Screw Foo – Hacking the IKEA Supply Chain

I have been a fan and devotee of standing desks since their inception as a commercial thing. Actually longer than that as I literally built a custom stand-up desk along time ago from cast iron piping and 2x4s which still stands in my workshop. I just have never been able to sit that long. Too much nervous energy I guess. Today I decided to add an extra sit/stand desk to my primary desktop/project area to give myself some additional space. It led to an adventure that had me scratching my head.

I have an Uplift branded Sit/Stand desk as my primary workstation at home. It has been a beast and it has been spacious enough for most of my crazy work-flow and various projects. That is until recently when I have taken on a few projects that require more space, equipment, and I am planning the addition of two additional Klipsch Speakers to my set up. I needed more space.

The challenge is that supply chains everywhere are messed up for everything. It took incredibly long for my previous sit/stand desk to arrive and I needed something quick. Mostly because I get impatient. So I headed down to the local IKEA to see what they had in stock (if anything).

My Uplift desk has a white top with a white professional base and I really wanted to keep the new desk matching if at all possible. After walking through the evolving maze of rooms at the IKEA store I finally got to the area where the desks were sold. I immediately found the Trotten. A nice mechanical sit/stand desk. The display model had the white top, and the bottom and feet were also a near match to what I had at home. The price was incredibly reasonable. It was not motorized (it had a hand crank) but in general I set the position to what is comfortably for me to stand and usually leave it anyway.

Sold. I thought until I realized that there was an ‘out of stock’ paper on it. Undeterred I went to find a sales professional to see if I could just by one of the three floor models. I eventually found someone who told me that they don’t sell floor models if the product is still actively being sold and not discontinued.

So she went to the computer to see what they might have in stock or what they could order. It turned out that they had dozens of the bottom frame and mechanism, but no desk tops. She then asked if I had looked at the Bekant. Another Sit/Stand option. The primary difference being that it had rounded corners and a slightly different mechanism on the frame. Still manual. So we went over and took a look. It looked fine enough so I said, “Okay, lets do this one. As long as they have the same size as what I need.”

Well we return to the inventory system. They had dozens of table tops, but no frames. So I asked, “Why wouldn’t you have an equal number of each?” They didn’t know. Then another person came by and told me that they have had this issue for months.

So I thought to myself a moment then asked what turned out to be a controversial question. “Could I buy the Trotten bottom frame and the Bekant table top? ” The table-tops were the same dimensions (except the rounded corners). You would have thought that I had just quoted heresy.

Sales Person: “Sir, You cannot do that. We wouldn’t recommend it’.

Me: “Why not? Its the same size as the correct top.

Sales Person: “Sir, you would void all warranties if you do that.”

Me: “Umm, One is mechanical frame made mostly of steel parts and the other is a piece of laminated wood.”

Sales Person: “But the holes will not line up and there is no guarantee it will work.”

Me: “Umm, Turns out I am pretty handy with a drill and screws I think I will go ahead and chance it. Im pretty sure I can make it work.

Sales Person: “Ok but you will do it at your own risk.”

So being the crazy person I am and risking my warranty on a piece of wood. I purchased both parts (and a bag of salted licorice that was staring at me in the check-out line) and brought them home. After assembling the bottom piece I flipped it over and put it on the rogue table top. It took eight 1/2 inch wood screws, and four 3/4 inch wood screws and poof… I had a working Sit/Stand desk. Looks great. Works great. Holds all the weight. Matches the other table perfectly.

A hybrid Sit/Stand Desk

I’m thinking of creating an official conversion kit that I will call ‘SkrusForyu’ and charge $5 for it.

Joking aside – Have we really become a society where how to build something must be have pre-drilled holes and step by step directions? Are we incapable of figuring out how to build it without them? Maybe so. I named this blog LooseBolts due to the relationship with building hyper-scale technology, managing teams, leading change, and not tightening screws and bolts until you got the right alignment. The same goes true for sit/stand desks. I guess in all of these adventures you also need to be willing to risk the warranty on all sorts of pieces of wood.


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