Introduction: Stand-up Desk

Picture of Stand-up Desk

Raise your desk so you can stand while working. I did this for my home music studio because I stand while playing keyboards and guitars, and found I really liked it for all types of computer work.

Check out my other various ergonomic Instructables:
Ergonomic Work Station, Standing Desk, How to make a vertical, ergonomic (tie-fighter) keyboard, and Create an Ergonomic Standing Desk and Office on the Go.

Step 1: Measure and Test the Height

Picture of Measure and Test the Height

I wanted the desk high enough so I could comfortably write on it and position my computer keyboard at an ergonomic level, but not too high that I couldn't sit my laptop on top of a monitor and use both.

I tested the setup with milkcrates for a few weeks before refining and committing to a final height.

Step 2: Modify Existing Legs

Picture of Modify Existing Legs

I drilled holes in the existing legs, and bolted on 2x4s with rubber feet.

Step 3: Reinforce

Picture of Reinforce

The extra tall legs were pretty wobbly, so I strengthened them with some steel cross-bracing. The steel is 1/8 x 3/4.

Bend approximately 2 inches at each end of the steel to 135 degrees and drill two holes. Screw the steel to the desk and the legs forming a triangle with each leg. Triangles are much stronger than rectangles because to change the shape of a triangle you need to change the length of its members; a rectangle can change shape just by changing the angles between its members (making a parallelogram).

With the cross-bracing my desk feels rock solid.


nagutron (author)2010-07-16

Check out my housemate's super hacked-together version of a standing desk!

Yonatan24 (author)nagutron2016-03-12

Not a bad idea...

pfred2 (author)nagutron2011-07-23

How is your wife supposed to iron your shirts with all that stuff on her board?

ducksarewet (author)pfred22012-07-24

Sexist much?

Eirinn (author)pfred22011-08-30

She's probably busy playing Crysis 2 to realize :)

woodwork83 (author)2011-05-06


The treadmill is a good idea. I probably couldn't type or write while walking though. The Life Balance station is pretty unique. You sit at a semi recumbent elliptical machine and pedal slowly. It includes an adjustable stand up workstation with it. I think you could accomplish almost all of your tasks at this one. Definitely not cheap though :)

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-12

Great idea! You could also put a treadmill underneath the desk and make it a heart-healthy desk!

woodwork83 (author)2010-06-12

That is a great set up! I have been reading more about these stand up type desks for my own use. Thanks for the excellent tips on how to build your own. I will be sure to recommend this site. Here is another good article about adjustable stand up desks. I had no idea so many people in history used these things too :)

drewnoakes (author)2008-12-24

I've been a fan of working standing up for a few years now. One client I worked for (BP) had desks that could be raised and lowered easily and at will. A latch under the desk's surface would be pulled, and then the desk surface and pillars for LCD monitor braces would rise together. Having access to this kind of desk turned out to really help me manage my back pain. I am a software developer who commonly practices 'pair programming' (sharing the computer/keyboard/mouse with another person and changing back and forth fluidly). Working with an elevated desk, our team discovered that standing up reduces a person's footprint, making the kinds of motion through the computer's 'focal point' (the prime, ergonomic position) easier. Pair programming when sitting in wide, square chairs often results in people stretching long distances to reach the keyboard or, worse, twisting through unbalanced angles for extended periods of time. I have found that working a full day standing can be quite tiring, though it is something you develop the strength for. Through university I worked weekends dealing cards in a casino for ten hour shifts. Standing that long at a desk like this became tiring for the feet. A card dealer's job doesn't involve any walking around, and so the circulation within the feet suffers. As a musician working at your desk, I'm guessing that you have quite a bit of gentle motion for your feet. As a programmer working all day in one spot, I'd like the option to combine sitting down and standing up throughout the day. So, can anyone come up with an instructible for a desk that can have its height altered so easily that it doesn't require any real effort to do it? I certainly can't work out how to do it. Desks I've seen like this have powerfully strung counter-balancing springs that take the effective weight out of the desk and it's contents. Definitely a challenging project. As an aside, I don't believe the desks I have worked on were designed to be used standing up. Rather, the ability to raise the desk seems to have been included as a convenience for IT support staff who spend quite a lot of time underneath desks. Thanks for the instructible, and for the site.

drewnoakes (author)drewnoakes2008-12-24

After hunting around a little (there are some cool adjustable desks to buy out there) I found this company that manufactures specialised hydraulic height adjustment systems to be integrated into products or projects.

bustedit (author)2008-08-14

it's uncanny how i always (randomly) find an ible related to something im currently doing! I just pulled an old door out of our cellar for a desk/work bench for soldering and circuit making/bending. The prior owner also left one of those 5 ft plastic shelve displays used to sell bottled water in the cellar, too, and i was able to pull it apart to use as legs and storage. Nice cardboard box btw, and I'd like to mention you look different but similar in each instructible you post!

