I am looking to create my own cheap stand up desk. My current idea is to take one of the cheap $40 6 foot tables where the legs fold up and buy 4 plastic crates to put on the corners of the desk which will hold a piece of wood the same size as the desk or a little larger.

Is this a good design? One of my concerns is there is no center support on these tables that have folding legs, all in all I don't think the top porting of the desk would ever have more than 100 lbs on it at a time (although I have no idea how much the wood itself would weigh)

Another related question, how can you determine a good relative stand up height to your own body height?

Update, some great suggestions so far, however I want to keep the project to under $100

  • I would put the related question in another question. But the quick answer would be to try the height out on your kitchen counter, and adjust from there. Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 14:57
  • Theron, Where are you located? I might be able to point you to a cheap source for the door and cabinets if you wanted to go that route.
    – Doc Walker
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 20:53
  • I already built the desk, however posting that information may help others.
    – Theron
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 4:17

5 Answers 5


I use 2 3-drawer file cabinets with a 8 foot door. It works really well. Adjustment higher can be done with some 1/4"-1/2" pieces of plywood but the height works well for me. It has the added benefit of storage.

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  • 1
    I like this. Simple and to the point. Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 21:14
  • Checked this out, unless there is a place to buy 3 drawer filing cabinets cheap, this setup will cost over $150
    – Theron
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 14:09
  • 1
    The 3 drawer cabinets were recycled. Check out a used office furniture supply store. With all of the businesses closing, and no longer using as much paper, there are a lot of these laying around our area for cheap. The door was also recycled. You can find them at salvage places, closing business sales, etc.
    – Doc Walker
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 16:27
  • Any chance you could hit me with the name of that chair? Been looking for something like it for my own standing setup. Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 13:15
  • 1
    That is a HAG Capisco chair. haginc.com/products/hag-capisco I got it here: ergodepot.com/HAG_Capisco_p/8106.htm Love it. You can sit on it or use it for half standing, half sit.
    – Doc Walker
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 20:50

Using crates to support the desk is more of a hack than a DIY project.

What may be useful is a recently-asked question about spanning long distances with shelves, many of the answers apply here.

If you're going to create your own legs, there are many ways to do it. Using standard dimensional (2x4 or 4x4) lumber would be one way. A relatively easy way that comes to mind is to use Ikea stuff - they have many desk parts, including adjustable legs. If they don't go high enough for you, you could always build a mount from plywood/dimensional lumber to give an extra foot or so on the bottom of the desk, them mount adjustable legs to those.

Here's a couple things to help inspire you from Ikea hackers:

  • I really wanted to build the Wide Standing desk, but found out it cost over $260 to make. So you think 4 4x4 leg posts would be stable enough at a height of 38" over a 6 foot long board?
    – Theron
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 14:11

Obviously you're looking for the Really Cheap™ solution.

At the minimum, I would put a spreader across the two back legs. I'm thinking of a 2x4, drilled to 1" depth to receive the legs, and then bolt these to the tops of the milk crates.

A better design would have two more spans, across each end, and then angle brace it to the rear support.Quick and Dirty MSPaint

At this stage, you could look for better options to raise it up.


Ikea has parts that will likely be as cheap but a tad sturdier for your needs.

The best way to figure out the height you want is to grab some books and start playing with different heights.

Ideally, it'd be an adjustable desk but those aren't that cheap.


I'm currently using a normal desk (a terrible desk we were about to stick out on the curb) with adjustable wire shelving (I might have the longer shelves, this link may be for the wider ones, but you get the idea) plopped on top. Since the shelves can be raised/lowered to any height, the monitor can be raised so that the top 1/2 of the screen is at eye level (I believe that's the favored ergo-spot), and another shelf can hold the keyboard so that fingers & wrist are parallel to elbows when typing.

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