Standing Desk Build

The goal is a desk that can take a hit from a car.

The problem is, the standing desk market is saturated, and a lot of the products have obviously paid-for reviews, no reviews, or just look cheap.

I have had standing desks for approximately 9 years of my career now; all were nice, enterprise models that felt solid and provided a decent working surface. I wanted something nice for my home office, but everything that looked like it would be solid was at least $800+. This led to me doing a little research, and coming up with a rock solid desk for much less that I could also easily put a personal touch on (though I still went fairly simple and just applied a simple poly to seal the top).

Here’s a list of items, (with non-affiliate links), as well as any tools or other things required..

Products

These prices are pre-tax, and since I have Amazon Prime (and all items were Prime eligible), shipping was free; I picked up all the Home Depot items in-store (and the Minwax from Lowes). If you choose to do some type of stain, the supplies for that and the product itself will obvious affect your total in the end. Note on the poly - use satin for this! Gloss sounds nice and fine but unless you want reflections all day long hitting you in the eyeballs from your desktop, I recommend satin.

Additional Items Required

  • Power drill
  • 5/32” wood drill bit
  • Phillips head driver bit
  • Disposable gloves (not totally required, but recommended for sealing; can pick them up in the paint/stain section at Home Depot)
  • Disposable shop rags (lint-free; can pick them up in the paint/stain section at Home Depot)
  • Saw horses
  • Very fine sand paper (400 grit at least)

No cost associated with these items as I had them all on hand already.

Process

Overall, this is fairly straightforward. The frame assembly will happen per the instructions included with it. Definitely take heed to not over tighten bolts, and, if using the same legs as I have here, keep the 4 bolts in the middle of the assembly that let it slide and change width loose until you’re ready to pair the top to the frame.

For the butcher block top, I removed the cardboard and plastic it was packaged in and let it sit in the office it would eventually live in for a few days, propped up against a wall. After about 48 hours, I then put it up on saw horses horizontally, and took a damp (but very wrung-out) shop towel and wiped the entire top and sides down to get rid of any dirt and dust accumulation. After letting that then dry for about a half hour (should be pretty dry to the touch), I surveyed the top - in my case, it was already fairly smooth and I didn’t see any issues with proceeding directly to sealing it; if yours feels uneven or has rough patches, make sure to sand and re-clean it before proceeding!

The sealing is essentially following the directions on the container - apply some to a cloth/to the material, then spread it out to cover fully. My technique here was to start by applying to the cloth and getting it going, then add additional directly to the wood and run the cloth over it as necessary. I used circular motions at first to spread the material, then came back and went with the grain to finish (again, if you’re using the same top, the grain on these runs along the long edge). Be sure to really coat the sides as well, because if you don’t, it will stand out.

After the first coat, I gave it approximately 2 hours of cure time (averaging 70 degrees in the garage, it was a colder Southern California day). I then took the sand paper and went over the top and sides, being careful to hit the full surface and give it a little grit back. I then wiped it down again with the wet cloth, giving it another 20 minutes of dry time. I then repeated the process of doing a second coat similar to the first, then waiting 2 hours, then sanding & cleaning again, to finally do the 3rd coat. After giving it 2 hours to dry, I proclaimed the top good to go and left it alone for a few more hours to off-gas as much as possible before bringing it in.

The final sealed product

Once back inside, I flipped the top over so the finished surface was face down on the ground, then placed the frame upside down (feet facing up) on top of it, adjusting and playing with the spacing to get everything lined up appropriately. For the width, I measured 2 inches in from both sides, then moved the outer-most portion of the frame to that mark; once the width was dialed in, I tightened down the middle screws to lock it in place. I then measured the 4 points/corners of the frame to make sure it was square on the top - you don’t have to get down into 1/16ths of an inch here, but you do want it to be relatively close.

After everything is positioned, I put the drill bit in the drill and proceeded to carefully drill pilots in the 8 spots - don’t go too deep with these, or you will poke out the top (currently bottom) of your desktop and have a bad time. With those completed, I then ran the screws in, being careful to not overtighten still. After that, the self-tapping screws that the frame came with for the control box and the control display were lined up and ran in, followed by dressing the motors for the cords and display and using the supplied cable ties to dress them up nicely. I also took the opportunity to mount my wire basket (off-center on the right side, for power cord corraling purposes). I affixed the cable holders that came with it along the back edge of the desk to do non-power management (USB, DisplayPort, etc).

Be sure to double-check your placement on your display, and get it right where you want it - try and orient the desk right-side-up in your mind and envision the turns the whole unit will have to go through to get there to determine where you need to put it. I definitely recommend off to one side along the front edge, but you can do whatever you’d like (you’ll have to live with it!).

The final product

Written on January 23, 2021