islander_circe (author)2008-07-19

Good idea, simply executed and something I could conceivably do ... with one exception. Step 3 - creating the cross braces - could do with more detail. How do you form the bend - what tools are used? How do you achieve identical bends for all pieces - eyeballing isn't for everyone (my eyeballs don't see straight let alone for accurate measuring of angles). As an alternative, can these be puchased?

ewilhelm (author)islander_circe2008-07-20

With the steel bar in a vice, as shown in the picture 3 of step 3, I hit it with a hammer to bend it. The angle doesn't have to be very accurate, and if you don't get it quite right at first, it's easy to re-bend. If you don't have a vice, clamp your bar to the edge of a sturdy work-surface

StamfordRebel (author)2007-02-17

I have to agree with everyone else that this is a very cool desk. I've even seen on the news that buisnesses are having tread-mills put in along w/ these stand-up desks so ppl burn more calories while doing work.

hcold (author)StamfordRebel2008-06-27

Only a good idea if you hook it up to an energy regeneration system. Excercise really is a terrible thing, in the "burning extra calories" sort of way. You have too much, so you just throw it away. Sounds stupidly wasteful.

instructa-fan (author)2007-07-28

honestly who want to stand up when there on the CP?????? you guys are just agreeing cuz its the owner of the website who made it. offence ewil............

daveanton (author)instructa-fan2008-02-27

honestly? i like to stand up (or at least have the OPTION to stand up) during a recording session or mixdown. Not that I made this Instructable, but not seeing its worth only points out a particular shortcoming... put the necklace down and back away from the PC ...

I can agree, I play the piano and sometimes, I would LOVE to have the piano and computer at standing level so that I can adjust microphones, the mixing desk and controls on my digital piano without sitting and getting up all the time.

My back is in SHAMBLES from a year of sitting at work and then sitting and working in the studio - so I decided that since I stand up when I play live Im going to mix and practice the same way. Ill spend 10 hours mixing a project a day - and sitting for that amount of time will destroy your back period!!

jobagz (author)instructa-fan2008-01-28

back problems

There are many practical uses for this. Doing a DIY project while watching the how-to video? You don't have much room on your desk because of the keyboard, monitor, computer, speakers, etc. Or maybe you are constantly going to the computer for just a few secs?

oh, ok!

your realtor (author)2007-12-12

That is a great idea. I just came across this web site 2 days ago and have spent at least 8 hours going thru it and finding projects. Thanks A Million for the help.

ewilhelm (author)your realtor2007-12-12

Glad you like it!

jobagz (author)ewilhelm2008-01-28

Can you come around my house and alter all my furniture please?

your realtor (author)2007-12-12

I found this by accident but I have wanted to do this for the last 5 years and really did not follow thru with it. I work at a desk all day from home and wanted to have a desk for my computer that I could stand at and have room to write. Thanks I will have to try this out next month. 1st I have to find a desk with the type of legs that will allow me to raise it. Thanks A Million

ewilhelm (author)your realtor2007-12-12

The legs shouldn't be too hard to find - try a door for a desk.

AT (author)2007-11-14

Not much to look at but I love the idea of having a stable working surface at which you can stand. At my old house I built my workbench up higher than normal and loved it. But it was too big to move so it stayed with the house. What did you end up with at your working height (floor to top of table?) I think mine was in the 40 to 42" range. Now, if you could make this so you could adjust it on the fly, that would be way cool! And for those of you living in a smaller area (dorm, efficiency apt., etc...), under a working surface such as this would be a great place for your sleeping quarters. Maybe even a fold down bed!

ewilhelm (author)AT2007-11-15

In school, Christy had a chest-high loft with a desk on top and a futon underneath. It worked pretty well.

jef713 (author)2007-11-03

why would you want to stand?

ewilhelm (author)jef7132007-11-03

I sit all day at work. By the end of the day, I'm ready to stand.

rule001 (author)2006-10-18

nice set up!

Dalomar (author)2006-07-24

Just a thought here, but couldnt you add a piston at each joint and control them either through a mechanical locking bar or electronic pump. That way you could flip a switch and settle back down to sitting height. pump up the pressure and you're back to standing again. Make sure to add pressure regulators so you dont launch your computer into low orbit.

implaxis (author)2006-06-27

Thanks for that cross-bracing idea! I've been cogitating for months on how to brace a project I've been working on -- can't believe I never considered this or no one I talked to suggested it. Now I can finish it and get it up here!

Grimling (author)2006-06-26

this is handy for musicians ! I have the same problem sometimes , but I don't want to change my desk because I have to work on it for school and stuff . What for kind of Ibanez is that on the background ?

About This Instructable




Bio: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through ... More »
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