Introduction: Maker/Work Bench From Scrap Wood

Picture of Maker/Work Bench From Scrap Wood

I had a plastic folding table for building various projects in my workshop. It was a bit flimsy (go figure) and not the sturdiest table in the world. I needed something more suitable for a work station. It was time to make something sturdy, strong and good looking for my maker table. And so my journey began...

What I used:

-Scrap, scrap and more scrap wood (cedar and pallet wood)

-One 10' brown pressure treated 2x4 (there wasn't enough scrap 2x4 for the legs, so this is the one piece of wood I purchased)

-Some pegboard (Home Depot sells 2'x4' sheets for $4.00 and they'll cut it for you free of charge)

-Miscellaneous hardware (wood screws, brackets, etc.)

-Wood stain (I chose a satin stain)

-Varathane (I used Diamond Semi-Gloss)

-Wood glue


-Mitre saw

-Power drill/driver

-Dremel with cutting disk

-Power sander and 180 grit sandpaper



-Flathead screwdriver

-Number 2 Robertson screwdriver




-Paint brush


Let's get building!

Step 1: Salvage, Pillage, Plunder!

Picture of Salvage, Pillage, Plunder!

Although this whole project was exciting for me, this was one of the most fun parts. I didn't know where I was going to get my building materials from, I just knew I wanted to build a work table and I had very little money.

Driving by the local old age home I noticed a nice looking pallet by the curb side. Score!

I drove to my dad's house and looked in his backyard...holy scrap!

I pried my pallet apart with a hammer, flathead screwdriver and crowbar. In theory, it was going to be easy...In actuality, I ended up dripping with sweat and with a bunch of split pallet wood.

Step 2: Repair Pallet Wood

Picture of Repair Pallet Wood

If you had an excruciating time taking apart your pallets like me, you won't care if you split the boards to pieces, you just want them to be useable!

I used some strong carpenter's glue and clamps to hold the parts together to dry. I let them sit overnight, and by morning, you could hardly even tell they were broken in the first place.

I also used my Dremel with a cutting disk to cut off all of the nail ends that were protruding from the pallet boards. You could also just hammer them out from the bottom, but I was worried I may further damage the boards.

Step 3: Lay It Out

Picture of Lay It Out

Next step is to decide on a basic design for your table/desk/work bench. I placed the wood down and arranged it until I found a pattern I was happy with. Pretty simple. I forgot to take a lot of pictures of this step, so that's why you only see the cedar and not the pallet boards in the centre.

Step 4: Cut Wood and Screw It Together

Picture of Cut Wood and Screw It Together

Next, get all of your wood measured out, cut it with your mitre or hand saw and drill and screw it together however you need to.

I cut all of my cedar outside border wood at 45 degree angles. This isn't necessary, and it's a little bit more work, I just thought it looked nicer.

I used some scrap 2x4 for braces on the underside of the tabletop to hold it all together. There are plenty of ways to do it, figuring it out is half of the fun!

The longer the wood screws you can use to secure things, the better. Longer screws will give your table more strength and rigidity.

Step 5: Sand

Picture of Sand

Get your power sander or sanding block and some 180 grit sandpaper and sand the whole table top down. You don't need to go crazy, just get any loose debris and old paint or stain off. My pallet wood had some blue paint drips all over it. I thought it would give the table a little bit of character to leave some of the blue paint as is and only sanded some of it off.

Step 6: Stain

Picture of Stain

Now, grab a stain of your choice and a brush and brush away! Less is more with stain. If you slather it on, it will probably run and not look very good. Be patient and plan on needing more than one application. I did two coats, as the wood absorbed the stain more in some areas than others on the first coat.

Step 7: Attach Legs and Varathane

Picture of Attach Legs and Varathane

I went to Lowes to get my 2x4 wood for the legs. I wanted something sturdy and cheap that would last a lifetime and figured pressure treated 2x4 would do the trick. I got a 10' piece and had Lowes cut 4 equal lengths of 28". I initially wanted to use a 4x4 post, but Lowes won't cut 4x4s and I couldn't fit a 10' post in my Hyundai Accent.

Drill holes and screw your legs on however you see fit. The simplest way is often the best way.

Once your legs are attached, coat your entire project with Varathane. As with the stain, you may need more than one coat. Read the directions on your Varathane. Some types require longer to dry before applying a second coat. I used a diamond semi-gloss finish.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

After I was almost finished, I decided I wanted to have a small peg board backing to hang the tools that I use most often. I simply cut one piece of 2x4 the length of the table (49.5") for the top and two pieces of 2x4 to the desired height (in my case, 18"), then cut the ends on 45 degree angles where the three pieces meet and screwed them together. I borrowed my dad's table saw and ripped a 2x4 for the bottom of the frame that I attached afterwards, just to make it look a bit more finished. I then stained and coated the frame for the peg board and coated it with Varathane.

I attached the frame to the table from underneath with four 3.5" wood screws and then screwed the peg board on to the back of it.

I secured an 8 outlet power bar to the underside of the table with two wood screws as well.

