Standing Desk Finished (more or less)

“I have a hammer! I can put things together. I can tear things apart. I can alter my environment while making an incredible din the whole time. God, its great to be a male.”
Calvin in “Calvin and Hobbes”

Like written in this posting, I was thinking about getting a standing desk. My posture while sitting is … not healthy and I’m reaching that age where the body is less forgiving. There’s also the slight hope that with a standing desk, I waste less time “working” on the computer. Not everything you can do is worthwhile to do, and digital information can be a time sink. I just feel to comfortably sitting in front of the computer — perhaps like other people feel when watching TV. And given that I have spaces and times for reflection and idea generation (e.g., walking to work, in the bathtub), and watching movies is more fun lying on my back, it would be nice to use the times at the computer for straightforward effective work only.

After stumbling upon Jessica’s instructions for building a standing desk out of an IKEA TV unit and a simple IKEA table, I was hooked.

It took a while until I found the components I needed at IKEA(*), but once they arrived I found her instructions easy to replicate. And that’s saying something, given that I usually don’t work with power tools and ordered a power drill as well. And bought a couple of other tools that I did not have. Yeah, I now have a toolbox — and oh yeah, power tools! 🙂

The finished standing desk looks like this:

My standing desk, using Jessica’s design. It combines an IKEA LACK TV unit with an IKEA Galant table (120 x 60 cm). And yup, the legs have to be attached this way. Looks strange and false, but it’s according to the instructions. And they explicitly highlight not to connect the legs with the corners of the frame.

The complete current setup is:

a: iPod nano (with wristband, cables, pens and a paper notebook, hung on nails), b: Samsung 27″ monitor, c: ScanSnap S1500M document scanner, d: headphones, e: step stool (atrocious color, I know, see below), f: Apple keyboard (should have used the shorter version, it puts the mouse a bit to far out to the right), g: gaming mouse with mouse pad, h: iPhone, i: Coffee!!!!, j: multi-plug and cables, k: MacBook Pro, l: paper notebook, m: books to read/scan, n: drawers with pens, documents to scan, oh, and some chips, the cheese and onion type, o: printer and hole punch (rarely needed, most of my documents are digital), p: standing mat (still trying it out, but it seems to prevent standing still for too long and is rather comfortable), q: sound chair (standing all the time is not healthy either, so this is a place to relax and read during the day).

flat_screw.jpgAnd yup, I agree with the material quality. Drilling through the TV unit was like punching mist. Even worse was inserting the screw. Like trying to put in an earring after not wearing one for a while — you are halfway through when you encounter resistance on the other side and ask yourself: Where the heck is the opening — and how can it not go straight through? Only instance where I deviated from the design was in the choice of the screws to connect the table frame with the TV unit — I used screws with a flat top (see right). The image also shows the mushiness of the material. When I was screwing in the nuts the screw top sunk into the material itself. Okay, I used pliers to turn the nut on the other side, but it did not take much strength. I wonder whether this is how Superman would feel in everyday interaction. Be very carefully in touching things and shaking hands — otherwise things get deformed and hands get crushed into a bloody pulp.

Anyway, I still have to find a more suitable monitor stand. I’m thinking about a block of wood like in another of Jessica’s designs, 24x24x24 cm, but I still need to find out where I can get it in my city. So far, the construction is neither beautiful nor trust inspiring. So yeah, finding a monitor stand is still a work in progress. It has to be about 24 cm high, which is the height of the step stool shown in the picture. Unfortunately, it lacks a flat base so I cannot put it completely to the back of the desk on its own. Using a wooden board and two screw claps hopefully hold it in place.

trips.pngBut it seems to work. (Note: If I stop posting after the current queue is empty — about the 8th or 9th of June — the monitor fell down and tore my notebook with it). And it was fun to build, although I had to do two trips to the hardware store despite having bought “everything” I needed before I got the parts. I bought the wrong nuts (cannot be screwed in beyond the end of the nut, a rubber/plastic ring prevents further screwing) and (when the desk was finished) I needed that step stool. Combine this with getting something to eat after the work was done, it was a rather walking-intensive day (see Motion X “24/7” screenshot on the right, click to enlarge). And yup, I know why I am wearing shoes made for cross-country jogging. 😉

But hey … standing at this desk … having it clear of unnecessary stuff, cables and notebooks (to sketch) in arm’s reach on the left, MacBook Pro and power/data cables below, other stuff below the desk, easy access to the audio jack without the headphone cable running over my keyboard or wrist, writing relaxed … this just might work. I likely need to adapt the height a little, given that the standing mat adds some centimeters in height. But yup, this works.

And thanks to Jessica for her instructions, I can only quote “Dune” and give her “that highest Fremen compliment: ‘Your plan worked.'”. 🙂


The only downside to this building experience was IKEA itself. In the online store, I could not ask a question without having to give my complete address details, including postal address and telephone number. I don’t create a user profile for asking a question. Even worse, the link to the data privacy regulations lead to a page about the data privacy for eRecruitment. Whut? Nope, I don’t want to work for IKEA, actually, I am a potential customer and just wanted to know whether I can order a specific part.
In the end, I just ordered the whole table instead of the parts I needed, costing me about 10€ more (meh! but perhaps I can do something with the board). To make matters worse, the eMail informing me about the delivery date was send from an eMail address that rejected eMail replies. Thank you, IKEA, for making it easy for me to confirm the appointment. They don’t seem to want any contact with customers, save for their money. They can send an eMail, but you can’t reply with the same medium. I thought about visiting the store via public transportation (don’t own a car, usually don’t need a car), but apparently the waiting periods at the checkout are extremely long.
But so be it, at least the delivery date was on a date that suited me. And after all, the products might be made of inferior materials (smell’s like IKEA in here), but it’s nice to try the design out and — if I really like it long term, perhaps recreate it with … more style and sturdier materials.

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