Stand Up/Sit Down Desk Top

Introduction: Stand Up/Sit Down Desk Top

This turned out to be such a flimsy piece of crap that I didn't bother taking too many photos or detail the steps. And I wound up disassembling it.

I was hoping someone else could run with the idea and make it less of a flimsy piece of crap. And make the boards line up.

The requirements I was trying for:

  1. Portable (so I can take it to work)
  2. Cheap
  3. Sits ON a stationary desk (again for use at work where there is an existing desk)
  4. Big (to support 2 monitors)
  5. Smooth (easy to go up and down at will)
  6. Easy to build with easy-to-find parts

I finally threw in the towel and bought one of these: VariDesk Standing Desk Top

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • 2x4's
  • Large piece of 3/4" plywood
  • 2 drawer slides
  • L-brackets as needed
  • Screws
  • 4 half-hooks
  • 2 snap hooks (or ability to make a bowline)
  • 4 pulleys
  • 2 lengths of 5-6ft cord or rope that will slide through the pulleys
  • 2 10lb weights
  • Bunch of 2" deck screws
  • Wood glue (I didn't want glue since I wanted to be able to break it down and make it portable but the first iteration was so wobbly I decided to try some glue)


  • Circular saw with beat up blade with half the teeth missing
  • Drill
  • 1/8" drill bit
  • tape measure (though it didn't help)
  • Square (that REALLY didn't help)

Step 2: Build Basic Outer and Inner Frames

This seemed really simple but, well, you know.

  1. Measure out a basic size to hold 2 monitors and a keyboard.
  2. Throw out the measurements because they'll be wrong anyway.
  3. Build an outer square frame without the boards tilting or rotating or magically becoming longer or shorter; basically build an upside-down table without the table top (but with the legs).
  4. Add an extra cross piece at the back of the contraption for stability and as a place to put pulleys a bit later.
  5. Attach the drawer sliders to the inside four corners of the outer frame (i.e. the legs).
  6. Attach four loose 2x4's against the sliders as the start of the inner frame.
  7. Add cross pieces to connect the front 2x4's to the back 2x4's (this required measuring the inside width between the front and back loose 2x4's, transferring the measurement, cutting down the cross pieces, and setting them between the loose boards; this is were all #ell started breaking out).
  8. Fidget, fuss, retry until the inner frame can slide easily in the outer frame.

Step 3: Add Bottom Pulleys to Rear of Inner Frame Legs

With the inner-frame 2x4's in their respective rails on the frame, insert a half-hook on at the lowest point on each of the rear inner-frame 2x4 legs, but above the back cross piece. Note how in the photo the hook is facing down.

Then put the pulley on the hook, or at least near it so you don't lose it.

Don't worry about the rope yet.

Step 4: Add Top Pulleys to Frame's Top Cross Piece

  1. Insert a half-hook on each end of the rear upper cross piece, as high up as possible and above the inner frame's lower pulleys. (This time note that the hook faces up.)
  2. Now grab one of the pieces of rope and tie (or attach) its end to the hook. In the photo, I used a snapper rather than trying to tie a knot to the hook.
  3. Now thread or feed the other end of the rope down and then through the lower pulley.
  4. Put the top pulley on the upper hook.
  5. Thread or feed the rest of the rope up and through the top pulley and then back down.
  6. Tie off each side's rope to a 10lb weight. These will act as counter weights to make it easier to slide up and down.

Step 5: Add Desktop

This picture is serenely deceptive.

  1. Measure the inside frame's length and depth
  2. Throw out the measurements because they'll be wrong anyway
  3. Add a few L-brackets to the inner frame's lower cross pieces to hold the desktop
  4. Cut down a piece of of the plywood to fit
  5. Repeat step 3
  6. Repeat step 3
  7. Continue until you get a fairly good fit
  8. I wanted this thing to be portable so did not choose to screw the desk top to the angle brackets

Step 6: ReeSuLtZ ?

Well the thing worked, but it was too wobbley to take to the office-- it would have fallen apart. And it wasn't straight or square. Or able to be taken apart with all the glue and L-brackets used to keep it together.

I hope someone can find a better way to put something like this together and then publish a useful 'able for it.

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    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you took the time to write a detailed tutorial and show all the pictures, even though it kind of failed. That takes some courage.
    I like that you did it to help others working on something similar, so they might avoid the pitfalls that you discovered. That's real maker ethos. Wisdom is learning from other people's mistakes.

    Keep up the great work!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I really like the pulley system idea. That's what I love about instructables. We can all share our successes and our almost successes. Keep sharing!