Final results building a piano drawer for my UPLIFT 4 leg standing desk
I’m finally writing this up 8 months later and the desk and drawer have been rock solid with use this entire time. You can see it in action on this Sennheiser HD 400 & USB Profile Mic review, this ADAM Audio T5V review, or mostly as an overhead shot in this Novation Launchkey Mk3 Review & Walkthrough.
Like most of us, I spend too much time at my desk, and especially too much time sitting. So when I was thinking about studio upgrades in the summer of 2023, I really wanted to get a standing desk, and I wanted to have a piano drawer work with it.
Since my main midi controller (M-Audio Keystation Pro 88) is a beast weighing in at 47 lbs and I’ve got a lot of additional weight on my desktop with computers and audio equipment, I needed a standing desk that was super stable plus a piano drawer that could attach to that standing desk and support my monster keyboard.
Frankly, the internet and standing desks sites are overwhelming with their claims. Based on days of research and Reddit posts/reviews, I settled on trying an Uplift V2-Commercial, 4 leg standing desk, with a crossbar for additional stability with their dark bamboo desktop in a 72” by 30” size with a 535 lb lifting capacity.
I searched piano drawers ready for installation across the internet to custom piano drawers from sellers on Etsy, but kept running into two problems:
I considered just buying a new midi controller, but to get something equivalent to the fully-weighted, highly programmable keyboard I have, I’d need to spend at least $1,000 and I didn’t want to when my keyboard works just fine and I really like it.
Consequently, I decided to build my own piano drawer that would work with my standing desk, with the total supplies costing me $318.
Depending on the look you want and if you already have some woodworking items or can borrow tools you can build this for under $120 to get the board, hardware, and drawer slides that you’ll need.
|Uplift V2 Commercial with 72” x 30” Dark Bamboo Desktop (purchased in June of 2023 with a $150 site discount, then got an additional $150 back from shipping damages dents on desktop. Price without discounts $1,588.
|Poplar* Board, Unfinished, 1-in x 12-in x 6-ft
|Speed Square (Carpenter Square) I used a 12 inch one to ensure exact markings for the cuts on my poplar board.
|Board cuts, via Thumbtack (didn’t have a jigsaw and didn’t want to rent one since I’ve never used one before)
|Various Grit Sandpaper. (Needed after cuts, before stain, and fine grit between topcoat layers.)
|Gel Stain, Jet Black Varathane brand, 1qt. You won’t need a full quart so you can buy a smaller size if you can find it. Rag application works well with gel stain. Just grab an an old rag/t-shirt.
|Mixwax Polycrylic Clear Matte Topcoat, 1qt (You won’t need a full quart so you can buy a smaller size if you can find it. I choose Matte because I didn’t want a shiny finish on my piano drawer.)
|Synthetic Bristle Brush, 2 inch. (Gets the smoothest application with topcoat; sand and wipe between coats. I used two coats to seal the gel stain.)
|Quality 12 inch Side Mount Drawer Slides, I chose Accuride 3932 Medium-Duty and Full-Extension Slide and bought directly from the manufacturer to be sure of quality. These have a weight capacity of 150 lbs so I knew they’d last. If creating a deeper drawer, match your slider depth to drawer depth.
|(4) Corner Braces, 2.5-in x 0.625-in x 2.5-in. I used two Reliabilt 2 packs, and the screws that came with them. These attach the drawer to the desk.
|Heavy Duty 6 inch Spring Clamps (helps with level drawer slider installation)
|Level, I used a Kobalt Magnetic Level because it attached to the drawer sliders while during installation to make sure the drawer slides were level.
|Sharp drill bits, for pilot holes on bottom of desk top. I used either 5/64 or 1/32 and did not document my process well enough to know which. A multipack with small drill bits should have both.
|OPTIONAL SUPPORT BAR
|Angle Iron (Optional) for additional support on the back of your drawer. I used Steelworks 1-1/4-in W x 1-1/4-in H x 4-ft L Zinc-Plated Steel Perforated-Round Angle.
|Wood screws for support bar (Optional), I bought a number of options, but ended up using only #8, ¾ inch zinc screws.
|Fender Washers 3/16 x 1-¼ inch, ~30 pcs (Optional). (You’ll need washers larger enough to work with your screw head size while covering the perforated holes of the crossbar for maximum load bearing support)
Having never done this before, I needed to think completely through and visual the process to create this piano drawer, so I turned to a virtual piece of graph paper in GIMP.
