Folding Stand Up Desk (yet Another)





Introduction: Folding Stand Up Desk (yet Another)

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

I decided to test using a stand up desk, and found I like it. So, I decided to make one from some 12 inch wide scrap particle board shelving. 

About 40 years ago I read that William Proxmire, US Senator from Wisconsin, had a desk built for him that allowed him to stand while working. After commenting about Proxmire and his desk on another Instructable related to weight loss, someone suggested I do an Instructable on building a stand up desk. There are already several published Instructables related to stand up desks, and they will certainly be displayed in the Related Instructables at the far right of this Instructable's pages.

Here is an article on why sitting at a desk hours at a time is not healthful and why a stand up desk is better. 

Step 1: Tools and Materials

My goal was to use up some scrap chip board shelving. It is nominally 12 inches wide and I have 5 feet 4 inches of it. I also used four door hinges I found at our local Restore, an outlet for donated building supplies, the proceeds of which fund homes built by Habitat for Humanity. Naturally, I used some 3/4 x #10 bevel head metal screws to fasten the hinges to the chip board pieces. 

For tools I used sawhorses, a 7 1/4 inch circular saw, a measure, a square, a straight edge, "C" clamps, a drill, a screwdriver, and a pencil. I also made use of something I built in another Instructable to assist in cutting stock with a circular saw. (I did modify it and will mention the additions to it when that part of this Instructable comes.)

Pictured is the shelving on my sawhorses. Note the text boxes for layout instructions. Make a pencil line. This line provides a gentle slope to the top of the desk that makes reading and writing on the desk more natural. By making this angle cut about a dozen inches inward from the end of the shelf, I can cut once and the same angle will be on both upright pieces. 

Step 2: Cut With the Saw

I decided to do this project with only a circular saw because that is the tool many will have available who may not have a table saw or a sliding miter saw available.  I know the distance from the left side of the blade to the edge of the shoe is 5 1/16 inches. I set the straight edge off to the side that distance and clamped it down. Then I checked my measurement again and adjusted as needed before cutting.

Step 3: Align the Sloped Edge and Clamp

Align the sloped edges so they are flush with one another. This is in preparation for cutting the shelving square to define the bottom edge of the vertical supports.

Step 4: Turn Over and Mark for Cutting

Turn the clamped assembly over and mark a squared line across the width of the shelving. This mark should be placed so a tiny amount will be removed from the piece already cut. With one cut, the bottom of both vertical supports will be exactly the same. There will be no misalignments because the cuts were made simultaneously. 

Step 5: Length of the Desktop

I want the vertical supports to fold flat for storage when the stand up desk is not in use. I placed the vertical supports on the shelving so their ends almost touch. I allowed about an inch of overhang on the top at each end because the vertical supports will fold upward on their hinges. The framing square marks where I plan to make the cut. The vertical supports appear to be cocked because the sloped edges need to be parallel to the ends of the desktop when they are attached to the desktop with the hinges. 

Step 6: Cut the Top to Length

This is a special cut off guide I made for use with my circular saw. Since the time it was an Instructable, I have made a couple of modifications. I originally used a welded construction, but that caused heat distortion. I ground out the welds and worked with a file to straighten what still had some distortions. Then I fastened the pieces by drilling, tapping, and using screws. I also added a piece of wood across the top. The first cut with the saw showed where the blade would cut forever afterward and makes aligning it with the saw cut easy.

Step 7: Layout the Hinges

Place the hinges at the corners on the bottom side of the desktop. I forgot that I planned to allow a one inch overhang from the last step. The hinges as shown here are set in from the ends of the desktop too much. When I finished the stand up desk, the ends of the vertical supports did not clear each other. I later had to move the hinges out a bit on each side. Drill holes that do not quite go through to the other side and insert the screws. 

Step 8: Attach the Vertical Supports

I want the vertical supports to be canted (angled) outward for stability. To achieve that easily, I allowed them to rest on a piece of 1/8 inch strap iron as a spacer. Drill and insert screws through the holes in the hinges and into the vertical supports.

The second photo shows the vertical support canted.

Step 9: Almost Finished

This is the stand up desk ready to use. After this photo was taken, I dismantled it and moved the vertical supports outward for less overhang on the top. That allowed the sides to fold flat. But, the amount of cant on the vertical supports worked out well. The desk is very stable and works well. If I wish, I can turn the desk end for end and have a slight negative inclination on the keyboard.

Step 10: Fold for Storage

We plan to move within the next year to a house with less square footage of floor area. I will want to be able to use this stand up desk, but also to make it flat and store it in a closet or behind something. Folding it also makes it easier to carry.



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    Damn! You just did the thing I wanted to publish for ages, even had a prototype, but it was too short because I'm using a good old desktop PC and I need some space between screen and keyboard. My idea is/was a bit different: First I would use a 80 cm deep board as mainboard where you can put mouse, keyboard and screen. Then you take two boards which have the ideal size for your body height (like you did) and now I take another two boards as feet. All are connected by much smaller hinges which jam at 90° so that they can't fold in. But I would make small slots in which I mount the hinges so that they didn't "look out". The last thing one needs to do is to cross-connect the two vertical boards so that they don't fold out if they have some weight on. The advantage is that you can fold the whole device down and still work on it, you don't have any boards lieing around.

