Clever Use of PVC to Make a Standing Desk at Work

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[Daniel] and his coworker [Chris] were interested in the concept of standing desks — unfortunately, the company wasn’t about to buy them a new desk to test it out — so they decided to modify the tables themselves!

The IKEA tables they are using have three adjustable legs — just not that adjustable for standing. The challenge was to modify these tables in such a way that it can easily be reversed — they didn’t want the facilities department to get mad at them! Originally they wanted to use steel legs for structural stability, but discovered they’d have to do quite a bit of modification to the steel tubing with tools they didn’t have. So they chose PVC instead.

[Chris] had remembered seeing a hack here on heating up PVC pipe to make it malleable — try as we might we weren’t able to find what he was referring to, but a quick search on YouTube brings up lots of tutorials on how to do it.

Using a heat gun, some clamps, and a crowbar, they were able to add a divot into the pipe to replicate the original IKEA legs.

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Next all they needed was to bolt on a threaded PVC pipe fitting (the ankle of the desk?) to the feet, and put it all together. Match the spray paint color and they were done. A super easy, functional, and reversible hack to let them stand up all day!

And it only cost them $23.83.

33 thoughts on “Clever Use of PVC to Make a Standing Desk at Work

  1. This is a clever use of cheap materials – I hope it is strong enough! Would you sill lean or sit on that table? The joints could be a weak spot now.

    For being “adjustable”: The adjustable tables in our office are motorized. People adjust the height during the day, without clearing the table. A stable motorized mechanism however is way more advanced and more expensive.

    1. My worry would be that the PVC would be too flexible and cause the entire desk to shake as you type.

      Which reminds me, I need to get some vibration dampening on my keyboard tray… Eventually the shaking monitor is going to drive me bonkers.

      1. You might be able to strengthen and dampen the movement by filling the PVC with expanding foam. Like the foam you use to seal up holes or insulate cracks. I think I have seen it used inside of PVC tubes for archery bows. However, I have no idea where I saw that. LOL!

        1. For something like desk legs, where weight is a nonissue (or even desirable for stability), you could also fill the PVC with concrete. Pretty damn cheap, and would DEFINITELY be sturdy.

  2. It will look even nicer when they learn about things to hide the cable mess that can be seen down there… Sorry, it’s the perfectionist in me speaking. ;) I’d never send a pic showing that cable mess.

  3. If you have a table with ‘regular’ legs (as opposed to the wide ones on some ikea tables like they had): $20.48

    In other news, I have been standing at my desk at work for ~6 hours a day for the past 3 months. Really helped out my chronic lower back pain. Thing is, for exercise I often run between 2 and 5 miles (depending on my energy level that day) and have developed an intense knee pain (maybe 6/10 if a doctor were to ask me) for the 24 hours or so after I go running. I only run maybe 3 times a week, I run with good form, I don’t lock my knees while I stand, I am not overweight, I eat a healthy diet, and I take a multivitamin for shits n giggles. Considering going back to primarly sitting at work, and only standing when my back pain is bad.

    /anecdote

    1. Try stretching. These are pretty good: youtube.com/watch?v=–PeQIBwdxc
      The key for me is not to rush and spend a good ten minutes every day. I switch stretches if what I’m doing doesn’t help or feel good. Usually takes 3-4 days to clear my knee up completely. Every now and then it hurts so much I have a hard time going up stairs, and doesn’t stop till I start stretching.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation! I do stretch a little bit. Unfortunately the youtube link is broken… i’m very curious to see which stretch it is.

    2. Try the “Gold’s Gym Stay Ball”. This will do more for a back as your moving all the time.
      It really helps posture and builds core strength. This ball beat any Doctor I had for twenty years of chronic pain.

    3. I would encourage you to explore barefoot running. If you are a seasoned runner, taking off your shoes and/or going with minimal footwear (there are a ton of sites and science to support it) can help you regain ankle, knee and hip stability and strength. Shoes actually get in the way of most people’s natural running form.

  4. I’d be concerned about strength. PVC can crack/shatter, something heavy on the edge of a desk (like a tired body) could potentially break a leg sending all that equipment and stuff on a 4′ tumble.

    It seems like the only real modification here is the divot? I’m wondering how difficult it would be to use a length of EMT conduit and bash the divot into place? A few hose clamps could hold the crowbar/chisel in place while the divot is persuaded into place.

          1. If you’re typing, or doing something similar, it’s good to have arm support. Constant muscular tension to keep your arm elevated can lead to injuries. It also leads to fatigue, which people will try to overcome by leaning on the desk, resulting in bad posture.

          2. You can see in the picture that I actually have one underneath my desk in case I need to sit while reading or typing a long-form article.

      1. I set up my desk to stand, due to chronic glute pain… and I gave myself plantar fasciaitis to go along with it. :-(

      2. @rasz_pl
        Not everyone takes a dogmatic, fad-driven approach to health. Some people sit at a traditional desk, then get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so. The human body is no more “meant” to stand in place for hours than it is sit on its ass.

  5. A long time ago i discovered a different way to do it: re-purpose old electronics catalogs which were thousands of pages long. As everything is online now, you don’t really get them anymore…

  6. This isn’t a hack, it’s a complete waste of time. What’s wrong with a couple of chunks of wood under the feet of the desk? Much cheaper, much quicker, and yet still reversible!

  7. A typical desk height is 29.5″. Unlike the one featured, the $10 Ikea GALANT leg goes from 23.68″ to 35.68″.

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40057457/

    A desk table is about 1.5″ to 2″ thick. That means one can just add about 4″ thickness, e.g. a few wood blocks. To the table and make it goes between 29″ and 42″. That should be enough for a sit/stand desk.

  8. The paint disguises the modification well, but perhaps too well? PVC thread adapters are notoriously weak to be trusting a desk full equipment with. Good chance those unaware of the modification will believe it’s metal and load it well beyond it’s capability A studier way would be to thread schedule 40 even schedule 80 PVC, cut the thread off leaving enough of the pipe to cement a coupling to. Mount a steel pipe floor flange to the base and screw the much stronger thread apter into that. In the event you don’t have the means to thread the pipe, purchase a PVC nipple with thread on both ends. Then again I have access to oilfield supply stores that can be a hackers dream. Because they know me they understand it’d for personal use, and don’t charge me as they would a business. No matter hows it’s done it’s still PVC. At some point engagement need to be made aware of that. Let them evaluate the situation, and if they allow the modification to remain in use , rather than purchasing better desks, they can’t say they didn’t know.

    1. Oops, I guess I was remembering wrong… 200MSa/s not 20. But still, tiny sample storage and terrible resolution made it rather unfriendly to the user.

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