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This page shows how we made our office DIY Walking Desk, aka 'Cheap Treadmill Desk'. Want a 'STANDING DESK'? Ok, then ju...






























The following is a project we undertook at our shop and worked for our needs. Before beginning a project of this sort, some of which may require power tools, and an understanding of electronics and electricity, as well as a 'working mechanical' knowledge, make sure that any steps / procedures you undertake are within your 'skill set'. If in doubt, don't do it! Also, this is the design we utilized, with parts we sourced / happened across. It doesn't mean everyone will have the 'skill set' to reproduce it, nor be able to find the items / materials for similar costs...but most can with a bit of effort. This information is for entertainment only and not necessarily instructions or recommendations for you to proceed with such a project. We will not be responsible for any damage, either physical, mental or monetary if decide to do any of what we show on this page. An of course, consult your doctor before taking up an exercise routine, doing physical exertion or really doing anything...So there!

ALSO...When you mention 'treadmill desk' to most folks, they envision someone 'jogging' or even running while trying to work / type / write etc. That 'ain't how it is'. I and most folks using them are probably WALKING, and walking at a rate of from .5 mph to just over 1 MPH. At the time of this writing I typically have it set at .9 MPH and occasionally will 'kick it up' to 1.1 MPH. Just FYI...


 How to make a very cool and cheap (not counting time) walking desk / treadmill desk....









While I had heard of a ‘Walking Desk’ / ‘Treadmill Desk’ before, as well as a ‘Standing Desk’ such as the one by "Geek-Desk" (a 'standing desk' was not too appealing to me, but one thing I've figured out is that if I want it to be just a 'standing desk', I just turn the 'treadmill off'.), the catalyst for getting off my chair and actually acquiring one was while listening to the ’Clark Howard Show’ on the radio and he stated that he had ordered a Treadmill desk for himself. That added a bit more ‘credence’ to the idea of getting one myself.


As most of my business is conducted via my web site, my job requires a lot of ‘desk time’ for writing / research, and I was convinced that amount of time spent sitting was ‘killing me’. I was very anxious to address that, and was convinced a ‘walking treadmill’ was the answer.


I already have an ‘Expresso Fitness’ exercise bike in my office. For those of you who aren’t aware of what these are, I’ll just tell you that they are an INCREDIBLE device. Yes, they are ‘relatively speaking’, very expensive, but in my opinion worth it if you can’t get out on a bike or it’s not typically practical for you to get exercise otherwise. It’s a ‘spinning bike’ with a computer generated, ‘ride simulator’ built-in. It has a ‘graphics computer’ (mine is an ‘XP’ machine) with a ‘magnetic brake’ to simulate hills / different terrain (no friction bands or mechanical devices to heat up or wear out) and a monitor to display, what I consider great graphics of about a 50 different rides / tours. I love spending time on it, but that’s the problem. I have to have ‘dedicated time’ off my computer and away from my desk (thus not working) to ride it. While I try and spend 20 minutes to an hour a day on it, it doesn’t always work out that way, so that’s where the ‘treadmill desk’ will come in (frankly I couldn’t imagine a ‘Standing Only’ desk. That idea did not appeal to me at all. Anyway, if I want a ‘Standing Only’ desk, I can  just turn the treadmill ‘Off’).   


Being the ‘DIY’ guy that I am, purchasing an already made treadmill desk was not really an option as they seemed to be ranging in price from $1500 to $2500. I will preface that with saying however, that I spent an inordinate amount of time coming up with the various designs (mostly in my head, but also thru trial and error), making trips to the hardware store and the actual construction of it that I probably could have purchased one for the ‘time’ I spent on it. The issue is, however, that it wouldn’t have been as ‘compact’ and for my office space, as practical.


I knew I would get a treadmill used, either on craigslist or from a thrift store, as I see them at auctions, garage sales, Goodwill’s, Salvation Army thrift stores etc, all the time.


Right away there were issues, as I knew there would be from doing a bit of ‘web research’. One issue was how well the treadmill does at really slow speed’s such as a ‘half mile an hour’. A couple I tried did not do well, as they made a ‘groaning’ noise at that slow speed, and / or had a ‘buzz’ / vibration that transferred to the deck, which you could feel in your feet.


