Creating a Lift Desk #1: Design Criteria and Platform

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Blog entry by Underdog posted 12-03-2015 10:00 PM 857 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Creating a Lift Desk series Part 2: Designing the Desk »

Almost a year ago, I began having trouble with Sciatica. Ever since then I’ve been doing a lot of research on the problem, and have long since concluded that my main problem is that I sit at a computer too much. (So what in the world am I doing right now?) I’ve been to PT and the Gym and walking a lot more… but it’s not solving the main issue, which is the sitting at the desk.

So naturally I’ve also been doing a lot of research into ergonomic workstations. I’ve seen some really cool stuff… but it also cost a lot of cool cash.
So I set about trying to come up with an affordable way to make a lift desk.
So one of the first things I did was list some criteria:
1) Adjustable from sitting to standing
2) Quick to adjust
3) Easy to adjust
4) DIY solution
5) keyboard and monitor independantly adjustable
6) minimum 16” height difference
7) Keyboard angle negative adjustable
8) Monitor angle adjustable
9) Keyboard tray large enough for split keyboard and mouse
10) number pad stand at angle
11) made of wood?
12) Light weight
13) stylish?
14) gears visible?
15) Carvings?
16) Sturdy
17) Stable
18) Aesthetically pleasing
19) Privacy/Modesty panels
20) Integrates with rest of office.
21) Storage- File Drawers – Pencil (etc) drawers – etc

Lot’s of criteria, huh?

I had almost decided to build one totally from scratch from plans that I had actually bought, when I ran across a video of a guy who had converted a motorized drafting table into a carving bench. He’d removed the drafting top and replaced it with a solid wood top, complete with 8” skirt, and twin vise on the end. He could lift it to whatever height he wanted with a push of a switch, and tilt it to any angle… And the price was really good. Hardly anyone uses these things anymore, so you can usually pick ‘em up for cheap compared to what they sold for new @ $2,500- $3,000.

I knew right then that’s what I was going to use for my platform. I didn’t wind up doing anything like he did though…
So I found one on Craigslist, spent a $100 and three hours to pick it up, and that’s when the journey began. Didn’t stop to think that building a desk around one would wind up costing me nearly what it would if I just bought something outright…

Here’s a couple pics of the thing on dollies right after I got it to the shop:

You can see there’s an approximately 8” x 8” telescoping steel column. Inside of that is a big lead screw and a fairly sturdy motor. At the center of the “H” shaped base there’s a foot switch that you press that makes this thing go up and down. It moves from approximately 30” to 50” high. That’s plenty of travel for what I want to do. It’s also fairly quiet and easily adjusted. It’s also quite stout. That’s at least four of my criteria met.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

4 comments so far

View BigYin's profile


338 posts in 1838 days

#1 posted 12-03-2015 10:22 PM

Sciatica :- find a really good chiropractor, mine has worked wonders for me.
Physio didnt help and painkillers just masked symptoms

but i do like the drafting table idea.

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7716 posts in 1802 days

#2 posted 12-04-2015 01:55 AM

There is a guy on YouTube who designed and sells plans for, a counterbalanced standing/sitting desk. It’s the best I’ve seen that isn’t motorized.


View tyvekboy's profile


1309 posts in 2435 days

#3 posted 12-04-2015 03:00 AM

Here’s the link to that video on YouTube that Rick M. mentioned.

Here are more links on how he developed the idea.

You could buy the plans or use sketch up to design your own version.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7716 posts in 1802 days

#4 posted 12-04-2015 04:00 AM

Thanks, I was on my phone when posting earlier.


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