Programmer is ̶m̶e̶s̶s̶making standing desk

Svaťa Šimara
Published in
4 min readFeb 11, 2022


Let’s buy it

Buying standing desk should be simple — choose one, order… done. Or?

I love having a space and I love solid wood. If I should buy a new table, it cannot be pressed laminated wood dust, it must be a big piece of solid wood. And that’s expensive.

Or I can assemble one for half the price!
What can go wrong?

Let’s buy pieces and assemble it!


I need legs… I was thinking about motorized legs, but they’re expensive. Manual adjustable legs should be enough for me, and I decided for some basic AlzaErgo Table. ~200€, good.

Table top

As I said, I like space. I was looking for some 80cm deep and 160–180cm wide table top on IKEA and other shops, but I didn’t find anything big enough (and from solid wood).

And then I realized I can by a solid board from a local hobby market, paint it, and job done.

What can go wrong?

After some consideration, I decided for a beech board 80x180cm from local OBI market. ~200€, good.


I like natural look of the wood, so I prefer transparent paint. Somehow I found osmo wax oil — a combination of wax and oil that highlights the natural look of the wood, is natural, not harmful to health. Awesome! 300ml should be enough, let’s buy it. ~30€.

All parts are in the office

Everything is here and I cannot wait to paint it.

Ready for sanding sides and paint

The table top is smooth, and just with couple of defects that can be hidden to the bottom. Just the edges are bit raw. Not a problem, let’s sand paper them.


I was told that I should start with 120 grit and then continue with 240 grit, and that should be enough.

Luckily I bought sandpaper holder, and it saved me tones of time and nerves, I would recommend it to everyone!

Sandpaper holder

Ok, edges are sanded, time to paint!


I was also informed that paining have to be done from all sides with the same amount of layers, otherwise the wood will accept moisture differently, and will eventually bend. Ok. I’ll start with the bottom side first to see what will happen.

I decided to paint the board in my office as I have plenty of space here.

I’ll regret this decision just in couple of minutes.

First paint

Although the wax oil is natural, it contains also a good amount of solvent.

Actually the solvent vapors are so strong, that after couple of minutes working with it I felt drugged. Yes, I felt dizzy, and had a good mood. Good mood? Great!

Luckily I could move to another room, but this was a terrible decision. It’s also winter here, so I can’t move outside. I also don’t have a garage, so I’ll continue suffering this decision for a couple of days. Really a bad idea.

The board is messed up

I left it dry overnight, and was looking for an awesome result.

Next day when I touched the board I was stunned. The board was full of tiny hardened hairs. What?! Hell! It’s unusable!

Although the board was smooth at the first touch, it wasn’t sanded. And as I applied the wax oil, all those tiny unsanded wood hairs stood up. Stoop up and hardened.

I should have sand the board with 240 grit before paining!

Now it’s too late, it’s messed up. Or not? Let’s try to sand it down.

It‘s alive!

Not only sanding the painted side works. It works like a champ!

I used couple of sand papers, but the holder helped me a lot, and it’s smooth again. And the wax oil is still there. I’m back in the game.

So this time I sanded the other side before painting, painted, and the result was good. That’s a huge load off my mind.

I repeated the process once again on both sides to have a good result, and in two days, the table top was finished.

Assembly and results

Assemble legs, and mount table top took some time, but even me — a programmer — was able to do it within couple of hours.

Wax oil is awesome
Standing tall


  • Sandpaper is a friend, sand everything with a fine grid. It will save time, and nerves.
  • Really, sandpaper is a friend.
  • Wax oil is great, but doesn’t cover imperfections, only soaks inside.
  • Sniffing solvent for a couple of days is a terrible idea.
  • 440€ in total for a 180x80 solid beech standing desk.

It’s a solid piece of wood. If the paiting/sanding didn’t work well, I could resend it deeply, and apply a different paint. I just panicked it that very moment, wood is forgiving.

Do I stand up?

I’m using the standing desk for a month now. To force myself to stand up behind the desk I developed couple of rituals.

I stand up during whole company meetings, during standups, and after lunch. In average it’s 2–3 hours per day.

To be honest, the back pain didn’t disapper, but I don’t feel worse… so the time will tell.

This article was written in a standup position.



Svaťa Šimara

Developer interested in Domain-Driven Design & Modeling