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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.