Installing a Monitor Arm on my Tiny Desk.

Installing a Monitor Arm on my Tiny Desk.

I have a very small standing desk that I use as a sort of as a mobile home office, as I can roll it around the house to find the best spot for me to work in. Whether that's close to the servers for maintenance or so, to the more usual living room where I can comfortably listen to music at the same time.

I recently stumbled upon a nice enough deal for an old 23" Dell monitor, and I thought it could help me solve one of the more challenging parts of my home setup; Only one display (and a small 23" one at that). Depending on the kind of work you do and your personal preference, this is either preferred, not a big deal, or an active hindrance. For me it's, as it turned out, the latter.

What my standing desk setup looked like before.

Since my tiny desk is, well, tiny, I had to figure out a way to have both monitors on there. A few other requirements I had were:

  • Be able to put my laptop somewhere when I, occasionally, need to access it while working on my main machine.
  • Have it be stable/strong enough, obviously.
  • Have it look as clean and organized as possible
  • Not cost (too) much. I'm doing all of this on a tight budget.

So I ordered a basic monitor arm that can hold two monitors. I originally ordered the same model I use in the office, but it ended up being out of stock. The store contacted me to let me know they have an alternative that might suit my needs. As a bonus, it also costs a lot less (~$35 as supposed to ~$70), so that's a welcome benefit.

Simple, no-frills packaging, although each individual item was packed in plastic which is unfortunate.
The installation manual showing the various ways you can install the arm.

This particular arm comes with a somewhat large foot you can use if you prefer not to drill a hole through your desk for the bolt. I, however, wanted to go the latter route, and fortunately this particular arm had three different ways you could set things up (large foot and no bolt, large foot with bolt, or a small "foot" with bolt).

All the parts that came with the monitor arm.

Installation is quite easy for these kinds of things, with the biggest challenge possibly being you having to drill a hole through your desk, although with the big foot that can be considered optional (if your desk is sturdy enough), and other arms often have a clamp-type option, too, great if your desk is made of hard-wood or metal.

Since I wanted to go with the smaller foot and hole-through-my-desk route, I started by measuring out where I wanted it to go.

Measuring out where I want the arm to go.
Horizontally centered, vertically a bit closer towards the back.
Drill a pilot hole first, then the correct size.
Correct size hole drilled.
Test fit, we're good!

In my particular case there was an added challenge, and that's that the wood used for my tiny desk isn't all that thick, nor strong. It's a typical MDF-type pressed wood, which is fine for normal use, but with an arm holding two monitors up I wanted to add some strength to avoid it potentially ripping a hole through the desk and taking both monitors down with it. Ideally I would replace the entire wood cover with a hard wood, but my DIY ability is somewhat limited here, so I kept this project simpler.

Measuring out where to cut a spare piece of (MDF, too) wood.
Here goes.
Test placement, something like this should help with vertical strength, which was my main concern.
That's two.
And all four in place. It isn't pretty, but it should work — and you won't be able to see it anyway.

With the desk panel strengthened, it's time to mount the arm.

The "leg" part in place. Looking good so far.
Arm braces attached, monitors hung and cables in place. Progress.
Cable management is important (and fun — or is that just for me?)
That's a nice amount of screen real estate.
Side view, look at the amount of desk space still available, this is fantastic.

And with that, it was all done. There's still a few more things I'd like to tweak but by and large I am very happy with how much efficient use I am getting out of this tiny standing desk. I also like that I can wheel it around the house, so I can work in the living room whilst listening to music, or in the guest/server room (a topic for another day) when I need to do something closer to those machines. The monitor arm feels stable enough and, thanks to a previous project where I installed the PC under the desk, it's not top-heavy, which would make it easy to flip over.

I can't recommend a monitor arm like this enough to anyone looking to both open up their available desk space, and make things look prettier in the process. Unless you need to make adjustments to how you set up your monitors frequently, the more budget friendly arms are more than adequate. This particular model I have isn't all that comfortable to adjust once you set things up (there's actual bolts you need to loosen and tighten), but it's perfect for my needs as I want to set it and forget it.

The model name for the arm I have used is the EZ-MS2-200, from what I believe is a local Korean brand. There are many variants available, just make sure when you're browsing for your setup that the arm is rated for y our monitor sizes/weight, and that it can be installed or attached to your desk in the way you prefer.

Update: I have slightly modified the orientation of some of the wooden slats, as described in an update here:

Update: Installing a Monitor Arm on my Tiny Desk.
A few weeks ago I installed a dual monitor arm on my tiny standing desk, and today I wanted to post a quick follow-up to this. First; I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this setup. It not only brought up the monitor(s, now) to the right height (as I had to