Introduction: Easy Collapsible Worktable
There's a corner in my garage workshop where I often wish I had another worktable.
However, I don't want it there all the time. The majority of the time I actually just prefer the open floor space.
So I decided to make a collapsible, fold-down worktable that's there when I need it . . . and easily stowed away when I don't.
It was made from a recycled solid-core door, some heavy-duty hinges, pieces of 2x4 lumber, and a handful of fasteners. A person should be able to duplicate this with just a few basic tools, and I'll show you how.
Thanks for taking a look.
Step 1: How It Works, and Some Logic Behind the Simplicity
The table top (formerly known as a "door") is attached to the wall with heavy duty hinges, and simply swings up to use, and down to store.
The legs are pieces of 2x4 studs attached to the underside of the table top with additional hinges.
I stewed over how to make the legs for a while, and ultimately went with this setup because it packs flatly - the table in the down position only sticks out from the wall a total of 3 3/4 inches.
Some may assume this setup is unstable, and I initially thought the same thing when I was mulling over the idea.
However, since the table is tied to the wall, it cannot "rack" or shift side-to-side whatsoever. So the legs are not subject to any movement initiated at the table top (say, from a person bumping into it).
It's worth noting that a swift kick from the outside of either leg would indeed hinge it inward, but for the table to collapse this would have to happen simultaneously to both legs, which is not probable. (One leg actually holds the table up just fine, although two is obviously better.)
Likewise, a swift kick from the inside of either leg would probably strip the hinge screws right out of the doortable, which would certainly be a pain, but even this would still not collapse the table unless it happened simultaneously to both legs (again, not likely).
So . . . a person building a similar folding table might be inclined to fashion some sort of folding angled support/locks to the legs (and I considered it), but in the end this simple approach has proven more than stable enough to satisfy me.
Step 2: Support Plan
This sort of table needs to be mounted to studs in your wall to support it.
I began by deciding on the height I wanted the table to be, and used a level to mark a line indicating this height.
I marked an additional line to indicate the height of the bottom of the table top. This line is important, as it tells exactly where to place the blocks onto which the heavy duty hinges will be fastened.
At this time I also located all the wall studs with a stud finder (like this), and chose which ones I would be using to support the weight of the table. These were marked as well.
My table is about 6 feet long, and I chose two studs that were located near the ends of the table. The studs in your walls will likely not be in exactly the perfect places, but you just have to pick the best two and go with it.
For a longer table, you may wish to place additional hinges to support the middle of the table top sufficiently.
Step 3: Wall Blocks and Hinges
These wall blocks serve a couple of purposes.
One is to provide a solid place to attach your hinges. The other is to directly take the weight of the table top when it is in the up position.
I cut two pieces of 2x4 about eight inches long. These were fastened to the wall studs with four 3-inch construction screws (these are what I used), with the tops exactly flush with the line indicating the bottom of the table top.
It's important to pre-drill the holes in the blocks for these screws. I drilled the clearance holes at 3/16", which was just enough for the screw threads to pass through without getting stuck. You don't need to pre-drill the holes into the wall studs however. When you fasten the screws through the blocks and into the wall studs they will pull the blocks tightly like a clamp, which is because of the clearance holes you drilled.
With the blocks in place, I added the heavy duty hinges next with 1 1/2" long, quarter-inch lag screws.
The holes for these screws were pre-drilled equal to the diameter of the screw shaft minus the threads. This allows the screw threads to bite into the wood of the wall blocks without splitting it. These were installed with a socket wrench.
The hinges were fastened so that when the top half of the hinge is positioned at 90 degrees, it is perfectly flush with the top edge of the blocks. This is very important.
Step 4: Position the Table Top
I had to trim my old door down to the size I needed. I measured and marked a line, and used a circular saw to cut off the extra material. A sander was used to smooth over the sharp edges.
The door-now-tabletop was propped into position with the back side resting directly on the wall blocks, and the front side resting on a saw horse with some scraps to get it into level position.
I used some scraps to shim the back of the table top about 1/8" away from the wall at the hinge locations.
Step 5: Fasten Back Hinges
I pre-drilled the holes for the hinges, and fastened in lag screws exactly as before.
Step 6: Leg Hinge Shims
The hinges I used for the tops of the legs are 3" by 1 1/2".
Because of their shape, they needed a small shim on the top side (which will face the bottom side of the table top) so they don't bind and are allowed to swing freely. I made some shims with 1/8" plywood with holes drilled to match the hinges. These were simply taped in place, which is sufficient.
Step 7: Hinges to Legs
I cut two pieces of 2x4 to use as the legs, but cut them intentionally a few inches too long for now.
I pre-drilled holes and attached the hinges to the leg ends with screws (the same 3" style I used previously for the wall blocks).
Step 8: Trim Legs to Fit
With the hinge sides down, I placed the legs close to where I wanted them on the table and marked a line where the underside of the table met against the wood.
The legs were trimmed at the line indicated.
Tip: If you get the leg heights within about 1/8" of what you need, you'll be fine. If they're not perfect (and the wood will likely acclimatize and shrink over time anyway), you can add a couple of screws to the bottoms later which can be used to micro-adjust the table height.
Step 9: Fasten Legs
To fasten the legs, you will either need an extra set of hands or some other way to hold them in folded position while you work. I used an adjustable roller to pinch the legs up against the table bottom.
I measured and marked where I wanted the legs, and pre-drilled holes for the screws. Don't drill too far! You really don't want to drill through the topside of your new table.
I then fastened the screws through the hinges.
Note that you'll likely need to offset the position of the legs for clearance so they don't butt into each other when folded. I offset mine exactly 3 1/2 inches so they clear each other, but still touch when folded. This, along with the support block noted in step 1, takes the strain off of the leg hinges when the table is folded in the down position.
Step 10: Bumper Blocks
I added little bumper blocks to the backsides of the legs.
These don't offer any serious protection against hyper-extending the legs, but provide a small amount of resistance so you can feel when you've swung the legs down to 90 degrees. They also serve as bumpers to protect the wall when the table is in the down position.
They were made from scrap that was cut to be 1 3/4" tall, and screwed in place. I added pieces of foam floor matting to the wall-facing side with hot glue.
Step 11: Swivel Locks
I made a pair of simple swivel locks with pieces of an old broom handle and pieces from a paint stir stick. These were glued together, and then had clearance holes drilled through the centers.
These were screwed in place at the ends of the hinged legs, just tight enough to allow them to pinch the legs but still swivel easily.
Note that I also added screws the leg bottoms so I could finely adjust the table height. These screws were threaded into pre-drilled holes (I did two on each leg bottom, although you can only see one in this photo).
Step 12: Finishing Touches
Along the front edge of the table/just below the position of the legs when folded, I added a strip of scrap wood to act as a support for the folded legs.
A little bit of stain was added to the raw edge of the table top, and it was done!
Step 13: Let There Be Light!
I added a new workshop light and now I've got well-lit, versatile nook to use in my shop.
Got any thoughts? Let me know in the comments. It's always fun to hear what people think, so don't be shy.
Thanks for looking!