Introduction: Transforming Workbench & Storage
My girlfriend is an artist and has been infinitely patient with the fact that our previous living situations have prevented her from having a nice and functional studio space at home. We bought a house earlier this year which meant that we were no longer living under the constraints of a tenant-landlord-no-major-alterations relationship and we were free to do as we liked. She was away for about a month this summer, during which time I overhauled the room we had designated as her studio space. Though she knew it was happening and had given me some parameters, I was allowed considerable creative license in the renovation. Buuuut, old habits die hard and I tackled the redesign with the knowledge that we will likely move SOMEday and maybe a home studio might not be a selling point for future buyers and maybe she'd like it so much she would like to take it with us. So I set about to create something big and amazing yet still portable. (In all honesty, this project will leave considerably fewer holes in the walls than most other shelves I've installed in apartments....so have no fear!)
In addition to repainting the room (including an entire chalkboard wall) and adding some large cork boards, she really wanted a workbench/desk and some easy-access storage. We had seen "jumbo pegboards" a few times on the internet and had discussed incorporating it into her studio as an option for on-demand shelving. These were the basic ideas that we had discussed before I began designing, but I had a few ideas of my own to make her studio as useful and inviting as possible:
- more outlets: she was constantly running extension cords and/or power strips here, there, everywhere to do what she needed to do
- speakers: she prefers to work to music or podcasts and had been relying on (crappy) old computer speakers
- bluetooth: because who wants more cords to deal with?
- lighting: the centrally-located ceiling fan would be behind her while seated anywhere in the room, which would mean either working in her own shadow or adding free-standing lamps
- a fold-down work surface: having watched her work for a couple years, I knew she liked to spread out, so I wanted to give her a large workspace, but without permanently eating a third of the room.
I didn't expect to write an Instructable for this project, so my photo documentation was really only intended for posterity and there may be points in my directions for which I don't have perfect photos, but I will attempt to be thorough in my explanation. Also, there will be steps that can be omitted - I chose to add a few electrical/electronic bells and whistles that not everyone will want to add (or feel comfortable adding). For the sake of this Instructable, I'm focusing on the main structure of the transforming console. I will also briefly explain how to easily add a bluetooth receiver and built-in speakers, but I am choosing not to include instructions on wiring power and lights because I'm not an electrician. I did copious amounts of research before wiring the work area and I am confident that I did it correctly and safely, but I'm not a professional and don't want anyone to try anything that is beyond their skill and/or comfort level or their home's electrical capabilities.
Grand Prize in the
Step 1: Planning
As with anything custom-made, everything is dependent on the space you have available. I will report all of the dimensions of the project that I made, but I encourage you to alter things to make them fit your space - that's half the fun!
The studio space in which I was building this project has three doors and four windows, leaving only a couple of walls with any amount of useable space. I chose to install the workbench on the southern wall, between two windows (mainly because I like symmetry...). The windows are 82" apart and the tops of the windows are 93 1/2" from the floor (and 14 1/2" from the ceiling). I wanted to match the height of the window because it would make a nice, pleasing line and, frankly, that would be pretty tall and anything taller would likely be a waste of space. Therefore, my useable space was 82"W x 93 1/2"W.
Kristen had asked me to make her work surface counter height, rather than table height, so she could either work standing up or sit in her adjustable drafting chair, so I planned for the top of the work surface to be 38" high, leaving 55 1/2" to the top of my useable space, which would be filled by the jumbo pegboard. Unfortunately, a standard sheet of plywood is 48" x 96".....which meant I was going to have to come up with an additional 7 1/2" to fill my space (or have it end below the window-line). I decided to incorporate all of the electrical components into a piece of 1x8 (which actually measures about 3/4" x 7 1/2") to boost the height and to separate the pegboard from the electrics as much as possible (that way I could troubleshoot electrics, if necessary, without removing a massive piece of wood).
Having brainstormed how the top of the project would work, I turned to the supports for the work surface. In order to make it fold down, I had to figure out how to support the work surface using non-permanent legs. Rather than using some sort of fold-up legs like a standard folding table, I decided to make the supports into something useful whether the work surface was up or down - bookshelves. This was one of the trickier things to plan, mainly because I couldn't wrap my head around it in the abstract; I finally broke down and cut out two-dimensional (top-view) bookshelves and moved them around to figure out how I could hinge them as simply as possible to swing out, allow the work surface to drop down, then swing back to "hide" the work surface.
Now that I've explained a bit about my planning process and the space in which I was working, I hope you feel like you can alter my plans to fit your space. On to materials...
Step 2: Materials
Disclaimer: I'm not rich, but I wanted to renovate the studio as a surprise gift for my girlfriend, so I did splurge on this whole project. Please feel free to take cheaper options, alter my plan, etc. to fit your needs/budget.
