simple, elegant, and most importantly, cheap and quick.