Step 9: Sit Back and Admire

Picture of Sit Back and Admire

Nothing left to do now but crack a beer, sit in a lawn chair and admire your handywork. Oh, and use your new table to build more awesome things of course!

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!


QirulD (author)2016-06-01

good job !!

Tactical man220 (author)2016-02-11

sweet man

signalsoldier (author)2016-01-12

Much appreciation!

Grafx4Life (author)2015-09-20

That does look great. Thinking of converting my old small desk into a maker space, and this could be the ticket!

Grafx4Life (author)2015-09-20

That is a great colour of stain.

tamerorhan (author)2015-07-04

Very nice

ctx1985 (author)tamerorhan2015-08-14


Helkombi (author)2015-06-19

Beautiful, just beautiful! I was hopping to use a garden sturdy table, today while I was getting ready to set up a work table for my wood work, discovered that the table is ruined.

I do have a few projects to start, but this it's going to be the first.
Thank you so much for sharing this.

ctx1985 (author)Helkombi 2015-08-14

Thanks very much for the kind words. I hope your project goes well!

dpatterson13 (author)2014-11-29

Great job!

ctx1985 (author)dpatterson132014-11-30

Thanks very much!

dpatterson13 (author)2014-11-29

Great job!

dpatterson13 (author)2014-11-29

Great job!

dpatterson13 (author)2014-11-29

Great job!

cutshopguy (author)2014-11-20

Awesome job and great finish. I particularly liked how you didn't remove all the blue paint. You'd pay a tidy sum for this in one of those industrial-chic furniture stores.

ctx1985 (author)cutshopguy2014-11-20

Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm an amateur when it comes to woodworking, but I'm actually really happy with how this turned out. Everything is a learning experience!

mikeasaurus (author)2014-11-20

That tabletop reuse looks great!

ctx1985 (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-20

Thanks very much!

Tezcumpapa (author)2014-11-20

Nice! You did a great job of explaining things. This is definitely a doer.

ctx1985 (author)Tezcumpapa2014-11-20

Thanks so much!

Wheatridge (author)2014-11-20

What a terrific looking project. Nicely done. Were is 50 years ago and we were back in our apartment, I would jump at this one.

ctx1985 (author)Wheatridge2014-11-20

Thanks very much!

ctx1985 (author)2014-11-20

Thank you very much for the helpful hint. This will make my future pallet projects much easier!

Bender Rodriguez (author)2014-11-20

I really need to ditch my glass top (computer) desk and build something like this. Honestly, it's a darned miracle I haven't already turned that tempered glass top into a million of the most painful mini ice cubes as it is, what with all the metal work I do... Hehehe...

ctx1985 (author)Bender Rodriguez2014-11-20

Haha yeah it's surprising you haven't smashed it to a million pieces doing metal work on it!

billbillt (author)2014-11-20

Yes, the above is absolutely correct... The nails used to assemble the ones that I had were spiral shaped and acted somewhat like a screw... I could not pry the board away without it splitting...

shazni (author)2014-11-16

Wow looks great! Wish my table looked so good :-)

I too am kind of organizing and my work space is totally out of reclaimed wood. It doesn't look so great though. I have to kind of now camouflage it so that it doesn't look like a work space at all. Why you ask? It's my laundry room, workshop and also roof top dining space when we are having a party, So it has to be hidden!! lol

ctx1985 (author)shazni2014-11-17

Thanks! Wow that sounds like quite the multi-purpose workspace! I'd love to see a picture!

shazni (author)ctx19852014-11-17

Will do once I finish :-).

From it looking like a bomb has gone off to now somewhat reasonable looking...I have yet to organize and sew the covers. So once that is done I shall send you a pic!

ctx1985 (author)shazni2014-11-18

Sounds great! Can't wait too see it :)

xxxCHICAGOxxx (author)2014-11-17

I love this idea it looks so cool, it reminds me of my grandfathers work bench on a smaller scale. I already made a workbench during September and I really wish I had taken pictures, but look out for my instructable because Im going to do my best to recreate the building of the bench with sketchup.

ctx1985 (author)xxxCHICAGOxxx2014-11-17

Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to seeing your workbench as well!

krisb110 (author)2014-11-17

Looks awesome! If space was a concern, your project would be easy to modify to Murphy the table top! Using the reclaimed wood makes it look like it's been around a while to! Good job!

ctx1985 (author)krisb1102014-11-17

Thanks! Yeah I liked how the reclaimed wood gave it a more "used" look.

Porda (author)2014-11-17

This looks fantastic. I wish I saw this before I made my own maker desk.

ctx1985 (author)Porda2014-11-17

Thank you very much!

MadMuz (author)2014-11-17

Nice work

ctx1985 (author)MadMuz2014-11-17

Thanks a lot!

bganev77 (author)2014-11-17

Very well and simple. I like it much!

ctx1985 (author)bganev772014-11-17

Thank you very much!

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-11-16

Wow it turned out really great looking! I love that it's reclaimed wood, though by looking at it I never would have guessed it!

Thank you so much! It's amazing how much difference just a coat of stain can make. I was really happy with how it turned out :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a 29 year old guy who's passionate about building and fixing things, sometimes if they aren't even broken. I get a ... More »
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