Hacking Together A DIY IKEA Standing Desk

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Update: I’m now using an upgraded hack. See my Custom DIY standing desk with Ergotron LX Dual Stacking Arm

I’m standing as I’m typing this. I’m standing because I’ve got a new desk–a standing desk.

IKEA DIY standing desk

Why Use a Standing Desk?

One of the first questions I get when I tell people I’m now standing while working is why?

The biggest motivation for me was because I didn’t want to sit on my ass the whole day. I feel that sitting for long periods has been contributing to my growing waistline and makes my work day very sedentary.

Standing on the other hand, takes a significant physical effort. At the end of my first week using the desk, my calves are sore, and I can feel my hamstrings and glutes at work. I can’t slouch while standing so my shoulders and back muscles are activated as well.

Building My DIY IKEA Standing Desk

I’ve never really stood up while working, so I wasn’t sure if I could really make the switch. So ideally my desk had to revert back to a sitting desk if standing and working didn’t work for me. One solution was to get an ergo desk–there’s Geekdesk in North America and I saw a pretty good one in The Curve in Mutiara Damansara–but they were way beyond my budget.

In the end I settled on buying a stock desk from IKEA and customizing, or “hacking” it. The main component is a GALANT desk with A-legs. I chose a 120×80 cm table top because I over extended the legs past its maximum recommended height. At this point the desktop was only 90cm (35 2/5″) tall.

P1020068

The legs doesn’t seem to be less stable or dangerous when over extended. I think the main reason IKEA set a maximum height on the table legs was to prevent the feet from sticking out past the edges of the desk. That’s another reason to get the deeper 80cm desk.

P1020070

I then propped the desk up on 4 up-turned KROKEN cutlery caddies. It provides a wide base for the feet, and has a lip that prevents the feet from slipping out. This raised the desktop another 12cm (3 7/8″) to a total of 102cm (41 2/8″). I judged the height based on the angle of my elbows–90 to 100 degrees when my forearms rest on the desktop.

P1020067

On the desktop, I put a 26cm (10 1/4″) LACK wall shelf to prop up my monitor to eye level. I also raise my MacBook with a Griffin Tech Elevator which I bought from their online store. I have a PRÖJS desk pad to not only protect the surface, but I also find it useful to stick notes and slips of paper under it.

Under the desk, I have the GALANT cable management tray to store my cables. Finally, I have a FRANKLIN bar stool with a RITVA chair cushion for the times that I need a break. (Side note: the FRANKLIN stools come in 2 different heights. Get the taller one.) However I’ve found that I prefer standing, just only after my first week.

In conclusion, I’m pretty pleased with my new desk. The total cost is RM837.40, or USD233.92 if you’re buying in the US. I think that’s a good value because it still gives me the option of switching back to a sitting configuration. I also didn’t need specific carpentry tools, so anyone can do this. More importantly, for the small cost above I’m investing in my health for the long term.

I’ll be following up on some lessons learnt from my experience. In the meantime, post your questions or answers in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Other IKEA options I considered

I did extensive research on converting regular desks into standing desks so I thought it would be useful to share my findings.

FREDRIK workstation

FREDRIK standing desk

Source: Factory Automation Software Blog

I had initially considered converting the FREDRIK workstation into a standing desk like this. IKEA specifies a maximum height of 38 3/5″ but in the picture above it’s raised up to about 41″. In the end I decided against it because I thought the desk would be too wobbly. Even at the regular height the desk was a bit wobbly, so I decided not to take my chances since I like to lean on my desk.

UTBY bar table

The other option I considered really seriously was the UTBY bar table. At 105cm (41 3/8″) it was the perfect height. It was also more affordable than the combo I ended up with. I only decided against it because there was no way I could turn it into a sitting configuration, and because the desk top was a little small for me.

More on Standing Desks

If you found this post interesting and want to learn more about standing desks, here are some articles that explain more of the benefits of standing while working.

The Many Benefits of Standing at Your Desk – Harvard Business Review

Stand Up While You Read This! – NYTimes.com

29 Comments on "Hacking Together A DIY IKEA Standing Desk"

  • I custom made my workstation so that I can work at my sewing while standing too and well… Let’s just say, i’ve been on my chair a lot these days. I share your “painful” sentiments. But the extra height does prove to be advantages for some work that I do; especially when I’m designing prototypes. And as of late, proved extremely advantages when I turned the table into a lightbox when doing photography for my upcoming messenger bag.

    • blogjunkie says

      Cool! It appears that many creative types are the ones who are making the switch to standing desks. Sewing and photography are definitely creative jobs

  • Meera says

    Hey David,

    This is interesting! Just a few days ago, I was telling Sudheesh that I really wanted a table high enough so I could stand and work. Sitting down aggravates my back problems and I was contemplating this option. Just didn’t realise they actually had specific standing tables, like you I was at first thinking about a bar table. Thanks for sharing!

    • blogjunkie says

      You’re welcome! Let me know what you decide on since I’m also interested to improve my setup.

  • Gavin says

    I see you have a standing chair for your standing table.. nice!

    • blogjunkie says

      Yes, I know that I won’t be able to make the transition to standing full time overnight. Interestingly, it’s my back that’s tiring out faster than my feet.

      • Rebecca says

        Did you end up standing with this setup? Considering doing this at work. Thanks

        • blogjunkie says

          Yes, it takes a little while to get used to but I do like standing at the desk.

