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Mikes Shed
Practical help for the vertically gifted

In this feature Mike will give practical tips to help us tallies in everyday issues like how to make your office chair go higher etc (Mike doesn't have a West Country accent but i like to add one on when reading it ;)) Please email us (in the form below) if you have any practical tall issues you would like advice on?

Photograph of Mike in his shed

Mike's Shed: Tall Problems and Tall Solutions

First up it is how to make an affordable tall walking stick:
 

A couple of folk were asking about Tall Walking Sticks?

 

The Issue

 

  • I’m 6 feet 7 inches tall (2.01metres) and well built. Substantially well built.....

  • I’m getting no younger

  • My knees don’t work as well as they used to – osteoarthritis – and I need a walking  stick to assist my stability when I walk

 

The Problem

 

  • Finding a walking stick tall enough and strong enough for my needs and preferably one that folds for when I travel

  • What several suppliers call “tall” isn’t really...... (strike 3 attempted purchases!)

  • There are several (premium!) suppliers out there of lovely strong walking stocks who want to relieve me of over £100 to meet my needs

  • Plus some extra money for a tall version that allows me to adjust to my height, rather than “Joe Average”

  • Ouch.

 

The Eventual Solution

 

Photograph of a tall person’s walking stick. Links to eBay.

  • Other models are available – but these seem strong...

  • Order three at £9.45 - £15.54 each plus carriage plus VAT – under 45 quid.

  • Take delivery.

  • Take apart all three stick.

  • Cannibalise one stick, removing the two centre sections of the stick (leaving handle and bottom section and ferule as spares)

  • Insert one extra section into each of the two remaining sticks and reassemble

  • Voila! Two strong walking sticks, suitable for a taller person, folding and able to support the weight – at about a third of the price of a single premium one.

 

Mike Tunstall – “I are an engineer.........”

Mike’s Shed – adjusting the world to suit you, rather than compromising with the world all the time……

 

There are some tall folk who compromise the way they live, their health and stature to live in a Standard world. I know – I was one of them and used to grumble about everything being from “Toy-Town”, rather than the real world. There may be somethings that are harder to manage – seats on aircraft and buses and trains for example, but many things can be adapted quite simply – like gas lift office chairs and folding walking sticks, as the Mike’s Shed column (as Simon so kindly named it!) has covered in the last two newsletters.
 

Here are some of the things I have adapted to suit me and an indication of how.

 

Sofas Arm Chairs and Beds

 

  •   Sofas and arm chairs. Add a set of lifting blocks or raisers , a disabled height adjusting frame or new longer legs . These will usually offer you a height raise of upto 4 inches or 100mm safely. There are longer ones  but you need to consider weight and safety when using the 4 to 12 inch (100mm to 300mm) replacement legs available. These legs are more robust  and may be more suitable for taller, larger, heavier(?) people                       

  • Or consider making them yourselves from 100mm x 100mm wood. Sometimes it is safer and more secure to replace the existing legs with longer ones using steel double ended screw dowel and castors or furniture feet, rather than adding a raiser leg or block.                                                                                                                                                          

  • Adjust Bed height. All of the above plus consider fitting as a simpler solution. https://www.castors-online.co.uk/ maybe a specialist industrial/theatrical supplier site, but actually, for years I had under my bed 6 inch/ 150mm lockable castors  - much easier to move around and very stable. Buying an extra-long valance covers the castors up.

Photograph of furniture leg raisers. Links to eBay

Makes your sofa and armchairs taller/higher.

                                                                                                

  1. Bed Length. Most popular portable solution to extend a bed is the Bedstretch. I usually prefer to build or buy my beds extra long (and wide) but not everybody can do that….. On a cruise, Cunard once built a 12 inch extender for the head of the bed to allow me to fit! And at my suggestion, they made it dismantlable, so that they could reuse it quickly for other tall people! Apparently it is a common problem, but they had never considered a reusable solution, but made from scratch when asked…..!
     

  2. Desk and Table. Interesting issue here is that you have to fit people of different heights around the same table. Generally, the “standard height” for much furniture was based in British Standards defined in the post war rationing period in the late 1940’s, so it is fair to say that they are a little dated. You can often afford to raise a table or desk by 2 or 3 inches without negatively impacting others using it. That is a matter for negotiation. All of the above approaches work, but again, you cans sometimes buy complete longer replacement legs for certain desks and tables, which are more aesthetically pleasing for instance -.
     

  3. Other Options. I use a 2 inch or 4 inch (50mm or 100mm) memory foam/dense foam seat cushion with some chairs. Not only is it more comfortable to sit on, but also raises you a few inches, depending on the rigidity of the foam cushion that you use.