All measurements are given in inches since I was working with hardware and boards in inch increments. You’ll get more precision if you can use the metric system instead.
The board used is only 11.25 inches wide, so I do have some slight overhang with my midi controller in the back, but the width was more than enough for the base of my keyboard with it’s beveled design.
You can definitely scale these plans down to fit your midi controller if you don’t need it as long or as tall. In fact, if your midi controller isn’t as tall, you should definitely scale down the side pieces to maximize the amount of clearance for your legs under your desk.
You’ll need to still allow for the height of your midi controller, clearance on your midi controller to open your drawer, and the cross bars if you have the same desk.
I would also suggest if you can find a wider board (wider than 1ft), that you modify the plans to make a wider drawer for better structural support. (more notes on that here).
This basic premise of this piano drawer relies on attaching fixed side pieces of the drawer to the underside of your desk with corner braces, then using quality drawer slides for the bottom piece.
Here’s the PDF where I assembled visualizations of all of this.
If you’re wanting to attach a piano drawer to a standing desk, you may run into the problem of the crossbars that support the desktop and where you can actually attach your drawer.
Here are measurements from my UPLIFT 4 Leg Standing Desk with the V2 Commercial Frame.
Support Bar Protrusion from Desk (Height)
Individual Support Bar Width
Honestly, I’ve been happy with this desk and it has been stable. It was a pain to put together, and it’s super heavy, but it’s been working well. (I just hope I don’t have to move it anytime soon.)
I currently have a 2nd monitor mounted on a pole above my main monitor, and a RODE boom mic arm attached. I have put some effort into pushing on the desk to get them to wiggle.
The pole mounted monitor moves a tiny bit when actually raising or lowering the desk, but stops and is completely stable when the desk is stopped. It doesn’t move when I’m playing the piano on the piano drawer, or the smaller midi controller on the desktop or typing.
Using the desk standing with vocal booth set on top to record emotes.
Measure, measure, and measure again your board before committing to where you’ll cut. I used a pencil and carpenter’s square to be sure of the cuts I needed. Not having saws to hand or the skills to use one, I turned to Thumbtack and got the board cut as I needed for $50.
LEFT SIDE, PIECE A: 9”x11.25”
RIGHT SIDE, PIECE B: 9”x11.25”
DRAWER BOTTOM, PIECE C: 54”x11.25”
Piece A and Piece B also need sections cut out that are: 5.75” wide by 2.25” tall to allow for the crossbars of the UPLIFT Desk. Since my MIDI controller is beveled and wider than 11.25"
I knew it would have some overhang. I chose to recess my mounting point, giving me a 2.5" cut on the front piece of my sides, and leaving 3” in the rear.
The side piece cut out sections (which require a jig saw) weren’t quite perfect, but once stained and assembled, it didn’t bother me.
You’ll have rough spots after cutting and this is the time where you’ll want to sand to prep your boards for any painting or staining that you’ll be doing. I chose to use gel stain since it’s super easy to use and I didn’t want worry any potential flaking from poor priming or sealing.
According to what I read on the internet, poplar doesn’t always take stain well, but I had no troubles with the jet black gel stain I used. I could only find a jet black stain (not semi-transparent blacks) from the Varathane brand and it worked well. If you’re planning to match your desk drawer to your desk, take some time to read about wood and staining or painting techniques.
Do be sure to use thin coats of gel stain. It’s easy to apply with just a rag, but I overapplied at first and couldn’t get it to dry down properly, so lightly sanded, wiped down again and gave it some more time to cure before applying polycrylic.
In order to stain both sides at once, I took pieces of my old desk and put them on top of buckets create a work surface. Then I hammered nails into the tops of the boards (leaving them protruding slightly) to create an elevated place for airflow. I’m sure there are more elegant solutions, but with nails and hammer, this works. (See PDF for Examples)
I chose to finish the drawer with a clear matte polycrylic and a synthetic brush to apply my thin layers. Do not rush the staining or topcoat part of the process unless you want your stain or paint to rub off on your clothes while using the desk. It pays to be patient here.
I’m no expert with these products, but followed the instructions of the back of the can with good results. The internet is again full of resources for gel staining and topcoat techniques.
This comes down to attaching your side pieces to the underside of your desk with corner braces, and putting the drawer together with your heavy-duty drawer slides, but there are some tricks to it.
It’s important to make sure that you install your side pieces perfectly parallel to each other and level as well so that your drawer functions properly.
