Introduction: Living Desk: Growing Every Day V5

Given my research/coursework that often requires me to both use my computer and a pad of paper, my standing desk setup had a premium on space particularly with dual monitors with TV speakers and other items. My goal was to make a readily modified setup that would increase my amount of desk space while retaining the functionality I need with my monitors and equipment (good positioning). I call this a living desk because one can grow their desk however they want with these creations, whether to add new elements, move existing elements around, or remove certain elements. My use of slotted additions provides even more means of customizing the desk. If I want to switch any elements, all I have to do is detach readily-replaced cables, pull it out of the slot, and put it somewhere else. This is relevant to the 'Moving Items' contest given how this project introduces greater flexibility of placement of items on a desk, thus transforming a standing desk into something that can be moved in even more dimensions than just its height.

Given that I had some 2x4s left over from another project of mine, I planned to combine these 2x4s with some 3D printing to create my desired structure. 3D printing offered a unique amount of flexibility to prototype ideas to make my idea a reality while also providing a means of creating a strong final product that could handle the weight of a monitor or other items while meeting its purpose. I will later be adding a 3D print binding scrap metal to mount my laptop.

This project was designed with a standing desk in mind so it would have limited application to a fixed, immoveable desk. Note that I am making this for my personal use as well as for the contest so the goal is something functional (and stable as my monitor/speakers are on the line too).

Update 9/21/20: While the given design proved stable over several days even without any further support beyond itself, I redesigned the item to use a bolted in rotating surface to increase the axis of movement and provide further stability. It has remained stable over several days.

Update 9/27/20: I designed and implemented a rotating beam for mounting my speaker to a more appropriate distance to the side of my 4K monitor.

Update 10/1/20: I designed and implemented a rotating stand for a laptop to offer even more options.


Access to a 3D printer using any type of filament as long as you can print with at least 40% infill for strength (I used PLA+)

Spare 2x4 wood: I used a plank of length 16". A user's choice of plank could be whatever length they want as long as it makes enough space for the monitor and the base that attaches to the desk.

Metal beams, 25mm x 25mm, 2 segments. I used a length of 9 inches (~23 cm) for each beam

M4 and M5 bolts: I used four M4x20mm bolts to attach the wood plank to the monitor using the 3D-printed monitor mount. I also used 4 M5x20mm bolts and 4 M5x16mm bolts. You could likely use all 20mm or all 16mm, I made these choices based on what I had on hand and where I wanted a longer bolt for support.

Electric drill with M5-sized drill bit: I drilled bore holes with a drill bit approximately the size of an M5 bolt to provide a guide to the bolts while ensuring they go in the angle I want them to. A M4.5 drill bit is better to gain a tighter bolt fit. I also used the drill when punching a hole in the plank given that the adjustable part of the monitor could not be removed so I had to create an aperture for this segment.

Hacksaw with metal-cutting blade: for cutting the metal. You could use whatever tool you want to cut the metal, I chose this as I did not want to start a fire with sparks flying off when using a rotary tool with a metal-cutting blade.

(Optional) 2 mm steel pins: I wanted an extra bit of assurance that my monitor would not fall so I appended an extra drilled hole in my desk to put 2 mm steel pins that I have. Mine are 100 mm, which are likely the minimum length to be useful for this setup. I also added this to the speaker setup given that the force experienced on the 3D print axis is greater as the lever arm is longer with the speaker going out nearly to the end.

(Optional) Rotary tool with bits for cutting wood, fine tips if possible: Given that there was no way to remove the adjustable part of my monitor on the back, I used a rotary tool to create the aperture that I needed. I am guessing this is not a problem for all monitors, hence it is optional.

Step 1: Monitor Setup 3D Printed Components.

I used Fusion 360 and Tinkercad to design the 3D printed components. Representative images of the adapters are depicted along with the STL files. Note that desk dimensions can vary; I describe how to address this issue in the next paragraph. For the monitor mount, I made apertures for four M5 bolts to connect to the wood given that I wanted to ensure the 3D print was supported and did not fall off. I placed four M4 sized holes at appropriately spaced edges along the print to match the sites of the TV mount locations on the monitor. For the peg mount on the piece of wood, there are holes for M4 bolts along with a 2 mm steel pin (optional). The desk mount has four holes for M4 bolts.

