New Workspace

Over the past few weeks I have been more mindful of my health and the amount of time I spend just sitting. I could be sitting in front of a computer, in front of the video display providing entertainment, sitting in the car … etc. Yes, it is no longer a television, most don’t have tuners and are just displaying content from other sources. That is a detour I am going to ignore at the moment. I also have been noticing just how often I start to get stiff in the upper shoulder from hunching at the computer. I tried placing the displays on top of things to raise them up, but it was never quite right.

After a period of thought I decided it was time to change my home office situation. There were three main goals of the process, each one could be accomplished on its own but I decided to tackle them all together. The goals are:

  1. Standing desk
  2. More room on the work surface
  3. Better  connection & availability between devices

I spent some time looking online and at my employer’s office. (How else does one differentiate between the home office and the office that they commute to?) I look at some of my client’s set office spaces as well. After a few months of looking I realized I could not find something that met all my needs. I was going to need to create my own, but how. Back to thinking mode. After a while it came to me, adjustable wall mounted shelves. Basically expand on the shelving I already have in my home office. This option met the fourth unspoken requirement, being fiscally responsible while being physically responsible.

This might sound odd, but the basic approach is to use standards and brackets. I bolt the six foot standard into the wall, making sure to hit the studs and not just going through drywall. I would like to mention that one of the things that make my situation unique is that the room I am using as an office has studs on 24″ centers. This issues is a minor issue but it does impact some of my choices. For instance a typical 2 foot long shelf does not fit as one would like. Instead it has to be cut to length of about 27 inches or have some overhand. I am not sure how much on an issue that will be in the long run but it did change some shelf selections.

The process, which of course I made a time lapse video of and placed at the end of this post, was fairly straight forward. I purchased four 6 foot long, well actually 70 inch Twin-Track-Upright in White from Home Depot. These were available from ClosetMaid or Rubbermaid. I found the parts to be interchangeable and Rubbermaid to look nicer and be less expensive. I also purchased four 18.5 inch brackets to hold the main work surface which is 24 inches deep in my design, I already had 11.5 inch brackets, and then four 6.5 inch brackets. I purchased the main surface which was a finished two foot by eight foot shelf and then purchased two 35.8 inch by 7.8 inch shelves. Yes, these measurements are all just a little off one would think. For the most part it is to allow tolerances between items. As of now it has not been an issue.

One of the reasons I decided to go with this approach is that I can customize and adjust it fairly easily using the parts available. One of the goals was to have better availability between devices, at the same time I wanted to not be hunched over looking down to the screen. These two items could be solved at the same time, I created the main work surface at one height and then created a shelf above it to place the monitors correctly. At the same time it allowed me a place to store all my input output devices under the monitor shelf which I could pick the width of to meet my needs. Now under the shelf I have a Wacom Tablet, Apple 110 wired keyboard, Apple Magic Mouse, Logitech Gamer’s Keypad, Apple Magic Trackpad, and a Lexicon I-O|82. I can easily chose which device is suited for what I am doing. Plus the I-O|82 means I can easily control my sound levels.

One of the other things I wanted was to have my media available easily but not be in the way or as loud as it was before. I created a hard drive farm under the main work surface using an 11.5 inch shelf. The main work surface helps shield the noise more than I expected. It also allows for the repurposed if not yet retired MacBook to be connected for the local backup tools.  As a result of the standards being a half inch deep I have an easy way to route cables between everything. That is the next big task is getting the cabling right, but for now I just wanted everything connected to see how things are working out so far. I will post more updates as the project evolves and matures. There are things I am testing out like having a dry erase area on the work surface so I can easily take notes. I am happy I am using one that is temporary as I have realized while it is nice to have the notes to the left of me, I am right handed so I am reaching across the body to write them down. Things to tweak and test.

Here is about what it looks like, it still needs tweaks like decorations beside my stress frog.  The complete gallery can be found at http://photos.bradfordbenn.com/Links/Standing-Desk-Project-2015/

Yes, I need to dress the wires

Here is the video, it is also available in the gallery above:

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