The Complete Guide to
DIY Standing Desks


Dave Preacher the authorResearch by Dave Preacher
Updated November 28th, 2018

Standing Desks are Expensive

If you're interested in a standing desk, chances are you’ve discovered they aren’t exactly cheap. While some options like standing desk converters that rest on an existing desk can be less than $150, most standing desk products start at $200 and go up, with full stand-alone desks often costing between $400 and $1000. Although standing desks are constantly getting less expensive, there are some DIY options that will save you money without much compromise.

Why Build Your Own?

There are a variety of reasons to take on a project yourself but most DIY’ers will build their standing desks solutions to save costs but as you will see from our list, some options will end up costing much more than alternatives you can buy. Besides costs, some people opt to build their desk to add a touch of personalization. Building your own enables you to choose your own materials, colors, and finish. You may also have a unique situation with your work or home office that rules out a lot of products due to their size.

Considerations for a DIY standing desk

Before you start looking for ideas for your DIY standing desk it's important to consider a few factors about standing desks, costs, ergonomics and the ability to adjust the height:

  • Costs - bear in mind standing desks are becoming cheaper and cheaper, especially standing desk converters. Depending on the supplies needed to build your own you can easily exceed the cost of simply buying a standing desk converter
  • Ergonomics - Many standing desk companies invest considerable research and development into understanding ergonomics and ensuring their products are comfortable and help maintain good posture. When building your own, it can be easy to overlook these features.
  • Height Adjustment - transitioning from sitting to standing is an important consideration when building your own standing desk. Many options we’ve discovered are not adjustable. While standing all the time is possible for some, it is usually not very sustainable. Transitioning back and forth between sitting and standing also offers extra movement variability an important practice for standing.
  • Consider Your Ideal Desk Height - If you are considering a DIY standing desk make sure you brush up on proper workplace ergonomics. In short, you'll want the height of the typing surface to be just under the bend in your elbows.

The Dresser

Cost: Low
Difficulty: Low
Ergonomics: Medium
Value for Money: High

The Dresser - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found On: Simplehomesimplelife.com

While a dresser may not appear to be a good standing desk it can actually work pretty well depending on the dresser height relative to your own height. Pictured above is a great execution of this DIY. The creator of this desk even considered their own ergonomic height for typing and installed boards to raise the desk surface. This solution may not work if you are short with a taller dresser or tall with a shorter dresser. If you do have a dresser it’s worth considering if you are on a tight budget and want to stand while you work.

The IKEA Converter

Cost: Low to Medium
Difficulty: Low
Ergonomics: Medium
Value for Money: High

The IKEA Converter - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Teaforewe.com

The DIY solution coined the “IKea Converter” is an extremely creative and simple idea. By combining a cheap IKEA side table with a shelf you get an ergonomic two level standing desk converter. The best part of this approach is being able to adjust the height of the shelf/keyboard tray to your height and ideal posture. While this solution doesn’t allow you to sit down easily it does allow you to stand with good ergonomics on a very tight budget.

Buy the Frame and Source Your own Top

Cost: Medium to High
Difficulty: Medium
Ergonomics: High
Value for Money: Low

Buy the Frame and Source Your own top - Guide to DIY standing desks

Buying a standing desk frame and sourcing your own desk is a good compromise. You get the benefits of electric adjustment, memory settings and stability with the potential to save money building or sourcing your own tabletop surface. This method also allows you to size the table top appropriately to the area. We will admit from first-hand experience that building the table top yourself eats up most of the cost savings, even with a cheap wood like pine. However, if you have an existing desktop surface or a cheap way of acquiring one this can be among the least expensive full standing desk solutions we’ve seen.

Tall Fixed Desk with Drafting Chair

Cost: Medium to High
Difficulty: Low
Ergonomics: High

Tall Fixed Desk with Drafting Chair - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Bluezoowriters.com

We had an “ah-ha” moment when we found this standing desk idea. By pairing a drafting chair with a tall fixed height desk you simply hop on and off your chair whenever you want to sit or stand. We consider this one of the best DIY solutions out there, especially for those with tall desktop surfaces like a kitchen island, dresser or console table. While getting on and off a drafting chair may be harder than a normal sitting height desk this solution doesn’t have many compromises compared to a fully adjustable standing desk or converter. Some drafting chairs can even be used at a normal chair height, doubling for use with any normal desk surface in your home or office.

Raise Your Existing Desk

Cost: Low
Difficulty: Low
Ergonomics: Medium
Value for Money: Medium to High

Raise Your Existing Desk - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Dannickerson.com

Want to stand but your desk is too short? Make it taller by adding something below the feet. In most cases, your standing desk height is only 12” to 14” taller than your sitting desk height. If you have a way to raise your desk that height this can be a great way to try standing. This isn’t the most graceful looking solution but does work and doesn’t reduce desk surface area like other solutions that go on top of your desk.

Engineer Your own Desk (on a budget)

Cost: Medium
Difficulty: Medium
Ergonomics: High
Value for Money: Medium

Engineer Your Own Desk (on a budget) - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on Youtube.com

We love this fully adjustable electric standing desk. It’s made of affordable materials and would likely save you some money over buying a full standing desk with similar features. While it would take a lot of skill (as evidenced by the video on Youtube) it would be doable for someone with the right tools, patience, and attention to detail.

Engineer Your Own Hardwood Standing Desk

Cost: Very High
Difficulty: Very High
Ergonomics: Very High
Value for Money: Low

Engineer Your Own Hardwood Standing Desk - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Youtube.com

This quite possibly the most impressive handcrafted standing desk we’ve seen. It rivals the finish, function, looks, and durability of the most expensive manufactured standing desks we’ve reviewed. While this is a desk you can buy on liftbridgefurniture.com this is also something you could attempt yourself... If you’re an expert woodworker that is. As you can see in the video building this desk to this level of finish requires experience and a full woodworking shop. Plans for building this desk are also for sale if you’re up to the challenge!

Engineer Your Own Standing Desk – Counterweight Operation

Cost: High
Difficulty: High
Ergonomics: High
Value for Money: Low

Engineer Your Own Standing Desk - Counterweight Operation - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Youtube.com

This cantilever operated standing desk is one of the most unique solutions we’ve seen and we love it. Not only is it free of motors, cables or actuators, but it also has built-in memory settings by design. The user can always return to the perfect sitting and standing position. Manual manually operated standing desks often lack this ability. Building this would obviously be very difficult but extremely useful and likely to last a lifetime. Woodworking plans for this desk are available at mechanicallumber.com

Build a Mobile Workstation

Cost: Medium
Difficulty: Medium
Ergonomics: High
Value for Money: High

Build a Mobile Workstation - Guide to DIY standing desks

Found on: Youtube.com

Mobile workstations have great utility for anyone that spends a lot of time on their feet. What you sacrifice in desk space you gain in mobility. This hand made mobile workstation is amazing and it is something that you can tackle yourself. Like some of the other handmade wood desks on our list, plans are available to build this but the design is simple enough that you could create your own interpretation.

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