My $90 Standing Desk made with IKEA Parts

After reading enough about how sitting all day long will kill you that much faster, with or without exercise, I decided to make the switch to a standing desk at home. 

quick search on Amazon showed me that the standing desks were 2 things: pricey and didn’t have a lot of surface real estate. On the bright side, there were many models with adjustable heights.

I decided instead to build one myself with inspiration from around the Web. The first one I saw was Colin Nederkoorn’s Standesk 2200 which he built with about $22 of parts from Ikea. However, it’s only a retrofit for an existing desk, and I wanted a fully standing desk.

But I stayed on the Ikea hackers path, especially since I had an Ikea about 30 minutes away, and found Eric McKiddie’s howtoThibaut Colar’s (very large) model, and Daniel Mrdjenovich’s post. If you want even more ideas, check out IKEA Hackers.

The Parts

I wanted to keep my costs down, so using some of the ideas in both of those author’s posts, I came up with the following set of parts:

  • Expedit shelving unit with 4 cubby holes for  storing stuff under your desk and not cluttering your desktop.
        Size: 31 1/8″ x 15 3/8″ x 31 1/8″. Price: $40
  • 2 sets of Expedit casters. Great for moving the desk around easily. It ain’t light!
        Height: 4″. Price: $15 x 2 = $30 
  • Vika Amon table top. Big enough for me to hold my 2 monitors, place a keyboard and mouse at the front, and enough assorted papers and books without feeling cramped.
        Size: 47 1/4″ x 23 5/8″. Price: $20
  • [Optional] 1 Signum cable management rack.
        Price: $10 

Total price: approx $90.

I’m 5’8″ and picked a table top height that would leave my forearms and hands comfortably at a greater than 90° angle relative to my upper arms, so if you want more of the recommended 90° angle, then you’ll need to raise the height of the desk. Some Capita legs may be able to help you out, but you should do a careful calculation first. Or you can also put something underneath your keyboard to raise it up.

The casters add 4″ to the desk height and the total height of the desk is 36 3/4″ more or less. 

I cheaped out and didn’t build a stand for the monitors, but instead piled up some of my old thick tech books until I felt they were at the right eye level. If I decide to upgrade and build a monitor stand, I’ll update the post.

The Assembly

First assemble your Expedit shelf according to the instructions. Once you’re done, attach the casters to the bottom. That’s all pretty straightforward.

The final piece was to attach the Vika Amon table top to the Expedit shelf. I decided to use some Gorilla Glue (like this) and then for good measure drill some #10 3″ wood screws through the shelf into the table top. You can’t go much longer than 3″ without it extending through your table top! To be honest, I’m not sure I really needed the screws, as the glue seemed to hold amazingly well after only curing overnight.

Here’s the desk upside after I had applied the glue. You can still see some of the glue that had been squeezed out by the pressure.

You’ll need to figure out whether you want to center the shelf under the table-top or in my case have the front of the table top overhang more than in the back, so that your legs don’t hit the shelf and casters as much. Once you put the table on the ground and then flip the shelf upside to rest on the table, pencil mark where you’d like it to attach.

Remove the shelf, and apply the Gorilla Glue liberally. Then you’ll need some help to lift it into place. Some glue will inevitably get squished out over the next few minutes to an hour. If you want it to be nice and clean, be ready with a damp rag to mop up that excess glue.

You’ll probably want to drill a pilot hole if you’re going to use the screws, but be careful. Use only a much smaller drill bit than the screw size, because this wood is soft, and if you drill out too much of the wood with the pilot, then the screw won’t have much left to hold on to, making the point of the screws pointless. 

Here’s an up-close shot of the screw in place:

Here is an angled shot of the final product:

And finally a photo of it in full use (before I jacked up the monitors). As you can see, I’ve got my tower desktop off to the side, some books and papers in the shelves and yep, you can see the wires in this photo, but I can’t see it when I’m standing or sitting at my desk, so I didn’t care too much!

Results

I’m now 6 weeks into this experiment, and it’s been pretty positive. I have no plans to go back to sitting. It was hard as hell at first, which is why I have a stool right behind me for when I need to sit down, and trust me I sat down a lot during those first few weeks. 

But like anything else, you get used to it. I find myself shuffling around a lot, and this is a good thing. I find that I stand on one foot quite a lot while perching the other foot on the stool’s foot rest behind me. I didn’t expect that, but there you go.

These aren’t scientific results, but I really feel like I have more energy throughout the day. My coffee consumption has gone down, and I’m more focused on any given task. And if you stop to think about it, think about how many people work on their feet all day long. We tech workers are lucky; we can do this standing thing and yet, sit down whenever we feel like it!

Thanks to the other folks around the Web who blogged about their desks. My apologies for my horrible photos, but I hope they’re good enough to give you a decent start on your own DIY desk.

 

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