Introduction: Fancy Ikea Treadmill Desk

When I first started working at Instructables I was impressed by the fact that both ewilhelm and canida both use treadmill desks exclusively. Scoochmaroo does, too, but she totally copied me.

Their desks are totally functional, but they're not fancy. So when I started to build my desk I decided I would make mine FANCY.

A few quick trips to Ikea, a sports store, and a Lowe's Depot gave me the foundation I needed to make a fully integrated treadmill desk.

I've had this desk since March of 2010 and after the initial adjustment period, during which walking was torture and standing was something I did for emergencies, I can now say that it's solely responsible for all the happiness I've ever had. Seriously, I'm never tired anymore. I can walk around the mall, the World Maker Faire, go to the gym, and I'm NEVER tired.

My energy level is somewhere between normal, natural human and freakish mitochondrial mutation. It's totally awesome.

So if you can stand the 1-3 week adjustment period you can reverse the years of damage from sitting 8 hours a day year after year after year. The trick is to fully commit. I work remotely and I put my imac on the treadmill desk. Now, if I'm working I'm walking.

Step 1: The Parts of a Fancy Walking Desk

To make a truly fancy desk, one has to have fancy parts.

First I went to Ikea and got me one'o'them Frederik desks. I think it was like $150

Then I went to Modell's Authority and looked at the back of all the treadmill control panels. What you're looking for is one that can be easily separated from the backing. In the end I chose a ProForm 480 E. The control panel itself was just screwed on to the backing, so I figured I could take it apart easily enough. It cost $500.

Next I went to an office supply store I don't have a pun for and got a keyboard shelf. I just wanted the slidey-desk attachy parts. I'm sure they have specific names and I'm also sure I don't care what those names are.

Finally I stopped by a home warehouse store and got a piece of MDF cut so I could mount the control panel.

As an aside, a lot of the time when you're reading these instructables the authors make it seem like all these steps were carefully planned and executed in just the right order. The truth is not that simple. Maybe some of the authors are that organized but most do something like what I did:

I spent over two hours wandering Ikea cursing their stupid inefficient layout while annoying their staff with non-standard questions. Prior to doing any of this I had already spent another two hours crawling around the floor of the sports store taking pictures of the underside of treadmills like some bizarre upskirt treadmill fetishist.

Then I spent WAAAY too much money on a keyboard shelf because god dammit I was finishing this thing today come hell or high water.

But when you make the instructable it makes you seem like you're so much more together if you say "first I did this perfectly, then I went on to do the exactly logical next step with no time or thought in between because I am awesome like that."

I'm done with the aside, let's move on.

Now all you have to do is put these parts together exactly the right way and you will also have a perfect treadmill desk because I'm awesome like that. I definitely did not injure myself or curse a lot doing the next steps.

Step 2: Remove the Control Panel From the Treadmill

I used the ProForm 480 E. If you're following along and you have one of those, great, my instructions can be followed exactly. Otherwise you're on your own. Best of luck.

This is the only complex part and it's pretty easy. We're just going to take the control panel off the backing. The only extra part we need to be careful of is the safety key. It's a magnetic switch with a metal plate over it. The "safety key" is a magnet that sticks to the metal plate and activates the magnetic switch. I just scotch taped the magnet to the switch because I didn't feel like pulling out my multimeter and finding out which wires I would need to solder to make the thing stay on permanently.

I removed the entire treadmill from the box it came in. The control panel, pictured below, was attached to some outer plastic. You just have to unscrew the electronics and actual control panel from the backing. There wasn't really anything tricky to it aside from the emergency stop button thing.

Once you get the plastic backing off the actual electronics are very simple. We just need the safety key intact so we can tape or glue the magnetic key to it later. The wires leading to the pulse rate meter are unimportant because we won't be keeping them and the treadmill will run without them. I just shoved mine under the control panel when I mounted it to the MDF.

Check the image notes for details.

Next we mount the control panel to the MDF. Easy peasy.

