Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Treadmill Desk

A long time ago I spotted a treadmill desk on Instructables, and was instantly intrigued. As someone who routinely spends 12+ hours a day on the computer, this seemed like a great way to get off my butt without sacrificing work time.

That first design I saw was essentially just a shelf mounted to a wall for the monitor, with another shelf erected around the treadmill arms to serve as a work surface for the keyboard:

Overall the setup seemed a bit clunky, though, and you had to face the treadmill into a wall, which wouldn't work with the small space we had to work with in our back room.

I talked to John about it, and we agreed that really all we needed was a single shelf to hold a laptop and mouse, since we planned to use this as a supplement to our office desktop, not a replacement. We started researching treadmills, and within two weeks found a nice fold-up model - a bit shorter than most, so it would fit our space - for $250 on Craig's List.

Here it is in our back room:

An eyesore, yes, but worth it.

Here's the worktop:

John's shelf is so seamless that some of our friends thought it actually came with the treadmill. I love how streamlined it is. He designed the shape of the wooden board to fit around the arms, rounded the edges with a router, and then painted the whole thing satin black. The entire process only took him a few hours, and cost $15.

The trick to such a simple design is finding a treadmill with arms that can support a shelf this way. As you can see, John used large U bolts to fit over the arms and support the shelf with wing nuts screwed in from below. It's extremely strong and stable. The wing nuts also make the shelf easy to remove, in case John wants the extra space for running. (Although so far he's been able to run even with it in place.)

John measured me ahead of time to make sure the keyboard would be at the best height for typing, so it's extremely comfortable to use. Typing and mousing are easy, because I walk at a casual stroll. The first day I walked and worked for four hours straight without a second's thought. Then I stepped off and nearly collapsed from jelly knees. Ha! After that I kept it to one-hour increments as I built up my stamina.

Here's another reason the eyesore is worth it:

In addition to working, I can also use the treadmill at night while watching TV with John. Multipurpose ftw!

We've had the treadmill desk now for nearly a year. I don't use it every day, but usually I'm on it no less than 3 or 4 times a week. The days I use it I'll walk for up to two hours, then switch to the sit-down desk for a while, and then go walk again. It's saved me from growing into my desk chair, and is also a great way to wake up from after-lunch drowsies.

So, there you have it! Now, who's off to find a used treadmill?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Firefly Art Even Non-Fans Will Love

Check out this sweet copper and brass "wall hanging thingie" made recently by user Hell's Kitten on

Now that's cool.

I love that even people who've never heard of Firefly (aka "sad people") can appreciate something like this. The lyrics are beautiful on their own, and the plaque has a rugged Asian/steampunk vibe that could go with all kinds of different decor.

The artist doesn't give any further explanation on how it's made, but the pics alone are great inspiration for us DIY types:

In fact, I could see this working beautifully with thin Masonite sheets, metal rivets, and metallic paints and glazes. Just smooth on some joint compound/spackling to give the wood a rugged texture before painting, and then use letter stamps to inset the text into the texture. Hmm.... [plotting]

Ok, now I want to make one. Yep, this is going on the list!

The long, long list. Heh.

A big thanks to reader Kelli for sending me the link!

What's on your crafty to-do list today, guys?

UPDATE: I've since talked to the artist, Sara, and she's made lots more amazing stuff! (Another fabulous Firefly plaque here.) Check out her Flickr account to see more, and watch her brand new Etsy store for future goodies. Also feel free to contact her about commissions!