DIY standing desk for under $50

I’m a big fan of the standing desk, I’ve started using one more often in the past 6 months or so. It encourages me to move around a lot more, and I find that I work more productively when I’m standing.

I recently started a new job and wanted to set up a standing desk for myself. After looking into various options I decided to DIY it. I found this article with instructions to make a standing desk for $22 from Ikea parts, but as a city-dwelling millennial with no car and no Ikea within striking distance, I had to get a bit more creative. Since I don’t have a car, I was not eager to carry big parts around on public transit or carry them through the city. My Amazon Prime subscription was pretty key.

I first tried to find duplicates of the products in the original article, but I wasn’t able to find analogous things at Ikea prices from other merchants. I also wanted to avoid any power tools or intensive DIY, so grabbing raw materials from the hardware store was out.

As others have said, the key measurements you’ll need are for the keyboard height and the monitor height. This calculator will give you an eye and keyboard height estimate based on your height. To figure out the monitor height based on the eye height, measured the height of my monitor from the desk to about 70% of the way to the top of the screen and subtracted that from the eye height.

Your standing desk will need two platforms, one for the keyboard and one for the monitor. I was building on top of an existing desk, so surfaces that were the right height for the monitor were easier to come by. My desk was 29″ high, so I needed something to raise my monitor by about 18″. As it turns out, this is about coffee table height. I also wanted a surface large enough for both my monitor and a laptop, so I opted for a longer coffee table instead of a square one.

The keyboard platform is a bit trickier, as I needed a platform about 12″ above my desk, and foot-tall coffee tables are not terribly popular. After some browsing, I found some closet, desk, and cabinet organizers that were about the right height.

Shopping list:

  • $29.00 Parsons Modern Coffee Table in Espresso (from Amazon)
  • $17.99 ClosetMaid White 31in Stacker Horizontal Organizer (from Ace, also available from Amazon in different colors)

Total: $46.99

Optional (but recommended)

  • An anti-fatigue mat (I got this one for $10.76)

Other options (untested)

For the keyboard tray:

For the monitor stand:

Mine has been in action for a few days now, and so far so good. Assembly was super easy, all I needed was a screwdriver to put the organizer together. There’s a picture up top of the finished product. Share your standing desk stories/tips in the comments.

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Review of No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold RushNo Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush by Gideon Lewis-Kraus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting, quick read on the venture capital and entrepreneurship culture in San Francisco and the Valley. It followed two founders trying to obtain seed funding for their startup. As someone in the tech industry, I felt like the descriptions of the people and culture seemed a bit like caricatures, but there is truth to caricatures as well.

The writing was excellent, I’ve read other pieces my Lewis-Kraus and enjoyed them as well. And I enjoyed his perspective, if pessimistic, on the tech industry in this piece.

“The only thing they could count on was that they were going to be the generation that partook of the process by which all would be rendered irrevocably different. It didn’t seem to matter what the difference was, or whom it helped or hurt.”

View all my reviews

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