Sit/stand computer desk built from reclaimed lumber 4

We had a heap of wood. Mark needed a desk. It seemed like the reasonable thing to do.

When Menards closed their old store we purchased this big pallet of pretty rough 2x4s for $10.

When Menards closed their old store we purchased this big pallet of pretty rough 2x4s for $10.

 I've built small things from wood over the years, but this was my first experience using a planer and jointer, and also the first time I've created anything of this magnitude.

I’ve built small things from wood over the years, but this was my first experience using a planer and jointer, and also the first time I’ve created anything of this magnitude.

fter jointing and planing the nasty old boards I had some pretty decent looking planks. These were some very rough 2x4s and a few had nice natural edges (some with bark). I decided to use those for the end peices.

fter jointing and planing the nasty old boards I had some pretty decent looking planks. These were some very rough 2x4s and a few had nice natural edges (some with bark). I decided to use those for the end peices.

A few of our more experienced wood workers suggested I try biscuit joints. This was my first attempt at biscuit joints.

A few of our more experienced wood workers suggested I try biscuit joints. This was my first attempt at biscuit joints.

All clamped together with wood glue and biscuit joints. I believe I used 3 biscuits between each board.

All clamped together with wood glue and biscuit joints. I believe I used 3 biscuits between each board.

Clamp all the things

Clamp all the things

After the glue had a couple days to dry, I took to it with the little belt sander.

After the glue had a couple days to dry, I took to it with the little belt sander.

Nice and smooth! I did a bit of hand sanding to finish.

Nice and smooth! I did a bit of hand sanding to finish.

A few sketches in my journal, working through scissor concepts

A few sketches in my journal, working through scissor concepts

More scissor concepts, and also I attempted making wheels by soaking and wrapping wood, this turned out to be a nightmare and I ended up just slicing the wheels and gluing them together with alternating grain patterns for strength per Coop's recommendation.

More scissor concepts, and also I attempted making wheels by soaking and wrapping wood, this turned out to be a nightmare and I ended up just slicing the wheels and gluing them together with alternating grain patterns for strength per Coop’s recommendation.

This photo shows the scissoring pieces lying atop eachother in their resting state, I eyed stuff up and added some pencil markings.

This photo shows the scissoring pieces lying atop eachother in their resting state, I eyed stuff up and added some pencil markings.

Scissor scribbles

Scissor scribbles

Draw the rest of the owl.

Draw the rest of the owl.

A second scissor appears.

A second scissor appears.

Then I had to figure out how to mount these.

Then I had to figure out how to mount these.

Actually looks like something that could lift something!

Actually looks like something that could lift something!

Concept sketches for ways to mount these things so one end is fixed while the other slides.

Concept sketches for ways to mount these things so one end is fixed while the other slides.

Started by drilling 3/4" holes, holes to match my 3/4" dowels in the scissors.

Started by drilling 3/4″ holes, holes to match my 3/4″ dowels in the scissors.

Cutting out the slots, an irritating task.

Cutting out the slots, an irritating task.

Snug fit, but it slides!

Snug fit, but it slides!

#1 flat iron

#1 flat iron

#2 cut holes in that iron

#2 cut holes in that iron

#3 bend the iron

#3 bend the iron

#4 add eye loops

#4 add eye loops

#5 fasten to 3/4" pipe. I figured I could have used wooden dowels, but was concerned that the rubbing of the metal fasteners would slowly cut its way through the dowels so I just used some aluminum tubing.

#5 fasten to 3/4″ pipe. I figured I could have used wooden dowels, but was concerned that the rubbing of the metal fasteners would slowly cut its way through the dowels so I just used some aluminum tubing.

Secured pulleys to the "back" end of the scissor lifts. It was later determined that this needed to be reinforced, the pressure exerted on the U bolts caused the 2x4" to split down the middle. I ended up running 1" steel for reinforcement along the sides, working well so far.

Secured pulleys to the “back” end of the scissor lifts. It was later determined that this needed to be reinforced, the pressure exerted on the U bolts caused the 2×4″ to split down the middle. I ended up running 1″ steel for reinforcement along the sides, working well so far.

Cut a 1/2" hole, then countersunk one end so I could put a 1" long nut inside. Since I can't cut hexagonal holes, I just filled it with wood glue and toothpicks, this has worked brilliantly so far. Another likely better way to do this (or so I've been told) is to cut a hole that's smaller than the nut, then use a washer to pull the nut into the hole.

Cut a 1/2″ hole, then countersunk one end so I could put a 1″ long nut inside. Since I can’t cut hexagonal holes, I just filled it with wood glue and toothpicks, this has worked brilliantly so far. Another likely better way to do this (or so I’ve been told) is to cut a hole that’s smaller than the nut, then use a washer to pull the nut into the hole.

The sliding block attached to the fixed block

The sliding block attached to the fixed block

Got the threaded rod and pulley system connected to the scissor lift component.

Got the threaded rod and pulley system connected to the scissor lift component.

