Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sit-Stand Desks and Affordable Options

By Catherine Dilts with Scott Miller

During the three part Ergonomics for Writers series, the sit-stand desk was suggested by ergonomics professional Mary Plehal. I have one at work, and lamented that I could not afford to purchase one for home use.

Scott Miller contacted me with his review of a sit-stand desk he purchased for his wife, and his DIY plans to make another for himself. That prompted me to check on-line, where I found a consumer evaluation of five desk variations. Now I have hope that I can rig up something to enable me to stand during writing marathons.

Here’s what Scott had to say:

I became interested in sit/stand desks a couple of years ago. Watched some customer eval vids on YouTube, checked out some models, but couldn't afford one at the time. The hand-cranked models seemed like they'd be too hard to use to change desk height several times a day (which seems to be the whole point). The electric models (at that time) ran about $1100, give or take.

Earlier this year my wife returned to work after a long illness and she was to work from home. We reopened the investigation into sit/stand desks. Found that Ikea had just added an electric sit/stand, and it was substantially cheaper than desks from others, but it lacked the memory feature. They call it the "Bekant" and it's $529. The top is kind of thin, but it's sturdy enough, and it went together easily. I even added a power strip to the underside along the back. She put her work computer on the left, her personal computer on the right, and uses the desk nearly every day. She changes the height several times per day and takes frequent breaks.

Ikea’s Bekant electric sit-stand workstation:

The website Life Hacker took a vote on the five best sit stand desk options. These cover a wide range of financial options, from top-of-the-line to DIY. Check out the article for different ideas. Here is one that you place on top of your existing desk:

The parameters for your selection will include cost, space, and physical needs. Sit stand workstation options can run from $300 to over a thousand. Working from home, you may have space limitations where a standard desk won’t fit. At work, my sit stand desk is mechanical. That is, I flip a lever and lift or lower my desk. You may need an electric version.

Scott Miller developed an idea for his own sit stand desk. He shared his DIY plans to accommodate a home office renovation:

My office will share a space with our library, in a skinny section of a big "L" shaped room. My current static desk is 29 1/2" deep. The depth is a limiting factor into the way my desk will fit into the skinny area. I'd love to get a Bekant desk for myself, but it's 2 inches deeper than my present desk. It'll work but I'd rather have the space. I'm pretty handy and have lots of useful tools, but the edging used on Bekant is a rubber strip (probably pressed into a groove) and the surface is like Formica. It's modifiable, but with no room for error.

Scott discovered that he can purchase the “guts” of an electric sit stand desk, including the desk base. He plans to add his own desk top.

But what sort of top? Ikea has a line of tables where the legs and tops come separately. Their "Gerton" table top is perfect for my needs. It's the same depth as my present desk, but 1 1/2" wider and only $90. Gerton is thicker than top on the Bekant desk and made of solid beech wood. Gerton is also cheaper than solid pine counter tops and the like from Home Depot. Beech is a nice hardwood which is visually similar to oak (color and the rays), but without the dark ring pores. Gerton is just wood--no finish. So it's wonderfully modifiable for the handyman. I could round the corners, and drill holes at the back for cables. Ikea also has a similar-sized top faced in natural cork, "Sinnerlig." Can't really modify this one (holes maybe), but I like Gerton better.

Scott estimates the cost of his DIY sit stand desk to be around $550, including shipping and tax.

Now it’s time for me to get to work on my own home sit stand desk! All I need are a couple bricks and a board…. Unless I can talk my handyman husband into adding one more project to his list.

About the Author: Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, while her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. With a day job as an environmental regulatory technician, Catherine's stories often have environmental or factory-based themes. Others reflect her love of the Colorado mountains, fishing, and running. The third book in her Rock Shop Mystery series arrives October 10. You can learn more about Catherine and her writing at:

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