Build a Standing Desk for <$200 and No Waste

I’ve succumbed to the urge to acquire a standing desk. I find that I am trying to work on my software projects in the evening after getting home from my day job and I am hoping that standing will help me stay more alert.

I would really like to have a GeekDesk, but $1.1k seems like a lot to spend in order to try it out. LifeHacker has several how-to articles on the topic of putting together a cheap standing desk, but none of them are very attractive, or adjustable. So I set out to build a cheap and attractive and adjustable standing desk.

The Finished Product

![Josh Austins home-made standing desk](

Josh Austin’s home-made standing desk

I thought it would be cool to include my parts list and some instructions because I think almost anyone could build this desk.

Tools List

  1. Drill – I used a drill press, but you certainly could use a handheld drill if that is what you have.
  2. Sockets or adjustable wrenches
  3. Hammer
  4. Square Edge – This is important. If you don’t have one, buy one when you go to Home Depot. They are cheap and it is impossible to build good furniture without one.
  5. Circular Saw (optional) – Home Depot will make the major cuts for you, but they probably won’t want to make the “decorative” cuts that I made in the feet and upper support parts. They are easy to make yourself if you have, or can borrow a circular saw.

Parts List

  1. Tabletop: Ikea Vika Byske – $69.99

    Ikea Vika Byske 1

  2. Legs: Four 1“x6”x8’ Pine Boards from Home Depot – $16.94 each ($67.76 total)

    Home Depot 1x6s

    Home Depot will cut the boards to length for you if you ask, and if you follow my directions below you can build this base with almost zero wasted wood.

  3. Misc Items:

    • Bolts:
      1. 14“ x 2”: Six for $1.20
      2. 14“ x 4”: Six for $0.72 (these are not correctly scanned on my receipt)
      3. 14“ x 3”: Four for $0.88
      4. 14” Fender Washer: Thirty-Three for $6.60
      5. 14” Hex Nuts: Eighteen for $1.08
    • Wood Glue: Elmer’s Carpenters Wood Glue (8oz) for $2.97
    • Wood Filler: Elmer’s Wood Filler (2oz) for for $2.79
    • Finish Nails: 1–12” for $3.57/lb (I bought one 1lb box)
    • Paint: Painter’s Touch Navajo White $3.87 per can (plan to use 4 or 5 cans)
    • Felt Adjustable Feet: One pack of 4 feet for $3.97
    • Corner Braces: One pack of 4 2” braces for $4.68
    • Sandpaper: One pack of 150G sandpaper for $3.97

My Receipt from Home Depot:

Home Depot Receipt

As you can see the total cost is not too bad, subtract the vise grips and the orange soda from my receipt, and add $7.74 for two more cans of paint to get a more accurate number.

Total Cost: $185.75

  1. Home Depot: $115.76
  2. IKEA: $69.99

How to Put it all together

  1. While at Home Depot ask them to cut the 4 boards for you as follows (each board is 96in total length):
    1. 36“ + 36” + 24“ = 96”
    2. 36“ + 24” + 30“ + 6” = 96”
    3. 30“ + 30” + 30“ + 6” = 96”
    4. 24“ + 24” + 24“ + 24” = 96”
  2. Sort the parts according to size and make sure you have the following:
    1. 36” x 3 – horizontal connectors
    2. 30” x 4 – lower leg sections
    3. 24” x 6 – upper leg, feet, table-top supports
    4. 6” x 2 – spacers in the lower legs
  3. Build the Adjustable Legs. Here is what we are shooting for.

    Adjustable Legs

    Adjustable Legs

    1. Mark and drill your holes. I ended up using a triangle pattern for the joints between the horizontal and the vertical secionts because I thought it would be plenty strong, and it made fewer holes for me to drill. I tried to do two boards at a time. If you want to try this too I would drill the hole on the center-line first and then bolt the boards together. There is no better clamp than a bolt! I drilled the “height-adjustment-holes” 12” apart down the upper legs.

      Upper Leg Drilling

    2. Assemble Upper Leg:


    3. Assemble Lower Leg:


  4. Connect the Adjustable Legs with the 36” sections to build the Center Box. Here is what we are shooting for:

    Center Box

    Here is the Plan:


    Be sure to leave the upper part of the inner board of the lower leg sections free. Do not nail it to the upper horizontal cross-board. It must be free to travel and put clamping force against the board of the upper leg when it is inserted between the boards of the lower leg.

  5. (optional) Sand and caulk the whole thing. I did this, but you don’t have to. It will make it look nicer when you paint it, in my opinion. The photo of the lower section in Step 4 shows the assembly after sanding and caulking.

  6. (optional) Paint it. I think this makes it look better too. I made the mistake of not buying primer, so my paint job may have been slightly more expensive that necessary. Let it sit at least overnight to dry the paint.

  7. (optional) Put adjustable feet on it. I bought the adjustable feet with felt to make sure that I didn’t scratch my wood floors. Your mileage may vary, and you may not need the feet if you have carpet.

  8. Put it in your house and put the table top on it. Use the L brackets to screw the top on securely. When you are done it should look like this:

    Finished Standing Desk

Thoughts and Tips!

  1. Always use a square edge. It is critical to making a good desk. They are cheap so if you don’t have one buy one!

    Square Edge

  2. By my calculation this desk should adjust from about 36“ to about 49”. I’m 5’10” and as you can see from the photo of the finished desk, I am right in the middle of the travel range.

  3. How to make it cheaper? I think you could make this desk a lot cheaper by:

    1. Not painting it.
    2. Using a cheaper table top. IKEA has pine tops and their MDF(?) board tops that are significantly cheaper than the beach top I used. I think it was one of the more expensive ones they make. You could probably shave up to $30 off the cost this way.
    3. Use cheaper boards. I picked the pine boards because they were light and very straight right of the shelf. They were also some of the most expensive boards that Home Depot sold. If I had used oak boards I could have cut the wood cost almost in half, saving about another $30.
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