Photograph of a castor wheel. Links to Castors Online.
Photograph of a Bedstretch bed for tall people. Links to Bedstretch website.
Photograph of an adjustable polished chrome table leg that makes tables taller. Links to the product on Amazon.
taller foam

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

There are lots of simple adaptations that you can make to adjust the world to suit you. Try them or talk to others who have done the same! If you ask suppliers, you will usually get one of two responses –

 

a. “we’ve never been asked that before – there is no demand”….. Courteously point out that there is (or walk away) as you are the living proof that there is demand and shared TPC experience says it is substantial and worth paying attention to.

b. “Yes, I’m sure we can help you adapt that – this is what others have done” – in which case shout about it and tell others and ask Simon to put them in the Directory of suppliers…..

TALL DESKS

A couple of folk were asking about fitting extra long gas lifts to office chairs, to “tall adapt” them, so here is the guidance. I wrote this in response to a set of Facebook questions, so have knocked it into shape in a single post. I replaced the gas lifts in three good chairs that I use with longer ones. Cost me around GBP £15 or USD $20 and has made a big difference.

 

Buying a decent office chair is important, especially if you use it a lot. A “proper” adjustment will have your feet flat in the floor, your calfs vertical, your thighs parallel to the floor and supported gently through to just behind the knees. Your arms well rest gently on top of the armrests and not hang. Your back will be supported for the whole length and any head rest will hold your head and stop it flopping back. Even so, a lot of us tall folks have Gas Lift office chairs on the highest setting and find it still inadequate – usually indicated by discomfort and the area of thigh behind the knee not being in contact with the seat..

 

A good professional assessor or ergonomics consultant in a workplace, will balance the seat height, desk/keyboard height, armrest height and screen height "properly" to get your posture comfortable - and if they are good, teach you how to maintain it for yourself. Desk leg lifts and "screen lift blocks" (or a ream of paper or two!) did it for me…..! Seach You Tube for something like “How to Adjust Your Ergonomic Office Chair Properly” for guidance on the whole process.

 

In the interim, here is how to do the chair gas lift bit. Buy a longer adjustable chair Gas Lift, the bit that rises and falls, as they are in a few standard sizes. I used eBay and my last purchase were 11” gas lifts from https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/170820174450. A search for either "Heavy Duty Gas Lift" or "long stroke gas lift" will find you suppliers..... Make sure that the replacement you buy is rated for the weight that will be applied – you plus chair seat.

 

Installation is a tight push fit in the “spider” base with castors and the underside of the seat unit, so a couple of blocks of hardwood and a towel and a large "attitude adjuster" (4lb/2kg lump hammer!) will work to free the old gas strut. Takes me around 10 minutes to change them, done gently to avoid damage. I'm 6'7" (2.01m) tall and the 11” replacement lift, put my "normal" ergonomic sitting height in the middle of the gas lift adjustment range.

 

Big Difference.

 

Personally. I've given up “whining”/complaining loudly and helplessly about the state of the way that the world treats me as tall and started adapting the world to my needs. I feel much happier about it, but then #iareanengineer . Shout on a direct message if you have questions.

Add on from Simon....Tall persons monitors on desks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My leaning tower of monitor. Looks ridiculous but it makes me sit upright when i am at my desk and that is crucial for a happy neck and back.

You can have all the fancy orthopedic chairs and high desks etc but the most crucial thing is to have to your monitor aligned to your eyes when sitting straight. This has helped me more than anything else.

I talk to so many younger tallies at the meet ups who spend their days hunched over a laptop. This will ruin your back guys in the long run!!

If i told you to bend from your chair over a desk looking down for 30 minutes at a time you would think it was some type of medieval torture. However this is what a lot of us spend our working days doing. Try it without the laptop guys and you will see how bonkers it is to do that.

I am sure you youngsters can can hook up a monitor to a laptop(or ask a six year old in the family to do it as they can normally do all the tech stuff i can`t) and then having it at eye height works guys, i promise you!!!

Mine is on a monitor stand and then a pile of books but i am sure you can make a more elegant solution?

P.S no selfie stick needed for this photo when you have long arms( i love being tall!)

Tall Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchens

 

Kitchen and Bathroom cabinets. The “standard sizes” defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI) were largely set in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Rationing was still in place and the population had arguably been restrained in height growth by poor nutrition over the preceding years.

 

One of the victims of this was the standard height for kitchen Counters that was an is set at 900mm, including a lower plinth. Similarly for Bathrooms.

