Elliott Foster at one of our original standing desksWe’ve been experimenting with standing desks for a year or so. Until recently, we used Ikea’s Galant desks, extending the A-frame legs as far as they go and propping the entire setup on risers (the plastic things people stick under their beds to increase storage space). This setup is okay, but it still requires extra shelves and platforms to raise the keyboard and display to an ergonomically friendly height.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across Colin Nederkoorn’s excellent blog post describing how to hack random Ikea parts into a standing desk for only $22. (I highly recommend you read it. Colin does a great job explaining the health benefits of standing desks.) I loved his design, but I wasn’t a fan of the red-and-black color scheme. So I went to Ikea and came back with a new — and cheaper! — design.

Improvements

  • The keyboard shelf is more structurally sound. The shelf is bolted through the legs of the table, preventing it from pulling loose under load.
  • The table won’t slide around or tip over. It’s screwed to the desk using corner braces.
  • It’s prettier. I prefer wood-and-white to red-and-black.

Parts list

Stuff from Ikea

(In keeping with Colin’s accounting system, bolts, screws, and other hardware aren’t included in the cost.)

Stuff from the hardware store

  • Wood screws
  • 3″ machine bolts and nuts
  • Fender washers
  • Adhesive no-slip pads
  • Corner braces

Hardware used to assemble the 20 dollar Ikea standing desk No-slip pads used to assemble the 20 dollar Ikea standing desk

PRO TIP: Corner braces are available for free at Ikea in the bulk parts bins near the customer service desk (see photo on the left). If you can’t find any free braces at Ikea, hardware stores have a million of ’em (see photo on the right).

Corner braces available free at Ikea Corner braces available at your local hardware store

Equipment

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Crescent wrench
  • Power drill
  • Level (a torpedo level works best)

Assembly

Step 1: Adjust your desk and display heights

  • Assemble the Lack table and put it on your desk.
  • Put your display on top of the Lack table and adjust the height of the desk and/or display. Your eyeline should be 2-3 inches below the top of the display. If you have an adjustable desk (like Ikea’s Galant series), raise or lower the legs. If you need more height, you may need to get a monitor riser.
  • Remove the display, but leave the Lack table on the desk. Things are about to get real.

Step 2: Adjust the keyboard shelf height

  • Assemble the shelf by screwing the Ekby shelf to the Ekby mounting brackets. For best results, drill small pilot holes before using the wood screws.
  • Place the shelf against the legs of the Lack table and find the right height. When you’re typing on your keyboard, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle. For most people, this means the shelf will be just below your elbows.
  • Make sure the shelf is level, and mark the location of the holes in the mounting brackets. Using the marks as guides, drill through the entire leg. Remember to use a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the bolts.
  • Attach the shelf to the Lack table using the bolts. Add a washer to the side with the nut. This will distribute the force exerted by the shelf and make the whole thing more secure.
  • Test it! Is it comfortable? If not, you can always drill new holes. If your table legs turn into swiss cheese, you can simply spin the table around and try again on the fresh legs.

Assembling the shelf

Step 3: Secure the table to the desk

  • Stick adhesive no-slip pads on the bottom of the table legs to prevent the table from sliding around.
  • Align the table’s back legs so they’re flush with the back of the desk.
  • Secure the table to the desk using angle braces. For best results, drill small pilot holes before using the wood screws. This will hold the table in place and prevent it from tipping forward.

Securing the table to the desk using Ikea's free corner braces Securing the table to the desk using other corner braces

Securing the table using no-slip pads

Step 4: Level up and mercilessly mock those without standing desks

Here’s the final product:

The finished 20 dollar Ikea standing desk