- Electric Miter Saw ("Chop Saw")
- Table Saw with miter fence
- Jig Saw (with wood and metal blades)
- 2 Drills (one for pre-drilling, one for driving screws)
- Drill bits: 1" paddle bit, 3/8" paddle bit, 1/8" drill bit, Philips Head screw bit,
- Tape measure
- Chalk line
- Speed square
- Flat and Philips Head Screwdrivers
- Narrow chisel or utility knife
- Router (Optional)
- Orbital/Palm Sander (Recommended)
- (1) 4' x 8' x 3/4" plywood - $34.98 (@Home Depot)
- (1) 4' x 8' x 1/2" birch (veneer) plywood - $39.95 (@Home Depot) **This is for the work surface, so I chose a nicer-looking plywood**
- (1) 4' x 4' x 1/4" underlayment (i.e. cheap plywood) - $8.97 (@Home Depot)
- (4) 1" x 6" x 8' common pine board - $5.97/ea = $23.88 (@Home Depot)
- (2) 1" x 8" x 8' common pine board - $8.75/ea = $17.50 (@Home Depot) **ONE Can be omitted, if not adding electrics**
- (1) 1" x 12" x 8' common pine board - $12.98 (@Home Depot)
- (5) 2" x 4" x 8' premium kiln-dried whitewood stud - $2.80/ea = $14.00 (@Home Depot)
- (2) 1" x 4' hardwood dowel - $3.98/ea = $7.96 (@Home Depot) **or more, or fewer - these will be the pegs for the jumbo pegboard**
- (1) small bottle of wood glue
- 1" screws - I used Spax #8x Philips Square Flat-Head Multi Material Screws (30 per pack - $1.94 @ Home Depot)
- 1 1/2" screws - I used Spax #8x Unidrive, Flat Head, Multi-Material Construction Screws (1lb. box - $7.97 @ Home Depot)
- 2 1/2" screws - I used Spax #10x Unidrive, Flat Head, Multi-Material Construction Screws (1lb. box - $7.97 @ Home Depot)
- 5/8" pan head wood screws - I used Phillips #7 5/8 in. Phillips-Square Pan-Head Wood Screws (25 for $1.99 @ Home Depot)
- 1" panel nails (any color) - I had these, but you can get a 6oz package for $2.37 @ Home Depot
- (12) 2" corner braces (aka L-brackets) - I had these from a previous project, but a good example is: Everbilt Galvanized corner braces ($4.68/4-pack = $18.72 @ Home Depot)
- (8) 2" general duty rubber SWIVEL casters - $2.55/ea = $20.40
- (4) 2" hinges - choose the ones that come with their own (flat-head) fasteners and have non-removable pins, such as: 2 in. x 1-3/16 in. Bright Brass Middle Hinges from Home Depot ($2.37/pair = $4.74)
- (2) 3" hinges - same deal as the smaller ones, but I'd suggest something medium-to-heavy duty, such as: Wright Products 3 in. x 2.5 in. Galvanized Steel Hinge from Home Depot ($5.50/pair) **You could also substitute a "piano hinge" or "continuous hinge" for these - I used them to attach the fold-down work surface to the frame.**
- (4) 72" Rubbermaid E5 Upright - this is the track for our adjustable shelving for the bookcase supports (these have evenly-spaced, single horizontal "dashes") ($2.98/ea = $11.92 @Home Depot) **This can be omitted if you prefer non-adjustable (less-fussy) shelves!**
- (2) 12-pack of Rubbermaid Zinc Shelf Support Clips - each package will give you the hardware for 3 shelves per bookcase ($2.98/pkg = $5.96 @ Home Depot) **This can be omitted if you prefer non-adjustable (less-fussy) shelves!**
- (1) quart can of clear satin polyurethane (I had this lying around, but they generally cost $15-$20 depending on brand)
- (1) quart can of clear satin polycrylic (I used Minwax, purchased for $17.97 at Home Depot)
Bluetooth/Speakers - I will address these needs in the appropriate steps.
Step 3: Swing-out Bookcase Legs
First, measure the width of the plywood you have for the work surface. Most plywood is accurately labeled (as 1/2" or 15/16" or whatever), but every once in awhile you will grab what you think it 1/2" and it's not quiiiiite 1/2" and all your measurements end up off by a hair. Normally, it's not a big deal, but with several moving parts, it will become a big deal in this project! While you're at it, be safe and measure your 2" casters by setting four of them wheels-up on a table top and placing a small piece of wood on top and measuring the distance between them - I've found that there can also be a liberal definition of 2".
