Adjustable Height Sit/Stand Walnut Desk




About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ...

Standing desks are the in thing right now so I got to build this adjustable height desk with a steel frame, walnut cladded leg and feet, with a giant walnut breadboard top. The top measures roughly 72x40" and the desk adjusts from 28" tall up to 48" tall with a hand crank that is hidden under the top of the desk and pops out to adjust the height. It's all made from solid walnut that was actually both felled and milled locally in Rhode Island, just to make it a little cooler. It looks just like a regular desk unless you peak underneath it!

Notable Materials:

> Sit/Stand desk leg kit

> Walnut lumber

> Wood glue

> Blue painters tape

> Quick set epoxy

> Biscuits

> Waterlox Original tung oil finish

Notable Tools:

> Thickness planer

> Table saw

> Router table

> Drill press

> Coping saw

> Jig saw

> Bar clamp

> Taper/jointing jig

> Miter saw

> Bandsaw

> Block plane

> Hammer

> Track saw

> Biscuit joiner

> Rubber mallet

> Pipe clamps

> Wood lathe

> Palm router

> Rabeting router bit

> Forstner bit

> Random orbital sander

> Pull saw

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Step 1: Assembling the Frame

I start the whole process just by putting this metal puzzle all together. It comes surprisingly compact and it's just a matter of fastening the lateral beam together and then attaching the legs into that. The corners are a welded connection so that makes it surprisingly sturdy.

The feet then attach in with a few screws and the same thing with the top supports which both screw into the legs. I'm then able to put this to the side and use it to pull measurements from.

Step 2: Shaping the Feet Trim & Glue-Up

I start the woodworking by planning down all of the rough sawn walnut lumber to 3/4" thick in my thickness planer. This is all air dried rough sawn wood so it's amazing to see the grain and surface that is exposed under the surface.

The first pieces I size down are the feet. I cut a couple of pieces an inch wider than the feet so it will stick out 1/2" on either side. I then start cutting out a cavity on the table saw on the underside of the piece where the foot will live.

Once the center of it is carved out, I can then hog out the rest using my router table. I take little bits off of each side until I have a big enough recess for the foot to slip in.

With them cut to the right size, I can then mark out where the 4 bolt holes are on the wood piece so I can drill them out and they will line up.

I can then fasten this assembly into place on the bottom of the leg. It was now when I decided to cut out the section where it connects with the leg so I crank down on the bolts to make a mark around the perimeter of the foot on the leg.

Each of the 4 corners is drilled out and then I connect the dots with a combination of a coping saw and a jig saw and then clean up the cut on the spindle sander. I decided to remove this material because I was worried that with enough wear and tear and leaning on the desk the leg might cause a depression in this part of the wood so by removing it we again have metal to metal like it was originally designed.

I then fit this all onto the leg again and fasten it in place. Then I cut some small pieces of walnut and glue and clamp them in place to cap the ends of the feet.

Step 3: Shaping the Leg Trim Glue-Up

While that's drying, I start work on the legs. I set up my jointing jig on my table saw with my saw tipped over to 45 degrees. Since I don't have a jointer, this will give me a straight cut while at the same time giving me the 45 degree miter that I need to the corners.

I then cut then to width by making the short dimension the same as the width of the legs and cut them to length on the miter saw.

Now to glue these up, I simply use blue painters tape. The leg pieces are all laid out on the bench with the outside surface up and tape is applied to each seam, then the whole assembly is flipped over so glue can be applied - regular wood glue to the miter surfaces and then 2-part epoxy on the rest of the surfaces to hold the 4 piece frame up on the leg.

I then simply lift it up into place and push the final joint tight while I seal it with tape to hold while it dries.

Step 4: Final Foot Shaping & Attachment

Now I switch back to the foot assembly while I wait for the legs to dry. The feet are popped off and the ends of the wood cut flush on the miter saw. Then I bring these over to the bandsaw to cut the bottom of the trim piece flush. I finish it up with a block plane and a little bit of sanding.

