Microscopes for short people
August 16, 2018 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a non-standard height table/desk/seating solution for a microscope that will fit into a professional office setting.

I started a new job a few weeks ago, and as part of my office outfitting, I was offered a microscope! This is very exciting, as previously, all microscopy involved going down to the lab, hunting down the appropriate tech, finding the slide, and then trying to find an open microscope (so that I wouldn't prevent people from doing their jobs). Of course I want a microscope!

When one uses a microscope, they should be slightly taller than the scope, so that they are looking down, not straining their necks, etc. I am about 5'2" and whenever I have had to use a microscope at a standard desk for any length of time longer than 5-10 minutes, I have to sit on textbooks (yes, plural), to achieve this goal.

I have a standard-height desk in a cherry finish, probably about 30". My chair is at its maximum height. I have asked if I could have a separate, shorter table or desk and they are willing to provide this. They would prefer it to be of similar finish to my desk. They sent a few examples of some side tables/nightstand height tables, but I'm not sure these would work, as they don't look like I'd be able to actually sit at them (very nightstand-y, and probably too short). Another consideration would be for them instead to provide me with an adjustable height stool.

Some examples of what my manager suggested:
Example one
Example two
Example 3: I like the open bottom, but no height listed.
Example 4: Too short at 20 inches.
posted by honeybee413 to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
you can take any desk that you like, and cut desk's legs shorter
posted by Oli D. at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would do this custom. That's fairly easy to do. My very very quick googling came up with this site, where you can for example get a tabletop and some screw-on legs. But I don't know that site and there are a million where you can get (separately or together) the exact table size/finish & table leg/height you want.
posted by brainmouse at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2018

As a fellow 5'2" person, custom sounds like probably the way to go to me as well.

However, maybe you could get away with something like this vintage typewriter table? (I still think you might also want an adjustable height stool.)
posted by gudrun at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2018

Can you get an adjustable height desk where the microscope only uses up part of the desk? It could allow lower seated work, or higher standing work. If cost is a major factor, a height adjustable stool (maybe a drafting stool as they tend to be higher) might be cheaper and there is a wide variety of styles available.

This sounds like interesting work, so best of luck!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

What about just buying a coffee table?
posted by Autumnheart at 4:40 PM on August 16, 2018

In my old lab we always did microscope work in tall chairs - I don't have the model number or anything but they were adjustable height, tall bar stools with some back support, and seemed to be comfortable for all person-heights.

Might be worth considering the chair option further if you're not super happy with your current chair otherwise - particularly if people other than you will ever be using the microscope. It's generally easier to move a chair up and down than a whole table!
posted by randomnity at 5:11 PM on August 16, 2018

Maybe a laptop cart? Or this laptop desk (" 21" to 31" height range")?
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:50 PM on August 16, 2018

How often do you use it? Once an hour, once a week? How big is your office? Come up with 2 numbers: ideal seat height and ideal surface height.
Maybe get one of those motorized stand-up desks that adjusts down low enough to sit at comfortably.
posted by at at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2018

I am a short (5'1") person who uses optical scopes in the lab quite a lot. I have found an adjustable stool with a back (and a ring for your feet) is the best way to deal with this issue. Something like this.
posted by blurker at 10:05 AM on August 17, 2018

If you have the room, you can get drafting chairs from Staples for a hundred or two bucks. Some come with wheels (some lockable), come with foot rests (some adjustable), adjustable height.

They're available in professional finishes in many different styles (if you want to match it to your office chair), with or without backs/ arm-rests.

We have a few for working on the bench (small back, armless) and the mesh ones look nice and are surprisingly comfortable. The hard plastic ones scuff really easily and are not nearly as comfortable.

Most Staples should have floor models that you can try out in person.
posted by porpoise at 3:22 PM on August 17, 2018

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