Introduction: A Desk for a Treadmill -- Walk While You Work

One of my friends asked for some help in building a "Walking Desk" for his office...

A walking desk, is basically a standing desk, that is built to fit over a treadmill, so that you can work while you walk. So you could think of it as just an extra tall desk.

What made this project work was the treadmill that my friend found. He found information on a forum that directed him to this treadmill on Amazon. (LINK HERE) This is a pretty basic treadmill, but the big advantage is that the control box can be easily removed from the upright arms. So you can assemble the treadmill without the arms.

All we have is the basic treadmill at floor level, and the control box is attached to it just via a wire.

(PLEASE NOTE: I repeat, this is a pretty basic treadmill. You can NOT use it all day. My friend reports that it is really only suitable for short walking sessions of 15-30 minutes. But that can still add some healthy movement to your working day.)

In terms of measurements the length of the treadmill doesn't really matter. The width and the height are the important ones. This treadmill was about 20" wide, and about 4" tall.

My friend wanted a fairly compact design, his goal was something about 18" deep and 24" wide. I needed to make it a bit wider, to accommodate the width of the treadmill. In terms of height, we found some online guides that stated that a stand-up desk should be roughly elbow height, so if you stand with your arms bent, they should rest easily on the desk. We started with this measurement, based on my friend's height, and added 4 inches to that, to allow for the height of the treadmill, and ended up with a table height of 49".


At the bottom of this page is a second video in which I walk through the entire process of designing this desk in Sketchup.

Step 1: Option: Video Build

If you would prefer, you can watch a video of this project build. Otherwise, read on!

Step 2: Legs

I had some fairly thick ash lumber in my stash that I decided to use for the legs

I jointed the ash and then glued them up to make thick leg blanks. I jointed and planed the resulting leg blanks.

I then ripped them down into 2"x2" blanks and cut them down to length, clamping them together to make sure that they all were exactly the same length.

Step 3: Legs Continued...

There were a few knots in the legs that I wanted to fill with epoxy. This is going to be a stained project, so I also added a few drops of stain to the epoxy to try and give it a bit of a more darker look.

I decided to taper the bottom 12" of the legs on the two inside faces. In terms of furniture styles I generally prefer Shaker and Mission types of furniture, and tapered legs is from the shaker style.


A lot of people use a tapering jigs for this sort of cut. I don't have such a jig, so I just freehand these cuts through my bandsaw. I then sanded the tapers flat.

I put the smallest roundover bit in my router table and I rounded over all the edges of the desk legs. This gives it a much gentler feel, and it makes it easier to apply finish -- sharp edges are very hard to finish.

Step 4: Oak Plywood Top

I cut up some 3/4" oak veneer plywood to make up the top of the bench. I also ripped some strips of the ash down to make 1/4" thick edge banding for the plywood. I glued and pinned them in place around the top.

SIDE NOTE on Ash vs Oak: Ash and Red Oak have a very similar grain pattern. Ash is usually paler than oak, but you can stain it to look almost identical. Years ago another woodworker told me that Ash used to be known as "poor man's oak", as it was cheaper than oak, but you could make it look much the same so it was used a lot.

Step 5: Joinery

I assembled this project using dowel joinery. I use a dowelmax jig, which I've had for years and really like, but other dowel jigs would work as well. I used three 1-1/2" long by 1/4" diameter dowels at each joint.

I then glued together the leg assemblies

(You could use Biscuits, Mortise and Tenon, or even pocket hole joinery.

All of them work, and all of them are strong enough for this.)

Step 6: Finishing

I normally prefer a clear coat, but in this case we needed to try and match some bookcases that were already in the office. So I selected the closest matching stain that I could find and stained all the pieces.

After the stain was dry and cured I gave it a very light sanding with 220 to knock down the grain and then applied four coats of wipe-on polyurethane.

I finished the top separately from the bottom, to make my job easier. When the finish was dry I attached the top to the base using pocket holes.

Step 7: Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of the finished desk installed in my friends office with the treadmill in place. If you watch the video above you can see him walking on it.

Step 8: Bonus Sketchup Video

If you are interested in learning more about Sketchup you might find this interesting.

I recorded a video of the entire process of designing this desk in Sketchup, starting with a blank screen and ending with the desk design that I would build.

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Bio: I build, I write, I film... Mostly a woodworker.
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