Monday, October 6, 2014

DIY sitting/standing desk, version 2

After using his improvised Lack sitting/standing desk for about two months, Brian noticed a few flaws in his original design. First, the surface area of the standing desk was slightly too small to accommodate his keyboard, mouse, and monitor easily all at the same time. Second, the table was just a bit too high for him to use comfortably. The adjustable monitor, in its raised position, sat right where it should at eye level, but the surface of the desk was too high for the keyboard; he had to bend his arms at an uncomfortable angle to use it.

To fix these problems, he had two options: raise himself up higher by standing on a stool, or make the desktop lower by shortening the legs of the Lack. Unfortunately, both of these options would just create a new problem: while his keyboard would now be at the right height, his monitor would be well below eye level. He could have just set it atop the wooden stand that he made for using it on his regular, seated-level desk, but when he considered the idea of piling the monitor stand on top of the Lack table on top of the desk, it started to sound a bit too much like a game of Jenga. So he realized that, to make a stable stand that worked at both hand level and eye level, he'd need to add on a built-in monitor stand to the top of the Lack.

So, one rainy day when he wasn't biking to work, he brough the Lack table home with him in the car and hustled it back into his workshop, where he spent the next couple of hours producing assorted whirring and banging noises. His first task was to shorten the legs of the Lack. This involved a bit more work than simply sawing off the ends, since the legs of the Lack are hollow except for the very bottom bit, and he needed some way to stabilize them. So after removing the bottom 2.5 inches from each leg, he cut four 1.75-inch square blocks out of two-by-four, pressed them into the ends of the legs, and glued them in place.

Once this was done, he assembled a little "pagoda" out of scrap wood to sit on top of the Lack. The stand itself was simple enough to build: he just cut one large piece and two smaller upright pieces and attached them together with wood screws and glue. However, attaching this new piece to the top of the Lack proved a bit trickier. He couldn't simply run wood screws up through the underside of the tabletop, because the tabletop, like the legs, is hollow and can't hold a screw in place. He could have simply screwed them up through the thin veneer of the top and into the solid wood of the stand legs, but he feared this wouldn't be stable enough.

Fortunately, a solution presented itself in the form of the leftover hardware from last month's futon misadventure. Since we ended up using only one of the three cross-dowel nuts from the hardware that White Lotus sent us, we still had two left, and these looked like the perfect tool for securing the bolt in place. Brian started by drilling a horizontal hole through each vertical support of the monitor stand. Then he drilled two long vertical holes up through the hollow top of the table and into the wood of the supports, intersecting with the holes he'd already drilled across in the other direction. Once all the holes were in place, he fed a cross-dowel nut into each horizontal hole and screwed a long bolt into the vertical hole and through the cross-dowel nut. Then all he had to do was tighten up those cross-dowel nuts to make everything rock solid. (That explanation was probably incredibly confusing, but if you look at this little cutaway diagram that Brian drew, it should make more sense.)

Here's the newly remodeled piece in Brian's workspace. The monitor and keyboard are now at the correct heights respective to each other, but the surface is still a bit small to accommodate the keyboard and mouse. For now, he's compensated for that by setting the Lack atop his desk at a slight angle, so he can lay the keyboard and the mouse pad diagonally across the top of the Lack desk. However, if this doesn't work out in the long run, you may be seeing yet another post sometime in the future about the Lack sitting/standing desk, version 3.0.

Oh, and incidentally, the cut-off ends of the Lack table legs did not go to waste. I was able to put these four little square bins to use holding paper clips and various gewgaws on my desk—a rather tidier solution than the assortment of small bins and origami boxes I'd been using before. Waste not, want not, that's the ecofrugal way.
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