Portable Height Adjustable Table or Standing Desk

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About: Someone recently asked "So why have you never done a PhD?" My response - "I get bored easily" but that's not true. I fear boredom and so I make sure it never invades my world. Currently m...

Intro: Portable Height Adjustable Table or Standing Desk

This is one of my most useful projects.

Upcycle an old ironing board to make this workspace that functions equally well if you're sitting on the floor, lounging on the couch or as a standing desk for the laptop.

My original was made from an old ironing board from the op shop with an ancient pine shelf for the top.

This project is a gift for my daughter.

Step 1: Materials:

  • Ironing Board
    Note: An old ironing board will be more stable but much heavier than a modern board.
  • Timber panel 19mm thick. (Or you may be able to recycle an old coffee table top.)
    Panel length should not prevent the ironing board from standing on its feet when folded.
    Panel width should be no more than 5cm wider than the width of the feet.
  • 5 x 15mm Screws and Washers big enough to secure ironing board to timber panel (See photo)
  • Rubber chair leg tips to fit the legs of the ironing board.
    Rubber tips will be more stable than plastic.
  • Spray Paint, Timber stain and/or Varnish to decorate.

Step 2: Prepare the Base

Remove any covers from the board.

Remove any plastic or rubber feet.

You may want to make adjustments to the mechanism if you are needing the desk to be low to the ground - the mechanism on this board was extended so that it will sit at a height of 25 cm.

Step 3: Painting the Surfaces.

Lightly sand the legs before spray painting. Also spray the edge of the board.

Trim the timber panel or tabletop to size.

Sand, stain and oil or varnish the top of your table. Give the table surface a light sanding between additional coats of varnish.

Note: if you are using a new panel, make sure you seal both faces to prevent your table top from warping.

Step 4: Putting It Together

Replace the feet - rubber feet will make the table more stable than plastic feet.

Lay the table top upper face down on a solid surface and set the ironing board, upside down, in position.

Mark the positions for the screws and drill pilot holes into the timber panel taking care not to drill through to the table surface.

Screw timber panel to table top using washers to ensure the screw heads do not slip through the ironing board mesh.

Step 5: Finished Project...

A handy Height Adjustable Table that hides behind the door when not in use

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    25 Discussions

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    TrudyNC

    10 months ago

    This is a great idea! I just happen to have an old ironing board that I cannot find a cover to fit. Making this into a desk will be easy-peasy! thanks!

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    TrudyNCwallabyj

    Reply 6 months ago

    Went pretty well actually! ;) Thanks!

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    Mary Ellen Waithe

    10 months ago

    Decades ago, when a poor graduate student, I added a store-bought desk-width shelf to my ironing board. It was always loaded with books, a heavy electric typewriter, glass of something to drink, etc. It never collapsed or succumbed to the weight of the IBM selectric or all those philosophy books. Now, in my dotage, aware of the benefits of standing more and having just retired and downsized, I am going to stand whilst using my laptop. You've inspired me to get myself a lovely live edge and a decent used ironing board and make a contemporary, upcycled, standing desk, complete with built-in charging station and mail sorter. Thanks for reviving my writing career!

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    wallabyjMary Ellen Waithe

    Reply 10 months ago

    PS Mary Ellen - Can you please add some photos of your enhancements?

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    wallabyjMary Ellen Waithe

    Reply 10 months ago

    I'm not surprised someone has thought of this before. I can imagine decoupage on the top. Glad to hear that you found it able to carry a sizable load - they seem quite strong.

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    DavidE341

    10 months ago

    I would be very leery of the support an ironing board would provide since the base legs are so narrow (my wife uses one frequently and it is easily knocked over). I plan on building a similar stand as a portable camping stove table, but I am using a Harbor Freight 200# capacity portable work stand (

    https://www.harborfreight.com/200-lb-capacity-portable-work-stand-38778.html

    ) as a base. It is much more stable and a low-cost item that I don't feel it is an extravagance. Set the side chains to whatever height you need it to be.

    5 replies
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    jeffjeffDavidE341

    Reply 10 months ago

    How high/tall is that workstand? I don't see any dimensions on the page. I get the impression it might be a little low for a standing desk.

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    DavidE341jeffjeff

    Reply 10 months ago

    The height is variable, depending on the length of the side chains. I wanted a sturdy but light weight folding structure as a camping stove platform but all the camping kitchen setups were too short for me (was looking for something like 38" tall) and too costly. Decided to get this simple stand, set the chain length to create the proper height, create a wooden top structure that would sit on top (maybe use locator pins or a perimeter frame) but was still easy to disassemble and move. It is very stable, easy to fold up/move around and I will never have the rated weight on it (200#).

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    wallabyjDavidE341

    Reply 10 months ago

    Very true David.
    For this reason I have chosen light weight timber for the top and kept the width of the top to a few cm wider than the distance between the ends of the support.
    Even so it is not stable enough to be used for food and drink unless seated at it.
    (I did consider ways to make the ends longer as my first project used a slightly larger board.)
    However it is surprisingly strong and, although I haven't tested it, I think it would carry a lot of weight yet still be really light weight itself.

    Ps. I will check out the web site but I am in Australia ...

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    mkaercherwallabyj

    Reply 10 months ago

    I plan to make one of these this weekend. I too am a little concerned about it being tippy. Maybe using some PVC pipe to make the base "feet" a little wider.

    Very cool idea! Thanks for posting!

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    wallabyjmkaercher

    Reply 10 months ago

    Definitely a good idea to widen the feet and you can make the workspace wider as well. However the undercarriage isn't really rigid so don't Be too optimistic & remember to keep your storage space in mind.

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    wallabyj

    10 months ago

    My daughter has suggested that the table needs a marker to indicate which end is UP when being packed away - maybe paint the bottom edge a different color.

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    Professor49

    10 months ago

    Excellent project !!

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    wallabyj

    10 months ago

    Thank you everyone for your gracious comments.

    So glad I can share this up-cycling project with you.

    One of this table's greatest features is that it's stored vertically so there is never anything sitting on top of it to be cleared away before you can use it ;)

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    Left-field Designs

    10 months ago

    genius idea. also if you used some clips or clamps rather than screws you could still use it as an ironing board

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    wallabyjLeft-field Designs

    Reply 10 months ago

    I can see this - maybe wing nuts on a right angled clamp or recessed bolt...

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    jobowman49

    10 months ago

    what a great idea, and so much less expensive than the standing desks on the market.

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    misterxp

    10 months ago

    When I lived on my own, in a small flat, there was not enough room for a table so I used the ironing board. It would have been better to put a top on it like you! Avoids getting tomato sauce / other food streaks across the cloths when ironing!

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    Mimikry

    10 months ago

    Finally a good use for my ironing board - as I really don't like ironing ;D