A few months ago, I set up my computer on a counter-level table in the home theater for a few days, to see what I thought of the idea of a standing desk. I liked it, but definitely didn’t want to be standing all the time. I needed something adjustable.

Then a couple months later, The Wirecutter posted a review of standing desks, and their top pick was the Fully Jarvis Bamboo desk. Unfortunately, that was a little too small for the large collection (2 monitors plus the laptop screen, plus various other stuff) I had on my IKEA Gallant corner desk. However, they sell an L-shaped version, the Jarvis J3. And it’s available as just the frame, so I can even keep my desktop.

Though the review was thorough and convincing, I still wanted to see one for myself before I plunked down $795 on a desk frame. Turns out, they have a showroom just north of Baltimore, a little over an hour away. And, as luck would have it, I’d be driving right that showroom in a couple months, after dropping my eldest son off at Boy Scout camp. Maybe I could even pick it up right there. Fast forward to a couple days ago, when I walked into their small showroom, tested out a couple normal desks (they didn’t have the J3 on display), and ordered it, all in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, that location wasn’t set up for retail sales, but Fully offers free shipping, and it arrived two days later.

It’s heavy. The desk frame arrived in two largish cartons (about 10 x 12 x 40”), weighing about 60+ pounds each. I unpacked the boxes and brought everything downstairs.

100 Pounds of Parts

100 Pounds of Parts

It included three motorized legs (left, right, and back-center), long feet for the sides, and expanding frames and heavy-duty expanding crossbars. It wasn’t hard to assemble, other than that everything was, as I said, heavy, and trying to manipulate everything into place on the back of the overturned desktop surface was…fun. Then, I had to actually attach everything to the desktop.

The provided brackets (on the right in the photo) had three pre-drilled holes, to match the locations on the “official” Jarvis desktops. Naturally those didn’t match the locations for the holes in the IKEA desk. And as it turns out, it’s probably best anyway. Because once I started actually drilling holes and attaching the frame, my wife noticed that the back of the foot was pretty far beyond the edge of the desk. Like about 4” beyond.

I’m okay with the foot being a little beyond, or at worst right at the edge of the surface, because (once you include the quarter-round and baseboard trim), this would ensure the actual edge of the desk didn’t scrape the wall as it moved. But this was a bit too far. I was able to adjust the placement of the frame just enough that the feet only extend about 1” or so beyond the edge of the table surface, which gives a decent gap between the table and the wall. And my rolling drawer (which also supports a massive 3D printer) still fits next to the desk, so all is well.

Another minor issue: I had to remove the support crossbars in order to drill holes securing the middle of the frames to the table. Again, wouldn’t be an issue with the official Jarvis desktop, but something to keep in mind.

Finally, I had the desk assembled, and just to be sure all was well, I hooked up the motors to the control box, plugged it in, and watched the feet go up and down (remember, it’s upside-down on the floor now). Then I called for some help, we flipped the desk upside-right, and I hit the “Up” button to show off the new toy. And nothing happened.

I ended up getting an “E07” error, no matter how many times I tried to do the reset sequence. I swapped the wires around a bit (the control box has three plugs, one for each leg), and was able to get the error code to switch from E07 to E08 or E09, but couldn’t get it to work quite right. (I was never able to find an online list of the error codes, but from similar desks, I think this is an error indicating improper leg movement, and the 7/8/9 indicates which plug, or leg, is affected). Finally, after some fiddling, it worked, and I raised and lowered it a few times to get the legs all properly straightened out, then tightened everything down tightly.

About an hour later, after I had the cables all nicely managed and monitors re-attached, I tried to adjust the desk – and again got the E07 error. I cursed, swore, and started messing with wires again, then finally got it to work. I think that the extension connecting the farthest leg with the box may be flaky. If it keeps working fine, great, but if it keeps being odd, I may have to get a replacement cable.

These minor frustrations aside, I’m definitely impressed with the desk. They warn that the “normal” rectangular desk wobbles a little, but the L-shaped J3 is rock solid. It helps that all the structural elements are heavy steel, and the overall shape definitely adds to the stability. The motor is fast to raise and lower, and having four presets available is a great feature (so I can set a standing height, and a couple different common sitting heights). I do wish the feet weren’t quite so long (the one on my right, the shortest edge of the desktop, actually comes out about 3” beyond the front of the desk. I haven’t hit it with my chair yet, but I’m sure it’ll be annoying me at times in the future).

Now I just need to figure out how to work while standing – I suspect that just like sitting, there’s a right way and a wrong way, and I fully expect to discover several wrong ways before I’m really comfortable with this new way to work. But at least the hardest part (getting the adjustable desk installed and working) is done now.

Completed (but not yet re-cluttered)

Completed (but not yet re-cluttered)