Simple Stand-up Desks

This Instructable covers the construction of a simple stand-up desk, based on the low-waste construction style of aeray's bookshelves. I love this simple style of  construction and was very pleased about how easy it was to apply it to creating these stand-up desks, which are designed to be placed on top of a normal desk to convert it into a standing desk.

I built this at TechShop in Pittsburgh, which made it much easier to make them, but you can also make them in your home workshop if you don't have a TechShop in your area.

This project is dedicated to my Dad, who taught me how to make things in his basement workshop, and showed me that it's darn hard to get through a worthwhile project without cutting your fingers at least once. Happy birthday, Dad!

Step 1: Get Boards

Building one two-foot wide desk (big enough for a laptop and a single monitor) requires a ten-foot length of 1"x3", a six-foot length of 1"x8", and a four foot length of 1"x10".

A three-foot wide desk (better for a desktop computer with external keyboard and mouse) requires nine feet of 1"x8" and six feet of 1"x10".

In addition, each desk requires eight fender washers with 1/4" inner diameter, eight 1/4" wingnuts, and a length of 1/4" threaded rod.Be  sure the wingnut and threaded rod are both either "coarse" or "fine" threaded, not one of each. 

In terms of tools, you'll need a saw (a circular saw, chop saw, or ripsaw will work), a drill or drill press, a hole saw attachment at least 2" wide, and a 1/4" or 5/8" drillbit.

I made a bunch of desks at once, hence all the wood. 

Step 2: Cut Boards

Cut the 1"x3" into two 1' lengths, and four 2' lengths.

For a 2' wide desk, cut the 1"x8" into three 2' lengths, and the 1"x"10" into two 2' lengths.

For a three-foot wide desk, cut the 1"x8" into three 3' lengths, and the 1"x"10" into two 3' lengths.

Step 3: Drill Mounting Holes in the 1"x3"

Using the 5/8" bit, drill holes in the 1' and 2' lengths of 1"x3". These pieces form the uprights of the desk. 

On the 1' length, drill holes in the center of the face of the board, at 9", 10", and 11".
On the 2' length, drill holes in the center of the face of the board at 9", 10", and 11" and 21", 22", and 23". 

If you do not have a 5/8" drill bit, a 1/4" bit will work, but assembling the desk will be more difficult (since the threaded rod will not pass through the holes as easily. 

Step 4: Drill Cord Management Holes

Using the hole saw, drill two 2" wide holes in two of the 1"x8" boards (four holes total). I marked pilot holes at about 2.5" from the edge of each board. These are used in the top and middle of the desk boards to ensure monitor cables aren't going everywhere. 

Step 5: Cut Threaded Rod

Cut the threaded rod into four lengths, two lengths 19.25" long and two lengths 9.25 inches long. Be a little generous with these lengths - longer is better. You can go as long as 19.5" and 9.5" without a problem. 

This was worth the price of admission to TechShop right here. I've build this style of shelf and desks many times before, and the hardest part by far has been cutting the threaded rod. It either takes forever or I cut my fingers in the process...or both. 

This time, I got to cut the rod using a sheet metal cutter, then used a disc grinder to round off the ends. Much easier! If you don't have access to these tools, you can use a hacksaw or a grinder to cut the rod and round off the ends - it'll just take a while.

Step 6: Assemble the Uprights

Take your lengths of  1"x3" and group them into two sets of  one 1' and two 2' lengths. 

Thread the long length of rod through  the holes at 9",10", or 11", in the 1' and 2' uprights, and the short length of rod through the holes at 21", 22", or  23" on the 2' uprights. Your choice of  which  hole will determine the height of your desk and monitor stand.

After threading the long rod through all three boards, and the short rod through two, put the fender washers on the ends of the threaded rod, and thread the wingnuts onto the ends of the rod. Tighten the wingnuts only until they are just secured on the rod. Separate the boards to form one of your uprights; repeat the process to form the second.

Step 7: Add Boards to the Top and Middle of the Desk

Place one of the 1"x8" boards, into which you've drilled the cord management holes, on the top of the short length of rod at the top of the uprights. Lightly tighten the wingnuts until the board is just held in place. Place the second 1"x8" board with cord holes on top of the middle threaded rod, between the 2' uprights. Finally, place one of the 1"x10" boards on the middle rod, between the 1' and 2' uprights, forming the desk surface.

Tighten the wingnuts on the top and middle rod until tight. The 1' uprights may angle in slightly at the bottom - this is fine, and will be addressed in the next step. 

Step 8: Place Bottom Boards

Place the remaining 1"X8" and 1"x10" boards flush with the bottom of the desk. You may have to insert them at an angle and lever them down to get them to fit, but once placed, they should fit securely. If not, tighten the top and middle wingnuts.

Step 9: Add Computer and Monitor and Enjoy Being a Stand-up Guy (or Gal)!

Place your laptop on the main portion of the desk, and you're ready to go! I also highly recommend placing a monitor on the upper level, so you're not staring downward at your screen all the time. Use the bottom area for storage, and enjoy!



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5 years ago on Introduction

Sweet design! I love the simplicity, and yet, functionality. It has a really clean look too. Nice 'ible :)