Step 3: Mount the Control Panel to the MDF

This step will depend on what type of keyboard shelf you get. Mine wouldn't fit the removed control panel, so I needed to mount it to a piece of MDF, which I then attached to the shelf sliders.

I didn't take pictures of this part because I hurt my thumb at some point and the pictures would have been of FURY AND ANGER.

So read carefully.

The picture below shows the state of the control panel when it's removed from the backing. The screws holding it to the original backing are useless, so go back in time to the first step and add some long screws of the same width. The screws I used were perfect because the MDF is 1/2", so I just added 1/2" to the length of the screws I took out.

The screw holes in the control panel need to be lined up perfectly with the MDF holes we'll drill out. So. Go get some lipstick or paint and dab it on the tip of the holes. Then press the holes onto the MDF and PRESTO BONGO you have the marks you need for drilling into the MDF.

Then just mount the MDF to the sliding keyboard mounts. Next we'll build the desk.

Step 4: Put All the Fancy Bits Together

So by now you should have a control panel on a sliding shelf. Great! Next we put the desk together.

The reason I chose the Frederik was that you can adjust the height of the shelves. It makes a great, cheap standing desk for this reason. I put the big desk platform at a height that matched my comfortable arm height + the height of the treadmill. So basically you find the place it would be perfect standing height and then put the platform up one higher than that.

Then put one of the littler shelves above that and it becomes a nice monitor stand. You can take the other small shelf and stick it *under* the big shelf to hold your desktop and any peripherals you just can't live without. Since I use an imac I didn't need to worry about that extra little shelf.

Other than adjusting the height, just follow the Frederik directions from Ikea.

Once the desk is assembled, mount the control panel to the center of the large desk so that you can slide the control panel in and out to start and stop the treadmill.

The bottom part of the treadmill, the actual treadmill, has a big wire sticking out that attaches to the control panel wire. It needs to be unthreaded from the base so that we have enough length to reach the control panel. Once you have enough length just attach it to the control panel.

...and you're done. It's really easy and looks almost as good as one of the versions that cost $5000.


Comments

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PaulinLabelle made it!(author)2015-11-06

now that's really clever! I could use some jogging at my office..

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BartholomewH made it!(author)2015-06-12

Fancy indeed! Thank you for the lovely ikea furniture assembly trick. I am not really sure if I could work with this or at least I'll need some time to get used to it but as a flat pack assembly project this is absolutely dope!

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Emily718 made it!(author)2015-01-07

Hi - I am wondering whether you know of anyone who has used this configuration with a manual (non electric) treadmill. Some older buildings have restrictions on electricity usage that might prohibit bringing an electric treadmill to work. Would you foresee any problems in using a manual, such as the Stamina InMotion II Manual Treadmill (available at Amazon)?

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Emily718 made it!(author)2014-03-04

Thanks so much for this instructable. I am a lawyer who practices in New York City, and like a lot of people I work long hours at a keyboard. I had been wanting a treadmill desk, but the ones I looked at weren't right for me (desk part too high). This is perfect because it is completely adjustable. I have plugged an extra monitor and keyboard into my CPU, so I can switch between my regular desk and the treadmill desk. I am hoping to work at least 1/2 of my hours at the treadmill desk and to work up to 2/3 or 3/4 of my time on the treadmill.

Because the IKEA Fredrik desk is no longer in production, I bought it from Craigslist. I ordered the treadmill from Amazon, using the same Merritt model as the person who commented below. Anyway, thanks again, I love it and am getting so many compliments!

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dworley made it!(author)2014-03-05

This is really cool! Yours looks pretty fantastic.

I'm going to have to look into an alternative to the Ikea Frederik workstation now that it's not being sold anymore.

Listen, here's my advice about your feet. They're going to hurt for weeks. They have to physically change to adapt to the new stress put on them, meaning that the foot pads will actually thicken to handle walking that much.

Use your sitting desk only as an absolute last resort. It's better to not work at all than it is to sit, forget that you're sitting, and end up staying there out of habit.