I was concerned that the threaded rod would wear its way through the end pieces, so I made some ends from the steel bar.

I was concerned that the threaded rod would wear its way through the end pieces, so I made some ends from the steel bar.

Ends fastened.

Ends fastened.

Stained my lifts, figuring out how I'd connect them to the table surface.

Stained my lifts, figuring out how I’d connect them to the table surface.

Found some bike sprockets at the local bicycle shop, attached one to each scissor lift.

Found some bike sprockets at the local bicycle shop, attached one to each scissor lift.

First time flipping it over, it finally looked like a desk! It just needed some legs to bring it up to sitting height.

First time flipping it over, it finally looked like a desk! It just needed some legs to bring it up to sitting height.

Beginning of leg frame

Beginning of leg frame

Legs attached.

Legs attached.

It goes up!

It goes up!

It goes down!

It goes down!

Held my breath and started staining the tabletop. I used Minwax Provincial.

Held my breath and started staining the tabletop. I used Minwax Provincial.

After staining

After staining

computer-desk-45 - yAFGAhx

First coat of minwax polyurethane

First coat of minwax polyurethane

4 coats of satin polyurethane

4 coats of satin polyurethane

Then came the issue of mounting my monitors. Since I had originally planned on using black pipe for the legs, I decided black pipe would be a fitting material for the monitor rack.

Then came the issue of mounting my monitors. Since I had originally planned on using black pipe for the legs, I decided black pipe would be a fitting material for the monitor rack.

I experimented with ball joint mounts, but had trouble sourcing the parts. I was hoping I could find a small ball-hitch but the smallest I could find was still nearly 2" diameter. I decided to use a steel fence post and some 1" square steel tubing.

I experimented with ball joint mounts, but had trouble sourcing the parts. I was hoping I could find a small ball-hitch but the smallest I could find was still nearly 2″ diameter. I decided to use a steel fence post and some 1″ square steel tubing.

The parts for the final mount assemblies.

The parts for the final mount assemblies.

Cut all the mount pieces, tedious work.

Cut all the mount pieces, tedious work.

All the parts for a single mount. I designed the VESA mount in Inkscape and cut them out of MDF using the laser cutter we have at the QC Co-Lab.

All the parts for a single mount. I designed the VESA mount in Inkscape and cut them out of MDF using the laser cutter we have at the QC Co-Lab.

Assembled monitor mounts.

Assembled monitor mounts.

Mounted monitor mounts

Mounted monitor mounts

Another shot of the monitor mounts.

Another shot of the monitor mounts.

This was an early prototype for the mount mechanism, I ended up making the center pieces a bit longer because wing nuts kept bumping into other components which severely limited the mobility of the mount.

This was an early prototype for the mount mechanism, I ended up making the center pieces a bit longer because wing nuts kept bumping into other components which severely limited the mobility of the mount.

So far it's working great. I still have to overcome some small issues, such as the fact that all my video cables are currently too short to support raising the table to standing height, as well as the chain in the rear having an insatable apetite for cables. Once my cable shipment from monoprice arrives I'll be able to velcro tie everything down and everything should be cool.

So far it’s working great. I still have to overcome some small issues, such as the fact that all my video cables are currently too short to support raising the table to standing height, as well as the chain in the rear having an insatable apetite for cables. Once my cable shipment from monoprice arrives I’ll be able to velcro tie everything down and everything should be cool.

Bonus photo of my early planning stages, I scrapped most of these ideas.

Bonus photo of my early planning stages, I scrapped most of these ideas.

 

Update:

I got tired of kicking my computer tower under the desk, also the supports between the legs weren’t incredibly sturdy and after a few sit/stand intervals they were loosening up a little bit. I decided while I was upgrading the crossbeams I’d do a little upgrade.

IMG_20140928_160448 IMG_20140929_175927

Now I have shelves on either side for my tower and UPS. I added hooks so I could bungee them down nice and tight so they don’t fall off when I’m rolling the desk around.

4 thoughts on “Sit/stand computer desk built from reclaimed lumber

  1. Reply Sam Sep 10,2015 5:16 pm

    Nice job! I’m taking my first woodworking class and am trying to build a similar desk but probably not as nice 🙂 My main trouble is with the height adjustment mechanism. Could you give more details on how that works? Maybe more pics, explanation. A short video would be awesome too. Great job!

  2. Reply Joe Nov 1,2016 2:41 am

    Amazing imagination and skill. I do similar hobby projects. I designed and built a ‘steampunk style’ elevating table and chair (bar height/table height). Does your desk require 2 people to change elevations? I can stair at mechanical engineering like this forever, it’s great! Did you consider engineering a ‘single’ crank control, elevating both sides with one central crank?

    • Reply Mark Riedesel Nov 1,2016 12:26 pm

      Thanks! This design only requires one person for adjustment. It may not be super clear from the photos, but the two threaded rods are linked in the back of the table with a bike chain/sprocket, so one hand is used for cranking both sides. I usually use one hand to give the table a little lift while using the other to turn the crank.

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