Next I attach the wooden trim piece permanently onto the metal feet with some more of the 2-part epoxy. First, I scuff the paint to give it a better surface to adhere too, spread the epoxy, and then clamp the wooden trim in place on top of the feet.

Step 5: Final Shaping of the Legs

Going back to the legs, the tape can now be removed and the sides all sanded smooth. Since these are such long miter joints it is really tough to get all of them tight along the whole length of the joint so I fix the few spots where there are small gaps. I do this using the curved part of my hammer and rubbing it against the corner, knocking that corner in (burnishing).

Then you just hit it with some sand paper and you have a beautifully softened corner with a perfect joint.

Step 6: Tabletop Glue-Up

Next I get to start working on the top! I'm excited to get this big slab together. Again, because it's rough sawn lumber I need to straighten an edge first, but these pieces are too big to fit on my jointing sled so I pull out the track saw instead to do it.

Once they all have a straight edge, I can then use this as a reference against the fence and rip the boards all down to width.

With enough material to get my tabletop plus about 1" in extra width, I do a dry fit to lay all my pieces out. This allows me to alternate the grain in the pieces to help keep the table flat and also find the best color pattern. Once I'm happy with the layout I mark a triangle so I can get the boards back in place and also mark out the location where I'm going to install biscuits to reinforce the joint.

Each one of these joints gets about 6 biscuits with the biscuit joiner, this not only reinforces the joint, but also assists me in making sure that the surfaces line up flush with one another during the glue-up process so later on flattening is much easier.

The joints are glued, biscuits are installed, and a rubber mallet is used for a little enforcement to get them to come together.

Then it's just a matter of clamping it up and letting it dry for the night. Pipe clamps are used along the length evenly spaced about every 8 inches and then bar clamps are used at the end of each joint to help with holding the surfaces flush.

Step 7: Breadboard Ends

Once the slab is all dry I use the track saw again, but this time to cut down the ends to final length.

After a first pass of sanding to make sure all of the glue residue is removed, I start the process to create the breadboard ends. These function to both dress up the table top as well as add a bit of reinforcement by having a piece run perpendicular to the rest. Because it is such a big piece though you have to worry about differential growth and shrinking in the perpendicular grain. I start with my palm router and a rabeting bit against the fence to my track saw to cut the tongue in the end of the table.

The 2 receiving pieces that will be fastened to the end of the table are cut with a receiving groove on the table saw. I flip it around, cutting each side of the groove until it just fits over the tongue on the table top.

I then measure and drill out for the dowels. These dowels are 1/2" wide and will be used to fasten this breadboard end in place at the end of the table.

To make some walnut dowels, I just quickly cut a square piece out of my walnut stock and turn it down to 1/2" diameter on the lathe. I wanted to match the species, but contrasting dowels would look cool too if you have to buy them.

I install the breadboard end in place and then use the same 1/2" forstner bit to mark the center of the holes in the tongue of the table top, then I drill these holes out. I actually drill very slightly in towards the center of the table so that when I insert the dowels they will actually pull the breadboard joint in super tight.

Then the last step before final assembly is to widen out the outer holes. The top is going to want to expand and contract width-wise, while the breadboard end is going to want to stay in place. By elongating these holes, it give a place for the dowel and the rest of the wood to move.

Next I apply glue just to the center of the breadboard end (again because of the differential wood movement) and hammer the dowels into place. Just before I set them to their final depth, I put a little glue around them and then set them down so that the glue will hold them in place. This installation process allows for the ends of the table to float freely from each other while still constricting it enough to keep a flat surface.

Step 8: Filler & Final Trim Piece

Once the glue dries on the dowel pegs, they can be cut flush with my pull saw and sanded smooth. Then the table top is brought down to final width with the track saw.

With the table all brought down to final size, I fill any of the holes (pitch pockets and a small crack) with epoxy. Once the epoxy cures I sand it flush and it hides this imperfection. Last step to shape the top is just rounding over the corners slightly with a 1/4" round over bit in the palm router.

