How can I best put together an inexpensive standing workspace?
May 16, 2011 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find a relatively inexpensive standing desk? A relatively inexpensive adjustable-height desk? A relatively inexpensive platform designed to rest on top of a regular desk and turn it into a standing desk?

I want a standing workspace, but I really, really don't want to spend $800 (or even $500) on a solution if I can help it. That seems really expensive. Solutions? Recommendations?
posted by jsturgill to Shopping (24 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
This came across my radar last week. It isn't easily adjustable, but it is only for $250.
posted by thebestsophist at 10:12 PM on May 16, 2011

Wood, nails, hammer. Home improvement stores will cut the wood for you so you don't even need a saw. If you want the top to be nice then start with a cheap "real" desk but then construct the platform you want it to sit atop of yourself. That way you can make it exactly the right height for you.

If build-you-own sounds intimidating then ask your handy friends for advice and help. If you're lucky, one of them will get so excited about the project that he/she will just build it for you while you supply pizza and beer.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:30 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have been using a sort of desktop organiser (like one of these) to put my monitor on top of, and a smaller one to put my keyboard on in front. They don't look out of place on my desk. The hardest bit is finding one that is the right height, but a bit of shopping/scavenging should yield something.
posted by lollusc at 10:46 PM on May 16, 2011

I will tell you what I do for a "standing desk".
Height:Keyboard Stand
Base:Fiberboard to dimensions needed.
Attachment: Super Cheap: Bungy chords Better: Metal straps and wood screws

total? about 50 bucks.

Note: this will not work for a heavy desktop computer & monitor, but it will work very well for a laptop. Additionally, you can move it front of your current desk and angle your monitors up, put your mouse and keyboard on the "adjustable desk" and work from there. Collapsable as well. It works well for me, I just move it in place when I want to use it. Sometimes I have both my desk and standing desk setup for different purposes. Sometimes I move the "standing desk" down to regular desk level so that I have more workspace. It really is handy.
posted by Drama Penguin at 10:48 PM on May 16, 2011

BTW, there is nothing better than being able to move your desk to your backyard when it is nice outside.
posted by Drama Penguin at 10:49 PM on May 16, 2011

I like to work standing up, and I use this inexpensive Ikea wall-mounted drop leaf table mounted at stand-up height. Folds away completely when I'm not using it, which I also like.
posted by trip and a half at 10:52 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I did this for myself by putting a small IKEA galant desk on top of a $90 IKEA coffee table. The adjustable legs of the desk allowed me to get it just right, and if I decide I hate standing desks, voila... I have a sitting desk and coffee table again.

Another programmer I know placed two IKEA cabinet shelves side by side and then laid a tabletop on them to get his height and add storage space. You might need to construct a riser to get the correct height, but there's no reason to buy an actual standing desk to try it out.
posted by fatbird at 10:59 PM on May 16, 2011

Is there no second hand office equipment shop or ex-government furniture depot in your vicinity? I have often seen standing desks at those sorts of establishments.
posted by girlgenius at 10:59 PM on May 16, 2011

Ikea also has brackets that you can use to raise a normal -height desk. (My husband bought some, but I don't remember what they are called.)
posted by leahwrenn at 11:00 PM on May 16, 2011

A relatively inexpensive way to turn a fixed-height surface into a somewhat-adjustable desk is to put the display on an adjustable arm, and attach a height-adjustable keyboard tray below the desk surface.
posted by mvd at 12:35 AM on May 17, 2011

I have a cheap solution. I put the netbook on shelves on the wall. Then my keyboard and mouse are on an ikea Dave laptop table, with a sturdy cardboard fruit and veg tray free from the supermarket which rests perfectly on top for extra height. It's not stable enough for heavy things and doesn't allow room for writing, but it's pretty good. I may just make another for writing on.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:21 AM on May 17, 2011

Also perhaps a school furniture sale? My high school had standing desks for the teachers. They were hilariously Catholic to my eyes: standard white oak teacher desks, but with really long legs.

