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DIY Standing Computer Desk

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Health, How To | 0 comments

DIY Standing Desk

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.

DIY Standing Desk FullThe 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.

Alternate Idea

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.

Alternative DIY Standing Desk

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.

DIY Computer Desk




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How To Make A Computer Desk: Adding A Slide Out Drawer (Completed)

Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in How To | 0 comments

Final with painted keyboard tray


In the last post I talked about the steps I took to make a cheap slide out desk tray. However, I hadn’t put any final finishes on it. Basically I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make it white like the rest of the desk or stain it wood colored. As you can see I didn’t do either. My friend had some extra paint left over from painting a few shelves, and I thought the dark brown would be a good contrast to the otherwise complete white.

At this point the desk is pretty much complete. However, I am considering adding a sing shelf under the desk. I still haven’t decided yet.

If you decide to build your own, be sure to let me know about it. I would love to see the pictures when it’s done.

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How to Make a Computer Desk: Adding a Slide Out Drawer

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in How To | 0 comments

DIY Computer Slide Out Tray

Last week I made a post talking about how to make a computer desk. After I got my new Imac, I realized that I needed more desk space. I also wanted my keyboard and mouse a little lower. Having it too high was making my arms tired. Simply put, I needed a slide out tray.

There are slide out trays available for sale, and I checked those first. Unfortunately, most were pretty expensive. I didn’t want to spend $40 on a tray when I only spent $25 on the entire desk. The other difficulty was was finding one here in Japan.

You can probably figure where this is going…

I decided to build my own. Building a slide out keyboard tray is actually quite simple. All you need are some sliding mechanisms (like what any drawer would have), a piece of wood for the tray, and a couple of brackets to mount it to the desk. All of the parts together cost me less than $10.

I designed my tray to be very low-profile, but you could put it at any height you want to. Mine is actually such a low profile I have to turn the keyboard sideways to allow the tray to slide back in. It still needs to be sanded and painted, but you get the idea.

Now, what to do for a chair?


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How to Make a Computer Desk Out of Pallets

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 in How To, Other | 2 comments

For the last couple of years I have been using a dining table as my computer desk. Since I got tired of having to move my computer, and since I have an iMac coming, I needed a new desk. I checked out a few of the ones available at the local stores, but after not liking the styles (or the prices), I decided to build my own. With the exception of 3 pieces (the top and two supports) the entire thing is made out of pallets. I spent about a total of $25 for all of the parts

Computer Desk Materials

Two of the panels are basically used as is. Though I did remove some of the bottom panels for a little more leg room. I dismantled the third panel for parts, which became the legs.

Bottom Panel

Then I just took longer boards I removed from the other pallet and connected the two.

Pallet Computer Desk with Legs

Lastly, I added a couple of cross braces to add stability, and painted the entire thing white. Depending on your location, you may be able to get away without staining or painting, but in the high humidity we have here it would probably have already rotted away.

Completed and painted

And since my new computer arrived yesterday: here is the final result!

Desk with iMac


The only thing left is to build a slide out trey for the keyboard and mouse. I am still thinking about the best way to go about it. Let me know if you have any ideas.

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