Workbenches

Fit a huge work area into a small space with this folding workbench.

 Build this solid, roll-around, folding workbench in a day with simple hardware and only two sheets of plywood.

 

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you startóyouíll save time and frustration.

o Cordless drill

o Circular saw

o Hacksaw

o Straightedge

o Wrench set

You'll also need a center punch.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

Overview

Hereís a workspace thatís huge and accessible from all sides yet folds up and stows away easily. If you donít have room for a full-size permanent workbench but really need space to spread things out, this workbench is it. It opens to a solid 4 x 7-ft. surface with both wings up, yet closes and rolls into a small 4-ft. x 18-in. spot in a corner of the room. Itís a perfect workspace for the garage or basement. Itís also a great surface for making repairs, working on hobbies, cutting sewing patterns, wrapping gifts, folding laundry, doing stained glass crafts or even just holding a mechanicís parts.

This project has no complex wood joints. Just straight cuts, careful measuring and some nailing and screwing.

 

Figure A: Folding Workbench Details

With this illustration, and the Cutting and Shopping Lists, you have the basics for building your own folding workbench.

You can see and print and enlarged version of Figure A and the Cutting and Shopping Lists in the Additional Information section below.

 

Assembly is as simple as glue and nails

 Photo 1: Cut the pieces

Cut all the pieces to size from two sheets of 3/4-in. birch plywood. Use a 40-tooth carbide blade or a 150- tooth plywood blade for a smooth cut. A straightedge cutting guide clamped to the plywood will give you factory-straight cuts.

 Photo 2: Assemble the pieces

Glue and nail the anti-rack shelf supports (A1, A3) to the sides (B) first, then align, glue and nail the top and bottom pieces to the sides.

 Photo 3: Attach the casters

Flip the assembly upside down and align the caster bases with the outer edges of the bottom. Use 1-1/4 in. long lag screws (drill a 3/16-in. pilot hole) on the outer edge and 1-1/4 in. carriage bolts (drill a 1/4-in. pilot hole) with nuts and washers for the inner fasteners.

Take a look at the Cutting List and cut all your pieces from 3/4-in.-thick hardwood plywood. I used birch plywood from a home center, but any flat plywood sheet will do. Avoid construction-grade plywoods because theyíll often have bows or warps thatíll make precise fitting impossible. I strongly recommend you use a guide (Photo 1) to cut the plywood. Youíll have tighter-fitting joints and better glue bonds.

Once all the plywood pieces are cut, rip the 1/4-in. wide edge banding from 3/4-in. thick boards (or buy it precut from a home center or lumberyard if you donít have a table saw).

Assemble the upper and lower shelves as shown in Fig. A and Photo 2 with carpenterís glue and 6d finish nails. Note: Donít alter the design of the shelves for this workbench. The large shelf supports (A1 and A3) on the bottom and top of the shelves keep the bench from racking out of square. Glue and nail the sides to the shelf ends, then let the assembly sit for an hour to let the glue dry before attaching the casters as shown in Photo 3.

Use 1-in. brads for attaching the hardwood edging

 Photo 4: Nail the edging

Flip the bench onto the casters and begin gluing and nailing the 3/4-in. by 1/4- in. hardwood edging to the exposed plywood edges.

The thin hardwood edging is a necessary component of the bench; without it, the hinge screws would not hold as well and the plywood could delaminate along the edges. To apply the edging, start a few brads into each piece of wood edging, put glue on the plywood and tack each piece into position (Photo 4). Once the edging is tacked in place, nail it every 6 in. with the brads. When the glue is dry, sand the sharp corners of the edging.

Piano hinges are the key to this bench

 Photo 5: Attach the pipe flanges

Screw the 3/4-in. pipe flanges onto 5-in. square reinforcing blocks cut from scrap plywood. Glue and screw the blocks to the underside of the front panels as shown in Fig. A.

Piano hinges are a pain in the neckóall those tiny screws. But all those screws give continuous support along the joint for a sturdy worktop. Be sure to align one hinge blade with the top (C) and the other with the top of panel D. Use a hinge center punch like the one shown or a Vix bit, a special drill bit thatís self centering. Screw the hinges securely in place with the screws provided.

Glue and screw the blocks to the underside of each panel (D) to support the 3/4-in. pipe flanges and pipe legs. I bought 3-ft. lengths of pipe, threaded on one side, and found that I needed to cut (with a hacksaw) about 1 in. off this length. This allowed room for the flanges and the rubber feet.

The locks serve a dual purpose. First, they keep little hands from getting into things and getting pinched, and second, theyíll keep everything inside from tipping out if the bench is jarred. To install them, drill the holes for the lock (Photo 7) and glue a wooden catch to the bottom of the shelf as shown in Fig. A. Measure the shaft of the lock once itís installed to get the correct thickness for the block. We used a 1/2-in.-thick block for ours.

