Introduction: Double Desker

Picture of Double Desker

As space in offices decreases and work hours get longer and longer there is an urgent need for new and creative uses of space. Some offices are adopting open floor plans and allowing employees to work where ever they like. Others are simply decreasing desk sizes. At Instructables HQ we decided to experiment with expanding vertically.

The Double Desker stacks a standing desk on top of a standard sitting desk reducing the necessary space for two employees by 50%. As an added bonus Double Desker also incorporates a new type of work position, the lying down desk.

The desk is made from welded steel tube and walnut plywood and weighs approximately a kajillion pounds.

Step 1: Design

Picture of Design

The Double Desker is designed to maximize efficiency of space without creating uncomfortable working conditions for the users. The standing desk extends over top of the normal height desk but not so much that it throws shade on the bottom bunk dweller. The space below the platform could be used for storage, but we have our priorities straight so it is used as a nap spot.

Before starting fabrication I built a small scale wooden model and a 3D CAD model in Inventor to work out dimensions and generate a cut list.

Step 2: Cut

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Using the measurements generated by inventor cut the 1.25 inch square steel tube to length with a cold saw and label them with a sharpie.

Step 3: Weld

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Don your welding mask and prepare for an epic journey into TIG land. The welding of the frame pieces took days.

The best advice I can offer in this step is to reference the drawing often and make sure your joints are coming together at the correct angle. Keeping everything square over the entire length and width of the desk is a challenge.

Step 4: End Caps

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Disassembly is key in a metal object of this scale, so the Double Desker is designed to be assembled with bolts. T nuts are welded to the inside of the end caps before welding them onto the ends of the cross pieces.

Step 5: Grind

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I hope you really like loud noises, because this is going to take a while. It's time to make friends with your angle grinder. Grinding the welds took almost as long as the welding it's self.

Step 6: Angles

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1/2 inch angle iron keeps the wood surfaces in place for the desk tops, shelves, standing platform and bed inclosure. When the bottom of the angle is flush with the bottom of the tube the top of 3/4 inch plywood lies flush with the top of the tube.

It is a good idea to assemble the frame before welding on the angles, because not all of the cross pieces need angles on the same sides. Clamp the angle pieces in place with vice grips and weld it on with short beads spaced about 8 inches apart down the length of the tube. Angles should be welded around the perimeter of any area where a plywood surface will lie.

Grind the welds down to a radius less than a quarter inch. If welds protrude too far the plywood won't fit correctly and the surfaces will be uneven.

Step 7: Wood Panels

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Both desk surfaces, as well as the standing platform, bed inclosure and shelves are clad in walnut plywood. The panels rest on the angles welded on in the last step. Each panel is cut on the table saw and the bottom edges are rounded over with a router. The bottom of the standing platform is reinforced with a 'Z' of plywood not unlike a classic barn door.

Step 8: Assemble Frame

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The frame is assembled using 1/4 20 bolts through holes in the sides and into the weld nuts in the cross pieces. The red dots in the image above represent the locations for the bolts that tie the frame together.

Step 9: Assemble Wood

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The best method I found for keeping the wood panels in place was to use metal offset clips. These clips screw directly into the wood and the 1/8 inch offset fits over the angle iron perfectly. Each of the open steel tube ends is also plugged with a piece of walnut plywood.

Step 10: The Napparatus

Picture of The Napparatus

One of the key features of the Double Desker is a comfortable place to rest. In a modern work environment the classic 9:00 to 5:00 job is less and less common and people are working longer and longer hours and sleeping at work is becoming more common.

The Napparatus shouldn't be thought of just as a place to sleep though. It can also function as an alternative work space.

Step 11: Get to Work!

Picture of Get to Work!


Harriett Elizabeth (author)2015-12-09

Brilliant, will use methodolgy to build play house in garden. Thank you for a very inspiring instructable????

Sure, that would be a great play house!

Mindmapper1 (author)2015-03-15

awesome! love it such a great use of space

CobyUnger (author)Mindmapper12015-08-26


jatravia (author)2015-03-15

Great idea. In the model railroad world there is layout concept that is called a mushroom layout. You have two decks of trains; one above the other set up just like this desk. That said, I think this is a great idea for a mushroom desk.

Joe <><

CobyUnger (author)jatravia2015-08-26

I realize only now what this design is missing. TRAINS!

Poppy Ann (author)2015-03-15

this would be a great idea for a workshop keeping the electrical/electronic work on the top and the wood/metal work below to cut down on dust getting into the electronics. double the working area and only increasing the base by 30% for those of us that like to do everything ourselves.

Regards Poppy Ann.

CobyUnger (author)Poppy Ann2015-08-26

Glad you like it.

PJSolarz (author)2015-03-15

Why not build some storage drawers or shelves underneath the floor of the upper desk?

CobyUnger (author)PJSolarz2015-08-26

There is storage there. Storage for sleeping humans.

pbruns (author)2015-03-16

While I certainly like this project overall, I really want to just mention that "Napparatus" is now my favorite sleep-related word ever.

CobyUnger (author)pbruns2015-08-26

Glad you like the word. I can't really take credit though. It was named by my friend Robb.

StoryAddict (author)2015-04-11

"The double decker desk! So everyone can work together and be buddies!"
~ Emmett Brickowski at his new office job at Master Builders.

CobyUnger (author)StoryAddict2015-08-26


fixfireleo (author)2015-03-15

so, if she removes a panel, she has a great crotch shot view and all he has to do is lean over to look down her blouse.

