Are you sitting comfortably? Most likely. Do you spend a lot of time sitting down everyday? Most likely. Me too! But until recently I didn’t know that sitting was actually a pretty un natural position for humans and not at all good if done long periods of time. If you are not blessed with amazing posture, strong glutes and neck muscles, at some point will come under some discomfort, like I did (not because I don’t have amazing glutes….), so I went looking for a cure but god are they expensive! £600 for a desk? No way. So I found a way that suits my needs for £14 (€16 / $17.5) and ill show you how.
It all started with increasing neck pain, and it didn’t take a wizard to notice that it was worse on days I had to spend sat at a desk. So I started working more and more on counter tops and at height and eventually started thinking about standing desks. But the prices were very high, and with living in a small 1 bed flat with zero space for a desk the only option would be a table top addition. But wow are these things expensive
- Can the keyboard area be height adjusted independently from the top of the first unit?
- Is that first unit big enough (I sometimes use 2 Machines)?
- Options 2 and 3 are huge, how can you store them?
- On the two more expensive units the screen or laptop will be the same height as the keyboard..No good.
- £250…£450 and £750….No thanks.
£750 for a desk that moves up and down in just insanity. Moving up and down electronically is simply a luxury that is not at all necessary.
Forget all about these. What about making your own?
- Custom built to your specific height – YES!
- Multi functional – YES!
- Easy to install, put away and store? – YES!
- Cheap – £14? – YES !!
Here it is, my new standing desk setup which has been built to suit my size perfectly. It cost me a total of £14 and took about 1/1.5 hours work.
So you can see my normal work set up here which is 1 or 2 laptops, connected to external monitor. So how is it built, and how can it be so cheap?
How to build your own standing desk for £14
So here is how I did it, first I took a trip to Ikea (my first time – It’s a maze) and after some time I found some ideal items. I picked up these two;
A side table and a TV stand. A match made in heaven. So the main purpose of the side table is to take its 4 Legs and ignore the Top. And for the TV stand, I used its shelf to make a second smaller stand on top of the 4 legs I got form the side table. Very easy with this IKEA furniture which is like DIY for 3-year-old children, holes are pre drilled in the legs so even with hardly any tools this can be carried out pretty easily.
What tools do you need?
- A saw (to cut the spare 4 legs from the side table down to size)
- 4 Screws (I used 4 x No.12 50mm – to screw the legs to the shelf from the TV stand))
- Pencil and Measuring tape for marking out
- A Screw driver
- A Bradawl (or a drill if you are lucky enough to have one)
Assemble your TV stand – Now Monitor / Laptop Stand
Get your TV stand, put the 4 legs on and ignore everything else. Keep the shelf safe for use with the 4 legs from the Side table.
Finding the perfect height for the keyboard/mouse
First step, get your working height for the keyboard and mouse right for your own sizes, lay the shelf on some books on the table until you find a comfortable solution, generally anything close to having an elbow bent to 90 degrees works best according to some research so have a go to find the most comfortable position for you. For me, this was slightly lower than having a 90 degree bend in the elbow. Have a look online for some guidelines or check out the image below.
Cutting to size
Once you have your measurements made up, get your 4 spare legs and measure what you need to cut off. Here I recommend if you get the same sized screws I used (they are fat enough to grip the pre made holes in the legs) to keep the ends of the legs which are pre drilled by IKEA and make your cut at the other end. This will save having to screw into the legs, having to drill into the legs and ensure a perfectly centered hole.
Job done, you can see why these units are so cheap, they have hollow legs. So be careful not to stand on them when cutting or it they might cave in. fortunately they are extremely strong as a leg but no so much if compressed in on themselves. Have you ever seen someone standing on an empty soda can? It’s sort of like that with these legs.
Preparing the Shelf
This is pretty easy, all you have to do is make 4 holes and put your screws in. I counter sunk mine to prevent them from sticking out the top, but I had to do this by hand as I have no tools in the flat. The shelf has 4 small pre drilled holes on one side, ignore these but make sure you keep this side down, the side where you will attach the legs to.
You can use the legs to trace the size on the underside of the shelf, or just measure it out. They are 25x25mm. Cross the corners to find the center point where you will make your hole for the screws.
(HINT, I actually used a measurement of 26x26mm to have the 4 legs sit just slightly inside the perimeter shelf, just 1mm border. This will help it to fit inside the larger TV stand. )
Unlike real wood where a bit strength can help you countersink the heads of your screws, into this MDF board that is not possible so above, I used a scalpel to cut out a larger hole around the hole for the screw to allow the head of the screw to sit into.
Once you have all 4 screws sunk into the base, insert them into the pre drilled holes on the legs form the side table and screw on. I did this to be able to screw the legs on and off using the legs and not having to use a screw driver. Much in the same way IKEA had planned you do so (as you will do with the TV Stand legs). Fortunately I got a very fight fit without the need for the screwdriver, but if they start spinning in the hole screw home as normal.
Flip the new stand over and job done!
Just the final step of installing your equipment now and trying it out.
A pretty tidy and simple standing table alternative which wont cost you much and wont take long to assemble. I have been loving mine since setting it up and generally find I stand for around 4 or 5 hours a day and sit for the rest. My legs do start to get sore after that so in my view, I don’t recommend ONLY standing but that is up to you.
Benefits wise it has been working well;
- I move around much more when working. If you give it a go you will be amazed how often you take a slight step to the left or right when working, something which you can’t do when sitting down.
- It splits the day up nicely, I tend to stand in the morning to the mid afternoon and then switch to sitting.
- My posture is definitely improved when standing as opposed to when sitting and moving around is much easier and natural.
- The screen, keyboard and mouse positions are far far more comfortable for me when I am using the standing desk. When sitting the desk is actually too high for typing and two low for the screen so that is a fantastic improvement.
If you have any questions about how I built this please ask in the comments and if you do build your own let me know how it goes!