I’ve had a stand up desk for a couple of years now. I love standing at my desk, but I don’t stand all day, I alternate between standing and sitting at a stool at the desk. Alternation works best for me. If I stand all day I noticed that my legs would get tired or even sore! Standing at your desk may make your legs tired. But time spent standing at your desk is said to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer – via Five Health Benefits of Standing Desks. Standing at your desk alone is not going to grant you all those health benefits though! I exercise daily, taking a bike ride, going on a run, commuting on my bicycle, and eating well. It’s all about a well balanced approach!
So last year I decided to take a stab at renting an office space with some fine people to see how working in the same space with fellow programmers and designers would work out. So far I love it! I needed a stand up desk for the office, so I took the opportunity to build it my way ( the one at my home office was built by a friend in a trade, it’s also a beautiful desk ). I really liked the look of the steel pipe standing desks popping up on peoples DIY blogs and pinterest boards. Just google “steel pipe desk” and you’ll see what I mean.
I started by gathering the pipe I needed. It wasn’t cheap either. I wanted something stout, 1 inch thick pipe! I went to Lowes and Home Depot as well as Harbor Freight ( a local industrial plumbing supply shop ) to get materials. I wanted to have the pipe in my hands to measure things out, fit different pieces together and see how things looked in real life. I was literally putting together the frame in the stores. I wanted all black pipe but couldn’t find some important pieces in black so I got galvanized pipe instead. It didn’t matter because my plan was to paint the pipe. So some was black pipe and the other was galvanized … whatever. I also had to cut a couple of pieces to get the right dimensions I was looking for.
I went and put all the pieces together in my basement to make the fame.
There were all these stickers on the pipe which looked like a pain in the ass to remove for the painting. My plan was to use some chemical or prep substance to remove the stickers and prime the pipe. But that is not what happened …
The next part is obviously the desktop or the slab. I planned on making a lower and upper section. Ergonomics of a desk are very important. The lower section would be the main desktop for my keyboard and mouse or trackpad. The upper section would be for the laptop and the monitors. I had to get some good wood for this. You’ll see that a lot of these DIY tutorials suggest going to IKEA to get a cutting block to use, or getting other materials from IKEA, but Fuck IKEA! I have some amazing artist friends and come from a construction and woodworking background so I wanted some real nice wood. I went to my buddy Gabe Aucott who has a wood shop up in Weaverville, NC. Gabe offered an amazing piece of Walnut up for the job. I was super excited about it and for the next several days we worked on the desk in our spare time.
Below is a little video of Gabe working on the desk pieces.
Gabe is a super generous, loyal, really hilarious and crazy (in a good way) kind of guy. He looked at what I was doing with the steel pipe frame and suggested something different, that I burn the metal! He put it this way, “Listen, paint never REALLY sticks to metal anyways and what you want is a natural rust look. Trust me! It will look badass!” So yeah, let’s set this shit on fire!
So we built a bonfire around the steel pipe frame, fired up the grill, grabbed some beers and set the metal on fire:
The next day I came back and scrapped the pipe with steel wool and then applied some oil for the finish. It looked awesome! The best part about it is also that the metal will continue to age and react and look super rad. I like the more industrial rustic look anyways. I took the desktops and the frame to my office and began putting it together:
All in all I spent about $400 dollars on the desk, but the best part came from hanging out with my friends and burning the frame. Parts of the pipe were galvanized so we didn’t get too close to the fire during the burning. If you want to have a rustic look to the pipe than this is a great way to do it. The ash from the burning wood also helped create a nice effect on the pipe. You could also take a torch and do the same thing, may take a while though!
Gotta say, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.