 

Now considering that statistically, the average height of the population rises by about 20mm every 15 years, the standard height should be set at around 100mm higher to 1000mm! Consider the sizes of the family members and reach an accommodation with everybody.

 

My kitchen was set at 970mm, and nobody struggles with it…… This was achieved by buying longer legs (or standard legs and wooden riser blocks) and using a cut down facing board to provide a taller plinth. If you are having your kitchen made to measure, especially by German or Dutch companies, you will find that a standard height plinth and a taller cabinet is no surprise to them……. If rebuilding I would probably try and negotiate for 990mm or 1000mm these days!

 

Some kitchens also have an adjustable height option mostly provided for folk with disabilities or wheelchair users, and some of the kitchen is designed to rise and fall on instruction to a decent working height. These can be more expensive and storage beneath them is not usually available.

 

Doors

Please just forget British Standard Institute doors. The standard 78” or 1981mm height doors (usually in widths of 30”/762mm, 33”/838mm and 36”/915mm) are simply headache material in waiting….. If you have the choice to specify, I’d suggest you look for readily available larger standard sizes like the Dutch minimum of 2300mm high and 850 wide. Going slightly wider does not ruin the balanced “look” of a door, but does allow use of wheelchairs and wider standard access. Place like https://www.todd-doors.co.uk/ carry a good range of larger standard sizes. German and UK commercial door sizes are also larger.

 

Bathrooms

 a. Baths - If space allows, buy a larger bath – well worth it! I have a 1800mm spa bath and it is totally worthwhile……! Places like https://www.thewhirlpoolbathshop.com/ provided mine and did a great job adjusting it to my needs. Not everybody can fit such a large bath, so an alternative is a deeper bath, as long as you can fit! Downside – you need a heating system with a large hot water capacity or a Hit Water tank. Even so, it is still worth it.

 

b. Vanity unit heights – see Kitchens section above!

 

c. Basins. You can purchase taller than standard basin and pedestal sets, but I used a 4 inch plinth to raise one of my basins, or designed built in cabinets to fit, set at

980mm.

tall persons correct monitor pc laptop desk height.jpg
tall persons bathroom advice

Wall Mounted Basins are better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also wall mounted basins (without a floor pedestal) work well, as seen above when one of our directors who works at a bathroom shop who had one put in at a decent height (rather than the one behind him) 

– many on the market to suit all pockets and design styles.

Two photographs of a shower with the shower head fitted with extra height. In the second image, Mike is standing beneath the shower head to show the room he has.

Do not have your shower fitted at "standard height!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

d. Showers. DO NOT under any circumstances allow the plumber to fit your shower at “standard height!” Normally standard height for a plumber is somewhat less than the average population and simply not adequate. Instead mark the height of the base of the shower head on the wall, and if needed stand in the shower/or bathtub to prove it to the doubting individual! I have the lower height of my shower heads all set at 2250mm (as seen above in the picture). Shorter people can fit taller showers, but not the other way around! The water just takes longer to reach them – yes, I know the joke too!

 

e. Toilets/WCs/Water Closets/Loos/etc… This needs to be a specialist article all on its own! In summary, toilets (pan size and “throat” of the pan should be large enough for the “ahem” larger bottom and “ahem” larger number 2’s. Cheap toilets do not always work and some have weight limits……. In terms of height, you can buy taller toilets, mount a standard size toilet on a plinth, or buy a wall mounted toilet – they usually use a steel frame that can be blocked up and mounter higher on the wall. Obviously, there are compromises to be made for other family members and average sized visitors, but most can sit 50-100mm higher without issue. There are also taller disabled toilets that can be purchased, that have a higher seat for easy sitting and standing.

 

f. Mirrors. Simply Buy. Taller. Mirrors. Mount them so that all heights can use them. Consider demisting elements behind the mirror, as sometimes there is a great misting at the top of a tall mirror, closer to the ceiling than lower down. Simon Hickman, one of our TPC Directors sells bathroom equipment and is an excellent source of information on all matter’s bathrooms and plumbing!

Stairs

 

 Generally altering standard riser height is frowned upon for safety reasons; people get used to a standard rise and altering it is considered a trip hazard. Our now sadly departed old tall friend Uwe Seyler from Hamburg had increased the tread size (the step width) of all stairs in his house to accommodate his large feet more easily. I was and am still jealous of that. If I ever do a New Build, guess what feature is definitely in there?!

 

But the key as always is to emphasise Start to think in terms of adjusting the world to suit your needs, rather than constantly adjusting to a smaller world….                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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