Scratch-built Desk Adjusts So You May Sit Or Stand


Knowing that this desk was built from scratch is pretty impressive. But the motorized legs that raise and lower the desk to any height really puts the project over the top.

Surprisingly this started off as a computer case project. [Loren] upgraded his hardware and couldn’t find a case that would organize it the way he liked. His desk at the time had a glass top and he figured, why not build a new base for the glass which would double as a computer case? From there the project took off as his notebook sketches blossomed into computer renderings which matured into the wooden frame seen above.

Much like the machined computer desk from last December this uses motorized legs to adjust the height of the desk. These cost about $50 each, and he used four of them. If you consider the cost of purchasing a desk this size (which would not have been motorized) he’s still not breaking the bank. This battlestation is now fully functional, but he does plan to add automated control of the legs at some point. We think that means that each has an individual adjustment control which he wants to tie into one controller to rule them all.

52 thoughts on “Scratch-built Desk Adjusts So You May Sit Or Stand

      1. The monitor on the far right seems to be out of color calibration/spec. It appears to be more yellow-ish than the others (that’s the technical term :-) ). Otherwise, wow! That’s fantastic! Nicely done!

    1. I have a setup like this, minus the adjustable height, and use it primarily for writing code. I tried rotating all three monitors 90° but it turns out that when the monitor refreshes horizontally (as it does when rotated) it’s far more distracting to the human eye than when it refreshes top-to-bottom. The effect was so pronounced with the high contrast and fine detail of source code that I had to rotate them back. Ever since then I’ve been curious about portrait-oriented monitors designed to scan top-to-bottom for this very reason.

      In case you’re curious, iPads, which are seemingly optimized for portrait use, refresh left-to-right in that orientation (right-to-left on the old non-retina ones.) If you have sharp eyes like me you can see it.

      1. I’ve been using a portrait display for several years, and I love it.

        Mine is an LCD monitor with 75 Hz refresh rate, and I can’t see the difference. I know that the human range for flicker tops out at about 60 Hz or so, so this might be the difference.

        It’s much easier to do anything text related (code, reading PDFs, &c) when you can see more of the page at one time.

  1. Really nice! Wanted to add how awesome it is/was that on your site you have so many images of the build process! Was enjoyable following through the series of images and seeing roughly what was done. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I really enjoy going over the build, as well. Used my iPhone for most of the images since it was dusty in the garage. So, not the best tool for documenting a process, but it worked.

  2. Nice desk! I personally don’t like that type of corner desk as my mouse arm rests on the diagonal edge of the side and that causes pain over time. But you’re still young so it probably doesn’t bother you.

    I probably would have left the exhaust fans out of the design. The air will flow out those holes without the extra fans and fan noise was a consideration for me. I might also have put some baffles along the motherboard to for the air from the 3 supply fans to blow over the board. As is, I’d be concerned the air from outer two fans goes directly to the closest exhaust fan.

    But like I said, nice job!

    1. As for mouse arm and ergonomics, I have a corner desk myself. I prefer having the keyboard back enough to rest my elbows on the desk and having the mouse in front of the keyboard in an angle, lined up with the lower arm.

      When working with the hands, specially with smaller tasks, a position in front of you where your hands would meet is more natural than having one arm extended way out. One thing one absolutely should not do is having the mouse arm extended *and* lower than the keyboard. My parents used to have a setup like that. Could get painful within half an hour, even if I would be there just once or twice a week.

  3. Getting closer to this:

    “Ergonomic Design Benefits Users of Large-Display Workstations…combined resolution of 16,486,400 pixels, which is 7.95 times that of HDTV. The display height, display tilt, and keyboard tray height are independently electro-mechanically controlled and paired with a manual keyboard tray distance adjustment. The system is on casters for portability and can be collapsed to a depth that fits through a standard 3-foot doorway. It maximizes a user’s workspace while minimizing the footprint necessary to provide such a powerful display system.”

    1. That’s not enough. You can’t tell from my username if I’m typing it sitting or standing.
      You’ll also need something (rfid tag?) on the chair.

      Or you can go with a camera mounted on the middle monitor recognising the face even before logging in. Maybe adjusting the desk height so your eyes fit in the predefined place on the picture.

  4. “Also, I had to purchase several tools to cut the wood . . . ya, what a drag.”

    It’s sort of fun to go buy a nice set of tools and enjoy using them. I take it this guy’s not a carpenter.

  5. Perpetuating the following meme: “NASA spent millions of dollars developing an “astronaut pen” which would work in outer space while the Soviets solved the same problem by simply using pencils.”.

    I’d have probably just used a standard gas-lift chair.

      1. Well neither does this table allow you to stand and sit at the same time (and you still require a chair to be able to sit, unless you are willing to sit at the ground)… The idea with a gas lifted chair came across my mind as well, when I saw this. Nice build, anyways!

    1. Millions were spent developing the space pen but the rest is mostly urban myth.
      NASA also used pencils at first but a pencil is a really bad idea in zero gravity, you don’t want graphite dust and wood shavings floating around potentially shorting things or catching fire. Buzz Aldrin used a felt-tip pen …

  6. he needs to put car window tint on the glass in the desk. See through = messy looking. Black or limo tint will look far FAR better and hide everything you can see through that.

  7. As an American, I concur. It’s an unusual look. But, it’s kind of organic. Alternatively, there’s always veneering, but the costs can rally add up if you’re sticking with veneers that don’t look patently fake. We went through a similar stained/varnished wood-look phase about 40 years ago… fortunately, it was just a phase. What’s old is new, etc…

    Choices of finish notwithstanding, this is a fantastic project and the documentation is beyond impressive. Wowzers!

  8. How do you prevent binding? If one of the motors is a little faster than the other that could be an issue.
    desklifts usually have a shift that links the two sids.

    1. Center load is more so it can be off sometimes. Pi or some other micro controller, along with relays should solve any issues. This also allows me to have presets and other fun stuff!

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