I walk you through the process I used on the PDF guide that I created.
board marked for cuts
board after cuts, prepped for stain
Why? 2 main reasons:
1) Poplar is not the hardest of wood choices. Oak would be a much better choice for strength, but is also much more difficult to work with.
2) By choosing to create one long narrow drawer (which I did because of both space considerations and general lack of knowledge on building things), even with a uniform load, it’s too much for this type of wood to stay perfectly straight. However, if you doubled the width of the drawer and were able to find a poplar board 1-in x 24-in x 6-ft, your shelf would be much stronger with no noticeable sag in the middle.
Take a look at these calculations from this great woodworking calculator The Sagulator:
original narrow drawer
drawer doubled in width
I learned all this in hindsight — and am now passing this information to you so that you can make an informed choice. The sag doesn’t bother me. If you look really closely in photos, you can see it, and I’m sure to actual carpenters it would be unbearable, but for my purposes it’s been fine.
All that being said, I was scared when I first saw it and was worried about the strength of the drawer. Therefore, I chose to reinforce the back of drawer with an angle iron to give it extra strength. At this point, I was ready to be done with this project, and didn’t bother to prep and paint it (you’ll need to look up metal specific painting techniques if you’re copying me and want to go that route; you’re gonna need some intense primers and good ventilation).
I bought a 4ft perforated angle iron, some large fender washers for better load-bearing support, and wood screws. Taking those handy spring clamps I used when assembling the drawer, I clamped on the angle iron on the back of the drawer where I wanted it, grabbed some washers and screws and went to town with my screwdriver.
Is this many screws overkill? Probably. I have no idea.
Has my drawer held together over the last 8 months? Yes, with daily use playing the piano both partially and fully extended, my drawer is still going strong.
4 ft angle iron for support
Choose a different top – My main concern was the drop between the top of the desk and the bottom of the keyboard tray. I went for the bamboo for its thinness, but if I replace the top, I’ll choose hardwood instead.
I didn’t know enough about the dark bamboo top when I chose it, but it’s thinness and look sounded good at the time. It arrived with some slight dents and marks from shipping and I was able to get $150 back from Uplift by documenting the condition as it arrived.
It was super difficult to drill into this bamboo top because it’s pretty much layers of bamboo in a dense glue. A solid hardwood top would be much easier to work with. Attaching the drawer to the bottom of the desk was pretty tricky and definitely needed pilot holes carefully and slowly drilled.
Mount sliders slightly higher: I could reattach the drawer sliders slightly higher since the crossbars are extendable and slightly thinner in the middle, and the highest point of my keyboard is the middle. The day I need to move studio spaces, I may do that to give myself that extra 1/2 inch of leg room.
1) Your keyboard dimensions, especially thickness/height: Can you mount your drawer higher on the side panels or shorten the side panels so you have the minimum amount of drop (most room for your legs) between the top of your desk and the bottom of your piano drawer?
If you’re dealing with a standing desk with crossbar supports, this number needs to be added in addition to A) the thickness of your desk’s top, B) the thickness/height of your keyboard, C) the thickness of your chosen drawer material, plus D) the extra smidgen of space needed so that your keyboard is not firmly wedged in between your piano drawer and desktop but can actually pull out.
2) Your height when choosing a standing desk: The 4 Leg Uplift V2 Commercial frame I’m using (with the additional crossbar support) doesn’t raise quite as high as the 4 leg version without the crossbar support. The height range of the V2 Commercial has a maximum height of 48.7”, while the V2 gets an extra 1.4” of height coming in at a maximum height of 50.1”. Honestly, these are so close, if stability is most important, maybe the crossbar with a little platform for your keyboard and mouse would be better than going without.
What height do you need a desk? There plenty of resources out there to help you measure your best ergonomic position, so Google is your friend here.
3) There are some custom drawers on sites like Etsy where you can buy premade piano drawers with various drops that might get around the crossbar support on this UPLIFT desk. Frankly, they either weren’t deep enough for my monster keyboard by the time I added in the drop I needed with the crossbars on this desk, or didn’t have enough weight capacity. They also tended to run about $300+, but do your homework if you want to buy a premade option.
I’m no expert on any of this, just sharing what I’ve learned during my time on this project. I hope this has been helpful to you; reach out with any questions so I can update this page and clarify further.
I spent a lot of time assembling this info and the downloadable PDF plans plus the time researching standing desks and piano drawers before I created the plans for my own. It’s all free to share and use as you’d like, but if you want to say thanks, I’m here on Buy Me a Coffee.