Building Your Own Desk

by Yun-Han Lin

Ergonomics Evaluation

We sit at the computer for a long time at work, which often leads to sore and pain all over the body. Therefore, we wanted to adjust the desks and chairs for work as we moved the studio to a new place. The first thing was understand ergonomics. There are various instructions and tutoring on the Internet, basically introducing the basic concept where the human body needs to assume the following posture when sitting at a computer. The feet should be flat on the ground, and the knees and hips are at 90 degrees; back straight and parallel to the shoulder and arms and shoulders relaxed; elbows are bent at 90 degrees; forearm and hands rest on the keyboard or desktop.

The length from the knee to the ground in this position can be a reference for adjusting the suitable chair height, and the distance from the elbows to the ground is the desk height. Although the desk can be selected roughly based on the user’s height, every person’s body measurements and proportions vary, so it is better to measure the user’s positions first, so that there can be accurate desk specs.

I am 160 cm tall, and, after calculation, the most suitable chair for me is 40 cm in height, but it took some effort to find one, as the mainstream designs are for European and American body sizes, and the office chairs we can find on the market mainly features heights between 45 and 60 cm. Although the chairs come in various functions, styles, and prices, the height is the key factor, and there is no use choosing one with the wrong specs. Later, I found one from IKEA, and it can be adjusted to 41 cm in height as the minimum. It is slightly higher than what I needed, but it was simple in terms of its functions, compared to that of other models. I ended up buying that chair, after considering all factors including height, appearance, price, and brand,

After measuring the height of the desk, I needed one that ranged from 67 to 70 cm, while I found that most desks on the market are 75 cm or above, which explains why most people suffer from shoulder pain. The above is a brief introduction to the ergonomics of chairs that you may want to take into account, and the following will be our design and production!

Design & Production

I was not thinking about anything fancy with various functions, but just want a large desktop surface. I referred to Pask Makes, a YouTube channel from Australia for ideas. The model in the video features a desk with its rear legs tilted at five degrees and the front ones at fifteen degrees. Six wood pieces were glued to form two square-shaped structure with one side open, one on each side of the desk, where the inclined legs added variations and elegance to the simple structure. Another nice touch was the use of the rear back panel to build a small shelf under the desk. The desktop became larger, resulting in an imbalanced surface, so a few more wooden slats were added at the bottom to support the desktop.

I also referred to Pask Makes for the production and methods, where 18 mm plywood were used. After cutting the plywood pieces into the tilted shape, according to our drawing, the pieces were glued and aligned before and being fixed using a staple gun. A fixture was also used to pressure the pieces to facilitate the glue to dry and hold the pieces together, and there we had two pieces of desk legs. Different from Pask Makes, we simply used the pocket hole jigs that we are familiar with, when it comes to fixing the legs to the desk boards.

For the surface, I used a 400-grit sandpaper to smooth it out first. Next, I applied the transparent anti-mold paint with two to three layers as the sanding sealer and one layer as the finishing coat. The sandpaper was again used to smooth the surfaces in between each layer. It is hoped that all these processes and the coatings can protect the desk from humidity in the mountain.

I have been thinking about the follow-up, where there can be a monitor stand on the desktop, a file cabinet under, and a small storage box on the side. To tailor make each object with more room for adjustments, we decide to make them separately, instead of building them into the desk as a one-piece design.


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