DIY Adjustable Standing Desk
When I moved to Denver about a year ago, I was challenged with the opportunity to work from home for the first time. Following advice from my fellow telecommuters, I quickly established a steady routine for going to work each day. With a new office to call home, I started the process of making a cool creative space to spend most of my time in. I painted the walls and hung my big bulb lights to match the Penthouse at the Austin office.
I was intrigued by the idea of standing up at work; whether or not there’s truth to the catchy phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” I was interested in the health benefits of standing and moving around rather than sitting at a desk all day. Shopping for standing office furniture, everything I came across was either unaffordable or bo-oring. I turned to Google for DIY standing desks, and found this great article that ended up being the inspiration for my desk (and this post). So I bought this solid wood Ikea countertop and some cheap legs with the idea that one day it would become a standing desk.
After sitting at my countertop for a year, I put my plans in motion with the help of my super handy husband Keith. We sketched out the plans for a multi-level desk that would allow both standing and sitting, measured, calculated, and measured again to make the list of parts we needed. Here’s how we did it:
- Ikea Numerar Countertop, 96 7/8 x 25 5/8 x 1 1/2 ($170)
- 40 1″ flat head wood screws ($7)
- 1” black pipe & fittings:
- (7) 12” nipples ($21)
- (2) 10” nipples ($5)
- (2) 8” nipples ($4)
- (1) 6” nipple ($2)
- (3) 2” nipples ($2)
- (6) caps ($6)
- (2) 36” pipe ($22)
- (10) tee joints ($19)
- (10) floor flanges ($32)
- Custom lengths, all cut from one 10’ pipe ($21)
- (4) 14.5”
- (2) 26.5″
- 1 QT TSP substitute cleaner ($10)
- 1 QT white Kilz2 primer ($8)
- 1 QT Satin Black Rust-Oleum paint ($10)
- 1 QT Minwax Golden Oak stain ($10)
- 1 QT Minwax Satin varnish ($15)
Additional tools & materials
- Drop cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Work gloves
- Eye protection
- Paint brushes
- Pipe wrench
- Power saw
- Power sander or sanding block
Always out for a bargain, we shopped around a lot to find the best prices on our materials. We ordered all the standard pipe and fittings from Zoro Tools — with free shipping you can’t beat the price and convenience. The custom pipe came from one 10’ length of pipe at Home Depot, where they cut the pieces to size and threaded them for free. The rest of our materials came from our neighborhood Ace Hardware where we saved about $30 using coupons. Sweet!
Plumbing pipe is greasy from the lubricant used in cutting and threading. The black pipe we bought also had a lot of sticky coating; you can save yourself some prep time by getting galvanized pipe instead. We scrubbed all the pipes and fittings using TSP substitute, using heavy rubber gloves and goggles for protection.
Plans in hand, we began assembly. We wore gloves to screw the parts together since there were some sharp ends. We also used a pipe wrench to get the pieces as tight as we needed and fine-tune the height to level the base.
Once the base was fully assembled, we used sandpaper to get the last of the coating off and make sure the surface was clean and smooth for painting.
We painted one coat of primer on all the surfaces.
After the primer dried, we painted two coats of satin black, touching up final spots after the second coat dried.
While the coats on the base were drying, we worked on the desktop. We sanded the countertop and sides, cut it in half, and sanded some more.
We tested the stain on the bottom of the desk before adding one coat to the tops and sides. We didn’t stain the underside.
After allowing the stain to dry, we varnished the top and sides with two coats and the underside with one coat of satin varnish to protect against spills and wear. Varnish needs a lot of time to dry, especially between coats!
Putting it all together
Starting with the lower portion of the desk, we set the countertop on top of the uprights to get the correct positioning. We marked where the flanges would be attached, pre-drilled the holes, then screwed the base to the top.
We added the 2 connecting uprights, set the upper portion of the desk on the base, and repeated the process.
Finally, we moved the complete setup back into the office.
Now with about a month of use, I’ve really enjoyed being able to stand up during the day. I’ve accessorized with an anti-fatigue mat, a Mogo seat and a foam roller to keep moving and provide some relief throughout the day. The crossbar under the desk also makes a nice footrest.
My next goal is to bring the bike trainer in (a la kickstandfurniture) and get some riding done during work. Yeah, multitasking!
Here are the plans we used to make my desk — feel free to use it and modify for your needs. Enjoy!