The Cheap DIY Standing Desk

Think you’re productive sitting at your desk? Try standing at it and see what you get done.

You don’t need to go out and spend a lot to make it happen. Setting up a DIY standing desk is quick and easy.

Why The Standing Desk?

Some standing desk users point to the health risks of sitting to much. The research is pretty scary, especially when they mention that exercise won’t save you from sitting, either.

Personally, I’ve always felt like I sit to much. My job requires sitting just about all day. I have a comfy office chair, but my butt still gets sore. When I come home from work and go on my computer, the last thing I want to do is sit for another 6 hours. Enter the DIY standing desk.

Real standing desks can be expensive. They often start around $200 and go way up from there. Luckily, you don’t need to plop down this kind of money to try it out. A DIY standing desk is easy to make.

My Standing Desk Isn’t a Real Standing Desk

That’s right – I went totally DIY standing desk on this one. Luckily for me, it was super easy.  Here’s a picture of my current setup:


All I did was take the IKEA desk that I have (which I bought used for $50) and rearranged the shelves that are already there.

I made sure to find the ideal height where my elbows are at a 90 degree angle to type. The screen on my laptop is probably a little lower than what’s optimal (I have to look down a bit), but it’s the highest I could adjust the shelving in my setup. I have a USB keyboard, which I’ve placed below my laptop for easier typing.

DIY Standing Desk Options

You’re certainly not limited in options. Here’s a few other ideas that I’ve seen or thought of.

The Cheap: Modify a desk

This is what I did, and it proved to work out well. I simply moved the pieces around on the desk I have. It’s nice because there’s a good surface for my laptop to sit on, and I can still use the space below because I didn’t have to stack things up.

This is definitely the preferred method for me, but you have to have a similar desk to mine to make it work. If you don’t, you can probably find something on Craigslist depending on where you are, but it might set you back $50 like it did for me.

The Cheaper: Stack stuff on a desk

If you have a desk that you don’t mind devoting to standing (or you can set it up and take it down easily), this is a nice, easy way to go. Just stack anything on top of the desk to get there right height. This could be boxes, a stool, or even another desk. If you need to make small adjustments in height, just use wooden shims or even books that you aren’t reading.

The downside to this is that you might lose the space underneath the working area of your desk. For example, if you’re using boxes to create your stack, it will require some creativity to get anything (like a keyboard) underneath.

The Cheapest: Just stack up stuff

This is a great way to test if you’ll like using the standing desk. Find some cardboard boxes or storage containers and just stack them up to the proper height. Anything that gets  you to the right height will do. If you use boxes, you’ll have a little less space for your legs and feet, which might be slightly less comfortable. Still, it will be workable until you work your way up in options.

Don’t Forget What You’re Standing On

Even though standing more might increase your energy, it’s definitely tougher on your legs and feet. That said, I like standing on a padded material to ease the pressure on my feet. I use a workout mat, and other options might be a yoga mat or some other thin cushion. It’s really up to you on what makes you comfortable.

The standing desk isn’t for everyone, but I definitely think it has it’s benefits. I’ll admit: I still sit to do work some of the time. But I find I get more done and don’t fool around at my desk as much when I’m standing.

Have you tried a standing desk before? Did it work for you?

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photo by: me


  1. I don’t really have a sense of scale other than the laptop – but are you like 6’5″? “[E]asier typing” to me means you could type on the laptop if you chose to.

    Also, where does the mouse go? Is it on the lowest lever surface?

    • @PKamp3 I’m about 5’10”, so about average height. The base of the laptop is just above chest level (guessing around 5′) and the keyboard is around the belly button.

      In my experience, there’s really no easy way to be able to type on the keyboard of a laptop and be in an ergonomic position. Whenever the typing is comfortable, I feel like I have to have my neck and back in a funny position.

      The mouse goes right to the right of the keyboard. There’s a little less room than ideal in my setup, but I make it work

  2. I like your idea! Rather than loose space stacking boxes, try picking up an inexpensive “crate” so you can use the space under it, and you have a solid surface for you equipment. Doreen

  3. I’ve heard of these standing desks before — I am not sure I’d want to use one for a long time but I think it could be a good idea to get some more proper posture and balance — we sit down far too much these days!

  4. 101centavos says

    I wouldn’t mind having a standing desk at work. In fact, I now consciously try to do more and more tasks at the office while standing up, like talking on the speaker phone. At home, I have the laptop at the bar in the family room, and stand while I type.

  5. prairieecothrif says

    I wish I could have something like this at work but I think it would be against code or something. I work in a hospital where things are pretty standard. They are much better for your body long term.

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