Maker Station: The Portable Reconfigurable Work Station for all Makers

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When I started this project I wanted to build a work station that I could use for a variety of projects and that I could take with me when I do demonstrations.  I also wanted something that wouldn't be flimsy and something with a lot of utility in terms of usable surfaces and storage options.  After a lot of sketching, research, playing around with 3D models, and good old trial and error I came up with the Maker Station, a re-configurable, collapsible, portable work station that has everything you'd want when your ready to set down and make something awesome.

In this Instructable I will be teaching you how to build a maker station of your own, I'll cover The various tools and materials you will need, I'll discuss the concepts and designs that influenced the final product, and then I'll walk you through the build process so that you'll have all the information needed to successfully tackle this project.  Along the way I'll share tips and tricks I learned during the build so that you can hopefully avoid some of the obstacles I tackled while building my Maker Station.

Features of the Maker Station
-30" X 31" Working Surface.
-Interchangeable center table sections that can be customized to the task at hand.
-Built in floor that is attached to the Maker Station so your body weight holds the station firmly in place while you work.
-33" high work surface which is an great working height for both standing and seated tasks.
-Internal storage space for tools and materials.
-Custom tool storage racks that can be mounted on the out side of the Maker Station for easy access to your tools, and on the inside for easy storage and transportation.
-The Maker Station collapses into a 30" X 33" X 12" rectangle for easy storage and transport, (small enough to fit in the trunk of most standard sized cars.)
-Built in wheels for easy transport.
-Built in collapsible super bright LED work light .
-6 Outlet Power Strip.
-Made from hard wearing maple faced plywood for strength and durability.
-Total weight is a sturdy  80.5 lbs (36.5kg.)
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buck22171 month ago

That is pretty neat, will save heaps of grief from the wife for spilling glue etc on her table

Millanbar6 months ago
Great design, well thought out and a comprehensive Instructable.
starweaver12 months ago
man this is awesome .. wish I was in a maker space and had the room to make one as I could really use one since I do my work out of my tiny apartment for now. Awesome job... Maybe I can get someone to help me tackle this who has room and tools cause this is exactly what i need
apburner1 year ago

OK. Been studying on your design. I love it. Couple of places may make it stronger. First in the center of the top laminate another 3/4 inch ply to the top. You have room below and this will make it much stronger for "hammering". Also I could see at that point making inserts for the top layer so you could change out to a square of nylon or Hardened steel for jewelry making. Also where ever you have put a pair of hinges replace them with large piano hinges. Again more strength. Just suggestions. As I said a great design.

Captain4431 year ago

WTG Well done..........

OceanLady1 year ago

Someone asked about hammering on it, and I am wondering about that too. I'm a jeweller, and setting stones tends to take a lot of hammering, but I don't have a permanent workspace due to lack of space in my apartment, so this would be awesome. I guess I could just get something separate for the hammering, but I'd prefer for it to be all in one. Maybe when I have time I'll fiddle with the plans a bit, ideally a jeweller's workbench should be taller too...

I love the idea, though! I could probably fit this in my closet beside my toolbox when I'm not using it.

Matt2 Silver (author)  OceanLady1 year ago
Hello OceanLady,

These questions about hammering have really got me thinking. As it stands I designed the Maker Station in such a way that the middle section would be the main hammering surface. The fact that the middle surface is easily replaceable combined with it's location directly over the framework seemed like the perfect place to smack things about with hammers and mallets. Having said that, I think there are several improvements that could be made to make the leaves more hammer ready. For one, you could increase the width of the leaf supports so that they extend a greater distance across the leaves, This would add a ridiculous amount of strength (of course it would also require additional wood, and cabinet hinges). Additionally you could make it so that the leaf supports attach to the cross braces with hand screws and threaded inserts, which would prevent the leaf supports from slipping off the catch blocks while hammering. Lastly you could add some supports between the cross bracers so that they would be less likely to bow with the downward force of the hammer blows. I hope that all makes sense.

Thanks! I'll be thinking on this over the summer, if I do build it I will need it taller - or at least I'll need some sort of add-on to make a section of it taller (right now I use a wooden box with a bench pin on top of my kitchen table... not the sturdiest, but does the job for some things, lol). I'm glad that you put some thought into hammering surfaces, though, I wasn't sure if it was made with that in mind at all. If I manage to do a redesign, I'll try and work in some of your ideas to make it sturdier.

