Adjustable standing desk

Our Colleague in America Chris Pollock was discussing the health risks of working while sitting all the time on the lifehacker website and was inspired to design a desk where he could stand, his reasoning is a work environment where he could potentially avoid all the risks of being sat for prolonged periods of time and possibly improve his fitness while working by incorporating a treadmill.


Chris Pollock: My design consisted of a telescoping pole that went from floor to ceiling and a perpendicular pole that could support a keyboard or laptop. I sketched it out on graph paper:

Sketchup Model

Thanks to my pal Sam, the Sketchup Master, you can also download this project and play with it in Sketchup

Building the Standing Desk

Chris: “Design is one thing, implementation is another. What I found when I went to build my desk is that the telescoping tubes did not have enough force to stabilize the unit. Basically at this point I had two options. 1) Attach the flanges directly to the ceiling and floor or 2) build a tensioning device to tighten the vertical pole. Both are valid options. Because I wanted my desk to be somewhat portable, I decided to go for the tensioning option. If that’s a little too risky for you, you can go with option one (attaching directly to the ceiling). “

Setup the Vertical Telescoping Tube

Slide the size 6 tube into the size 7 tube. You must be using size 6 tube for this to work properly. They have a near perfect telescoping relationship. The Size 6 tube should slide freely in the other tube.

Slip the collar onto thesize 6 tube and set it at the basic height for your ceiling.

Slip on the L45 to the larger tube and tighten it on at the working height of your desk (you can adjust this after it is setup).

Attach the L61-7 to the bottom of the tube and tighten it to the tube.

Two Options For Ceiling Attachment

1. Simple / Permanent – Attach fitting to tube and ceiling

The simplest way to attach the vertical tube to the ceiling is just to attach the L61-6 to the size 6 tube and screw it into the ceiling. That will give an unquestionable stability to the vertical tube. There are many different ways of attaching to the ceiling if you are using this method. You could even use a LC58-6 Swivel Flange to attach to a angled ceiling.

2. Semi-Portable – Tensioning Arrangement

I chose to be a bit more adventurous and setup a tensioning device with a threaded rod and a couple of nuts. This arrangement is also very stable, it just requires some more attention to detail and tightening.

The picture is probably the best explanation here. The threaded rod has two nuts. On the bottom the nut actually sits perfectly in the size 6 tube (couldn’t have been better if I planned it). On the top there is a nut, a lock washer and a regular washer (these all came in a package together.

To stabilise the rod inside the fitting I used a 35mm (1-3/8”) rubber stopper (another amazing fit!!). I drilled hole in the stopper and pushed the rod into the stopper. The stopper keeps the rod from sliding around in the top fitting while you are tightening. IMPORTANT: the rod is providing tension by pressing on the washer and the washer presses on the flange. Be careful that you don’t feed the rod too far through or it may end up poking into your ceiling.

On top of the flange I placed a pad that I actually ripped off the bottom of a furniture pad (the third perfect fit in this project!). You could use any foam rubber type material, just cut it into a circle that matches the circumference of the flange.

Create the Extending Arm Desk

I used a 1.2m (4 foot) section of tube to make my desk arm. You can see from the pictures that I could probably go shorter if I needed to. The tube caps are hammered into either end (put a cloth to protect the aluminium) and give the tube a really nice finished look.

The L70-7’s are used to attach the tube to the desk surface. Just attach the shelf with some basic screws and tighten the arm tube into the L70’s.

After you attach your shelf, slide the arm into the L45 on the vertical tube, set the angles and heights and you’re pretty much ready to go!


Finishing Touches

Adjust the desk to fit your working height. Make sure you arms are bent properly. You have adjustability here, use it to your advantage! The components used in this project are not “tight tolerance” which means, even after you tightened them down there is a little bit of “flex” in them in the opposing direction. In a situation like this where there is only one support it helps to add a some shim material to make sure the tube is perfectly level in the fitting. I used some simple silicon plumbers pad. You can pick it up cheaply at a hardware store and all you need is a tiny piece

Stand and Work!

My experience with the desk has been fantastic so far. I am a natural “phone pacer” so I like the idea of being able to move around a little bit while I’m working on my feet. I find that it’s a great place to start the day, checking email, brief correspondence, writing blog posts, and doing creative work. I find that for intense programming I still want to sit down (probably mostly because of the monitor setup), but for a lot of other tasks its great to have an alternative spot to work.

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