I used Simplify3D to print the items separately on a Flashforge Dreamer. I used a 0.4 mm nozzle with a layer height of 0.3 mm with an infill of 40%. Temperature of nozzle and bed, first layer settings, support settings, etc were optimized for the filament and individual setup with appropriately leveling established prior to the print. There are no fine details that one needs to worry about that could place a limit on your print speed so have fun. Other slicers, printers, nozzles, etc are likely fine as long as you know how to make them work, as is necessary for any 3D printing. The prints separately took around 10 hours to print. Note that desk dimensions can vary so I would recommend printing small segments of the structure and scale the print based on your needs/equipment. You can scale X/Y/Z as needed.

Step 2: Monitor Setup Woodworking and Attachment of Print

The bulk of the woodworking is drilling. I had to also make a recess in the middle of the wood given that my monitor had a piece projecting out of it that could not be removed, though it is possible other monitors do not have it. For purpose of this instructable, I will not be going over that.

I designed the 3D prints to take the guesswork out of where to drill the holes and improve placement accuracy. each of the holes in the prints represent where holes should be drilled where you can project the drill bit directly into the hole to place the bit. The apertures in the prints are long enough to level the drill, just avoid drilling the print and it should be good.

For the 3D print for the monitor, I placed the print so the top of it lined up with the top of the 2x4. I then drilled through the center four holes (what will house bolts connecting the print to the 2x4) ensuring there was space for each of the smaller M4-sized holes on the periphery so I could pass a screw through it. Refer to the photos to see my arrangement. Note how my placement was not perfect; you can still get decent results without fancy drill presses.

Place four M5 bolts in the center holes to bind the print to the board. Try not to go overboard with screwing it in as if the drill diameter is a bit too close to the 5 mm aperture, you may not have sufficient hold that would be bad if you are trying to attach a monitor to it.

Step 3: Monitor Setup Woodworking and Attachment of Print for the Table Connection

As in step 2, one can again drill through the guiding holes for appropriate placement (drill through to the other side by following guide holes on front and back of prints). For the first iteration of this instructable, place holes at the level where your monitor is where you want it. You can figure this out by measuring out the appropriate distance from the print to the TV mounting holes of your monitor. Alternatively, you can attach your monitor to the previously placed print and slide the wood through the table mount to your target height and mark this location so you can drill in a more stable position at the right location. You then place M5 bolts into the print and wood from the front and back. Refer to the attached images for visual reference.

Step 4: Monitor Setup Attach Mounting Slot to Desk

I used four M5 bolts to connect the mount. I would recommend placement at least 0.5 cm from the edge so you maximize support obtained from the wood. I also drew on the desk to find the center where I drilled around a 2 mm diameter hole for the steel pin (optional). I used a hammer to punch the pin through the predrilled hole to an acceptable point for matching the print.

Step 5: Connect Monitor to Mounting Print

Connecting the monitor should be a matter of passing through M4 screws through the monitor print's four peripherally located holes.

Step 6: Attach Monitor Apparatus to Desk

Attaching the apparatus to the desk should be a matter of simply sliding it into place on the desk. If using a steel pin, you have to track this in place and then just slide through.

Step 7: Speaker Setup 3D Prints

Similar to the monitor setup, I designed prints to firmly connect to the wood plank and join that to the table. I had the height of this be a bit smaller so the speakers do not obstruct the screen too much. For printing, can follow similar recommendations as with the monitor prints.

Step 8: Speaker Setup Mount All Items

Setup is similar to that with the monitor. Place bolts with guide holes in designated spots. Slide the plank's 3D print peg into the slot bound to the desk. I designed all the holes for this aspect of the project to be M4. I recommend using a steel pin for this part given that the lever arm is quite a bit longer than with the monitor (so more rotational force straining the peg/slot). Enjoy.

Step 9: Laptop Stand Setup

I found some scrap metal and cut pieces to mount my laptop. I chose to use metal rather than wood as I had stability with less volume of material. I cut pieces of my 25 mm x 25 mm metal beams in segments of the length of my laptop. I then printed the attached STL files. It was simply then a matter of putting the beams into the recesses of the prints. I drilled a hole in my desk with a M4.5 drill bit and had an M5 bolt go through to anchor the 3D print while permitting rotation. I had the entire axial 3D print in contact with the desk regardless of the position to maximize stability given that I was placing a laptop on it, which is not cheap.

Step 10: Monitor Stand

Given my other monitor without the TV-stand like hookup, I simply re-printed what I used for the laptop stand and matched the length of the metal beams to the length of the monitor. Rinse and repeat.

Step 11: Future Directions

1. Make models for other desk components as necessary

Make it Move Contest 2020

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest 2020