Matt2 Silver (author)  OceanLady1 year ago

That sounds great Ocean Lady! If you decide to tackle the project I would love to see some pictures of your finished redesigned Maker Station.

inigomon1 year ago

Most awesome design and craftsmanship! Although I am sure I never
will build one, I was so fascinated, I couldn’t help but read the whole
instructable in detail.What a wonderful
design and then I see that some people want to hammer and beat on it – grin – to
make jewelry or for other purposes.

So I was thinking that if I wanted to pound on it, I would
consider adding fold out triangular support braces for the top similar to those
you have for the base.The triangular braces
would need a top extension to contact the bottom of the work surface and the
frame would need a cutout for that extension. See attached picture. I would mount the braces
on the inside of the frame, not flush but recessed from the edge of the frame. This
would be to stop the outward swing of the support braces and prevent them from
moving beyond the edge of the table top where they wouldn’t support the
top.I believe you should continue to
use the middle brace of the original design because I have no solution to
prevent the braces from swinging back inward, allowing the top to drop unexpectedly
(if knocked out of place by your knee).This
would potentially be a disaster and maybe even quite dangerous.Therefore I feel that continued use of the
existing middle brace is vitally essential to avoid that potential situation. Some might feel that would never happen, at
least not to me.But that is how
accidents happen to YOU.

Again, awesome project.I only commented because people wanted to hammer on the top.

Matt2 Silver (author)  inigomon1 year ago

Wow inigomon, Thanks for the great post. As I have said before, it is always a complement when someone studies your work well enough that they can see the potential for improvement/customization and I think the idea of adding the fold out supports might be just the thing the station needs to take the force of hammering on the leaves. As you mentioned, you'd have to do a bit of work to make them fit properly but I think with a little ingenuity that could be easily accomplished. Also I like the idea of leaving the center support as it would add an additional level of strength and security. Thanks for your post!

Sorry my picture (icon) doesn't show my proposed method of installation well. Clicking on the picture (icon) opens it up so that the details of "one method" installing the bracket will be seen. The only flaw I see with the method shown is that the braces don't lock open and therefore could be knocked back inward during use. But that is my view without trying it. Someone else would be better able to see any other flaws.

ryeomans11 year ago

Great Job Matt! Very impressive, well thought out & documented. Another fine project that you've posted, it should be a definate WINNER! Got my VOTE.

Matt2 Silver (author)  ryeomans11 year ago

Thank yo for your great complements and for your vote, both are very much appreciated!

Suicid1 year ago

Wow! Thats a great job and stepbystep! Thanks for it!

How steady the leap in the open position? If you work with mallet/hammer on the leap, will it bounce on every single tap?

Matt2 Silver (author)  Suicid1 year ago
Hi Suicid,

Great question, check out the answer I provided for Ocean Lady in regards to hammering

Thanks alot, definitely make sense!

makermuso1 year ago

Very comprehensive Instructable and awesome design, well done Matt.

Matt2 Silver (author)  makermuso1 year ago

Thank you makermuso!

akthorsen1 year ago

This is amazing and I think I could manage making this! I had to look at the detail and I even noticed your hidden text box on the tool caddy photo. You have my vote!

Matt2 Silver (author)  akthorsen1 year ago
Nice! you're the first one to notice that, congratulations, I'll send you that free three month pro membership right away!

Thanks for your complements and vote, akthorsen!
Thanks-I am psyched! I am also going to get my 85-yr-old father and my 39-yr-old son involved in this. It will take some time, but when done, I will post!
Matt2 Silver (author)  akthorsen1 year ago

Excellent! I look forward to seeing your finished product, best of luck!

Deltic1 year ago

Thank you so much for an excellent instructable, clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design & implentation of this project. The one thing I like above all else is the endless possibilities for customisation. It would make an ideal 'hobby' desk that I could wheel out for a couple of hours on an evening & then put everything swiftly back, away from small hands. Since I already have a stable surface to work on, & don't think I really require the fold-down element, I am considering changing the front panels for two hinged opening doors with tool racks attached internally which are then easily accessible when the doors are opened. The rear panel I think I can convert into a sloping desk-top. Any thoughts on this or problems you may already have encountered would be very welcome.