Eletruk (author)fixfireleo2015-03-15

I would also hate to be the person sitting in the lower desk, fearful of things like pens, staplers, xacto knives falling from above.

fixfireleo (author)Eletruk2015-03-17

also, would fart smells rise or fall? LOL

lfoss (author)fixfireleo2015-03-15

So glad I wasn't the only one thinking this..

lindarose92 (author)2015-03-17

SO cool!

clazman (author)2015-03-15

Wow, another nice project!

Don't mind me 'cause I like to analyze a system from a material stress point of view.

Just from a visual point of view one can determine that that some components are over designed and others are under designed. In trusses there are members in compression and others in tension. There can even be members with no loading. Members in tension do not have to be concerned with buckling. Those in compression need to be analyzed from a buckling standpoint. Using 1-1/4 tubing throughout is needless. For example, a 1/8 X 1 cross section for many of the truss members would suffice. Although one must be aware of the hard points, places where the truss members join. The flat stock could be oriented so that weld grinding would not be necessary.

One problem, I just realized, is that my proposal could reduce the torsional resistance of the trusses. Enclosed members, tubes both round and square, offer excellent torsional qualities.

I also saw where trusses needed to be used from a loading point of view.

Many welds do not need to be 100%. A good example is where skip welding was utilized.

If weld beads are "good", nice looking, and not need to be flush, they can be an attribute from an aesthetic point of view and need not be ground.

Nice job though. Trusses can be quite pleasing to the eye. ; )

I'm sorry for the critique. Hindsight is always 20-20. ; )

From an aesthetic point of view, this project is beautiful!

Don't you just hate people like me?

CobyUnger (author)clazman2015-03-16

Thanks for the engineering critique. I decided to go ahead and overbuild the trusses partly to ensure strength and partly because trusses are fun and look great in semi-industrial environments. It was good TIG practice and I have some things in mind that I would like to change for next time if a similar project comes along.

broregret (author)2015-03-15

Well done. And well over designed. Does Inventor allow for FEA? I'd be curious to see the max load calculation and a deformation diagram.

CobyUnger (author)broregret2015-03-16

I don't have experience with the FEA functions in Inventor. The trusses are way stronger than they need to be, but we wanted an industrial modern aesthetic.

dragonrising (author)2015-03-15

Being lazy me, I would find a way to incorporate a chair into the top level, either a tall one like a bar stool, or one that did not touch the ground, but was atattched to the metal frame.

CobyUnger (author)dragonrising2015-03-16

I like the idea of a hanging bench. Maybe even a swing.

Kathmandu (author)2015-03-15

Great idea but due to OSHA regulations, the people in the office would be required to wear hard hats due to overhead work being performed.

CobyUnger (author)Kathmandu2015-03-16

Shhhhh. Don't tell OSHA

PJSolarz (author)2015-03-15

Why not build some storage drawers or shelves underneath the floor of the upper desk?

CobyUnger (author)PJSolarz2015-03-16

We considered it, but nap space was more of a priority than storage.

anna.sargent.37 (author)2015-03-15

Awesome idea and a good thing that the back of her station is paneled off. I am sure, she wouldn't want to look at the guy's nether regions all day long ;)

Thanks. The panels have a double function of blocking direct view and also providing pin up space for notes and ideas.

bizzycrafter (author)2015-03-13

This looks great! I would like to see some sort of lip on the upper desk to ensure that what appear to be terra-cotta plant pots or maybe hot coffee stay on the level to which they were assigned! Also, since it would be dangerous for the upper person to take a chair up there, maybe a bench built on half the platform would give him a place to sit. This would be fantastic in a shared study area!

CobyUnger (author)bizzycrafter2015-03-16

Great points. I think a lip on the top is totally necesary for the next round.

Buckshott00 (author)2015-03-15

This looks like a job for 80/20 aluminum pieces!

phillipnolan (author)2015-03-15

any chance you could post the overall dimensions of this behemoth? or point out where they are found if I overlooked them. also, I assume the phrase "dawn your welding mask" is a pun on the days it took you to weld it up. . .otherwise the correct word is "don."

bensnowclark (author)2015-03-15

So the basic frame is 3.963 inches wider (ignoring the central "backbone" tube which would be part of both desks), so beyond a single chair this isn't really that space saving, indeed once seated you're probably only saving 12-18 inches of space, for that much steel and time invested unless you're desperate for space this seems a waste.

ajc3579 (author)2015-03-15

how is it saving space if the space underneath is not utilized? it is the same footprint as if he was 2 ft lower. Almost looks like a bunk bed with a desk incorperated.

moon161 (author)2015-03-15

The truss sections could be replaced with steel angle or channel at a huge savings in weld time. A C4X5.4 section is pretty typical for industrial platforms. You could also use a 2"x3" angle as well.

A great reference on this topic is Omer Blodgett's 'Design of Weldments'

Kiteman (author)2015-03-13

A new way to store interns overnight!

CobyUnger (author)Kiteman2015-03-13

Just wait for summer Kiteman.

Kiteman (author)CobyUnger2015-03-13


CobyUnger (author)Kiteman2015-03-13

That's when the interns come.

Feel free to use it any time.

egray9 (author)2015-03-13

Very awesome and creative! Imagine an entire office set up with these desks. People would be fighting over who gets the napping side!

CobyUnger (author)egray92015-03-13

Lots of arm wrestling and coin flipping for top bunk. Just like being a kid again.

mrandle (author)CobyUnger2015-03-13

It would be really cool to stack the napparatusses(naperati? napperatisies?). Maybe heavy duty drawer sliders to slide in and out to get in and out easier.

Robb (author)2015-03-13

I love the Napparatus pun! How clever!

CobyUnger (author)Robb2015-03-13

(Puns courtesy or Robb Godshaw)

gada888 (author)2015-03-12

It's very cool

About This Instructable




Bio: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.
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