The other issue was whether to incorporate the desk into the ‘side rails’ / console of the treadmill. The general consensus on the web was NOT to do that, as any movement created from walking, jogging or running, on the treadmill would be transferred to the ‘desk’. Thus my initial mental designs utilized a ‘detached’ desk. I struggled with how to do the desk. One web site showed a guy that simply made one from a shelving unit (one of those ‘welded wire’ types), which seemed to function pretty well, but still needed a ‘solid shelf’ or desk surface to be practical and / or comfortable. Then I thought of a ‘keyboard’ stand, like the type keyboard players would use on stage or in a studio (I had sold countless designs of these over the years, being in the retail / music business). I already had an ‘A-Frame’ version by ‘Ultimate Support’, but also looked at a few keyboard stands from 'Quik-Loc’ as I had sold those as well, but kept coming back to incorporating what ever ‘console support’ / side rails that might be built-into the treadmill as it would be more compact, and frankly ‘simpler’ to design and construct my desk around.  I also did not believe that at a ‘walking speed’ (which is what I would really be doing with it, as I can’t think that ‘jogging or running’ will be very practical while trying to work, but we’ll see) would transfer much in the way of vibration to the work surface or monitor.


After a handful of trips to various thrift stores and an auction or two, I came up with the candidate. It was a ‘Vitamaster’ for $10. I tried it out at the store prior to deciding on it (not because I was worried about ‘blowing’ ten dollars, but didn’t want to ‘go through the hoops’ of loading it, hauling it to work, unloading it, and then having to return it, or dispose of it if it wasn’t a good candidate from the start). Some of the prior one’s I had looked at had ‘deal breaker’ issues such as; too noisy (I wear a ‘Bluetooth’ headset and they pick-up most any ambient noises), or they either didn’t have an ‘incline’ feature, or the ‘incline motor’ / mechanism was bad, had noisy / worn belt rollers, had a ‘buzz / vibration’ at slow speeds, didn’t do well going at ‘slow speeds’, ‘dead’ console LCD / LED screens, memory battery compartment corrosion, worn out walking belt, were UGLY, etc. Heck, the one I settled on was missing the ‘side rails’ and had the broken ‘stub’ of the safety key duct taped in so it would still run, but I thought it was still the best candidate I had seen for a couple weeks, and the fact that it was only ‘ten buck’s’ was 'icing on the cake'.


After a few trips to the hardware stores / Home Depot / Lowes, purchasing PVC pipe to try and make my ‘A-Frame’ keyboard stand taller, and looking at shelving units as alternatives, I decided to ‘scrap’ the separate desk / stand and incorporate my desk into the support already built into the treadmill. I also was ‘on the fence’ about how to mount the monitor to either one. I also wanted the  monitor to be a bit more ‘portable’ / moveable than it would be if attached to the desk. I also was a bit more concerned about vibration getting transferred to the monitor, both from a ‘visual’ aspect as well as from a ‘longevity / health’ aspect for the monitor (electronics commonly don’t like excessive vibration). Now there’s a potentially ‘terminal’ issue with doing that and that is once you’ve done that, you are very ‘married’ to that treadmill, as the desk won’t likely be ‘interchangeable’, especially once you go so far as to incorporate the ‘console’ attributes as I ended up doing. Besides most of my time had been spent fretting over the previous designs utilizing keyboard stands / shelving units. Once I came up with a ‘mental’ design, I was very excited about how it would turn-out.


The treadmills ‘console’ that sported all the LCD ‘status’ screens / readouts, speed controls, ‘On/Off’ switch, ‘Incline’ switch and safety key were unfortunately exactly where I wanted my keyboard / mouse desk, so I would have to ‘re-engineer’ all of that. My desk was simply a ‘pre-made’ shelf from Home Depot that I had already lying around the shop (unfortunately with lots of holes drilled into it's edge, so not the 'prettiest', but I'm going to add a 'padded edge' soon so it will be hidden). It’s simply one of those ‘pre-finished / particle board’ shelves that are laminated in white vinyl. Heck, it was already cut to a fine length from some previous use. I envisioned segregating and incorporating the different aspects of the original console into the desk at positions that were practical for the new use.