Matt2 Silver (author)  Deltic1 year ago

Hi Deltic,

First off, thank you for your great complements, I'm glad you recognized the potential for customization, I worked hard to build the Maker Station in such a way that it could be useful for a variety of tasks and projects. I like your idea of switching out the panel/floor mechanism for doors with additional storage functions and I'm intrigued by this idea of the slanting back panel table top, (originally I had wanted to add a sloping style desk to my design but I couldn't figure out a way to make it work.) As for tips, my initial thought is that if you put twin doors on the front and back of the station, you could open the doors similar to how the leg supports open on my version to add stability while the station is open for working. If I find some time I'll create a model of this in sketch up to better explain what I mean. Thanks for your post!

FS20101 year ago

Very nice idea and professional performance !

jcksparr0w1 year ago
Pretty sweet. One question though. How are you paying 53 dollars for your 4 x 8 of plywood? Did you get a hardwood plywood?

In the description he said he bought hard maple faced plywood.

Quote from above

"-Made from hard wearing maple faced plywood for strength and durability."

Ah. Thank you. I have an unfortunate tendency to accidentally skip a sentence or two here and there when reading.

Impressive !…

Any way the stool being folded could nest inside the station when folded ?

However I fail to see what the black button at the foot of the lamp is designed for…

Thanx for posting anyway. Very clear, very neatly done and explained. Wish to make one myself… although I really do not know why as I wouldn't find any immediate use.

Matt2 Silver (author)  vincent75201 year ago
Hi Vincent7520,

Thank you for the complements! The stool fits inside the station quite well in the folded position which is handy for storage and transport. As for the black button, it's actually a circle of Velcro that holds the light closed when it's folded up :)

Thanks for your post!
Tanzer261 year ago
WOW. One of the most detailed and well written Instructables I've read. I can see huge potential for this. I see a potential issue with the T nut for the lamp, although there shouldn't be much strain on it, they are designed that it should be on the other side of the wood with the tangs just to hold in place when no bolt in use. I would use a screw in insert instead. Also I would use T nuts and bolts, with a drop of locktite for the casters, because with the moving around, lag bolts will tend to work loose. I add these as possible improvements that might extend it's life. Not criticism of the quality of your design or workmanship.
Matt2 Silver (author)  Tanzer261 year ago

Hi Tanzer,

First off thank you for your compliments, I really appreciate you saying that this was one of the most detailed and well written Instructables you have read! Secondly you make some great points about the T nut, although it is plenty strong to hold the lamp, I have noticed that if you screw the hand screw in too tight the nut will actually pull itself out of the station, similar to how a corkscrew pulls a wine bottle cork. Installing the T nut in the opposite side of the 2x4 spacer would remedy this and would prevent the possibility of the nut getting pulled out or wearing loose. Thanks for the great insight, I always appreciate when someone studies what I've made in enough depth that they not only understand it but can also see ways in which it can be made better. Best regards!

I often build some odd projects and when someone's project catches my eye, I frequently study how they've accomplished it, frequently borrowing' from it to improve my own. I do find it risky to offer a 'critique', as some people really get their back up when questioned. For myself, I welcome input, as it's easy to miss details and there is almost always room for improvements. The other item I'll offer
Damn touch screen. The other item, I haven't found the latches you used for the top to be very long lived. You can get a type with actual springs in them that provide better dependability over time. If yours start to give trouble with age, spend the extra foe the upgraded type. The oil finish is a great choice, I use Danish Oil on a lot of mine.
Matt2 Silver (author)  Tanzer261 year ago

I agree with you Tanzer, I think one of the great things about posting to Instructables is the ability to get both positive and constructive criticism. People have made some really amazing, insightful critiques of previous projects I have posted that have prompted me to think in new and different ways about the things I am designing and making, and that's really one of the main reasons I continue to post, because I enjoy that process of sharing, and building off of the collective experience of other makers.

As for the spring latches... yea they're not my favorite either, I have been considering other solutions altogether like installing biscuits into the edges of the center table inserts and cutting slots into the edges of the leaves so that when the leaves are put up the biscuits register into the slots thereby holding the center insert in place and eliminating the need for the clamps altogether.

Thanks for another great post!

MrNathann1 year ago

Superb job, and your instructable is very well put together.

I've been thinking about putting something together like this for a while. Both my wife and I could use one of these in our very small home...

oaskul1 year ago

Any idea of the final weight? I'm curious about getting it into the trunk of a car...

Matt2 Silver (author)  oaskul1 year ago

Great question oaskul. The Maker Station weights 80.5lbs (36.5kg). Although that might sound a bit heavy it's actually quite easy to load into a car, all you have to do is lean it again the car and then life from the bottom and push it in. Thanks for the question, I never even thought to include the finished weight.

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