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    Go ahead and do it anyway. Something will be your own variation. There are all sorts of similar submissions on the same basic item. Raw stealing of something another did would be one thing, but your own variation is entirely fine.

    Thanks for your comment, I think you are right. Another variation which I even find more attractive is using a gas pressure spring (from old chairs) to lift the board (and maybe a second for the screen). I really like to recycle old stuff and save money at the same time :)

    In the images, I see that your monitor is still on your desk causing you to look down at it. Have you moved it up to eye-level while standing yet?

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    No, I did not. That would be a good idea.

    This is really excellent! I love the simplicity and the foldable sides, well done. :)

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    Thank you for looking. If you would like, I could put a link to your weight loss Instructable in the Introduction where I referred to it somewhat obliquely. Have you noticed that the simple things take the most time to develop? Even though you said you have not done much with wood, I think you could do this.

    That's very kind, but I think your instructable stands on it's own and a link is is a bit dispensable. Thank you, though!

    I'm about to move, but once my things are unpacked I'll be back to building. I've worked with metals before, and I've really wanted to work on a wood project but never quite found the right moment to start. This shall be my first attempt!

    After my wife and I married, I made some of our furniture. My efforts matured in their quality as the years went on, and we are still using it after almost 40 years. My adventures with woodworking began when I was about five years old. We had a ready supply of old wood lath. (It was rough sawn, about 5/16 inch thick, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 30 or so inches long. It held plaster on walls long before anyone had ever heard of drywall.) It was great for making pirate swords for our play duels. Working with lath taught me that I could not pound a large nail through two small pieces of lath and expect them not to split and crack. From there it was simply a series of many small learning steps to cabinetmaking with quality woods. I wish you well. If your first effort turns out poorly, you can always cut it up for raw materials and start over on a new one with new materials.

    I too have read the benefits of standing at the pc rather than sitting all dayBut I don't have access to any tools So iwent to Goodwell and looked around I found a little 2 shelf stand It was $3.00 just needed to tighten the screws and I did that. works great but does not fold down. Nice job ..

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    That is great. In articles like the one I linked in the Introduction, you will read of people using a cardboard box with a couple of books to make the final height adjustment. Anything that works for you is good. Thank you.

    Not so sure I need a stand up desk, but this would make a brillant portable desk. I'm an office worker think I could use a keyboard balancing on my head. That said the new screens with built in privace are a nightmare.

    Need something to be able to write in bed, problem with a limited space.

    Also you could make a desk from your chair which in these days of clever TV or Tv doubling as PC's would be useful as well. Think about it add another bit which goes under the cushion, and shorten the one leg so it sits on the arm. Some bluetack on the keyboard, and somewhere to drop the mouse.

    Thanks for a brillant idea.

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    Thank you. It sounds like you are 3/4 of the way to an Instructable on adapting a chair to be a desk in itself.

    Thanks Phil! I would add some way of keeping the sides from flopping out while carrying it and maybe a handle to carry it. My Dad made me a step stool with a hole in the top to put my hand thru to carry it with. I'm not sure where that would work with this.

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    Magnets or Velchro would keep the hinged verticals from "deploying." I do not anticipate carrying this much, other than to put it into a nearby closet when not in use. Perhaps something simple with straps would make a good handle for carrying. The particle board is heavy and I used nearly five linear feet of it. I did have a thought that the desktop could be shortened if: a) the user did not mind that one of the vertical supports does not fold all of the way to be flat, or b) if a spacer were placed under the hinges on one side to raise that hinge the thickness of the other vertical folded. Then the vertical with the spacer would fold flat to make a shorter package three layers thick. This vertical would also need to be shortened the thickness of the spacer with the hinge fitted to it. A shorter desktop would mean less weight.

    GREAT, Phil!

    I love folding thigs, and more if they are useful!

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    Thank you, Osvaldo. I think I am noticing some real benefits from standing more and sitting less.

    Nice! I like this. I've been thinking about building a stand like this. I think I've found a winner.

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    Thanks, Randy. The very sturdy hinges I got at the Habitat "Restore" were only 75 cents each for a cash layout of $3 plus tax plus the screws I used. If you have not already, check the article linked in the Introduction. Some important physiological functions are greatly diminished when we sit all of the time. Please post a photo of yours when you are ready. I would very much like to see it.

    I got this box of 3 dozen hinges for $2 at a garage sale:

    in the back of the picture. They're sturdy. Tax what's that?

    I think some important relaxing functions are enhanced when we sit down. In fact I'm relaxing here right now:

    I made it out of some scrap wood I found on the side of the road. I think it was a bed headboard?

    I get enough standing up in over here:

    Although I'm known to setup a folding chair by that bench too depending on what I'm up to. If you look really closely you can see the folding chair in question in this image:

    You just might have to sit down in order to see it though :) Hint: It is behind the yellow extension cord.

    If I can do it sitting down I do. For me sitting is more ergonomic promoting focus and steadiness. Now there's a lot to be said for lying down too but I'll leave that topic for another day ...