My DIY Stand Up Desk Ikea Hack

Posted in: DIY, Life, Work on December 1st, 2013

Anyone who sees my first attempt at a DIY stand up desk will see that, while functional, the desk wasn’t exactly pretty… So I though I would have a crack at putting together a proper one, this time with matching parts, plenty of work space and a design that would satisfy the harshest interior design critic this side of 5th Avenue – my wife…

The end result was a stand up desk bungled together from components solely from IKEA, built in a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Read on for instructions…

The finished stand up desk
The finished stand up desk

My Stand Up Desk Requirements

After about a week with my DIY stand up desk version 1.0, I had established some stand up desk basics, and along with some research I had come up with a list of requirements…

  1. I didn’t have the time, skills or tools to build something from scratch. This lead me to read about others who have created stand up desks by hacking together components from IKEA such as the StandDesk; the Spaceship; Brandon Brown and Ian Fernando.
  2. Due to the size of my office space, and the fact I may need to move the desk around, I needed something that could be taken apart easily.
  3. The ideal height for my stand up desk is the height that my elbows are off the ground when hanging my arms by my sides – in my case this was about 46 inches. (Source: TheWireCutter).
  4. My total budget was $200.

Building my DIY Stand Up Desk

The stand up desk design
The stand up desk design – front view showing height and parts.

To get started, I drew up a rough sketch, based on a few different IKEA parts that those who inspired me had used.

The concept was that I would set a table top on top of two small shelving units, then attach a shelf to the table top to add some extra height for my monitor. To get the desk to the correct height I decided I would add legs to both the table and the shelves themselves. Since one of my requirements was ease of movement, I decided it would be better to have the top and bottom parts separate, therefore, the top part just balances on the lower shelving units. If I wanted a more permanent fixutre, I could have used more Capita brackets to secure the shelves to the table top, and use longer legs to raise up the overall height of the desk.

Sorry about the rubbish photos – it was dark and I was using my iPhone…

Parts List

All parts came from IKEA and included the necessary hardware.

Capita Bracket - 2 brackets ( 1 pack): $20

Capita Leg 4″ - 8 legs (2 packs): $25 for 2 packs

Capita Leg 8″ – 4 legs (1 pack): $20

31 1/8″ Expedit Shelving Unit – 2 units: $40 for both (I got mine on sale on Black Friday! – the regular price is $39 each).

43 1/4″ Lack Shelf – 1 shelf: $15

Total Cost: about $135 (including sales tax)

Tools

Crescent wrench

Drill with 1/16″ and 7/16″ bits

Phillips-head screwdriver

Step 1: Put Together the Expedit Shelves

This was very easy as I just followed the IKEA Instructions that were included in the box. Each shelf unit took about 15 minutes.

The IKEA Expedit Shelf with Legs
The IKEA Expedit Shelf with Legs

Step 2: Put the 4″ Capita Legs on the Expedit Shelves

I had to be careful to drill around the bolts that hold the shelving unit together, so I ended up lining the leg bracket about half an inch from the edge. This also allowed me to drill two of the four mounting screws into a more solid part of the shelves – it seems that most of the outer pieces are mostly hollow, other than the very edge.

Capita Leg in the bottom of the shelving unit
Capita Leg in the bottom of the shelving unit

Step 3: Mount the Capita Legs on the Table Top

Similar to mounting the legs to the shelves, I just drilled some holes to match the leg screw holes. The Linnmon tabletop has holes drilled already but they are for a different leg design, so I just fitted the bracket to the existing holes where possible, and drilled the rest.

Leg in Linnmon Tabletop
Leg in Linnmon Tabletop showing extra holes that are predrilled

Step 4: Attach Capita Bracket to Lack Shelf

I placed the capita Bracket about an inch from the outer edge and about in the middle (depthways). It took drilling four holes to match the bracket hole placement. The Lack Shelf is hollow in the middle, but even though the screws are attached to the thin outer coating, it seems to be quite solid.

Drawing showing approximate placement of Capita Bracket
Drawing showing approximate placement of Capita Bracket.
Capita Bracket in the Lack Shelf
Capita Bracket in the Lack Shelf.