Good luck!

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TimPayne made it!(author)2013-06-11

Thanks so much for this Instructable. I did a similar configuration based upon your setup. The only difference is that I used a different treadmill. Thanks again!

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ohsosandy made it!(author)2012-12-06

just to let you know I was having trouble posting to this project which is why Ive posted a couple recently. see here: https://www.instructables.com/community/catcha-required-to-reply-to-comments-and-wont-ta/

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ohsosandy made it!(author)2012-12-06

I've commented on this before and am still a huge fan. Just bought a Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill to try this with... not sure Im using the Frederik

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MikeReese made it!(author)2012-07-09

Nice! I'm copying your setup! (I hope you don't mind!) Although I'm missing that shelf that you have the control panel on. I feel like the keyboard might be better on that shelf though. (At least with my own testing, it seems that the keyboard height should be lower than the mouse, seems more natural and relaxed to me.) In any case, I'm documenting my treadmill desk adventure also if you're interested! I'm keeping track of various health metrics as I use it, kind of like diary. I'm hoping to see an improvement in this metrics as I begin and continue to use it. Have you noticed any improvement? I imagine there has to be some, but I'm trying to figure out how much...

http://www.brainlings.com/treadmill-desk-diary/

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jazzenjohn made it!(author)2012-04-10

This is probably the neatest treadmill desk solution, and the easiest too! If anyone is contemplating one of these, you might want to run over to IKEA soon. I just got back and the tall Fredrik desk is discontinued. I scored the very last one from the as-is department for $59! I'm on the hunt for a treadmill now...

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reznor99 made it!(author)2011-09-07

Just finished mine too. Same setup but I used a Horizon RST 5.6 treadmill. Got it cheap from my grandma! Well she wasn't using it! Even easier to take apart than the other models mentioned here. Just undid the 4 screws holding the control panel in and it pops right off the front without any trouble. The pulse meter wires just unplug too, so no need to cut anything. If need be, you could put the whole thing back together again like it was brand new.

Only issues I experienced was I had to raise the main desk shelf up about one notch from what was pictured here to insure proper posture, and I had to buy an extremely deep keyboard rail set with plenty of clearance otherwise the control panel would not slide in/out.

Been at it for 3 days now, about 6+ miles a day at 1mph. What do you recommend for shoes? I am wearing some workplace-type crocs (http://www.crocs.com/crocs-amaretto/10446,default,pd.html?cid=060&cgid=look-book-work-rx) that I thought would be comfortable, but my feet are killing me! Maybe I will get used to it?

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cmtuggl made it!(author)2011-08-07

Just finished mine based on your instructions :) Thanks.

My components:
-Fredrick Desk from Ikea - $149.99 (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60111123)
-Summera keyboard shelf from Ikea - $9.99 (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50086690)
-Proform ZT5 from Dicks Sporting Goods - On sale for $449 (http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3770322)

The only hangup I had was with the size of the treadmill control panel. That was quickly remedied by cutting it down to size using a dremel.

The one question I'm now asking myself is - what do I do with all the unused parts from the treadmill???

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astone3 made it!(author)2011-04-28

I was very inspired by your lovelly desk, so I got a Fredrik from IKEA and a Merit Fitness 715T Plus Treadmill, which is $350 delivered via Amazon. It was very easy to take the control panel off, and it works just fine. One of the reasons I got the Merit is that it is light, so I can move it myself, and it folds up.

So far I am getting myself used to the system by watching some netflix downloads - next week I will try working! I am using it at home now, but if I stick with it and can get my work done I will move it to my office at the university.

Thank you so much for the idea! I had looked at the pricey manufactured ones, and the not so pretty do it yourself ones, but didnt really get moving until I read about yours.

