Amazon door desk kit

Amazon door desk kit DEFAULT

V1 Desk — (dirt cheap, ultra simple)

Starting a business is a constant struggle between the dream that lives in your mind and what you have the time / budget / and team to create. For Freefly, the perfect example of this tension was our quest to create the most efficient workstation.


5 years ago we were working in the upstairs of my Mom’s garage. She had moved to Florida and left the place vacant so we decided to rent it out to give Freefly a home. Everything was so uncertain at the time; we were transitioning from being a fully service based company with Freefly Cinema to dipping our toes into selling products for the first time. We cleared out the garage and started laying grand plans for our “Freefly Headquarters.” Right away, we realized we needed desks and work stations. We had CAD and design work to do; we needed to build prototypes; and we needed to assemble, ship, and handle inventory.

We quickly realized we needed a workstation that checked quite a few boxes:

  • Modular
  • Rolled (we constantly move everything around)
  • Scalable (we needed some standing height, some sitting, some with akro bins)
  • Cheap (startups are always strapped for cash)
  • Short lead time (we needed to add stations quickly and easily as we grew)
  • Good style / feel

David and I spend pretty much every night of our life scouring the internet looking for solutions to the problems our business faces….so we pointed our efforts at desks. We found lots of options that were commercially available that looked nice, but the price was shocking and the build quality left something to be desired. They looked sterile, cold, and lacked character. About this time, I stumbled upon a blog post from an Amazon employee who mentioned that all the early Amazon desks were made out of doors. Immediately, I knew this was the solution for us.

We love finding and solving problems in an unconventional way at Freefly. We love spending 1/10th as much as other companies might and ending up with a better solution. It’s this defiance and quest for efficiency in our culture that drives us to constantly reimagine industry solutions.

The first desk we built was very similar to the same ones you will find in Freefly today. It’s comprised of a solid core door top, 4x4 legs, and casters. You can see the full bill of materials with links here:

V1 Desk Bill of Materials

The V1 desk design served us well as we grew the company from 4 people in a garage to over 50 in our current warehouse. We ended up building hundreds of them, in all types of variants to solve certain problems along the way. Just recently, we embarked on a version 2 design which addressed a few of the deficiencies in the first design:

  1. Tables sagged over time
  2. Raw wood table tops were difficult to clean (but looked great)
  3. V1 casters were ugly and less stable than we liked
  4. Strong tie brackets looked less polished than we hoped

The True Story of the Amazon Door-Desk

Several years ago, I said I would no longer publicly comment about my time in – as's catalog manager. Why? Because my knowledge and memory were so out of date, and I did not keep a journal during that period. It would be silly for me to provide commentary about a company that I had only been with during a period of explosive growth—now no more recently than 14 years ago.

However, an essay in today's Wall Street Journal called "Jeff Bezos of Amazon: Birth of a Salesman," compels me to comment on one aspect of the pervading myth of Amazon's creation and early years. You can read elsewhere about the truth behind other parts of the creation myth, especially in Robert Spector's fine and exhaustive look at Amazon's early years, Get Big Fast.

The part that got me was the door-as-desk myth, which has been cited since Amazon's founding as a way in which the company confounded standard business practice and was frugal during its very early startup days. This is a complete crock, and I would suspect that no one associated with the company, including Jeff, ever necessarily put forth a cost savings for these ersatz desks.

The door-desks were full-sized solid-core doors with four-by-four posts cut for each corner, and attached using metal brackets. You'll find accounts across the Internet that these were four-by-sixes, two-by-fours, or hollow-core doors. At least back in the day, I saw many of these desks made, and I can testify to their composition. (The hollow-core doors wouldn't have supported the weight—they would have cracked in places under the strain.)

In the very early days of the company, I'm sure the doors made more sense. They had very little room or time, and were trying to husband cash. Doors have a large surface area relative to most desks, and Amazon was in a garage and then a couple of industrial/warehouse spaces before they split the warehouse (down south of the viaduct) and the offices (in what was then identified as the core of heroin district of Seattle, right near Pike Place Market) before I joined.

