There is an ongoing fascination with standing desks, literally desks that you stand on while you work. After spending the last five years as a freelance writer who spends most of her time at a desk, I’ve developed back problems as well as cases of seemingly inevitable repetitive strain injuries. Maybe a standing desk is the solution to my problems.

Unfortunately, standing tables cost a small fortune, and I had neither the means nor the inclination to buy an overpriced piece of furniture that would not guarantee me any benefit. So I turned to the internet and found some cheaper alternatives, including one suggested by Bakari: the beginning of this year. I eventually settled on a cheap Ikea standing desk and what follows is a guide on how to build one for myself and my experience with it.


ikea standing table

It was while browsing the web looking for permanent desktop solutions that I came across this blog post by Colin Nederkoorn. After looking at all the ready made adjustable standing tables on the market and coming to the conclusion that they were too expensive, Nederkorn built his own using his existing table and a few extra bits and pieces bought from Ikea.

It only took Nederkorn $22 to build his cheap permanent desk from Ikea. Which is cheap enough to let anyone test the idea for themselves. I decided to take the plunge and build a permanent table based on Nederkoorn’s plans. It ended up costing me a little over $22, but was still a lot cheaper than the $500-$1,000 required to buy a good quality desk elsewhere.


Before embarking on this mission, it is important to find out what you have and what you need. So I went to Ikea to see the options that were open to me before deciding what to spend my money on.

That’s when I realized I could buy a new table instead of using my existing one, so I added the table and four legs to my shopping list. The only change I made to Nederkoorn’s plan was to buy a smaller shelf for the keyboard and mouse — his was 28 cm deep and mine was 18 cm. This also meant reducing the size of the brackets that the shelf sits on.

N.B. If you decide to follow my example and build this permanent table, you need to decide for yourself what size of shelf you would prefer and buy accordingly. You may even spend less money on one than me. Also, if you have a suitable table that you plan to use as the base for your new table, you can immediately remove the table legs and table top from your shopping list.

ikea table

On my second trip to Ikea, I bought the following items (prices in brackets are what you would pay for the same item in the US).

Table legs VIKA ADILS X 4 = £10 ($14)
VIKA AMON Countertop X 1 = £9 ($11)
LACK Side Table X 1 = £8 ($10)
EKBY VALTER Brackets X 2 = £4 ($6)
EKBY JARPEN Shelf X 1 = £8 ($10)

Total cost = £39 ($51)

For less than £40 (or just $50), I picked up a new standing desk that can be converted into a regular desk by simply placing the components of a standing desk to one side. Now all I had to do was build it.

NB: the little gray brackets in the picture above were something I already had that I was going to use to attach LACK to the table. But in the end I didn’t use them. Anyone with young children or noisy pets may want to attach a table to a table for extra peace of mind. Do not do this at your own risk.


Ikea furniture comes in flat pack form but is generally easy to assemble. Fortunately, I’m not the most practical of people.

The first task is to assemble the main table, which is an easy way to screw four VIKA ADILS legs into the bottom of the VIKA AMON table top. The result is a sturdy, minimalist desk that gets the job done.

ikea table

Next, a LACK table is built, which is even simpler. The provided double-sided screws are screwed into the bottom of each of the four legs, and then the legs are screwed into the square top. The result is a small table.

standing table ikea

The picture below shows both a desktop and a side table ready to use. While you’re about to destroy LACK by screwing brackets to two of its legs, the seated table remains intact and can therefore be used on its own if needed.

standing table ikea

The picture below shows a side table on top of a seated table and at this point you will begin to feel the fruit of your labors. When finished, this table stands at a height of 118cm, so you will have to raise the laptop a little to make it easier to use the laptop. Those who are below average have the opportunity to cut off a couple of centimeters from the lower legs of the LACK table before attaching the brackets to them.

Note: LACK is 55cm x 55cm, so for this worktable to be an option, your existing table must have at least the same surface area.

standing table ikea

Now the hardest part. You must first decide how high you want your keyboard and mouse to be. The main rule is to place them at elbow level to reduce the load on the wrists. When in doubt, have someone hold the shelf at different heights until you find one that feels comfortable.

Then it’s just a case of marking out where the brackets will sit on the legs of the LACK, drilling the starter holes, and then screwing them into place.

NOTE: use flat head screws to allow the shelf to fit snugly against the brackets.

How to build a cheap standing table from Ikea, and what it's like to use holes for an Ikea standing table

I picked up a set of FIXA screws when I was at Ikea, but most of you probably already have the four screws needed to attach the brackets to the side table of a house waiting to be used. You will also need a drill or at least something to punch a hole in the LACK legs to give the screws something to aim for.

Attach shelf to brackets completely optional and I decided not to do this to give myself the maximum opportunity to adjust the installation as I saw fit. Instead, I just put a bead of duct putty under the shelf where it makes contact with both brackets to level it and roughly hold it in place. This eliminates a step in the process if you want to then move the position of the brackets, and also makes it easier to move the table off the table if you want to go back to seating.

How to make a cheap standing desk from Ikea, and what it's like to use an ikea ready made desk

After the first day of using the desk, I realized that I needed to raise the height of the shelf so that my wrists weren’t at such a sharp angle when using the keyboard and mouse. Hence, I would advise everyone to correctly determine the correct height for them before screwing the brackets to the table.


After spending a couple of hours on assembly (I meticulous slowly) my cheap Ikea desktop was ready for its big debut. So I moved him upstairs to where he was going to live, put my laptop back in place, and then added a keyboard, mouse pad, spotlight, and speakers, without which I would be lost. A cup of coffee was a later (but no less necessary) addition to the set up.

NB . The footrest sitting under the desk in the photos is not part of the setup.

ikea table

It’s been 10 days since I put together my cheap standing desk from Ikea and I’ve been using it every day. Some days I have only used it for a few minutes, while others I have used it for several hours.

When I’m standing, my performance levels increase significantly, which means I get more done in less time. I attribute this to the fact that standing is naturally less relaxing, which is why your brain insists that you keep working rather than wasting time on Facebook and Twitter. I also found myself standing up straight at the table, which should help with my posture.

Unfortunately, against these advantages is the pain in the knees, which occurs after prolonged periods of standing. I didn’t know before that I had bad knees, but the simple act of standing seems to cause it. However, it won’t be painful for everyone and my aging knees may just need time to get used to the new way of working.

ikea standing table

Final Thoughts

I found that the constant use of the table is not for me. Instead, I am someone who needs options and the ability to go from standing to sitting, idling and back again when I feel like it is and as my body dictates. I’m very glad I took the time and effort to build this permanent table to test the theory, because accepting a bespoke purchase would have resulted in a regrettably and much lighter wallet.

This standing table from Ikea is a great idea: it’s cheap, aesthetically pleasing, and can be turned into a regular seating table if standing isn’t for you. I keep it, although over time I will likely adapt it to my own personal needs. The whole process was positive, made me appreciate how I work and answered all my questions regarding standing tables.

Clearly, permanent desks are not for everyone, and I encourage anyone considering switching to using one full day to do a test run first. I also think this particular standing desk from Ikea could be a great alternative for hot work offices, providing a complete workstation that can be used by anyone and everyone as needed.

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