Project “DIY Standing Desk” – or how to not spend all day on your butt during COVID-lockdown

After spending way too long sitting on my butt, I decided I would make a standing desk as a DIY project. I saw the table design before and had a rough idea stuck in my head. The original has a primarily metal top with wooden edges, but that’s a little hard to source at your local Bunnings – so instead I bought a good hard Tasmanian oak panel. it’s a hard wood that wears well. The base is all made from pine – no need for anything harder or so much more expensive there.The top panel is 1800mm long so HEAPS of workspace, and 600mm deep.The rest of the table is made from 90mm x 20mm wide dressed pine, cheaper and strong enough. All the angle cuts are done at 22.5 degrees which makes it *relatively* straightforward to put together.

Eight lengths cut for the legs – 1150mm long

The legs are made from eight lengths cut at 1150mm (four pieces to each X on either side. I stacked all eight and put a fat hole through the centres. A drill press would’ve been very handy here as it’s important for the stability of the end product that the holes are as aligned as possible.

I then assembled the two X legs on a length of M12 threaded rod. It’s actually cheap – the rod cost about ten dollars for three metres, plus four half inch washers and four M12 nuts to hold it in place. You want the base to be shorter than the surface so I cut the rod down to 1650mm. Once these bits were assembled and the nuts were tightened up a bit, it looked like this:

Because all the pieces are the same size, the only thing you need to be careful of is that you orient them the right way as you assemble. Then tighten with a shifting spanner – not too tight.

You still need to be able to tap the wood to align them all perfectly. the base cuts should sit flat on the floor. Once this is done tighten up a bit more. At this point it was obvious that the base was a bit springy – the steel rod flexes a bit and the legs need to be secured a bit. also an 1800 mm surface is going to need some support to stop it bowing under weight, especially over time. Sticking with the same angle cuts, I made cross-bars to join the tops of the X legs as below. I also added the two lengths to support the surface. The idea was that the space in the middle of the would be a good place to hide cables and a powerboard eventually.

Each cross bar is made from two pieces of timber sistered to each other to fit the gaps in the legs. Same 22.5 degree cuts, just wood glue and three screws each. The cross bars and the bottoms of the legs are all secured in place with fat oversized M12 nuts and bolts, more for aesthetic than anything else. They are way bigger than needed

And that was pretty much the build. Next step – sand the surface down to get rid of dust and splinters, and then I put on three coats of furniture wax and finished with a harder wax called cabinet-makers wax. It will wear and get a patina and the pine legs will darken with age. I’m really happy with the end product. The whole project cost about $200 in materials from Bunnings. The most expensive part is the oak surface – $99 for the piece.

Day 13ish – Three days in Osaka

So I lost all discipline with my idea of a daily journal. I blame Japan because we’ve been moving non stop and having our minds blown and shopping and eating and learning and having fun.

We arrived in Osaka after a long and tiring transit day and everyone was grumpy. The hotel is a bit crappy and far out of Central Osaka which didn’t help. We made our way into Osaka to see Dotombori at night and we all feel in love with the city. Dotombori is the biggest tourist trap but that doesn’t matter at all. It’s a “shut up and take my money” scenario.

The lights in the water are beautiful, the shops and restaurants and Street vendors are all super friendly even when they can’t speak English. The area is crowded and busy, and has an electric vibe.

Yesterday we did a tour of Nara Park, including Todai-ji Buddhist temple and Sadai-ji Shinto shrine. Both were stunning and awesome, and so much more enjoyable to see with a knowledgeable local guide

After this we went back to Namba and walked around until we found a Korean BBQ restaurant we wanted to try. It was good but best of all was how excited the owner was to be hosting us. He gave us presents and shot glasses of milk for dessert. Funny guy, great food.

Catching trains in Japan is pretty much mandatory as it’s the cheapest and usually quickest way to get around in the city. It’s also daunting and confusing at first. Different lines have their own stations and they are not always interconnected. Nevertheless, we’ve pretty much mastered the trains now and we’re ready for the next big test – tomorrow we go but train from Osaka to Hiroshima. Four trains over about two and a half to three hours. With suitcases. That should be fun.

Day Eight – walking Hanoi

We left this morning and went in search of a photo lab to develop some film. Turns out there use one place within 800m of our hotel. The lab was in one of those buildings that reinforce my theory about City blocks in Vietnam

We went in search of an address on the corner of the top left intersection but it turns out that buildings share their numbers with these inside-the-block buildings – and the lab was in one of the diagonal buildings inside that block.

We also went in search of markets and shopping, and food as usual. Everyone bought something today so I guess it was a successful day. Quiet time now, then out somewhere for dinner later.

Tomorrow we will go to a museum, and to the temple of literature.

Day seven – Halong Bay and back to Hanoi

We woke up early and made our first stop at Ti Top Island. It’s a small island with a very high tourist per square metre ratio. We climbed 427 stairs to reach the Pagoda at the top where there is a great view to be seen. Or so I hear. I was too busy trying not to puke after climbing the stairs too quickly.

Next up is a buffet breakfast as we sail back into the main port. Then a four hour bus trip back to Hanoi.