After studying the internal workings of the console / switch location / wiring, I decided to simply ‘cut’ it up into smaller sections. It was made of a fairly pliable / soft plastic that I could tell would not shatter when cut with snips (not scissors, but ‘tin snips’ designed for cutting sheet metal / ducting. We have many at our shop for various uses). I could have used a jig saw / saber saw, but the snips and a couple of razor blades to make ‘score lines’ worked great. Some cut’s I simply scored with a razor blade, then broke along the score lines. I cleaned up the jagged cut lines with a belt sander and / or files. I wanted to maintain the essential layout of the speed control, status screens and other switches as well as the safety key, that the original design featured as that work had already been sussed by the manufacturer. Once the original console was ‘cut-up’ I ended up with 4 pieces. The ‘speed’ control section, the LCD screen section, the ‘On/Off’ switch / ‘Incline’ switch’ and the ‘safety key’ port / switch. I wanted to utilize the original plastic panel as much as possible, as it already had the silk-screened labeling. For the ‘Speed’ control and the ‘switches’ I simply used a router and recessed the shelf about 1/8 to 3/16” deep for the plastic section, and cut access for the back of the switches with a jig saw (I could have skipped the router step, but wanted it to be recessed from a cosmetics standpoint, and needed a good excuse to use my router. Unfortunately, being in a hurry, I ‘free-handed’ the router part, so the recessed edges aren’t very straight.) The console already had the lower section of plastic molded at the perfect angle, so I simply screwed it to the back edge of the shelf. There was enough extra length of wire stuffed down inside the lower part of the treadmill, to reach the slightly more extended portions of the shelf, so I didn’t have to ‘scab’ in any wire. I may have to when I properly fit the safety switch. I did mount the shelf with twin hinges on the back to allow for easy access to the back / bottom side. As the original console sub-structure was angled, I simply used three ‘stove-bolts’ to level the front (see photos) (I affixed 3 rubber pads under the shelf for them to rest on).




(click thumbnail to enlarge photo)


The monitor I had decided to mount on a stand separately. I looked at a couple of ‘pre-made’ stands that I was thinking of going with, then realized I already had an old speaker stand for stage use, I thought might work. I then realized I had access to monitor / flat panel LCD TV mounts designed for mounting a flat panel LCD television / flat panel computer monitor to a vertical stand. My stand was an ‘odd one’ in that it was made of ‘square tubing’ (I had some newer speaker stands by 'Ultimate Support’, but was already using them to hold up speakers, and their ‘foot-print’ was not as small as this existing ‘square-tubing’ stand I had, which would have also been an issue in my ‘limited’ office space). Once I got the flat panel 'pole mount’ apparatus in, I realized it really was designed for ‘round’ poles, so after a few trips to Home Depot, Lowes, ACE Hardware, etc, to find the correct ‘pipe’ either in PVC, galvanized or whatever would ‘just fit’ over the top of the stand, I ended up going to a ‘metal supply’ and getting a section of 1/8” wall, 1.75” ID steel stock. For my purposes it fit perfectly. Slid right over the square section of the stand and the computer monitor bracket / mount had the perfect ‘profile’ for the round pipe. The only current issue is that the mount I got does not ‘extend’ out from the stand and again, due to floor space, the stand is ‘off to my right’. I have another version coming that extends out, allowing the monitor to be directly in front of me.



(click thumbnail to enlarge photo)

List of materials / cost (while the *'cheap' price did include the treadmill, it did not include the EXTRA monitor, keyboard, mouse and cable I purchased so I could still retain my normal desk, and I already had the stand to mount the monitor on)

Used treadmill; $10.

Used 17" monitor from Goodwill; $15.

Shelf; ~$5. (actually already had)

Monitor bracket; $45.

Pipe Stock from local metal supply house; $6.

Vertical monitor stand; (already had one from my PA system speakers)

Misc hardware; ~$6.   


