Mar 112014
 

Inspiration

The inspiration for the project I am showcasing today comes from the book Make Space. This book is awesome! The authors bear an incredible understanding of how space affects the way that people think, feel, and interact. If you have a home or office where you have the power to change things around, you are sure to be inspired by this book which will explain things that you have known intuitively but didn’t know how to put into words.

Aside from the mental benefits of standing, there are also numerous health benefits! I think this Lifehacker article sums it up very well.

Goal

My coworker, Chris, and I decided that we really want to stand at our desks full-time. We looked at a number of different solutions, from propping up our monitors and keyboard to putting our desks up on cinder blocks, but finally we decided to modify the legs of the existing desks that we had in order to bring the work surface up to elbow height.

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This is a picture of an unmodified desk. You can see from the picture that there are a number of single legs which are already adjustable, but the maximum height of the desk is only 32 1/4 in. The ideal height for a standing desk would place the work surface at or just below your elbows when your shoulders are relaxed, so we already know this won’t work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give it some extra height regardless.

The Design

Coming up with the design is half the fun, but it wasn’t necessarily easy. Here are the dirty details:

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Initially we intended to make the legs out of steel, but then we found that the set screw you can see above protrudes into the shaft quite a bit, maybe to set a minimum level (?):

IMG_3471This forced us to consider a different strategy than steel. We want to maintain the function of the set-screw, but didn’t want to cut or bend the steel. That’s when Chris remembered something he had seen on Hack A Day (I was wrong, it was actually this YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BackyardBowyer)¬†about heating PVC pipe to make it malleable. PVC is a great material to work with because it is really cheap and adaptable and has a good set of fittings for making things square or joining them together.

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My co-worker Chris is awesome at fabricating things, and he did most of the work when it came to assembling the new legs. Above you can see the fixture used to hold the shape of the pipe while it’s being formed. Early on, we had an issue with the pipe deforming in the wrong direction and it wouldn’t fit in the desk any more!

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This is a 1200W heat gun that we use for all sorts of things around the lab, including de-soldering large SMT components.

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After the PVC is warm, the shape of the divot can be pressed into the pipe with anything rigid, like this giant chisel.

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Here is a comparison of the original steel leg and 3 new PVC legs, almost twice as long but yet with the proper indentation.

The next part of the design is what I call the “ankle”. We decided to use the foot that came with the the desk:

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We chose to use a pair of PVC fittings to form the “ankle”. These are readily available from Lowe’s (PVC 00101 1000 and¬†PVC 00110 0600). The screw-on design is convenient because it allows us to bolt down the cap before we attach the legs. It also make it very easy to revert in case the facilities manager gets upset. :)

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Add a coat of primer and a coat of shiny silver spray paint and you can’t even tell they’re PVC!

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Finally, here is a picture of a hipster using the final product.

Conclusion

All in all, I am very satisfied with the output, ESPECIALLY for the value:

$6.29 – 10ft 2″ PVC pipe
$4.17 – 3 PVC Adapter Fittings
$6.00 – 3 PVC Cleanout plugs
$1.32 – 6 Bolts
$0.36 – 6 Nuts
$1.19 – 6 Washers
$4.50 – Primer and Paint (approximate)

$23.83 – Total cost (ignoring PVC primer and glue, which is really cheap)

As you can see, this is a great value and if something doesn’t work out, you can always go back to the original legs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article, please feel free to leave comments or questions!

  7 Responses to “Ikea Standing Desk Hack”

  1. That Chris guy sounds pretty awesome… but I heard that he got the idea of molding the PVC from youtube on a channel about making PVC archery bows…

  2. Was it this one? I didn’t realize how easily you could heat-gun a PVC tube into bendy goop until I watched this fellow on youtube making bows from schedule40 pipe. (We ended up making my niece a too-functional costume prop from 1/2″ pvc and some hay baling string for her Katniss Everdeen halloween costume.)

    https://www.youtube.com/user/BackyardBowyer

  3. Hi there. I saw your hack on Hack a Day. I’ve been wanting a standing desk but all the solutions out there are either too pricey or don’t give enough desk area. Your hack is pretty awesome and I’d like to give it a try myself. However there was one thing I was wondering, do you still use the set screws to anchor some how into the PVC or did you just cut the PVC to the appropriate length and have the table fully rest on the tops of them? If you are using the set screws, how?

    Also what paint did you use?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Rubin,

      Thanks for the compliments! We do, indeed, still use the set screws on the original desks. This was the only reason we needed to bend the PVC pipes, so that the legs could go past the set screws and still be adjustable (as well as secure).

      The paint we used was from Lowes, maybe it was a Rust-Oleum? Gray primer and silver glossy paint.

  4. This is awesome. I’ve been looking for a solution to the same issue and I think this is it. Definitely going to try for myself.

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