We got in to Hanoi and checked back into the hotel. After a freshen-up and some time out we went exploring in search of dinner and things to see and do. Hanoi is way less geared for tourists than Saigon is. It’s definitely the business end of the stick.

After dinner we found Saigon’s Book Street, which is open at night. There’s a concept every city could learn from.

Day Six – Halong Bay

We left Hanoi bright and early, after a quick detour to find a pharmacy. It’s a four hour drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay, through miles and miles of this:

It’s interspersed with some countryside which abruptly returns to concrete. We saw drained rice paddies (it’s the dry season now) and fields of many different crops. I noticed something interesting here – the Vietnamese (and Cambodian) definition of a city block is different to ours. I think because ours is less by the idea that every property has a driveway or dinner form of car access. Here, for example you see a row of shops with a gap that leads to a school or a set of buildings inside the block, that have no direct street access. Not sure why, it’s like a mini biolage inside a street block.

We got to Halong Bay for lunch, and had lunch on the boat we’re on. It’s great. The boys days the boat reminds them of Murder on the Orient Express. It’s all plush fabrics and dark woods.

It’s winter so not ideal timing for being here but it’s still been interesting, scenic and fun. And I think my man-flu is getting better… Holding thumbs for tomorrow.

Day four – Angkor Wat

Cambodia is awesome. People are friendly, the town is quite small and quiet compared to Ho Chi Minh City (not hard to do that 😉 and the whole place is a balance between a focus on restoring Cambodian culture and entertaining western tourists, some of whom are evidently bogans.

We did a day trip with a guide, through Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayan temple. The guide was excellent, and very knowledgeable. The temples were amazing to see and experience. The hordes of tourists were OK except for at Bayan temple where they got a bit much.

It’s interesting how civilisations layer on top of each other, as can be seen all round the world. Including here where formerly Hindu temples are now Buddhist temples. It’s also interesting how the Cambodian people deal with the after effects of Pol Pot’s reign. It’s not widely spoken about (at least in my experience so far) but the general understanding of what needs to be done to rebuild is there, especially a value placed on education.

Day Three

Continuing the Vietnam/American war theme, we did a trip out to see the Cu Chi tunnels. The history is interesting, and you quickly get a feel that the savagery and brutality of the war was all around.

We also went to an art factory that creates work for disabled people affected by Agent Orange. Bring the sucker that I am for good causes, our bags are a few kilos heavier and wallets a few dollars lighter.

We wrestled up the day with a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Next stop – ticking off a bucket list item.

Boys at the tunnels:

Day Five – Siem Reap

I managed to get a cold, and spent the day trying to not be sick. We went to an artisans factory where they train impoverished people up in artisanal skills and then give them a share in the factory. It’s inspiring to see all the initiatives going on in Cambodia to restore the economy

We then went off in search of an ice creamery that is featured in the Lonely Planet, and famed for all natural ingredients and the best coffee in Siem Reap. It did not disappoint. Turns out that the street the place was on should be the first stop anyone makes in Siem Reap – not the last, like we did. We also encountered a man with no arms, who was a landmine victim there. Another lesson in how wrong shit can go.

After lengthy delays and a two hour flight we arrived in Hanoi, tired and ready to sleep. And me basically being a human snot factory.

Day Two – walking Ho Chi Minh

We’ve found things to be very hit-and-miss in Saigon. It’s like a study in emergent systems. The system feels like laws are more suggestions than actual rules. People are very innovative in finding ways to make a living. People seem to wait cautiously before interacting but once you show politeness they generally seem friendly.

We booked a tour today and made our way to the meeting point. We got bundled into a minibus and we’ve been sitting waiting ever since. Not a word from anyone. Hit and miss, thirty minutes waiting on the street.

Next thing we know… We’re off on this tour and meeting new people and seeing amazing things. There tour took up all of the day. We saw markets, temples, Independence Palace, the Vietnam War Remnants Museum, Traditional Medicine museum, and Chinatown. Full on.

Day Two: Ho Chi Minh bustle

We made an early start and went off to the Binh Tay Markets today. My bad – we were supposed to go to other markets but I spoke to so many people eventually I got confused and took us off to the wrong spot. It only matters because tomorrow we are doing an organised tour including going to Binh Tay Markets. Maybe we missed some stalls….

After the markets we walked a long way… checking out life in Saigon from all the angles. It’s a lot to process – but safe to say it’s an order of magnitude more intense than our lives in Sydney. 12 million people packed into a 24 hour city, and something like 8 million riding scooters. When the light goes red they shortcut over the sidewalk. If you’re brave enough you can get an Uber Scooter.

We went to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda – a Taoist temple that is one of the most famous temples here. One of the staff at the hotel told us Barack Obama went to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda. It was fascinating to see, and as much as I wanted to take photos I didn’t want to offend anyone so only snuck a few

We rounded things off with a massive meal of things I don’t really want to eat again – a five course Vietnamese street food tour of Saigon. The tour guide was funny, we went along with some nice people, and the boys had fun. Thousand Year Old Egg…. Shudders…