music painter
stand up computer

Even though we design our work and home environments for comfort they are a far cry from the natural habitat with which we started. For a few million years, we had to forage for food and water often trekking long distances. We learned to cultivate the land, and we had to work hard to keep warm. I imagine we ate standing up or squatting most of the time. Civilisation slowly evolved, and our postures suffered as we became mostly sitting and waiting creatures. The industrial revolution took away most of our daily natural movements such as walking, running and playing, changing it to repetitive workplace drudgery fraught with physical stress and possible disability.

You may be aware of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and its negative implications. I became intrigued by the idea of a stand-up desk. I am 69 and don't have any posture, bone or weight issues, but with the approaching winter months, I know I will sit more for lengthy periods. I am more health conscious than I was ten years ago but I still need more muscle activity than what I get from my one half-hour daily walk. I decided to research further what it would take to have a stand-up desk of my own.

My current assemble-it-yourself computer desk was sold in the millions. I realised one could easily convert this type of desk to a stand-up desk … hmm maybe throw in my few inherited construction skills for good measure. A month ago I began the job of converting my present corner wood computer desk to a stand-up desk. My first task was to determine what the height the new table top needed to be to fit my personal specifications. Here's how I did it: I stood beside the desk and placed a tape measure on the surface beside the keyboard and extended the tape so that it touched my elbow when bent at 90 degrees. I subtracted one inch for the thickness of the keyboard, and this was the total distance I would lengthen the height of the table. My existing table was at 31 inches, and it required 17 more inches minus one inch (keyboard) to arrive at my correct height. Circled at the left in the photo you can see the side of the original table with its 16" plywood extension (overlapped 3 inches) bolted on. I repeated this for the other two support areas. It was easier to attach the three extensions when the table was resting on its side. After attaching these extensions, it was too cumbersome and awkward to lift up even for two people in this cramped space. I solved this problem by reaching over and removing the table top (advantage of an assembly kit), lifting up the lower section and then replacing the top.

I was feeling elated with what I had accomplished so far when it was immediately apparent that my work had just begun. The whole assembly wobbled like crazy, and I spent another day building a rigid support system under the table. The stabilisers also functioned as shelves to carry the tower and hold the wires off the floor. Thanks to The Home Depot one can purchase small quantities of wood products and have them cut to exact size at no extra cost. After installing the support pieces using wood screws and metal brackets, the table became stable and usable.

Purchasing a stand-up desk can start at $800 and some with motorised "tredputers" are much more. It cost me under $50, not counting my labour, by revamping my old computer desk. The disadvantages of making your stand-up desk are that this assembly is permanent and not adjustable to someone of a different height, and it is labour intensive to build. I am glad that I converted my computer desk to a stand-up table, and I don't plan on reverting. It is taking longer than I had anticipated adjusting to this new way of working. However, I am already feeling more focused and alert.

A stand-up desk may be too much of a change for some people but keep in mind that whenever we can substitute inactivity with an activity, we are doing ourselves a favour. Good luck! ©


Stand Up Computer Desk


January 15, 2014


James Kershaw


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Jim Kershaw says

December 26, 2016

After two years now I sit on a high office chair most of the time rather than stand contantly.

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