Thread Theory

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A standing desk for the Thread Theory Studio

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Matt and I have been re-configuring our studio a little bit of late. As we get busier and busier (yay!) we have been finding ourselves sitting at our dining room table in front of the lap top answering customer service queries and packing orders for increasingly larger amounts of time each day.  Our dining room table was never intended to be our “office desk”.  In fact, up until recently, we had quite an unreasonable amount of desks to choose from crowding up our studio (read: our entire house :P).  We had a big corner desk complete with a hutch, all in laminated ‘wood’ set up in one room which rarely got used because I find corner desks and hutches to both be pretty clausterphobic and dark.  I like to work on big, open surfaces with lots of daylight.  Our next desk option was the corner desk’s matching table which we had moved into my sewing area resulting in it’s surface area being too crowded with sewing machines to use as an office desk.  Lastly, we had a big old government desk (solid wood with a really large and useful table top) in Matt’s little workshop area which we used to hold absolutely everything despite Matt’s desire to use it as the perfect shop bench.

And yet, despite all these desk options, we were sitting hunched over our dining room table because it is the one surface in our studio/house that is bathed in natural light and big enough to spread computers, papers and partially packed orders all over it’s nice open surface.  Unfortunately, the chair and table height really don’t work well for computing.  Our lower backs have been getting more and more sore and we have been noticing that, in order to use the keyboard, our shoulders have to hunch up awkwardly for long periods of time.

So…in classic Matt and Morgan fashion, we put a bunch of our furniture up on Craigslist and decided to start again (this is a very ingrained habit for us)!  We sold the corner desk (we’ve never been a fan of fake wood anyways), the table from my studio, and, while we were at it, we sold our coffee table too.  We went from having an excess of not very useful tables and desks to having only the dining room and Matt’s government desk to work with!

That was a good thing though: It left us with the space in our house/studio to start imagining the perfect studio set up – which, we decided, was to switch to a standing desk.

When we started up a sewing pattern company, I perhaps naively imagined myself blissfully sewing all day.  Of course, within almost no time at all, we realized that the reality of an online business is far different than this – we are probably at our computers just as much as if we had conventional office jobs as our careers.  Since I don’t see this really changing any time in the future, we hope a standing desk will at least improve the situation.  We’ve been reading some articles on the benefits of standing for the majority of the day and it really sounds desirable to me!  (See this article in the Smithsonian magazine for example.)  I’ve always been proud of my straight posture but, over the last two years I have been noticing I’m no longer so naturally inclined to sit or stand with a really straight back.  Eeek!  I don’t want to developed a rounded ‘computer back’!standing-desk ergonomics

Standing desks are pretty expensive and they seem to usually be a little too narrow for my liking.  I didn’t want to compromise on my desire for a big flat work surface!  So Matt decided to build us a desk so we wouldn’t have to purchase one that didn’t suit all of our criteria.  He’s new to woodworking but whipped this up in no time!  He’s constructed a coffee table and a desk in the last two weeks!  He used this tutorial for the standing desk with a number of revisions.  We decided to tilt the desk on a slight angle like a drafting table and we used 2X6 boards to create a table top rather than purchasing a thinner one.  Matt also added an angle to one side since we are pretty limited for space in our office area and we wanted to still be able to walk through the door to our kitchen!

What do you think?

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We’re mid way through sanding it and then we have to settle on a stain/oil color.  These are the two main candidates at the moment:

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And then we’ll need to figure out some solutions for office organization.  We’re part way through sorting this out since we just bought a filing cabinet!!! (It’s probably a little odd that I love filing cabinets so much…I, along with my mom and my sister, am a bit of an office furniture and stationary geek…we used to look forward to shopping for school supplies even more than we looked forward to back to school clothes shopping!).

The filing cabinet we had before was part of the laminate corner desk unit so we had to sell it when we sold the desk.  It was nice and big and we didn’t have too many complaints about it, but, since we had the opportunity to pick a new cabinet, I decided I preferred a tall and skinny cabinet to a short and wide one since this will give us more wall space to add more office furniture! The filing cabinet we found is a bit battered and well loved, but I’m calling this a ‘vintage patina’ lol.