  • Leslie says

    Hi David, I came across your blog while surfing for standing desks. I’m looking at replicating your set up cause it looks the best so far! However, the Kroken cutlery caddy is no longer available so I’m wondering if the ‘Fintorp’ cutlery stand will work just as well.. Link to the stand: http://www.ikea.com/sg/en/catalog/products/00206001

    Hope you can help!

    Leslie

    • blogjunkie says

      Hi Leslie, the Fintorp looks the same and has the same dimensions but I really can’t tell for sure from a picture on the website. Compare the base of the pot with the size of the GALANT table feet. If it fits then I guess it should work. Have fun with your standing desk!

      • Leslie says

        Hi David, thanks for your quick reply! I’m going to try it this weekend and will let you know if it works. Thanks for this great idea! Now I don’t have to get the fredrik desk..

  • Kent says

    That is pretty brave to only stand. We use the newheights brand in our office. They are adjustable and you can sit at it like a normal desk too. Took me a while to stand for more than a couple hours at a time. Love it though.

    http://www.beyondtheofficedoor.com/adjustable-height-table.php

  • Hey David, here is another “portable” and cheap solution from IKEA. The mammut children stool: http://alejandroportela.com/minimalist-standing-desk-diy-from-ikeas-8-mammut/

    The cool thing is that you can use it in any table around the house.

    Let me know what you think

    Alejandro

    • blogjunkie says

      Hey that’s a simple solution that I could use if I’m not in my regular office. Thanks for sharing Alejandro!

  • Stephanie says

    Perhaps I missed it, but how tall are you?
    Im loosing circulation in my legs and cant wait to take a Stand!

    • blogjunkie says

      Hi Stephanie, I’m 5′ 5″ or 167cm tall. Good luck with your own standing desk!

  • sayap says

    In Malaysia, your killer combo is actually more affordable than UTBY. While the UTBY bar table goes for USD 159 in the IKEA US website, IKEA Malaysia sells the underframe itself for MYR 490 (USD 165.62), and bundles it with a table top priced at MYR 495 (USD 167.31).

  • Max says

    Hi David

    First, thanks for your inspiring Ikea standing desk hack post.

    I’m planning to follow in your footsteps using a larger Galant desk with currently available FINTORP Cutlery stands. Having used your setup for over six months, I wonder if you could elaborate on its steadiness. For example, does the desk still feel secure with more stuff on it?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback!

    Max

    • blogjunkie says

      Hi Max, glad you like the post – it’s been pretty popular here

      Regarding the steadiness of the desk, I think it depends on your working style. The long legs make it wobbly if you lean on it. I’ve probably got 10 pounds of stuff on the desk and it’s quite steady. However when I start typing furiously or lean on it I do notice the desk wobbling.

      The wobble is annoying enough (to me) that I’ve decided to go back to sitting for a while, to test if the GALANT desk is wobbly even in a sitting configuration. Will report back on my test in a few weeks.

  • PWaldner says

    There is a hack to overcome table wobble on the Fredrik – put it against a wall. See
    http://www.jrnielsen.com/ikea-fredrik-desk-as-standing-workstation/

  • kyith says

    i did it the other way.i do not know how long i can go through with this so i created a temperory one. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/29005/ProductiveOrganizer.com/images/misc/20120318%20my%20standing%20desk.png

    now i came up with something more permanent by using a strong wooden board and a4 size paper boxes

    • David says

      Good idea to try out standing first before committing to a long-term setup! And that’s a smart way to create a makeshift standing desk

  • Kathleen says

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the post. How are you liking your desk hack these days? I ask because I started out with a sort of “DIY” standing desk too. But I got tired of only having the option to stand, so I switched to an adjustable height desk.
    Granted it was a bit more expensive, but I think well worth the money. Now I just push a button and I can go from standing to sitting (though I only take short sitting breaks– I love standing.)
    It also has an adjustable keyboard tray, monitor arms, and plus, it just looks good.
    If you are interested in stepping it up, you should check out http://www.nextdesks.com. I’m really happy with mine and I tell everyone about it! (clearly.)
    Thanks for the post. Let me know what you think!
    K

    • David Wang says

      Hi Kathleen, my standing desk experiment has been going great and I use it full time now. See my latest, upgraded hack:
      http://blogjunkie.net/2012/08/custom-diy-standing-desk-with-ergotron-arm

      After a few months on this, I realize I prefer this than adjustable height desks. Granted I’ve never tried one though. The reason is because I can sit on my stool and continue working in seconds. Whereas pushing a button and waiting for the desk to lower itself would take longer and breaks my flow when working.

      Appreciate you giving a shout out to Nextdesks, though you should really disclose that they are a client of yours http://www.spindle360.com

  • Angelo says

    Hi David,
    This may seem like a stupid question but what side of the PRÖJS desk pad from Ikea do you use?
    I just recently bought one myself and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out whether you use the rougher, bumpy side on the top or the flat surface on the top

    Thanks in advance! And great desk set up!

    • Textured side up – helps increase friction

Trackbacks

  • Trackback from DIY IKEA Standing Desk | Shelterness

    [...] This standing desk is made of IKEA’s GALANT desk with A-legs propped up on 4 up-turned KROKEN cutlery caddies. The LACK wall shelf sits atop of the desk to prop up the monitor to eye level. The GALANT cable management tray is used to store cables. For more details check out Blogjunkie. [...]

  • Trackback from Making a Standing Desk with $64 from IKEA Parts | The Hackette

    [...] that my desk already had adjustable legs, and so I really only needed $4 to steal this idea from David Wang’s post at blogjunkie.net. I used this idea because it came the closest to what I already had. However, there are many others [...]