I am trying to build a standing desk but I want it to be wireless (aka - no electricity needed).

My idea is:

  • have 4 hydraulic pistons that extend (from 60 cm (25in) to 120 cm (50in)).

  • They will be extended by a pedal or a pump (like a bike pump) by a few pushes (manual work).

  • The initial lifting weight shouldn't be much, around 20-30 kg (44-66 lbs) just for the desk and some books/laptops

  • Then, the desk should be able to withstand some weight, maybe 40kg (88 lbs) without the pistons retracting (similar to how gaming chairs are).

  • Then, there should be a second pedal, which would release the pressure in the pistons causing them to retract and hence, lower the table.

I understand the theory, but it's hard for me to work out how I can build this myself. I need guidance on what kind of items (pistons, pedals) I should be looking to get and where I can get them from.

It's also very important to know that the budget here is limited, if the system would cost over 400€ to manufacture, I would rather buy it.

Thanks a lot for the help!

  • $\begingroup$ cost too much has no meaning $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Feb 8 at 1:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ how would you synchronize four pistons? ... what about one piston... motion distributed to four legs by the use of bicycle chains $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Feb 8 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Before you go about "reinventing the table" have a look at old fashioned hydraulic drafting tables. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Feb 8 at 2:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would probably cost you more to make it because if you are asking these questions you don't have access to the equipment required to make guide rails and the like. But I'll throw out those tables typically work...you don't have a piston (or god forbid multiple pistons) that you pump to raise the table. You have passive pistons to almost counterbalance weight of the table and its contents. There is a lever you depress at the same time you pull the table up with both hands to raise it yourself that unlatches the height lock and when released locks the table at a different height. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Feb 8 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ There are several designs on YouTube. Shafts, gears and chains repurposed from bicycles works as “cheap” - whatever that is… $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 8 at 5:10

1 Answer 1


First, you need to do it with one piston, because the sort you want, a pneumatic locking adjusting cylinder, are quite expensive. Think a steering column tilt lock on a piece of construction machinery. Those cylinders cost about $600 each. They work just like you want. Step on a lock release, position the steering column, release the pedal. Strength is no problem - they can hold a three-hundered pound guy pulling himself up by the wheel.

This is an example of one I have not used. There are simpler versions I will try to find as well. https://www.smcusa.com/products/C(D)LJ2-Air-Cylinder-Double-Acting-Single-Rod-Fine-Lock~134720


The way most of these desks work is to use a gas strut/gas spring and a remote lock.


gas spring catalog w/ prices

And you should figure on about 1000 pounds for the holding supporting forces, Because people are stupid, and they are expensive if you break them.


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