Stand-up / Sit-down Desk

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Project by swirt posted 01-21-2014 05:42 AM 3009 views 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I work full-time in front of my computer. Sitting all day is not supposed to be good for you, so a lot of people have been switching to stand-up desks as a way to get them off their duffs. I like the idea, but I have enough gray hair to know I likely can’t stand all day long without some other parts of my body complaining, so I wanted an adjustable desk that could allow me to sit or stand while I work. I also had the requirement that this adjustable portion had to fit inside the armoire desk that I currently use.

I had the idea to make this desk slide up and down on rails. As a locking mechanism I chose to use clutch plates from pipe clamps, which in turn, chose the material for the rails, 3/4” pipe.

Overall I am happy with the results. Fully loaded, the desk is fairly heavy so I do ponder if it would have been more manageable to use quick-grip type clamps for the mechanism and rails in place of the pipe clamps. I can move it ok with the pipe clamps but it is a bit clumsy. The desk does have a little bit of play in it so I will likely be adding a bracket or brace that goes from the surface to the underside of the pipe rail.

The Wood: Maple. It was from the side of an old maple dresser that had been ruined by too much time in a basement. My son and I refinished it with some scraping to remove the old finish and some planing to get it down to some fresh unstained wood.

The Finish: Shellac, wiped on with a bit of mineral oil.

The Mechanism: Deep reach pipe clamps sliding on 3/4” pipe rails angled to 20 degrees so that 14” of rise will cause it to retract 5”

Tools: card scraper, Stanley 81 Cabinet Scraper, Stanley #4 Smoothing plane with a Hock blade, drill press spinning a 1-1/8” Forstner bit, Makita cordless drill, Vaughan Ryoba (Bear saw)

More of the gory details of this stand-up / sit-down desk build

-- Galootish log blog,

10 comments so far

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3692 days

#1 posted 01-21-2014 05:47 AM

Dude good to see you.
Its been a while.
I have missed your wisdom and whit.
As we can see in this project.
Nice work and the helper looks like he is having a blast.
Brilliant use of pipe clamps.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View swirt's profile


5471 posts in 3824 days

#2 posted 01-21-2014 06:04 AM

Thanks Dave, It has taken me far too long to get my shop set back up and in working order since we moved nearly 3 years ago. This is pretty much the first thing to come out of it. The shavings and smell of shellac though have re-awaken me, so I hope to be doing more soon ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3656 days

#3 posted 01-21-2014 01:06 PM

nice idea

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3144 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 02:36 PM

Interesting solution.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4427 days

#5 posted 01-21-2014 08:26 PM

Now that is thinking outside the box.

And I agree with Dave.
It’s been too long.
Don’t wait three more years to share your talent.

View swirt's profile


5471 posts in 3824 days

#6 posted 01-22-2014 05:44 AM

Thanks Woodwrecker, I will try not to disappoint. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3941 days

#7 posted 01-30-2014 02:27 PM

Wauuuuuu so nice to see you!
What a great idea and solution.
When I was working as an Architect I was working at a up down table and changed between standing and sitting, this is really good for the body.
So cool to see next generation working with you also.
Hope life is sweet to you.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3718 days

#8 posted 01-30-2014 02:29 PM

An unusual design and nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View swirt's profile


5471 posts in 3824 days

#9 posted 01-31-2014 04:25 AM

Thanks Mads,
It is good to be coming back. I am amazed at how fast you got your new shop up and running—well done. I am enjoying working standing up at my new desk most of the time…. though I do have to find some more comfortable shoes ;)

Thanks Charles. I appreciate the encouragement.

-- Galootish log blog,

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3941 days

#10 posted 01-31-2014 10:59 AM

;-) smiles.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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