I’m not a big fan of heart attacks and I definitely want to avoid back problems. There are a growing number of studies showing how bad sitting all day is for you. The animated video below lists a number of the problems that are caused . (Also see below for what you need to build one yourself)
Unfortunately, I still have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer nearly everyday. When I first learned about people using standing desks I wanted to give it a try. At the time, I knew I would be moving soon and so I never did. I have recently moved to Hawaii and I needed a way to create two work spaces in our condo. There is one built in desk and not a lot of room. The perfect chance to build a standing desk.
Since we are planning to move in the near future, I decided to create something that I can use now as a computer desk and later as a book case. As you will see, there are a couple disadvantages to doing it this way. The advantage is that I can try it out, and if I don’t like it, I end up with a book case. If I do like it, I will be able to still turn this one into a book case and build an even better one later.
The biggest disadvantage is that a bookcase isn’t quite deep enough. Ideally you want your screen about 20-28″ away from your face. Because a book case is only 12″ deep, my screen sits about 12″ away from my face. I think I can fix this by adding an extension to the keyboard/mouse shelf. Luckily, the screen I am currently using is very small and 12″ isn’t too bad. In fact, 20-28″ might be a little too far away.
I wanted to keep the design as clean as possible, so I used dowels and glue for the joints. This means that my shelves aren’t adjustable. I recommend that you choose a way to make your shelves adjustable. You may find that the shelves shouldn’t go where you thought they should (my computer was sitting to high when I first tested it). Adjustable shelves will also allow multiple people to use the desk.
How I Built it
I had two main goals with this desk/bookshelf. First was price. I didn’t want to spend very much since this would be a tester desk. No reason to spend a lot of money and then hate it. The second was future usability. This would only be used temporarily as a desk, and for much longer as a bookshelf.
There are a number of types of prebuilt shelves you can buy that will work just as good as this. The reason I decided to build my own was cost and aesthetics. I’m not a big fan of particle wood.
- 3- 1″ x 12″ x 6′ wooden boards
- wood screws or wooden dowels
I had Home Depot cut one of the boards lengthwise into 4 even pieces to become the legs and the other two pieces cut in half to become the shelves. I measured out where I wanted to put the shelves, drilled the holes, installed the dowels, and then glued it all together. Pretty simple. It’s not perfect, but it works for now. I will put a clear protective coat over it once I have had a chance to sand it.
Altogether the supplies cost about $40.
What would I do differently
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not quite deep enough. It really needs to be about 24-30″ to make this work with a larger screen. I think I could make this current design work, by adding a slide out piece for the keyboard and mouse. I also think I would go a little bit wider. I often work with two monitors and that might get a little tight in this space.
The other thing I would add is a “wrap around” for more desk space. A place for writing and filling out documents, and maybe someplace to put a drink..
Other than that, I am actually quite pleased with it.
I enjoy working with my hands and really wanted to make something. If you wanted something more simple, and something that will still be usable later, then I think a heavy duty storage rack will work great. The shelves are adjustable, they have a smooth shelves, and they come with decent dimensions (though maybe a little too shallow). If you don’t like the desk, use can still use the shelving in your garage or pantry.
Sitting or standing
It’s still too early to tell. So far though, I really like it. Leaving and returning to the desk is much easier and it does seem to keep me more active. Not that I am leaving my computer more often, but I do tend to move around more. When I do have to leave the desk however, it is easier to get back to work.
The first day my legs were a little tired, but I seem to be getting used to it now. I am sure that my posture is much better.
DIY Desk Using Pallets
If you want a simple, cheap, DIY sit down desk, check out this desk I made a while back out of pallets. I think the whole thing cost me about $25.
- How to make a computer desk out of pallets
- DIY computer desk: Adding a slide out drawer
- DIY computer desk made of pallets: Complete