The Accidental Standing Desk
A long time ago, in a galax…
The original idea was to end up with this http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/S99843742/#/S59865632, but along the way something went horribly wrong… to blame, as with so many things, was a combination of impulse and too much choice.
I’m not exactly an Ikea regular. So when I went to my local “store”, i was overwhelmed by the choice! Expecting to find a nice little package with all the parts I need to assemble the thing in the picture, instead I was presented with an array of table tops and legs that could all work together.
Before deciding to go cheap, i was very close to getting a custom desk built in the spare room. But at the last minute I decided it would be bad if we ever decided to move and rent our place out, so I opted for something less permament. I had the dimensions of the custom desk mapped already, and had called for a “slimline” 600mm depth. So when I saw a 600mm deep option in Ikea (the original table I saw was 750mm deep) i went for it, naively thinking that the legs I had already picked up would be fine with my new slim table top.
My original idea of a custom desk was such that it would run along an entire length of the room, and so i ended up buying the parts to construct 2 tables. Little did I know, that would matter months later.
When i got home, i eagerly unpacked everything and started putting it together… only the legs didn’t fit!!! The holes in the uprights were fine so I at least had a functional desk, but it didn’t have the aesthetics of the original image. I had 3 options: trek back to Croydon to return the legs for some plain ones. The weather and the thought of going back to Croydon (not the nicest of London suburbs!) ruled that one out. Option 2 was to find someone to cut the steel tubing to a length that would work with my configuration. Unlikely to find those services in the area that i live, i might as well just go back to Croydon. And I’m not doing that. Option 3 was to do nothing. Which is exactly what I did. For ~18 months.
Having seen more than a few posts espousing the virtues of standing desks, when another appeared on HN recently I decided I needed to give it a shot.
But as you can probably guess from the story so far, I’m not exactly the handiest of men. Sure, I can put together almost anything you’re likely to find in a Data Center,blindfolded. I sleep talk infrastructure. I can hack code. But handyman shit? Forget it. That’s what I pay other people to do, just as your average plumber doesn’t have a hope in hell of building a *nix box. We all have our place in society.
So i immediately started looking for something pre-made. Maybe something like the trading desks I have seen recently around the office… ooo, these look nice http://www.ceka.co.uk/aleo-t-leg-sit-stand-alectric-height-adjustable-rectangular-desk.html … £800 ex-tax is a fair chunk o change for a standard looking desk, but this was my health! If i didn’t like standing, i could always just use it for sitting - at least my lovely Herman Miller Aeron wouldn’t be rendered entirely useless.
But alas, my request for funding was denied by the household CFO. “Find a way to try it out with what you already have!” she said. After being together for over 10 years, she knows me better than I know myself when it comes to these things - there was every chance I’d blow a grand on this newfangled toy only to not be using it as originally intended in a matter of weeks (or maybe even days!). I capitulated.
My mind immediately started thinking about late night building site raids and plastic crates. Nope, that wasn’t going to cut it. But hmmm… what about those poles I’ve had under my desk for 18 months…. could they work?
Being 6’1”, i needed to raise my monitor at least 50-60cm from it’s current height - the monitor stand I have is adjustable, I could use that for a boost if needed. And lo and behold, the spare tubes were almost the exact height!
So i got to work. First, i removed the 4 plastic L connectors from the bottom of one of the desks.
A minute or so later, I had a makeshift monitor stand assembled… remember, I originally bought 2 desks so I had enough spares to do this.
…ensuring that the connector bar was secured with the screws that came with the packaging.
The bottom of the legs actually weren’t flush, luckily i had a spare bit of masonite from some other furniture that was the perfect height to stabilise it, but i could have easily used just about anything. I knew the top bar would easily support the weight of my 24” monitor, and although I knew I would be locking it down with some cable ties*, I still pictured coming home from work to find my monitored smashed on the floor.
Luck for those L connectors… that made the legs perfect for clamping! A quick search of B&Q turned up just what I needed. Off for a nice evening walk to… err, Peckham. Well, at least I was getting out of the flat.
Around 90 minutes later I was back home with my clamps.
Time to put it all together.. doesn’t look too bad does it! Note that the monitor is actually freestanding quite happily in that image.
I put the desk back into place, et voila! An accidental standing desk, and all I had to spend was an extra 14 squid.
Almost - I still have to sort out something for the keyboard and mouse… and that, I leave as an exercise for the reader! Let me know how you go in the comments.
And yes, I wrote this post while standing :)
If you want to do this from scratch and you live in the UK, here are the necessary parts. If I did this all over again, I might actually go for a deeper table - when standing, my face feels a lot closer to the monitor than when I was sitting. So have a think about that.
“Accidental” Standing Desk for ~£90
Table top: Vika Amon (1200mm x 600mm)
Table legs + “monitor stand” (you need 3 of them to make the stand): Vika Moliden
Clamps* (2): Irwin Quick-Grip Mini
*If you can’t get those particular clamps, you need something with jaws of at least 75mm, and a “depth” of at least 55mm.
*If you don’t have cable ties handy, pick up some decent length (at least 350mm) ones, or just use duct tape to secure the monitor.
PS. Poor Herman Miller… this could well be for sale in a few weeks ;)