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I actually kind of like the chipped paint!  What truly won me over though, were the brass handles.  They’re perfect!IMGP1956

Now that we have a standing office desk I have been curious about standing sewing set ups.  Recently, when Oona posted her sewing area tour, she showed us that she sews at a standing height desk.  I tried this out by placing my little Kenmore on my ironing table once my laminate sewing table was sold but I don’t think I’m won over to standing sewing.  It was pretty awkward because all my weight was on my left leg while my right foot stayed raised over the foot pedal.  I tried to force myself to keep my heel on the ground so I could distribute my weight more evenly but my heel simply wouldn’t co-operate.

I hope I’ll have more success with standing computing!  I’ll let you know how it turns out when we’ve finished the desk and I’ve had a chance to try it out for a few weeks.

 

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5 thoughts on “A standing desk for the Thread Theory Studio

  1. I hadn’t though of a standing desk before, but I think you might be talking me into it right now. I love how crafty you guys are, the desk looks great! Make sure you update us on how it goes, I’m really curious!

    • Yes, we’ll update you! We’ve stained the desk now and have used it for a few days. I’m really enjoying it and feel more focused than I was at our dining room table (though this might just be the newness of the set up – I haven’t developed bad habits at my new workstation yet!). We have a number of things yet to do in the office area and then we’ll do another photo shoot and blog post :). I hope you enjoy your standing desk if you make the switch!

  2. I like how you guys think: like me:) At least when it comes to diy desk space… I’ve been wondering how to convert my basically Lego’ed work area for more standing, too. But it’s already so interlocking and modular that if one thing moves pretty much everything else would have to as well:(

    Anyway, here’s my old-timer lego-deskmaker’s reaction, off the top of my head: I’ve got several of those same funky diy sawhorses, bought for exactly what you’ve done with them, stored away somewhere…because I eventually hated them for that. They never stop wobbling (Matt’s are no doubt made better than mine were), and worse, steal basically the whole space underneath with awkward, useless, trip-over legs and angled divisions. Maybe you’ve got better storage than I do, or less stuff!, but around here every inch counts:)

    My current MO is to nail something like a 2×4, with spacers to extend it out from the wall a bit, to the wall, at the desktop height, in order to secure and support the back of the desk at the wall, and support the front with whatever makes the most sense from my other Lego bits, from file cabs or other furniture to simply heavy dowels held in place with those fittings used for making coat-hanger racks out of them. Dowels could work in back, too, but having the top secured to the wall somewhere at at least really cuts down on the wobbling. If the surface needs to go away sometimes, I’ve sometimes attached it at the wall with hinges so it can fold up. Usually, though, the space underneath, esp. at the back, is so packed with books and stash that lifting the top wouldn’t add much room.

    I also learned from a visit to an old-time tailor, to make my top surfaces double when possible, with another one just like it a few inches underneath, and the top one held above it with minimal spacers at the outer edges only—like a big, thin drawer space with no drawer inserted, if that makes sense. He used the space below for large flat things like pressing boards, card stock, cutting mats (well, HE didn’t have cutting mats, but I do!) and big flat projects that needed to be temporarily set aside for other work, etc., like patterns and drafts in progress…you get the idea, I hope.

    Those 2x6s are probably too massive and heavy for that last set-up… I’d prefer a single, stiff, and hopefully lighter-weight, something as a surface; my defaults are plywood and hollow-core doors, usually covered with cutting mats cut to fit. All my heavy lumber has eventually been turned into welcome uprights…

    Well, there; seems I’ve trashed your entire project! Sorry; not my plan… But with hard-won experience I do assure you:) Not a doubt in the world that you clever folk can improve on any and everything I’ve suggested. Looking forward to more news of your evolving work spaces!

    • Thanks for the tips David! Matt has added a 2X4 that extends from sawhorse to saw horse and has really stabilized the table so I think that will be sturdy enough for our intended use (computer work only as it is in our office area and not the sewing room). We liked the sawhorse design for it’s minimalism – Matt and I are a bit strange and prefer to have as few things as possible lol. So we really gravitate to furniture without drawers, nooks and crannies to hide things in! If I ever decide to create more tables for my sewing area though, this would not be my preference for a table as, you are right, it is simply not sturdy enough and there aren’t any areas to pile fabric!

      • I suspected you two were a bit more minimalist than myself…and deliberately didn’t attach any pix of my own vast hoardings, for fear of horrifying:)

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