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eszter made it!(author)2011-08-05

astone, I have a Merit 715 Plus, as well...how do I remove the parts I want out of the way, to be able to set up my desk? without damaging anything (you said it was easy, but I need a bit of a reassurance) Is the desk enough to give stability in case you need to hold onto something? do you see any safety issues?
I am excited to try this idea of the work desk--any tips appreciated thank you

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dworley made it!(author)2011-04-28

Wow that's really cool! You're the first person I know of that's built one based on this Instructable.

Also, you found a cheaper, but just as nice, treadmill, which is awesome. That brings the total cost of the project down by about $150 because the Proform is $500!

Easing yourself into walking on it is a great way to begin. I did not do that and suffered through 3 weeks of pain.

If you move it to your office you'll have no end of questions and compliments about it. Everyone I show mine to is duly and rightfully impressed. You should be really proud, this is a very cool thing to have done!

You should definitely post pictures of yours. Please!

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ohsosandy made it!(author)2010-10-29

I have an ugly 'elliptical desk' and a very small elliptical machine that doesn't have any arms or anything... just a few batteries for it's small display. so NO ELECTRONICS NECCESSARY!

I love the idea of the Frederick desk too!

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astone3 made it!(author)2011-05-01

I like the idea of an elliptical - can you put up a picture of that? doesnt an elliptical make you bob up and down? seems like it would be harder to work on an elliptical than a treadmill (put up a video!)

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snelpiller made it!(author)2010-10-29

running while drawing on a tablet =P im sure that will produce some very "interesting" art

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dworley made it!(author)2010-10-30

Well, I don't really run. I go between 1.3-1.5mph, which is a normal walking pace. I also don't draw with the tablet, it's just a nice, ergonomic replacement for a mouse. During the initial adjustment period I found it difficult to concentrate while walking. Now I find it difficult to concentrate without it.

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aaronscottaugustinhotmail.com made it!(author)2010-11-01

ummm normal walking pace is about 3mph or around 5km/h

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Gypsy1274 made it!(author)2011-03-07

Maybe for you. My normal walking pace is about 2mph. I will probably walk a bit slower while working once I get my desk built.

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Stormtiger made it!(author)2010-10-29

Yes it would =) !

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M+P+L made it!(author)2010-11-18

Not!

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www.microbike.ie made it!(author)2011-02-19

I have never understood success of this machine would it not be better to just go for a walk instead walking indoors???Indoor air is 100x more polluted than outdoor...

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Gypsy1274 made it!(author)2011-03-07

The point is that as long as you are stuck inside breathing polluted air because you have to get work done, you might as well get some exercise at the same time. To solve the problem of polluted indoor air, open a window.

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jeff_cloud made it!(author)2011-03-05

Dave, how are you liking the Proform 480E? Would you still recommend it?

Thanks,
jeff

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dworley made it!(author)2011-03-05

Yeah, I mean, it's relatively cheap in comparison to other treadmills. It has a good motor in there.

The big selling point of that particular model, though, is how easy it is to pull it apart and stick it in a desk. It's really just a few keys and then you're walking.

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kevinpatrick made it!(author)2010-12-30

"like some bizarre upskirt treadmill fetishist." HAHAHA this one made me laugh out loud.

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Dale_Susan_Edmonds made it!(author)2010-11-01

How cool is this? With holidays coming up, what a great idea for a gift for aging parents! Could put a small television monitor on the shelf, a viewer for receiving email and pictures from grandchildren or even invite them to walk while talking to friends! What a great contribution to strength-building and senior health! Will help prevent falls and build brain fitness all in one...

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caitlinsdad made it!(author)2010-10-29

Hmmm, this does not help if you have a wee bit of anger issues. Good thing this was not hacking a weapon or something. Step 1. Disable all the safety mechanisms.BTW, most excellent way to suck up to the boss by actually doing one of their instructables.

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jdiddley made it!(author)2010-10-29

Cool

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canida made it!(author)2010-10-29

Everything looks fancy except that taped-on safety key! You've really got to pull out the multi-meter.

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angelabchua made it!(author)2010-10-29

:::golf clap:::: well played sir. well played. If i can finagle space in my dungeon, im so making a desk like this!!!!

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