Luckily, my birch plywood was, indeed, 1/2" thick, but always good to verify. Since we want the top of the work surface to be 38" tall, our supports need to be 37 1/2" tall (**OR build them to 37 1/4" tall, if you want to add small felt or plastic bumpers to the underside of the work surface....up to you**). Subtracting the height of the casters (which, thankfully, were actually an even 2"), the actual bookcase will need to be 35 1/2" tall.
The width of the bookcases requires more fun fraction math. The total depth of the work surface is 30". The 1x12 that will act as the anchor point for the hinges actually measured 11 1/4" wide, but it will be attached to a 2x4 so only 7 3/4" of the board will be sticking out (you'll see this in the next step). We also need to account for the hinge itself (unless you feel like notching space out of the shelves and the anchor boards....which I hate to do), so leave an extra 1/4". Confused? I know I was. The bookshelves need to be 22" wide (that's 30" for the work surface minus 7 3/4" for the anchor board minus 1/4" for the hinges).
Now that we have our dimensions, we're ready to cut the following:
(4) 1 x 6 x 22" (2 tops, 2 bottoms)
(4) 1 x 6 x 34" (4 sides)
(2) pieces of 1/4" plywood that are 22" x 35 1/2" (for the backs)
It's at this point you must decide if you're making the shelves adjustable or fixed. Directions for both are below:
If you're choosing to make adjustable shelves, you must measure the width and depth of the tracks that you purchased. Most seem to be pretty standard at 5/8" wide and 3/8" deep, but always check! If you have a router, feel free to rout two 34" channels that are 3/8" deep and 5/8" wide on each of your 34" side pieces, each located an inch from the two long sides . I admit that I have a router, but I'm not very good (or at least confident) with it. So, I'll give you the no-router method that I used: set the blade height of your table saw to be 3/8" and then set your miter fence to 1". Make a single pass, along the entire length of each 34" board, then rotate the board and make the same single pass again (on the same face, parallel to the first one). Reset your miter fence to 1 1/16" and repeat. Reset the miter fence to 1 1/8" and repeat. Keep going with this pattern until your miter fence is set at 1 11/16". Be sure to keep the board pressed firmly down to the deck of your saw to make uniform cuts, but you will likely need to run a chisel or a utility knife along each channel to take out a few little bits that remain. It's a bit more time-consuming (or fussy) than using a router, but it's effective.
Now that you've created the channels, you need to cut your tracks. Thankfully each track is 72", which means you'll get two pieces out of each one and that each piece will have a factory-cut end. Why does it matter? Well, if you're like me (spastic with a hacksaw) then your cut might not end up perfectly straight and then your tracks might not line up too well and your shelves will wobble. SO, measure 33 7/8" from the end of each track and then cut them (as straight as you can) with a hacksaw or a metal-cutting jigsaw blade. Set the tracks aside for now and continue building the shelves as directed in the non-adjustable directions below!
Here's a pretty easy part! Situate the 34" boards so that they are between the 22" boards, with each flush to the outside of the 22" (if you are making them adjustable, be sure to face the channels inward). Before attaching them with your 1 1/2" screws, PRE-DRILL using a 3/32" (or 1/8") drill bit, otherwise you run a good chance of splitting something, even if the box of screws promises that you don't need to pre-drill. Two holes and two screws for each corner is sufficient.
At this point, you should have a rectangle that might feel a little flimsy. Have no fear! The 1/4" plywood that you cut (to 22" x 34") should fit nicely on top! [**If you plan to paint the shelves, like I did, I suggest painting the 1x6 rectangle and the 1/4" panel before attaching one to the other - especially if they will be different colors**] Use the 1" panel nails to attach it to the frame, making sure that you keep everything lined-up and square all the way around as you go. I believe I put 6 along the sides and 4 along the top and bottom - use your best judgement on this.
For Adjustable Shelves, set your 33 7/8" tracks into the channels you cut. Position ALL the factory cut ends flush to one end (which will be the bottom) and then use the itty bitty nails that came with the adjustable shelving clips to attach them. Now you're ready to cut the shelves! The bookcase is 22" wide and when we subtract the width of the sides, the interior space should be 20 1/2". We want to allow a little extra space to make adjusting the shelves easier, so you want to cut each shelf to be 20 1/4" wide. If it's not obvious, you're making these out of 1x6! I chose to make 3 shelves for each bookshelf, so cut a total of 6. Paint the shelves, if necessary, and set them and the clips aside for later.
