Introduction: Collapsible Workbench

Picture of Collapsible Workbench

This is a simple little collapsible workbench/assembly table I made. The dimensions may seem strange but it was as large as I could get it while still fitting under my current one. It also is tall enough so that the surface of the mitre saw when it is up there is level with my big workbench, allowing my to easing cut long boards. This can easily be adapted to be a sturdy, permanent workbench with only a few extra bolts.

Final Dimensions:

22" Wide, 35" long, 33 1/2" Tall

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:

1-2'x4' Sheet of 3/4" MDF

4-8' 2x4s

1-Box of 2" or 2 1/2" Wood Screws

Wood Glue

Material for the Apron (the part right below the surface)-the dimensions don't really matter, but I ripped a 1x10 in half because that's what I had on hand. You could use 1x4s as a cheap alternative.

Total Cost Not Counting Apron or Wood Glue:


Step 2: Legs

Picture of Legs

The legs consist of two 32" segments of 2x4s screwed and glued together. You will need eight individual segments in all. Use the first one you cut and base the rest off of that-you get more of the same sized legs that way. I ripped the edges off because it gives it a slightly cleaner look and makes them square, but if you don't have a table saw this is not necessary. You should have one 32" segment and a full 2x4 left over.

Step 3: The Stretchers

Picture of The Stretchers

You will need two 22 1/2" boards and one 35 1/2". Square the edges if you can.

Step 4: Apron

Picture of Apron

I made these 4" wide, but that can change easily based upon your materials. These will need to be cut to the size of your tabletop-in my case 35" and 22"-with a 45* cut on the ends. The second photo is just a test fit. Then they will need to be screwed and glued into a square. A corner clamp really is helpful, I got mine for a $1.50 and an antique tools store!

Step 5: Table Top

Picture of Table Top

Cut the top out of the MDF. I used the jig saw to cut the wide part and the table saw to cut the remainder.

Step 6: Lap Joints

Picture of Lap Joints

Measure 8" up from the bottom of each leg, then place a stretcher across, the bottom at 8". Mark that. This will be cut out using a combination of miter gauge and rip fence. Place the rip fence so that when the leg is against it, it will be touching the far line you just drew. Cut that, then slide the leg to the other line and cut that. Then cut out the in between bits. Use that to base you other legs off of. Do this in all four.

Sorry for the washed out photos! I'm not good with the whole photography thing.

Also, if you don't have a table saw, these can be done with a regular saw and a chisel. It just takes much longer.

Step 7: More Lap Joints!

Picture of More Lap Joints!

Measure one inch from the end of the 22 1/2" stretchers. Then lay a leg across that, and mark it. Using the same technique, cut out a lap joint on each end of both the stretchers.

Step 8: Even More Lap Joints!!

Picture of Even More Lap Joints!!

Measure one inch from the end of the long stretcher (which is vertical!!) , and lay a short stretcher across it. Vertically!! Mark that, and cut a-you guessed it!-another lap joint. Then find the center of the short stretchers and cut one there too. It should look like the third photo.

I would make those fit flush, but my dado stack is a 6" and I have a 10" saw, so it doesn't cut a ton. This works great too though!

Step 9: Corner Things

Picture of Corner Things

These go in the corner of the apron, right under where the top will be. The legs MUST be tight in these, but they also MUST be able to slide out if you're making it collapsible.

Use some of the remaining 2x4 and mark where the leg meets. Cut two of these with a 45* on both. When they are up against the side the leg should fit snugly in it. Screw and glue them in. Clamps help to keep things in place while this is going on. Repeat on each corner (4 times total).

Step 10: Attach the Top

Picture of Attach the Top

Dry fit with the clamps. It works! Then screw on the top. Don't glue though! This way, if the top gets all marred up, you can easily replace it.

Step 11: Done!

Picture of Done!

Fold it up, don't fold it up, whatever! This is a great addition to any shop. Just add a few extra screws or bolts to make it permanent. I think I will make a dolly to slide it out from under my workbench since I'm already destroying the paint as it is. Thanks for viewing!


AlecW12 made it! (author)2017-01-12

Great workbench! Very stable if you make the corner joints and lap joints tight. I made the bench size a little bigger (24" x 48") so that I had a little more room.

Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-24

Hi, I've added your project to the "Make Your Own Workbench!" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

jgay2 (author)2016-01-04

Awesome bench, I can't help but notice the troup county tag in that picture. Local here

Oscar O Correa. (author)2015-11-17

Muy bueno y creativo!

demon6666 made it! (author)2015-01-11

Hey Thanks for the amazing tutorial. I wanted something I could bring in the back of my truck and assemble on site. This fits the bill perfectly. I made a couple of changes. I used 1X4's and bolts instead of Lap joints. This was enough stability for the table in my opinion and was much easier. It also makes it lighter for carrying as it cuts out several more 2X4 Pieces.

I also used 1/2'' chipboard for the top also. (I only did this because I had some lying around but I think it worked out well and makes it lighter)

I did make one mistake. I did not cut the 2X4 Pieces that hold the legs in place at a 45 degree angle thus not allowing all the legs to fit in when disassembled. I will most likely go back and redo it in the future.

Once again thanks for a great instructable.

servicemancba (author)2014-12-26

clap, clap, clap really well done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

builtofire (author)2014-05-25

very nice. but I see some space for improvement : if u make the lower wood to fix from inside (currently it fixes the legs from outside) then it will fit in the box

schoonovermr (author)builtofire2014-05-26

Thanks. If I understand correctly, that isn't the part that doesn't fit. One of the legs doesn't, but that can be fixed by making it wider. Also, the long stretcher is about 2 inches too long to fit.

builtofire (author)schoonovermr2014-05-26

Hi, sorry about not pointing in the right direction, i was talking about the long stretcher, if you design it to hold the legs from inside and not from outside. Thanks for the nice design :)

rpjamess1 (author)builtofire2014-08-11

Another option would be to just make the bench longer. Since it has to be wider to accommodate the forth leg and long stringer, it doesn't hurt to make it wider as well. The way it is designed now keeps the legs from moving in either direction. And internal stringer would require a fastener to keep everything from moving.

Here is a picture of it designed wider and longer. A single board across the bottom would hold everything in place for transport or storage on the side and everything fits inside. I have not built this, yet, but plan to as a modular bench tool workstation.

schoonovermr (author)rpjamess12014-08-11

That looks awesome! Definitely post pictures when you are finished

schoonovermr (author)builtofire2014-05-28

Glad I could help!

Twas Brilag (author)2014-07-09

Thanks for sharing this! I will be making one soon.

schoonovermr (author)Twas Brilag2014-07-09

Thanks! Be sure to post pictures

Goatherd1 (author)2014-06-26

I thinks I'm going to try this and expand it to bench size to travel with the folding table under my camper.

hohum (author)2014-06-08

love the notches, very smart, nice looking, thanks for posting

craftclarity (author)2014-06-02

There isn't a workshop in the world that wouldn't benefit from having a few of these around....

Thank you!

spark master (author)2014-05-27

In answer to 2 questions, weight is better in a work bench as we like to pound on it or put heavy items, but to make it more travel friendly as a take down table, I proposed lightening it up.

As for the Eurosealer. I have made covers for things using one. It is a plastic bag sealer. So if you want to leave one outside you can make a fitted cover for it. Or a and a a plastic case for it to travel,(just for water protection.

Eurosealer is a brand, you can use a soldering iron, (I have a friend who makes waterproof bags if need be, or seals small electronics in plastic this way.

I do realize that this was meant for the garage/basement, but your design is so darn good, there could several ways to make it, for other applications.

That sounds really cool, I would love to see someone make one. Thanks!

0ne day perhaps. My wife and I were talking about camping again so who knows? I have had some fold up tables that were light, but were elstinko, this may allow for a much nicer table, sturdy that is.

And if you spar varnish everything with a few good coats (thinned) the pores can really absorb, then wax it and it is never "water proof", but it will be highly water resistant, and good for field use.

made just way it is here, and higly finished, I see it good for a camping/fishing/hunting person. If it get covered in game guts rinse it off and soap it, rinse again. But varathane all parts before assembly, and run a bead of silicone (rtv) on all the joints.

For Scouts decoupage a logo of the troop and troop Number after 4 coats then do another 4 thin coats and a heavy coat. It will be there for their kids to use.

But again this gilds the lily it is pretty sweet w/o any additions.


spark master (author)2014-05-25


add a couple of velcro strapping and a handle (maybe a cover for the bottom and it goes in the car to the camp site/ trailor etc., ok maybe you need pressure treated for it then)

nice job, indeed

Thanks! You might want to modify the design to make it a bit lighter though!

aubiecat (author)schoonovermr2014-05-27

Weight is a good thing for a work bench.

