Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Making a Standing Desk using a Shelving Rail System


You can make a standing desk out of shelving rails and brackets, and some MDF board. It really doesn't have to be expensive or difficult. I built mine for about $150, but that cost also included paint, and some tools I didn't have. See Basic Costs and Ancilliary Costs for further details.

Standing desk made out of shelving rail system, with a normal desk underneath it for those times you need a break. The 600mm deep shelf is used as the keyboard shelf, and the two 300mm deep shelves are used as the Monitor stands and an extra junk shelf.

Lessons learned

  • Measure twice, corroborate your measurements, drill once.
  • The internet can show you how to correctly mount shelves. 
    • Read procedures, even if you think you know how to erect shelving.
    • Don't be too proud to get all the facts before proceeding.
  • Wall studs are your friend. 
    • Measure these first. Your studs will determine how wide your shelves can be in some scenarios.
    • Don't even think about using heavy-duty plasterboard screws for this task. They really aren't strong enough.
    • This shelving is holding all your precious IT gear, not your collection of Lego models.
    • Studs or nothing.
  • Don't cheap out on tools. 
    • Get what you need and don't compromise
    • Beg, Borrow, (but don't steal - because stealing is bad m'kay).
  • Get your wood cut at your local big hardware shop. They usually do it for free, and unless you have a circular saw and a keen eye, you will get much better results having it done on a cutting station.

Basic Costs

  • Double-slot Upright Shelving Rail White 100cm x 2 = $14.50
  • Double-slot Bracket 320mm White x 6 = $29.40
    • Brackets of this size should have holes in the bottom to screw through. Ensure yours do.
  • MDF Standard 16mm 900 x 600mm Sheet x 2 = $18.00
    • One of these boards gets cut in half, so you get two 300mm shelves.
  • Box of 50 10g 50mm Wood Screws (you only need 8) = $9.90
Basic costs total $79.00 if you have the following Anciliary items: 
  • Stud detector
  • Decent spirit level, at least 60cm long
  • some undercoat and gloss paint
  • sample pot paint roller.
  • Nuts, bolts, and screws that can go through the shelf brackets to anchor the shelves into place.

Ancillary Costs

  • 60cm Aluminium Spirit Level - $15.00
  • 300g Hole Filler (hopefully *you* won't need this) - $4.50
  • Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 Primer Sealer Undercoat 1 litre (you only need about 500mls) - $21.90
    • Really, any cheap undercoat will do. This brand was the smallest and cheapest at the time.
  • 1L Pascal Trim W/based Gloss White Enamel (hard-wearing for desks) - $27.95
    • Any Enamel Gloss paint will be great. 
    • Gloss is easy to clean, and won't be susceptible to greasy finger marks.
  • Sample Pot Paint Roller with extra roller - $2.00(seriously worth it).
  • Drill, with a selection of drill bits
    • I had one of these. 
    • Borrow any tools in the ancillary list to save a bucket-load on the raw build cost.
Total for all these ancillaries total about $72.00

Vital Statistics

  • Shelving rails are spaced 450mm apart. 
    • For me, this was the distance between studs (the vertical strips of timber that hold a plasterboard wall in place). 
    • You will need to measure your stud distance before continuing. Don't stuff this up, otherwise that Hole Filler on the Ancillaries list will be in your hardware cart.
  • Shelves are 900mm long. 
    • This was the closest pre-cut MDF sheet I could find at Masters North Lakes.
  • If you want to convert your standing desk back to a seated desk, ensure you put the bottom of the shelving rails at a height that is equal to your current seated desk. You can see that in my picture.
  • I used thin nuts and bolts to secure the shelf bracket to the MDF. 
    • You can use wood screws if you like for the 300mm shelves.
    • I didn't want to risk it for the 600mm shelf, which can be subjected to some load if you lean on the table. There is 300mm of overhang resting on the shelf brackets. Bolts will ensure it doesn't go anywhere.
  • The original desk can be used for any number of things:
    • Put your drinks on there and keep them away from your IT gear.
    • Put admin stuff like filing trays, game figures, your collection of Start Wars Lego.
    • Use the original desk as a break desk when having a phone meeting, or +Google+ Hangouts 

Complimentary Benefits

Because I'm a tight arse, and didn't have enough money to purchase some tools, the cool people where I worked loaned me most tools I needed.

I took this one step further, and made a forum where staff can record what tools they are willing to loan to other staff members. So far, it seems to have had a slow response, but as time goes by I can see it as a great way to have an unofficial tool co-op for everyone to benefit from.

Could your office use a Tool Co-Op?

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