Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Standing Desk

I had a co-worker, a few jobs back in 2010, who came in on his first day and started setting up boxes in his cube. I questioned what he was doing and he informed me that he was creating a standing desk. Curious as to why he would want to stand and work all day, I started to do my own research on the benefits of standing at your work station.

I found plenty of skeptics pointing out that not enough scientific studies had been completed to verify that standing all day was healthy or more healthy then sitting, and others questioning what standing for an extended period of time would do to your knees. I recently received this picture below as a PDF from my employer that really summed up why people should consider standing at their desk, The Health Hazards of Sitting. Standing at your desk does not need to be a 8 hour affair. Personally, I aim for 6 hours a day, but everyone is different and you definetly have to build your muscles and tolerance to standing for extended periods of time.

In short, I decided to stand at my workstation for a few days to see if I could/should/wanted to invest in this idea of a standing desk. I immediately noticed a difference in my attention span, a greater attention to detail , and I felt more awake throughout the day. In 2010, I stood for roughly six months and then moved to a different organization and enjoyed sitting on a ball chair. I recently was motivated to get back into the grove of standing though, once again, a new co-worker coming in and setting up boxes in his cube.

I tried to go the box building route again, but got discouraged when everything wiggled, so I started looking at buying a standing desk set-up. Depending on the sophistication of the set-up prices vary; for my needs I wanted something that would work within my current cubical setting. I found standing desks for $69.99 up to $851.05. But given that I am frugal, I wanted to find the best quality for the lowest price possible. So, I decided to make my own!

What I used:
  • Measuring Tape
  • Wood Glue
  • Nail Gun with 2" nails 
  • Pine Wood 
  • Sandpaper
  • Home Depot's Wood Cutting Personnel :) 
First off, I need to thank my dad for walking me through my design and my uncle for letting me use his nail gun and teaching me how to use the nail gun- that was a very important piece!! Nick also deserves a round of applause for agreeing to hold the boards while I nailed them together and he managed to come out of the experience without any holes in his hands. He is a brave man :)

Since this is not a woodworking blog, I will not bore you with the details of creating the boxes, but I will break out the cost analysis.

I made two boxes, one for my monitor and one for my keyboard/mouse. In total, I needed  11ft of 3/4in board 8 inches wide of wood. I went with pine because it is a cheaper wood, lightweight,and would look good in my gray office space.

So here is the cost breakdown:

11ft of 3/4in board 8 inches wides Pine: $25.58
Wood Glue, smallest bottle available: $3.83
Nail Gun and Nails : FREE- this was a huge cost and time saver for me
Sandpaper: $3.97
Cutting of the Wood : FREE- nice trick to know at Home Depot they will do basic cuts for you at no cost

Total Cost: $ 33.38

Total Cost Savings: $36.61 
My cost saving on this project is based on if I were to have bought the cheapest standing desk option I found at $69.99.

Total time for the project: 4 Hours and 25 Minutes
This includes measuring the needed height for the boxes at my work station (10 mins), laying out the design and getting feedback (30 mins), going to Home Depot for supplies (1.5 hrs), setting up and learning to use the nail gun (30 mins), assembling the box (45 mins), and sanding (1 hour).

At the end of the day, I believe this project was well worth the investment of time and money for the benefits of a healthier work environment. If you want to learn more about the specifics on putting together your own standing desk, shoot me an email or toss a comment on the bottom and I am happy to give you some more details.

Happy Standing!


  1. Love this - and may ask you for help building one this fall! :) A side note, local DC hardware stores will cut wood/glass for you, and the local Ace chains in Logan, 5th Street, Tenley, etc. will rent out equipment like nail guns, power washers, ladders, need to buy!

    1. Thanks Danielle for your comment. That is a great suggestion :) I know I am lucky to have family with tools near by, but for those without this resource, perhaps getting a few projects to "nail" out in one weekend or sharing the cost with a friend would be the best way to make the most out of the money needed to rent the equipment.

  2. Amazing job on the desk! Well-written piece. It is frustrating that there still exists an anti-standing stigma in some environments. I stand at my desk all day and that sometimes bothers my colleagues. Suggestion to make standing more fun: incorporate some yoga poses (utkatasana, vriksasana, etc.). I find this helps center my mind, strengthen my body ... and just makes the day more fun!

    Thanks for the desk pics!

    1. Yoga poses at my desk? That is like crazy multitasking for my brain :) I love this idea, but I don't take yoga so I may need to print out photos of a few poses and hang them in my cube to remind me what a utkatasana or vriksasana pose looks like! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Firstly, I just love your newly invented term "designerliness" as Google is also showing just your blog while searching this word. Good initiative and excellent strategy. Secondly, your research is worth-reading with surprising factual outcomes. In past, all researchers have been working with these variables and none of them discussed about Stand up desk along with its effect over the cervical vertebrae. Very good work and thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. I questioned what he was doing and he informed me that he was creating a standing desk. Curious as to why he would want to stand and work ...

  5. I questioned what he was doing and he informed me that he was creating a standing desk. Curious as to why he would want to stand and work ...

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hi, thanks for this wonderful article on the benefits of standing desks. I loved reading this article and I hope other buyers will also find it helpful to know the benefits of standing desks. I remember how hard it was for me to find the best standing desk and if you are looking for the best one then you should check this list of standing desks where you will find the right one for your needs.