Another week, another article, about the adverse cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and psychological consequences of our (my) sedentary lifestyle. So, to protect my lazy and cheap self, I needed a quick, easy and affordable stand-up desk.
1/2 inch PVC pipe (10 ft. piece is under $10)
desk top (I used scrap 3/4 inch ply cut to 13.5 x 28 inches)
desk chair (the chair size partially determines the dimensions of the desk top)
(4) 1/2 inch 3-way PVC elbows (I used furniture grade which were $1.25 each)
(4) 1/2 inch PVC 90 degree elbows
(4) 1/2 inch pipe brackets
Step 1: Decide on a Desk Top Size.
I made my desk top to be wider than my chair and deep enough to provide a desktop surface for a wireless keyboard, mouse and some paper. I suggest you stand behind your chair, at your desk, and imagine the size that will be most comfortable. Making it too big might make it more unstable over the back of the chair. Too small and, well, everybody likes a big desk. (You may want to wait on deciding on the final desk size until after you lay out the PVC and just cut a larger desk top to start.) I cut my desk top to 28 x 13.5 inches.
Step 2: Lay Out and Cut the PVC
PVC pipe is easy to work with so you can connect and disconnect the angle/connectors as often as you like (prior to applying any PVC cement). Basically, you will construct two square PVC arm/supports and attach each one to the bottom of the desktop with pipe brackets. Depending on your chair material (soft-padded or rigid) and shape (curved or straight), you will want to space the 2 arm/supports so they are tight against the front and back of the chair, when opened. The assembled size (including connectors) of my front support arm is 15 x 7 inches and the larger rear support assembled is 20 x 10.5 inches. (I find the desk works with either the smaller or larger support in the front)
The desk works well even if it is not foldable. I cut mine so I could fold the two arms flat (therefore the height and width of my two arm supports are different) and I can quickly put the desk on and off and store it near my chair. You could also make the arms (PVC pipe) the same height and width so the desk just stands (without folding) when removed from the chair. (Then again, the more you remove it, the more sitting you are doing!)
Step 3: Add Pipe Brackets
The pipe brackets are also very easy to work with and allow for the folding of arm supports (depending on how tight the screws are). The 3-way PVC fittings provide a strong brace at 90 degrees so the 2 arm supports do not open too wide and, therefore, give good stability to the desk. The brackets should be located close to each of the 3-way fittings. Also, the PVC cross members (the bottom length of PVC) sit tight against the back and front of the chair and give additional stability. Again, I encourage you to cut and connect the PVC pieces and adjust lengths to fit according to your chair size. Adding the PVC cement will make it even more rigid (but you may find it unncecessay).
Step 4: Desk Against the Wall When Folded
My apologies, again, for not providing precise size instructions but, again, it depends on the size of the chair you are working with and the size of the desk you want. The closer the desktop is to the size of the chair, the more stable it will be. (mine is very stable). The PVC and brackets should not damage the chair and should allow the desk to come on and off easily. Stand firm!