Apply a finish for more color and protection

 

Remove the hardware to make painting or varnishing a whole lot easier. Label the panels in a hidden spot so you get the right on the right side when you assemble. Small variations from one panel to the next can show up on your hinge placement and locks.

Sand the entire bench with 150-grit sandpaper and use a power sander to knock down any high spots on the hardwood edging. Vacuum the dust, wipe the bench down with a tack cloth and apply your finish. Wait a few days after the last coat of finish to let it cure before you put your first scratches on the workbench.

How to Build Workbenches: 4 Knockdown Designs

4 space-saving designs that set up in seconds.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you startóyouíll save time and frustration.

o Miter saw

o Cordless drill

o Circular saw

  Make more room for tools and carpentry projects with space-saving workbenches that set up or come apart in seconds. Made from recycled doors and other readily available materials, all these designs are both inexpensive and easy to build.

 

Dimensions

PLYWOOD
CUTTING
LENGTHS
Aó6" x 15"
Bó6" x 24-1/2"
Có13-1/2" x 24-1/2"

 

Low workbench

Lay the ABC box flat to create a good working height for chairs.

Mid-height bench

For a somewhat higher bench, lay the box on the long side.

For a somewhat higher bench, lay the box on the long side.

 

 

Full-height bench

Create a standard-size workbench by setting the box on the short side.

Assembling parts is easiest when you can work at a comfortable height. But the height of that working surface depends on the size of the project. These ABC boxes, so called because they're made with sides of three different dimensions, make a variable-height assembly table base. By rotating the boxes or standing them on end, you'll get three different working heights. For stability, you'll need three boxes; it's best to fasten them to the top. All three boxes can be made from one 4x8 sheet of 3/4-in. plywood.

Knock-apart utility table

Legs

Cut the legs, then slide them together. 

Top

Screw 1 x 3s to the underside of the top to create a slot for the legs.

Shelves

Add optional shelves for storage and stability.

This table is made from a full sheet of 5/8-in. plywood for the interlocking base stand and a sheet of 3/4-in. plywood for the work surface and shelves. You'll also need four 10-ft. lengths of 1x3 pine for the edge banding and cleats.

Cut two 30-in. high by 48-in. long pieces from the 5/8-in. plywood for the base pieces. Then cut a slightly oversize 5/8-in. wide slot in the bottom half of one base and in the top half of the other. Make both slots about 15-1/2 in. long. Assemble the base and position the top so the corners are aligned with the legs. Screw loose fitting 12-in. long 1x3s along each side of each leg to hold everything stable.

The table is much more stable if you use the 3/4-in. waste from the top to make triangular braces (which also act as shelves) with 20-in. long sides. Using 1-1/4 in. drywall screws, attach 1x2s to the base about 12 in. up from the floor and screw the shelves down.

Fold-down workbench

 Easy set-up

It takes less than a minute to step-up this sturdy workbench.

 Easy construction

Easy construction

 Multi-use workbench

You can use this workbench for assembly, power tool operations and much more.

Here's an easy-to-build, inexpensive (about $50) and sturdy workbench that tucks away in seconds. Key ingredientsóa solid-core door for the top and a pair of iron pipe legs to support it. To build one, youíll need:

A 28- to 30-in. wide solid-core door ($20 to $25).

Two 3-1/2 in. gate hinges ($5)

Two 28- to 34-in. lengths of 1-1/4 in. water pipe ($15)

Two 1-1/4 in. pipe flanges ($6)

Two plastic pipe thread protectors (cheap or even free)

Buy the door from a lumberyard and everything else from a well-stocked hardware store or home center.

With a circular saw, cut the door to the desired length. Fifty inches is long enough for most jobs but still short enough that the door can sit rock-solid on two legs. If you use the whole door, add a third leg in the middle. Determine a comfortable bench height, subtract the door thickness and have a hardware store cut the pipes to length. If necessary, have threads cut on one end for the flanges. Ask for a few plastic pipe thread covers to fit on the unthreaded floor ends.

Screw the flanges under the tabletop, centered 12 in. in from the front and side edges. Then, using the gate hinges, connect the rear edge of the door to a 2x4 of the same length. Measure and mark the studs, then screw or nail the hinged 2x4 to the studs. Get a helper or a few sawhorses to hold the tabletop in place while you work. Now just screw the legs on and you're done. If the floor and tabletop aren't exactly parallel, unscrew or tighten the pipes to make the tabletop sit rock-solid.

Light-duty work table

Top

Use a hollow-core door for the top.

 

 Flange for legs

Glue and screw the flanges to the underside of the door.

Legs

Fit the PVC legs into the flanges.

If you ever need a light-duty work surface anywhere in the house for sewing, painting or school projects, this one's for you. Get to the home center and buy a hollow-core door; four toilet flanges; a 10-ft. length of 3-in. PVC pipe; 16 No. 10, 1-1/4 in. long screws and a tube of construction adhesive. Inside of a half hour, you'll have the flanges glued and screwed to the door and be ready to slip in the 30-in. long PVC legs.


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