How to Create a Standing Desk

A standing desk in an office space.

Virginia Woolf famously wrote while standing up, and she’s not the only person to choose a standing desk over a sitting one. If you want to stay more mobile, more alert and more awake when you’re working, a standing desk may be the best option. DIY it to make it an affordable project.

DIY Standing Desk Options

Building a DIY standing desk feels a little daunting, but only at first. Basically, you’re creating a taller-than-average table, and that’s not so difficult at all. You have a few different options for building your own standing desk.

Add On

How to Create a Standing Desk

You can always add on to an existing desk or table. All you need to build is a second desktop to stand on top of the first. To do this, attach four new legs sticking up from the existing desktop. You can find ready made table legs at the home center, or use lengths of pipe or thredded rod, depending on the style of your desk. The new height of the desk top should be at about elbow level, so plan accordingly.

Secure the new legs in place with L-brackets, wood screws, or floor flanges, bearing in mind that you will be altering the existing desktop permanently. Now, all you have to do is attach a new tabletop. Use a sanded piece of plywood or the top of a coffee table or piece of tempered glass. Braces can be added in-between the four legs horizontally to strengthen the design.

Use Wall Space

If you don't already have a desk, just build a shelf. Make it at the right height and secure it to the studs of the wall, and you can use your shelf as a standing desk. It will be deeper than a typical shelf, so if you don't want extra large shelf brackets then install two legs on the front edge. You will be facing the wall you entire time you work, which can get a little dreary, so consider building it right across a window.

How to Create a Standing Desk

Make a Mobile Desk

Convert a nightstand to make a mobile standing desk. This is better than a small table because it will maintain a low center of gravity to prevent tipping. Use the same technique as with the add-on desk, but with a smaller tabletop and longer legs. Add casters to the original feet, with locking ones in front. You may need to cut off the bottom of the legs to get a flat surface. Remember to account for the height of the casters when figuring out the height of the new desk top.

Stack a Mini Desk

Go a super-easy route, and build yourself a transportable DIY standing desk that can be placed on any existing desktop. Essentially, build a small box that can support your laptop or tablet. Use plywood and 1-inch wood screws to put the simple design together. Match up the corners of the wood before you nail, and shore up the inner corners with L-brackets to keep it sturdier. Finish the edges and paint or stain it however you like.

The Benefits of Standing

Working at a standing desk may seems odd, because it’s not the norm, but it's catching on and research indicates this is the healthier choice. People who stand when they work have less risk of obesity, and therefore less risk of diabetes and other complications. You’ll have less risk of cardiovascular disease, and even a reduced risk of cancer. In other words, you can’t build your DIY standing desk too soon.