Last, I cut down a couple more pieces of walnut to act as cleats that will thicken the top and help me with attaching the top to the legs. I chamfer all 4 edges of these pieces to take the sharp corner away, but also just make them look better.

This is fastened in place similar to the way I fastened the breadboard end - glue is applied in the center of the board and then it is screwed into place, except the screws on the end are elongated holes, so this allows for the top to move since it runs perpendicular to this support piece.

Step 9: Finishing

I tape up the legs to get from getting finish on the painted surfaces and then it's ready for finish... the time we've all been waiting for!! For finish on this, I go with Waterlox Original. This is easily my favorite finish for everything, but with walnut I think you don't even have a choice.

If any body doesn't like that then they have a screw loose!

I apply 6 coats of finish to all of the walnut pieces just by rubbing it in with a rag and hitting the surface with really high grit sandpaper between coats.

Step 10: Assembly

After many days of drying and reapplying finish its ready for its final assembly. The legs are moved into place and the top is put on top where I center it. I can then mark for the holes for fastening the table top in place and also the support brackets for the crank arm. One bracket holds the arm in place and the other is a clip that holds the handle flat with the bottom surface of the table when not in use.

Lastly, I predrill a hole for the connection between the legs and the table top and screw it into place. To fasten it I use 1" screws at each corner, but smaller diameter screws with a washer so that the table top is still able to move around independently from the metal frame.

Step 11: Glamour Shots

Now I just move it outside for some glamour shots!!

Thanks for taking the time to check out the build and definitely see the build video for the full experience

Thirsty for more? You can also find me in other places on the interwebs!

My Website: Essentially my entire life

YouTube: Me, in moving picture form

Instagram: Preview my projects as they progress #nofilter

Twitter: Riveting thoughts, in very small doses


Note: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting what I do!

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    20 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Do you mind saying how much the metal kit was?

    And how long does it take to raise the desk? How much travel does it have? (I might have missed these details.)

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    From memory, the kit was a little over $250.

    It takes a little under 30 seconds to raise.

    Goes from way too low to way too high ;) about 30" to 48"

    Phil B

    2 years ago

    It is very attractive and nicely done. Can the long pieces on the top expand and contract across their width with changes in humidity without restriction from the pieces across the ends of the long pieces or the pieces screw to the underside?

    2 replies
    JackmanWorksPhil B

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Phil! I covered some of those details if you read over steps 7 and 8 again. The breadboard is only glued in the center and loose on the ends except for the dowels in a widened hole. The under piece is similar, glued in the center and screwed into elongated holes.

    Phil BJackmanWorks

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for the espouse. It sounds like you did an excellent job. It certainly looks very fine.


    2 years ago

    Very nice job! This is a great all-around woodworking project - from rough sawing to dimensioning to designing to joining to finishing - all with the modern touch of the metal adjustable base. And a great use of a wide range of tools. Well played sir.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    Looks very good . Had a ?, Is there any reason why one could not apply walnut to the exposed inner square tubing when it is lifted? How much clearance is there between the slide fit of the tubing? . If this could be done it would give the unit a full walnut or wood of choice look. Where I live we have a good supply of sequoia and solid tables go for up in the stratosphere amounts of money and non adjustable. This is elegant in looks and a sequoia look would be beautiful indeed also. Thanks for a good post.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I wanted to do that and I actually have the walnut veneer to match! Once I got a closer look I realized the tollerence is just way to tight for that to be able to work unfortunately.


    2 years ago

    I would have painted all that white metal frame in something that matches the color of the table. Really nice work though! :)

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah, I wanted to do that to, probably would have painted it black. Once I got a closer look at the mechanism, the tolerance in the risers is so tight that I'm sure it would have scraped off unfortunately.


    2 years ago

    I am basically Speechless..

    Awesome work. And Detail.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    Beautiful work! And possibly the best build video soundtrack I've ever heard!

    1 reply