I used a eurosealer

http://w remove this and spaces

It was not great, but it can be very useful with practice, or practice a few times and use a soldering iron.

alcurb (author)spark master2014-05-27

I don't understand your comment about the eurosealer. A bag sealer? For what?

I am thinking back yard camping, that is in the car to a campground. Or, while car traveling, or a canoe excursion.

For canoeing use a hollow core door, shellac the heck out of it, use spar varnish or such.

Yours is strong enough for me to sit on it w/o death of table, but, if you glue the legs with polyester glue or exterior Elmers, after curing you can take a hole saw and drill out lotsa wood and even do the edge skirt/facia.

If it is to be used out doors a lot consider making the ends come to a point of sorts. That makes it easier to make it level. And last, make a plastic cover for it, not a tarp, a cover, so if you do take it out doors it is dry in transit and after setting up. I used this gizmo crappy as it is to make a huge condom like coat to keep my giant hand made TIKI MAN dry when he was to be transported in wet/snowy weather. I wish I could find my pictures.... :-(

Please remember all my suggestions are gilding the lily, your project stands alone. It is very is.


aubiecat (author)2014-05-27

Very nice design. This would make a nice router table as well.

alcurb (author)2014-05-27

Awesome work. It is great for a place with limited space like my apartment!

I see it more as a spare table. With a nice finish and a butcher block style top, one can use it in the kitchen. It's usefulness for my only workbench is dubious because I don't see a way to attach my vice to it. The side boards are a bit wide for my vice clamp or for my articulated lamp clamp. I might have to cut a couple of notches somewhat sacrificing the table's integrity or make the top bigger so that there is a decent-sized lip.

Cueball21 (author)2014-05-25

Great design, even better execution!

Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm going to steal the idea and try to embellish it with a laminated 2x4 top. I'm thinking it will be study enough to use hand planes and chop out mortises and will not have metal screws in the top.

Thank you, again, for sharing your genius.

Sound of great applause!

schoonovermr (author)Cueball212014-05-26

Thanks! Make sure to post pictures!

totally_screwed (author)2014-05-26

Inspirational! I feel sure that this will inspire many related workbenches.

roboram (author)2014-05-25

Nice, Excellent plan and neat work. Thank you.

bcharris916 (author)2014-05-25

very well done

chuckyd (author)2014-05-25

That's a great plan. The only thing I would add would be an easily replaceable top cover made of hardboard. Then you could just glue and screw the top to the apron.

Mutazek (author)2014-05-25

Nice! I don't have so much space on my house to left a workbench all the time, this would be an excellent solution!

Kenno79 (author)2014-05-25

Neat :)

BobAtWork (author)2014-05-25

Elegant and inexpensive. Nice work - and thanks for sharing!

schoonovermr (author)BobAtWork2014-05-25


vjdoro (author)2014-05-25

I want to make one. Love that it takes up so little space when dismantled. Thanks.

schoonovermr (author)vjdoro2014-05-25

Thank you!

tbonham2 (author)2014-05-24

Hey Iam an OKLAHOMA SCHOONOVER I come from musicians and wood workers. What state are you from?

schoonovermr (author)tbonham22014-05-25

That's wierd! I'm from Georgia

wilgubeast (author)2014-05-23

Thanks for sharing such a useful and simple project. Your documentation is top notch and definitely deserving of a feature. Favorited so I can practice my lap joints AND get a sweet workbench out of the deal.

schoonovermr (author)wilgubeast2014-05-24


savageeuge (author)2014-05-23

Hi, you should do an instructables on those chairs that you used as saw horses.

schoonovermr (author)savageeuge2014-05-23

I would but it's not my own design. I built them with the video in the link below. They are great little stools-I highly recommend making them.

mbecks (author)2014-05-22

I have a tiny work space so this will be so great, thanks

schoonovermr (author)mbecks2014-05-23

No problem, I'm glad I could help!

Rich_Limburger (author)2014-05-22

great job, good pictures and explanation
Since i don't have a workbench, i think i'm gonna build one this summer for my tiny "workshop"

About This Instructable




Bio: Maker and builder- aspiring woodworker and engineer
More by schoonovermr:Collapsible WorkbenchPost-It Note CoverFolding Pallet Chair
Add instructable to: