After sitting all day at work, the last thing we want to do is sit at home. Sitting has been considered the smoking of our generation, and my wife and I both agree that it makes us feel tired, bored, sore and sedentary. So when we moved into our new house, we searched everywhere for an affordable standing desk. We were disappointed to find that most of the desks were at least $300, which is way over our budget. Giving up on our standing desk, we eventually snagged this lightweight desk at Target on clearance. Ours is actually white with pine, but it looks like that color has been discontinued.
A few months later, I had an idea that we could raise our existing desk to standing height. Laura was excited that we could stick a couple bar stools underneath to also have more seating when we have company over. So this weekend I went to work…
It’s simple enough to raise a desk. First you need a good idea of how tall you want it to be. Most standing desks are 42 inches tall so that was our starting point, and it turned out to be a good height for us. I found the most comfortable height was forearms at or a little above perpendicular to my body. Spent some time testing heights between Laura and I and we settled with raising our desk about 11.5 inches.
Being a drafting designer, I find it really helpful to visualize and plan using my trade. So I drafted up the existing desk in AutoCAD and began laying out a rough plan for the riser. I knew I wanted to utilize 1″x 1″ pine lumber to closely match the pine finish already on the desk.
The plan was to recreate the bottom and project it downward with 9.5″ columns. The entire project only took around 2-3 hours and was fairly simple.
|Necessary lumber sizes:
- Safety first! During this process I encountered flying bits of wood and metal flakes. It’s best to keep those types of objects out of your eyes by wearing protective eye gear.
- Use a speed square to help get nice perpendicular lines for cutting.
- Best practice is to mark out your dimension, speed square a line, and measure it one more time to assure you have it in the right location. Measure twice, cut once.
- When cutting with a circular saw, another thing to keep in mind is the width of the blade. For this reason, I marked a dimension and made a cut, then marked the next dimension as to not have my lengths changed by the width of the blade.
- Before using the saw, be sure all the guides are set so you are cutting at 90 degrees. Some circular saws can cut at multiple angles depending on how you have the guides set.
- Saw down all the lengths.
- Looking at the design you may notice we are basically building three rectangles. Build the big rectangle first as it will be the primary load bearing extension to the desk since everything heavy sits at the back side of the desk. We will want the glue on this piece to set first so we can mount it first and build off of it. Basically a time saver.
- For the rectangles we located our hole locations and used a counter sink to help hide the screws on the finished product.
- Apply glue to the end of a 9.5″ stud and using a square to help line up 90 degrees, screw the 41.5″ length to the 9.5″ stud. Repeat for the remaining three 9.5″ studs.
- Once all your studs are placed, it’s time to add the top 41.5″ length to the rectangle. Start again by locating all your screw holes and drilling counter sinks.
- Apply some wood glue to the tops of all the 9.5″ studs. Using the square, flush one end of the 41.5″ length to the end 9.5″ stud and screw them together. Keep going down the 41.5″ length until all the 9.5″ studs have been screwed to the top 41.5″ length.
- We experienced some bowing in the 41.5″ length we tried to mount here, so by starting at one end flush and working our way down to the other end, we were able to work the bow out at the opposite end instead of trapping it in the middle of the frame causing additional forces to be trapped within the structure.
- Repeat the same process for the remaining two side rectangles by attaching two 9.5″ studs to either end of the 19.5″ lengths
- Once all the rectangle are completed wait about 30 minutes for the glue to set.
- Now its time to mount the extensions to the existing desk.
- Start with the larger rectangle as we will be building the rest of the extension off of this initial placement. Because of this take extra caution when aligning this piece as the alignment of the rest of the riser will be affected by this.
- I started by locating the positions of the bolts at about 4″ in from the outside edges and center between the two 9.5″ studs.
- Drill the three holes using a 1/4″ drill bit.
- Once the holes have been drilled through the wood extension, line up the extension on the desk to determine where the holes need to be drilled for the bolts to connect to the existing desk.
- Once aligned where it needs to be utilize a metal punch to mark the drilling locations into the existing frame.
- Remove the wood extension and drill 1/8″ pilot holes through the marked locations.
- After all the pilots have been established follow up with the 1/4″ drill bit to make the full size holes.
- Once all the holes are drilled line the wood extension back up on the existing frame. Be sure you haven’t flipped it around and that it is lined up to in the same position as when you first marked out the holes.
- Feed the bolts through the holes. Depending on how straight of holes you drilled, you may need the hammer here…
- Once all the bolts are through, add the washers and nuts and tighten them up.
- Repeat the same aligning and drilling process for the two 19.5″ rectangle side extensions.
- Once all the wood extensions are bolted to the existing frame, use the counter sink to put two connection screws through the back of each 9.5″ stud that connected the 41.5″ extension to the 19.5″ extensions and screw them together. This adds some structural support to the entire riser.
- At this point you have successfully created and attached a cheap riser to your existing sit down desk!
- Fill in the counter sank screws with wood putty to give the riser a clean appearance. Because the screw holes are located on the back and bottom of the riser, they will not be visible if your desk is against the wall. However, if your desk faces into your room, you may want to fill these in aesthetic purposes.
- Paint the riser to match your existing desk or room.
- Attach felt feet to the bottoms to help keep it from scratching up hardwood floors.
- Add plastic caps to the nuts and bolts to help hide them aesthetically or from catching wires and other items.
I found this project to be very simple. There are many simple desk extension plans and designs out there that can be applied to just about any desk with the right tools and a little time.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!