Step 5: Bolting Capita Bracket to Table Top

To set the bottom part of the Capita Bracket, you actually need to drill through the entire table top with a 7/16″ bit. As the Linnmon table is hollow, I was again worried that it wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the shelf and monitors, but so far so good! The Capita bracket installation instructions from IKEA are useful for giving a picture of how the bracket works.

This part required a little measuring (rather than my usual eye-balling!) to make sure the shelf didn’t sit too far back  and hang over the tabletop edge. The ideal measurement was about 10 inches from the back edge of the table. I then centered the shelf lengthways, marked the placement with some chalk and drilled the holes.

Capita Bracket placement
Capita Bracket placement
Drawing showing placement of holes for bottom of Capita Bracket
Drawing showing placement of holes for bottom of Capita Bracket – be sure to centre the shelf and mark carefully.

Step 6: Sit the Table on the Expedit Shelves

This was simply a matter of placing the tabletop with the bolted on Lack Shelf on top of the two Expedit shelving units, making sure it was balanced and centered and then having a beer.

My completed stand up desk
My completed stand up desk

There you go… All done!!! A wife-approved stand up desk that fits all my crap and is the perfect height for me.

A Few Final Tips..

  1. Get a high stool to sit on when your back and/or legs get tired.
  2. Wear supportive footwear. After my first few days standing, my feet were killing me, mostly because I was standing on the hard wood floor in bare feet. I bought some Crocs which have been a lifesaver…
  3. Stand on a mat. I just got an old yoga mat and folded it in half.
  4. You can probably change my design to suit your height (I’m 6’1″) by using different size Capita legs, or none at all. They come in 4″, 6″ and 8″.
  5. A monitor stand and laptop stand is useful. I will need to buy a new one for my laptop as my current one is too high.
The stand up desk in full battlestation mode
The stand up desk in full battlestation mode. A cord tidy up is next on the list of things to do!

Have you had a crack at a stand up desk? Let me know in the comments below!

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9 Responses to “My DIY Stand Up Desk Ikea Hack”

  1. hey, just wondering how the ikea desk is holding up? I like this design. my only concerns are durability and stability. Is the desk sagging in the middle at all without and middle support? Is it pretty stable? thanks for your time -Nate

    • Hey Nate,

      Thanks for stopping by! I am still very happy with the design. The desk is holding up great and I don’t have any noticeable sag in the middle. I wouldn’t stand on it, but I often lean quite heavily on it with both elbows (I’m a big guy) and don’t experience any sagging that worries me, although, it does bend a tiny tiny bit.

      Now one thing that you may want to consider is securing the table top to the lower shelving units to prevent sliding. Since mine sits up against the wall, I have no issues, but if it was in an open space, you could easily lean on it and the top section would slide off the base.

  2. Thanks Ciaran, yeah I think I would need the table top secured because it won’t be right up against the wall. However it doesn’t look like I’d be able to do that with the Capita legs, is that correct? How high is your desk top?

    • My desktop is 46″ off the ground and this is the perfect height for me. I am 6’1″.

      No, the Capita legs only secure at one end so you would need to find another solution to secure the table top to the base.

      Depending on how tall you are, you may be able to use the Capita bracket (same as I used to secure the elevated monitor shelf); however, they are about 1.5″ shorter than the Capita legs.

      Cheers

  3. Hi! I actually just got those Capita brackets to do the same thing: a shelf on top of the desk for monitors. Looks like you’re able to support a monitor and Macbook. What are your thoughts on the stability?

    I am worried that due to the angle of the Capita brackets, it might not support my two 24-in monitors (each is about 15 lbs). It seems like an unstable cantilever. Especially since my Bekant desk is only 5/8″ thick.

    • Hi Adrian,

      Sorry it took me a while to get to your comment.

      Yeah, you’re right–I have been using it with a 24″ Dell monitor which weighs about 15 lbs plus my MacBook 13″. The stability is pretty good, but it has started to sag slightly. This is after about 1.5 years of constant use.

      If you are going to use two 15lb monitors I would consider increasing the stability. I think you would get away with it for a couple of years, but it may not have much longevity past that. Maybe use four brackets, turn them 90 degrees and secure one in each corner. Or just use four straight up-and-down brackets.

      Cheers
      Ciaran

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