Kickstarter Desk Project Sets CNC Routing at Rob's Custom Cabinetry

Luke Leafgren designed the birch StandStand desk in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then launched a business with Paul Peterson, general manager of Rob's Custom Cabinetry in Superior, Wisconsin. The producer of  high-end custom cabinetry and architectural woodworking was founded by Peterson's father.

Peterson, a high school friend of Leafgren, launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to earn funding for a CNC. The successful effort raised $118,000 for the CNC, which was delivered earlier this year to Rob’s Custom Cabinetry. Leafgren, who is now a professor of Arabic and dean at Harvard University, worked for two summers during college at the cabinetry shop. 

 Having successfully launched the StandStand laptop desk, the pair have a new project in the works: a slightly wider version that allows for use of a mouse. Like the original, the new version is made in Baltic birch and bamboo, and cut with mortise-and-tenon joints to lock things in place in a patent-pending configuration.


The latest StandStand Mouse can be pre-ordered at a discount on Kickstarter through January 7th. The success of 2014 led to a year of steady sales for the company, around $300,000 from the effort. The StandStand sell for around $59 and up, depending on the size. It's potential market is 170 million laptop users. 

The appeal of the StandStand furnishing rests on its simplicity, quick set-up, and the benefits it affords computer users who are working in public locations like coffee shops or libraries.  "They choose StandStand because it is combines a beautiful form with smooth function,” says Leafgren.

The idea for the new design came from original StandStand Kickstarter backers. According to Peterson, “The Kickstarter platform is incredibly open and transparent: You are launching a business live on the internet for everyone to see. In turn I think that makes customers comfortable sharing their ideas. The support we received was immensely beneficial.” StandStand realized after a backer survey that “a lot of people loathe the trackpad.” This starting point led Leafgren to experiment with an aesthetic inspired by the columns in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Johnson Wax building in Racine, WI. “What I find so interesting is that Frank Lloyd Wright’s columns interact differently from every angle of observation,” Leafgren says.   

Paul Peterson

Leafgren says StandStand, the business, started as an idea for a solution to a problem.

“I wanted to stand more,”  he says. “It became very clear to me that standing for more hours every day would decrease my chances for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

As it grows in popularity, the StandStand and StandStand Mouse will continue to be  manufactured at Rob’s Custom Cabinetry, supporting their hometown community, plus they recognize the business benefits of manufacturing locally. “Yes, labor is more expensive here than overseas,” Peterson says, “but having control over the manufacturing process every step of the way is priceless in terms of achieving a consistently high quality.”


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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.