I had met Jeff Bezos through mutual friends in , when I was already running a Web development firm, hosting several companies, in downtown Seattle. He and I got along quite well, and I was always encouraging. My business was already profitable and growing, but I knew from the early days I didn't have the kind of entrepreneurial drive to embrace the risk—and sell myself—to turn the firm into something huge. I was looking for successful-boutique scale, and more or less achieved that.

I had lunch with Jeff in October when I was a bit in the doldrums about what I was going to do next with the business. He invited me to join Amazon, which I did. But what I remember most was, after lunch, walking into his office in the Columbia Building, and seeing a rack of blue colored shirts, his trademark at the time, and the door-as-desk. I laughed. I looked at the threadbare carpet and spartan furnishings, and said, "Investors must love this." He gave me his patented laugh.

When I joined the company, I saw the door-desks being built all the time. They hired people to build them. Back in , a year after I left, Jeff told the Seattle Times:

"These desks serve as a symbol of frugality and a way of thinking. It's very important at to make sure that we're spending money on things that matter to customers," said Bezos, "There is a culture of self-reliance. (With the low-tech desks) . . . we can save a lot of money."

The doors were expensive, built to an arbitrary height, heavy, difficult to move, and horrible for body health because of the bad ergonomics. That's when I started having to see an acupuncturist for carpal tunnel and related problems. And also note that these were exterior doors: moving a exterior door through an interior door frame with legs permanently attached is a tricky task. At the time, a slightly smaller desk (or even a sturdy banquet table) would have cost 1/3 to 1/2 the amount and worked far better.

The myth was in place: the door-desk was part of the story about Amazon's creation, and it was part of what every visitor to the company's headquarters saw. It spoke of a particular ethos about spending and intent. And I will note that Jeff and company were extremely, but not unreasonably, tight with spending. Money wasn't spent on stupid things, either by executives or staff.  (Later, the company probably wasted billions on setting up and closing down warehouses that weren't right for them until they figured out the formula for where they should be located and run.)

Jeff was and is a brilliant marketer. The marketing and perception of the door-desks was much more important than their actual savings to the company.

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DIY Home Office Idea: Amazon Door Desks

One of the reasons that Amazon, Walmart, and Costco have taken over retail is their relentless focus on low prices. This is both obvious and not-so-obvious, as it means turning down easy profits in the short-term in exchange for growing customers. Amazon operated on a &#;let&#;s barely break even&#; basis for years while it mowed down the competition.

One of the symbols of this lean culture is the &#;Amazon Door Desk&#;. The story goes that Jeff Bezos needed some desks but traditional ones were too expensive, so he made desks from unfinished doors and some 4x4s instead :

It was the summer of , back when Jeff Bezos could count his Amazon employees on one hand and those few employees needed desks. Bezos’ friend and employee number five, Nico Lovejoy, says Bezos himself found a scrappy, cost-effective solution right outside their doors.

“We happened to be across the street from a Home Depot,” said Lovejoy. “He looked at desks for sale and looked at doors for sale, and the doors were a lot cheaper, so he decided to buy a door and put some legs on it.”

With that, the Amazon “door desk” was born. What neither of them knew at the time was that the scrappy, do-it-yourself desk would turn into one of Amazon’s most distinctive bits of culture. More than 20 years later, thousands of Amazon employees worldwide still work each day on modern versions of those original door desks.

Another employee later improved the basic design with better hardware. They even have instructions on how to build your own Amazon door desk. Unfortunately, they don&#;t offer details on the parts needed for bracing the degree connections, but here&#;s what I found based on the pictures (why don&#;t they sell this as a kit on Amazon?!):

With many more people working from home and kids distance-learning, this may be a good weekend project. I estimated the total cost at under $, lower if you have access to some reclaimed building materials. I recently scored some donated 4x4s from my neighbor, but no door. Having the legs cut yourself (most stores will cut to order) also lets you adjust the table heights for kids or other specific ergonomic needs.

You&#;re not being cheap by making your own desk, you are using the same equipment as a trillion-dollar company! My own work desk is a year-old office-supply folding table with scotch tape on it to stop the cheap laminate from peeling. My frugal side is a bit disappointed, as one of these Amazon door desks would have probably lasted even longer.

Last updated: September 3,
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.



Kit desk amazon door

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The Cheapest Motorized DIY Standing Desk On Amazon

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