I would be concerned about raising a standard home-furniture style desk up, because their stability seems to depend on them resting completely on the ground. I would expect that they would get very floppy when raised up.

If I needed such a workspace, I would probably do it cubicle style and securely mount some shelving standards and make the desk a really large shelf.
posted by gjc at 6:21 AM on May 17, 2011

I built platforms for my existing desk (which was probably $90 from Target). I'm quite happy with it. gjc is right to be concerned about stability, but I've got mine in the corner of a room, so that's no problem. There are two things I would do differently:

1) Be prepared to change the height. I thought I had done a pretty good job of estimating the correct height, but after prolonged use, my wrists get strained because the keyboard tray is a bit too low.

2) Have some way to elevate your monitor (lollusc's desk organizers look nice; I've got a cardboard box). With no chair to slouch into, having a properly elevated monitor became much more important. I don't know how y'all do this with laptops...
posted by McBearclaw at 6:35 AM on May 17, 2011

A former coworker used [still uses, so far as I know] one of these.

Here's another idea.

and one more.
posted by chazlarson at 6:45 AM on May 17, 2011

For under $300, you can get a nice, solid drafting table, which, depending on your height, can be adjusted to standing desk height.
posted by notyou at 7:10 AM on May 17, 2011

My officemate raised his Ikea desk to standing height by moving the adjustable legs to their highest setting and placing it on cinder blocks. I'm sure you could come up with a more elegant solution.
posted by me3dia at 8:48 AM on May 17, 2011

This was just posted to boingboing and apparently cost $30, if you've got someplace you can buy steel pipes.
posted by Freen at 3:23 PM on May 17, 2011

If you don't have enough IKEA links yet, I use these legs with a glass top, totaling $140. On the highest setting, the top is hip-height on me (5' 6"), so it may not be tall enough depending on your height and comfort.
posted by orangejenny at 5:42 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: The drafting table seems like it might fit the bill. Is a reputable merchant? Is Alvin a good enough name that I could trust buying that drafting table online, sight unseen?
posted by jsturgill at 5:50 PM on May 17, 2011

If you live in an an area covered by Craigslist you might check for used drafting tables. I picked up an older model electric drafting table that raises from sitting to standing a few weeks back for very cheap.
posted by tinamonster at 8:33 PM on May 17, 2011

I can't speak to the reliability of the merchant nor the trustworthiness of the table, jsturgill. I pulled the link from my "buy this" bookmarks folder.

Alvin appears to be a respectable firm. You might check around at your local art supply store (or use Alvin's retail locator) and perhaps get a look at an actual example.
posted by notyou at 6:57 AM on May 18, 2011

Every experience I have had with Dick Blick has been positive. Note: I have never ordered something as large as a drafting table.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:29 PM on May 18, 2011

I've been using a Leksvik bar table from Ikea for the past couple months. I'm 5'11" and it's the perfect height for a standing desk. It's pretty cheap at less than $150 with tax.

Recently I bought this anti-fatigue mat to stand on. It's been pretty nice, but an even better solution is to just get a pair of Crocs.
posted by johnio at 8:29 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are trying to limit the amount you spend to under $800 and you would like to get something store bought, not DIY, consider a few different options. Jumping into the adjustable height arena will typically double the price for the functionality. You may want to consider a standing desk with a tall drafting stool for when you want to rest.

1. There are cheaper models available at stores like target for around $200 here. The problem with these cheap models is they generally will not go beyond 40 to 43" tall. The less expensive models also tend to be much less sturdy. Just because it is made for home use doesn't mean it should wiggle side to side.

2. Find something that is designed for commercial use. While this type of desk will generally have a higher price tag, it will last a lot longer. These desks are also much more rigid and will not have the swaying or rocking seen in less expensive standing desks. Beyond The Office Door has commercial grade fixed height desks starting out at $509.99. Each desk can be made a custom height from 22" up to 52" high. We use them in our own offices everyday and they are great.
posted by vikesfan83 at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2011

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