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What Does It Take to Build a DIY Standing Desk?

With the amount of sitting in a modern work day, a standing desk can be very appealing way to get your work done in a healthier way – and sit less! One way to get one is to build your own standing desk.

Why Make a DIY Standing Desk?

There are generally three good reasons to build your own desk:

  1. Cost. A good quality standing desk can be an investment, so in many cases the reason behind a DIY standing desk is to come up with a cheaper alternative.
  2. Design. When you build your own desk, you’re free to customize the design with your own style, colors, materials, and more.
  3. Reuse. If you already have a desk, or part of one, you may be able to reuse some of what you have. Modifying your existing desk can even be a way to try a standing desk without investing the full monty. 

If you’re handy, you could come up with a standing desk that meets your exact specifications without breaking the bank.

Types of DIY Standing Desks

Before getting the hammer out of the toolbox, there are a few types of DIY standing desks to consider:

  • Fixed height standing desks. If you only occasionally want to use a standing desk, a taller version of a traditional desk can be the simplest way to go. These are the most common DIY desks, and the easiest to assemble. 
  • Standing desk converters. A converter sits on top of a traditional sitting desk to elevate the screen to the right height for standing. It can be as simple as a stack of books. A converter can be an easy way to try standing, and if you stow the converter, you may be able to use the same desk for sitting. 
  • Sit to stand desks. Adjustable standing desks are the darling of workers who spend long stretches at their desk, since alternating between postures gives the greatest health benefits. You’ll find that plans for building your own electric standing desk are generally geared towards the more advanced DIYer due to the amount of engineering that goes into adjustable desk design.

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Are There Any Drawbacks to a DIY Standing Desk?

A DIY standing desk can be the perfect option if you have some skills and creativity. However, the simplest designs can lack stability, and are not easily adjustable or necessarily ergonomic. You probably wouldn’t want to rely on them 40 hours a week year after year. Also, if you’re concerned about aesthetics, some of the more makeshift designs are not all that attractive.

On top of that, a DIY desk may not be any cheaper than a commercially available option. By the time you add up the cost of materials, plans, and your time to gather these items and create the desk, you may actually be investing more. 

If it seems like all of these drawbacks might be true for you, there still could be a reason build a standing desk anyway. Why? A basic DIY standing desk can be a good first step to see what you do and don’t like about standing desks. 

What Are the Best Ways to Build a Standing Desk?

There are a few approaches to making your own standing desk, and some don’t involve any construction at all.

Modify an Existing Desk

If you have an existing traditional height desk, consider swapping the legs for taller ones. Even if you don’t have a desk you want to modify, you may a have bookcase that can be adapted, or an existing dresser that can function as a desk with the addition of a new work surface.

Build a Standing Desk from the Ground Up

You’ll find desk plans as simple as a shelf affixed to the wall, or a pieced-together desk assembled from IKEA furniture parts. Even sawhorses can be used with a large work surface. For the real DIY enthusiast, you can find standing desk plans that allow you to exercise your furniture craftsmanship skills.

Start with a Standing Desk Frame

For many, the DIY “sweet spot” is to attach your own work surface to a height adjustable standing desk  base. Starting with a pre-engineered base takes most of the guesswork out of the DIY project, and much of the time as well. You’ll likely end up with something much closer to what you want long term.

A height adjustable base gives you the benefit of powered adjustment, ergonomic design, and reliable stability. Just attach a work surface you already have, or your own custom created surface.

Tips for Building Your Own Standing Desk

When you’re building your own desk, start by figuring out the space you have available, as well as the materials. Decide on the type of desk that appeals to you, and search for standing desk plans.

Regardless of the type of desk you choose, the most important point is to choose the most ergonomic height for your desk. The right height will vary depending on the height of whoever uses the desk. As a rule of thumb, the ideal height is one where your elbows are bent 90 degrees as you rest your hands on the desk.

If you’ve come all this way to realize that you’re not inclined to build a standing desk, that’s OK too. Keep in mind that there are some great standing desks on the market that can quickly be shipped right to you.