Programming while sitting at a desk has always been problematic for me. I’ve never been able to maintain perfect, upright posture while sitting. I usually sit hunched forward, which is terrible on my back. If I recline, I want to dose off whenever I come across something challenging. When left my full time and started working from home last April, I decided to give a standing desk a try.
Problem is, manufactured standing desks are quite rare and ones large enough to accommodate my setup don’t exist. I wasn’t about to shell out thousands for a custom made one, so I did what any self-respective bootstrapper does and built my own. My Mom had a couple mid-century file cabinets in her basement weighing at least 200lb’s each. I knew I could trust my setup on top of those tanks, so I unscrewed the counter of my ikea desk and layed it across them. It was sturdy, but not high enough to rest my elbows on. Eight cinder blocks later, I was in business. Only problem was it looked like this:
The appearance of my workspace wouldn’t be such an issue if I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a roommate / girlfriend with refined visual taste. Upon first sight, she dubbed it “The Spaceship”. Kaitlin approved of my experiment temporarily, but immediately set a deadline a month out to build a better looking version. A month later, I was in love with my desk, but had no time to figure out how to make it easier on the eye.
A year passed. I knew there had to be a good looking homemade solution out there. I came across this attractive Ikea hack, but at 42″ it was half a foot shy of elbow rest height. Yesterday, Kaitlin and I ventured to Ikea with the intent of finding materials for “The Spaceship” 2.0. Upon first glance of EXPEDIT shelving unit (below), I knew there was hope of finding a support as sturdy as my tanks. Problem was no single unit in the EXPEDIT collection was elbow rest height.
Not to be defeated, I starting thinking of ways I could saw off half of the one of the four shelf cabinets (above). Fortunately, I consulted with a masterful Ikea employee named Rocky. He strongly advised against using a sawed off unit as hollow particle board loses its structural integrity when cut. Fortunately, Rocky was down to hack and talked me through some other ideas for combining EXPEDIT items. I followed his vision and am thrilled with how it turned out:
The Ikea items are as follows:
- 2 x 2×2 Expedit shelving unit (801.352.98, $40 each)
- 2 x 5×1 Expedit shelving unit (201.162.74, $60 each)
- 1 x 73″x10″ Lack shelf (601.037.50 $30)
The 5×1 shelving units are laid over the 2×2 units to create a countertop. I only used the frame of the 1×5 shelf for the front of the desk so that I could sit under it with my high chair (can’t stand all the time). Here’s what it looked like during construction:
I bolted everything together using some screws and braces from the hardware store:
The shelve is supported by some cut up 2×4′s. I meant to get some pretty 6″ Capita legs at Ikea, but forgot. Next time.
End result: a happier girlfriend for a days work and $250 in parts. Thanks Ikea and Rocky for the inspiration!