Total ~ $87.00

Secondary Add-on's, over and above the original "under $100." price tag;

New, larger monitor (Now purchased a 23" LG 24EN43 23" LED monitor {~$170-$210. at the time of this writing}. {Had to 'upgrade' the 17" monitor as since I had a 23" HP monitor already on my desk, but I had to 'dumb' it down as the monitor for the treadmill desk was only a 17", and your image can only be as good as your 'least size' monitor. I still don't really get why, but that was how it was, and many people that were 'in the know' confirmed that, so now I have 23" monitors on both desks. More below on that**...})

Used Wireless keyboard / mouse; $65.

Gray / Flexible tubing around desk edge; ~$10. from Home Depot

HDMI cable to connect previous / existing computer monitor: $25. Office Depot

25 foot VG cable $45.

Time: A LOT of that = $$$$  (mostly coming up with the design I liked. A second one would be a fairly small fraction of the original time)


'Speed Control' is in upper left corner of desk-top. Original treadmill console (width cut down) screwed to center back edge. 'Power Incline' and 'On-Off' in upper right corner.
Safety key switch fastened under right corner of desk top.

Bottom line is I LOVE IT!!!

There are a couple of issues remaining. I had gotten pretty used to my 23” wide-screen, HP monitor, and the ‘extra’ monitor from the thrift store is only 17”. I tried to adjust each independently, but was unable to get the ‘wide’ monitor to have it’s original attributes. One computer tech said both monitors would have to display as the ‘least’ monitor. Another said that I should be able to adjust both independently and get my ‘wide screen’ monitor adjusted for ‘wide screen’ attributes. I plan simply acquiring another ‘wide screen’ monitor for the treadmill soon. The other issue is that since I have two mouse’seses’s / mice / meese’ses’s (oh...whatever...) they each are assigned the same attributes / parameters but they both exhibit different speeds. I’ll have to look into that further, get both mice to be the same, or just ‘get used to it’.

I realize the treadmill I based this around is a typical ‘consumer’ level treadmill, and for the trouble it is to build a treadmill desk, I probably should have started with a ‘commercial grade’ or ‘professional’ level treadmill as it would likely last many times longer, run cooler and have a softer, better feeling deck, but this is a good one to ‘get my feet wet’ with.

I do have to say, that now that I've finished it, I have since seen a 'ready to go' treadmill desk by a company called "Work-Fit Treadmill" / workfittreadmill that appears to be a good potential unit and figuring the time and materials to create mine, would be about 'break-even'. Just FYI.

**So, as stated earlier, I have since 'upgraded' the monitor on the treadmill desk to a 23". Also, as I already stated, I am using a 'pole mount' for the monitor. To my amazement (disbelief  / disappointment) most monitors that I was seeing at Office Max, Staples, Best Buy, and Office Depot do not have the 'standard 4-bolt pattern' on the back for mounting. Obviously manufacturers were cued that the majority of consumers didn't need that, but I was surprised. I found a few that were over the $200 mark, but I also wanted HDMI and DVI as well as standard VGA connections. The only one I could find locally available for immediate purchase was the LG 24EN43 23" LED monitor (which as proven to be a fine monitor). One thing I noticed is that all the 'new' monitors (including the LG 24EN4) have gotten very 'thin' which was no doubt a 'facilitated bi-product' if you will, of removing the substructure that allows a monitor to be mounted alternatively via the standard 4 bolts on the back panel. Even this LG 23" flat panel monitor that I purchased, while it does have the mounting plate area, was very 'flimsy' as when I placed it on it's face, and 'stood' the pole mount on the monitors back (to bolt it into place) the back flexed a considerable amount. I will be very careful when adjusting the vertical angle of the monitor by simply 'grabbing the edges' and not keeping the mounting arm adjusted 'too tight' as it could likely cause problems with the monitor down the road.

I've recently (and finally) added a 'border' around the treadmill desktop, which does a couple of things (makes it look better is not one of them). It keeps my mouse and coffee cup from 'flying off' (the mouse had done that many times), and it's makes it less painful when I bump into it while walking by (rounding the corners also helped with that). I simply utilized some 'split / flexible tubing' fastened with some short 'sheet rock' screws from underneath.  treadmill-desk_walking-desk-top-finished_with_flex-tubing_edge.jpg

I also finally attached the 'safety key / switch' (not that I use it mind you).   vitamaster_treadmill_safety-key_installed_to_desk-top.jpg






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