I'm hacking together a standing desk- But what do I need to know?
November 27, 2013 10:52 AM   Subscribe

In advance of the new year, I'm making a resolution: No more sitting desk. Traditional standing desks are hilariously outside my budget, but I've spied a number of Ikea hacks that are appealing. Here are the Q's I have (And, hey, suggestions are also welcome!):

Most of these hacks seem to be placed on top of an existing surface. How high should that surface be?

Is there an affordable standing desk out there that I'm not seeing?

I also need it to be a sitting desk sometimes, do you have a favorite hack-y combo that would accommodate?

What am I not thinking about?
posted by GilloD to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ergotron makes affordable sit-stand workstations that attach to existing desks.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:57 AM on November 27, 2013

We recently got a Varidesk Pro for a guy at work. Adjustable sit/stand to go on top of an existing surface. He's very happy with it. 300 bucks.
posted by phunniemee at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Shameless self plug here, but I sell just these types of desks at standingdesk.co. They're also available on Amazon from a different reseller.
posted by uncannyslacks at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've used a variety of standing desks over the years. Usually I start with a cardboard box and a book or two to get the exact height I need. I like my arms to be just a bit lower than a 90 degree angle. So if I were you, I'd try it for a few weeks with a temporary set up before you make anything permanent.
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2013

Most desks have 30" tabletops. A standing desk should probably be somewhere between 42" and 48", so you'll need something that raises a regular desk a foot.

A) you can probably get a pretty cheap-o drafting table from an artist supply store or dataprint or something.

B) I have a desk that consists of these types of legs from IKEA and one of their table tops (which may not actually be sold any more because my version is aspen, but this similar one is beech). Total cost: $140 for an adjustable desk that goes up to standing height.
posted by LionIndex at 11:07 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am a bit baffled why the Ikea "hacks" exist, since Ikea essentially *sell* cheap standing desks. Pick a tabletop, buy height adjustable legs - done. We have 15+ standing desks at work of that type.

The sitting desk issue we work around by having high drafters chairs. Not comfortable for extended sitting, but fine for swapping back and forth between standing/sitting and spreading the muscle load around a bit.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:08 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure what your price range is but I have this one in my home office. I've been using it for over a year without complaint.

The standing desk I have in my office at my company workplace is a much fancier model - auto adjust, etc. I've been using that one for several years. My guess is it was about $1,000. Is it no better than the one in my home office.
posted by 26.2 at 11:15 AM on November 27, 2013

Mine is a piece of 22" x 36" plywood on top of a built-in bookshelf (so not wobbly), which turns out to provide the right height for the keyboard.

On top of the plywood is a box of copy paper and on top of that is my monitor.

The box of copy paper provides the right height for the monitor as well as doing the important job of weighing down the plywood so nothing wobbles when I type or the cat walks on the keyboard. The plywood is wider than the bookshelf so it does need to be weighed down.

My eye height and keyboard height may not be your heights.

We had the full box of copy paper on hand and it filled the need. You may have something else around that can do the job. The plywood was also something we had around. It doesn't provide enough space to spread out on my writing side but the bookshelf provides that.

I have a $69 high chair with a low back, Glenn from IKEA. It's not a good fit for this situation so I use it only when I am really tired and need to keep working.

Warning: don't use up all the copy paper.
posted by sevenstars at 12:03 PM on November 27, 2013

Where I work, the standard "try it out and make sure you like a standing desk before spending money on a real one" hack/solution is cinder blocks. Get yourself 4-8 cinder blocks, depending on the size/wobbliness of your desk, and just lift the desk up onto them - it's definitely not a bad idea to make sure that this style actually works for you before sinking real cash into it.
posted by Rallon at 1:05 PM on November 27, 2013

I built this for my desk at work. It took me, all told, about two hours to make. I have been using it for almost two years now, and continue to be quite happy with it.

Something that I have found to be essential is an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. I actually fold the mat in two and stand on it with just the balls of my feet, while wearing Merrell Barefoot shoes. YMMV
posted by rockindata at 1:33 PM on November 27, 2013

Invest in comfortable shoes.
posted by lekvar at 2:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have one of these to stand on at my desk. It gives you a bunch of different positions you can use to stretch out your legs while working to help with stiffness or sore feet.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:29 PM on November 27, 2013

I built one of these IKEA LACK side-tables for about $30 and have been very pleased with the results. (Already had a flat table to sit the unit on.)
posted by scooterdog at 6:18 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A solid-core door slab with 4x4 legs and connecting hardware makes for a decent desk of any height you want. Here's Jeff Bezos with one.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:43 PM on November 27, 2013

When you're sitting at a desk, you can have poor posture or correct posture. Likewise, when you're standing at a desk, you can have poor posture or correct posture. This is something to keep in mind as you're developing new habits at your standing desk.
posted by aniola at 9:13 AM on November 28, 2013

I built my own standing desk (a treadmill desk actually) about a year ago. I love it.

This might be obvious, but the one thing I did not realize before I started is that the height of a standing desk is much more important (and individual) than the height of a sitting desk. Most office chairs have adjustable heights, and so you can find a good height that works for your posture. But when you take the chair out of the picture, there's really only going to be one height that is right for how you stand. On my first attempt, I was off by a few inches and boy did that get uncomfortable quickly!

So I echo the others that say you should start with a temporary setup, so you can make sure everything is in the right position before you make it permanent.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 7:37 PM on November 29, 2013

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