Standing Desk is Broken
June 18, 2023 11:11 AM   Subscribe

We have an adjustable standing desk that broke on Friday and is now in a permanent "standing" position. It looks like it uses some kind of hydraulics system but we can't figure out how to repair it or if it's repairable at all. Pictures and details below the fold.

Photos of desk/parts here.

This adjustable standing desk was purchased second hand but has never had any issues in the past when raising or lowering it. We do not know the brand or model of the desk, unfortunately.

After using it in the standing position for a few hours on Friday, my partner went to lower the desk using a pedal attached to the underside of the desktop. The pedal uses a "lift up/press down" mechanism to control the movement of the desk up or down, and is directly connected to the desk cable/wire.

However, upon pressing the pedal to begin lowering the desk, the pedal failed to work and the cable dropped out of the pedal device. So, something that has to do with the pedal, the cable, and whatever is connecting the two things didn't work.

NOTE: If you look at the photos that show the desk legs, specifically the horizontal metal bar that connects the two legs of the desk, you'll see a hole on the right side where a hand crank would normally go. The hand crank has been missing for some time now, so we're unable to use the hand crank connector as a backup method for lowering the desk (unless someone here might be aware of a method to connect something else that can be used in lieu of a hand crank).

We're at a loss and don't know how to properly reconnect the cable/wire, or how to find some kind of middle-ground solution that would enable us to still lower the desk. For clarity, the cable/wire appears to be hydraulic, not electrical. I say "appears" because I think there are other types of standing desks that use magnetic cables(?) instead of hydraulics.

As you can see, we're not technically proficient people and don't know what to do. We are open to any solution as long as it allows us to lower the desk again (even if we're no longer able to raise it).
posted by nightrecordings to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
One path to resolution is determining the manufacturer. Clear pictures of unique components, like the raise/lower pedal, should help.

Would it be possible to provide additional photos of more distinctive features of the desk, including anything that could be construed as branding as a logo. Any codes or numbers on the pedal? Additionally, any information about the age/purchase location of the desk, E.g. was this purchased second-hand before march 2020? After that date, many new companies started cranking out (heh) lower-end WFH setups.
posted by enfa at 12:46 PM on June 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

(I am assuming this pedal is simply a “latch” and you are accustomed to pulling up or down on the desk to whatever height you desired. If the pedal is designed for more than this, these hints might not help.)
Picture #9 shows the cable end. The rounded silver piece at the very end of the cable needs to be pulled out of the sheath a short distance. This will likely unlatch the mechanism which holds the desk in one position.

The end of the cable sheath must be held firm so just the woven cable slides through the sheath.

It may only need to be pulled out of the sheath 1/2 inch or so.

This bracing and pulling was accomplished by the rounded pedal. If you can reconstruct the original routing of the cable through this lever, you may be well on your way to making it work again.
Or, if you simply need to unlatch the desk, move it to its new position and latch it again, you may just need two pairs of pliers. – one to brace against the sheath and one to pull on the rounded silver piece at the end. Then physically push the desk to its lower position.
posted by tronec at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2023

That's a standard cable/housing connection as used in any basic bicycle shifter. It's not hydraulic, or therw would be spilled/leaked fluid somewhere.
Tronec is correct, and maybe I can elaborate. The cable end with the swage should be pulled while the black housing is held in place. That should release something at the other end to adjust the table. There should bessome resistance when pulling the cable; likely the desk is spring-loaded to some extend and the cable releases the spring. When the table failed was there a sudden release of the lever, or was it just slack?
there's a photo showing a hole labeled 'KBL'. In the next photo after that, there are a couple notched insets- perhaps the cable//housing threads through the marked hole and attaches into a notch?
posted by TDIpod at 1:37 PM on June 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

> As you can see, we're not technically proficient people and don't know what to do. We are open to any solution as long as it allows us to lower the desk again (even if we're no longer able to raise it).

speculation: That certainly looks like bike hardware. I'm not sure how difficult it would be, but maybe you could adopt a bike brake to pull on that cable.

As a one-off application, you could use bike brake cable pliers to pull on it and adjust it.

Maybe use some conduit straps to affix the brake or pliers to the underside of the desk, for everyday use. /(end speculation)
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I know this is a bit late, but we updated the photos with some more details to show the open panel and some of the labeling. Not sure if it helps but maybe it will shed some light. Images here:
posted by nightrecordings at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2023

Counterbalance sit/stand adjustable desk (with hand brake / paddle lever)?

How A Counterbalance Standing Desk Works

US Patent 6119605A, "Height adjustable table with counterbalance spring and load balance indicator"

US Patent 20050248239A1, "Adjustable height casegood and desk" esp. "FIG. 8 shows sit-to-stand desk. Sit-to-stand work Surfaces held by two rectangular cross-section Supports. Supports extend into Support enclosures. Supports are connected to a torsion mechanism contained with Support enclosures. The torsion mechanism uses a heavy duty torsion Spring contained within one of the Support enclosures. The torsion mechanism can be locked at a desired height throughout the adjustment range of the table. The brake is activated by spring-loaded paddle which is mounted on the front left hand edge of sit-to-stand desk One suitable torsion mechanism is manufactured by Baker Manufacturing Company. Alternatively, the height of the sit-to-stand work Surface could be adjusted by a crank."

Reading through the patents might show what you'd need to repair/replace? Baker, Knoll, Teknion, Humanspace and Ergotron are a few companies with patents related to counterweight/counterbalanced height-adjustable desks and tables. I don't know what's in the current lines, but if you own a previous model there may be a user's manual online.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:18 PM on June 20, 2023

Knoll Interaction Counterforce Table

I've got one too. Can't help you fix it, though.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:49 PM on June 20, 2023

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