For Fixed Shelves: The bookcase is 22" wide and when we subtract the width of the sides, the interior space should be 20 1/2". If you have any warp in the wood, this number might fluctuate slightly, but I would still suggest cutting your 1x6 shelves to as close to 20 1/2" as possible. Now is the time to paint them, if you choose to do so. Choose their location well and measure carefully - no one like crooked shelves. Once you set them in place, carefully PRE-DRILL in from the sides and then attach them with the 1 1/2" screws. I suggest measuring from the top (or bottom) to the center of the shelf, then doing the same along the side where you're pre-drilling to ensure that you are putting the screw into the center of the board in order to avoid the screw splitting the shelf or peeking out the top or bottom.
You might be wondering why use casters, or why use so many. In order to keep the shelves swinging in and out smoothly, no matter how much "stuff" gets loaded on the shelves, I chose to go with four casters per shelf. This may very well be overkill, but I'd rather spend a few extra dollars and minutes now and be sure they'll last than to try to troubleshoot them forever. Okay, I'm off my soapbox.
Most people will be able to get away with just attaching the casters in the corners of the bookshelf, BUT take a good look at your floor first! In my case, there is a heating/AC vent in the floor right where one set of casters would be attached, which would force my book shelf upward about 1/4" and that would torque the hinges slightly which, over time, will make them swing poorly or could eventually work the screws out of the wood or some other problem. Therefore, I moved one set of casters in a few inches so they roll over the floor only. There is also a small coaxial cable coming up through the floor on the other side, but it is not in the path of the casters and only sticks up about 1 1/2" from the floor and the bookshelf will clear it with no problems.
When attaching the casters, I chose to inset them about an inch so they are almost invisible up close and the shelves appear to float. To attach them, I suggest placing the caster, marking where the holes are, PRE-DRILLING, and then attaching them using the 5/8" pan head screws. Once all four casters are attached, you can flip it over and test it out - it should roll smoothly but because the shelves are tall narrow, they likely won't stand well on their own, so don't give them a shove to watch them skate across the floor (it...ahem....doesn't work well). You can set these aside for a bit and move on to the next step!
Step 4: Lower Framework
I tried to make this project as "easy" as I could, so I decided to make the work surface ("countertop") a nice, even 72" wide (6') and a hearty 30" deep, so the supporting framework would need to accommodate accordingly.
Cut the following lengths of 2 x 4:
(1) @ 72" (horizontal piece)
(2) @ 36 1/2" (the height of our work surface minus the width of the horizontal support) **If you have baseboard molding like we do, you'll need to notch the bottoms so they lie flat**
And cut the following lengths of 1 x 12:
(2) @ 38" (these will go outside of the 2 x 4 support frame and eventually anchor the swing-out bookcase "legs" and will, therefore, need to be notched if you have baseboard molding)
Once you've cut your boards (and notched for baseboards, if necessary), attach the 2 x 4 x 72" to the (2) 2 x 4 x 36 1/2" legs using (2) 2 1/2" screws per leg (pre-drilling is a good idea, but not essential with the 2x4). The 72" piece should be situated on top of the two legs, with the legs lining up nice and flush to the ends of the horizontal piece.
*If you are not concerned with centering, skip this step* - Mark the horizontal piece at 36" (the center line), then find the center of where your project will be. For me, it was between the windows, which were 82" apart, so I marked the wall at 41" from each window and 38" from the floor.
Center the 2x4 support on the wall, if necessary, or just place it where you want it to be, and attach it to the wall using corner braces (L-brackets). I used three, evenly spaced, across the horizontal 2x4 and just one per leg - be sure to use a level, so your legs are straight! Feel free to use the screws that come with them to go into your 2x4, but what goes into the wall requires some thought: Our walls are plaster over wood with a layer of (what appears to be) concrete behind that, so I used the 2 1/2" multi-material screws. If you have just plaster, or drywall, I'd suggest marking where they will go and then using an appropriate size plastic drywall anchor. If you have cinderblock walls, use a concrete anchor. It really depends on your walls!
Once your 2x4 frame is in place, you'll attach the two 1x12s to the outside of the legs. These will also need to be flush to the wall, so they will need to be notched for baseboards just like the 2x4. Though the 1x12s don't support weight from above, they should be securely attached to the 2x4 because they will be the stationary support for the hinges on the swing-out bookcase legs. I used (5) 1 1/2" screws in a zig-zag pattern along the length of each board. Pre-drilling is always a good idea and if you have a countersink bit, it will make everything look much nicer in the end!
If you will be painting the support pieces, now is a good time to do it so you don't have to paint around everything else. I painted mine the same color as the wall to which it's attached so that the supports fade into the background, highlighting the natural wood elements that I would be adding.
Now that the bones are in place, we can attach the swing-out bookcase legs that we built in the Step 3. Stand one bookcase up on its casters and move it to the 1x12 on the left side of your support structure. Orienting the bookcase is critical: the open face needs to be facing the wall to the left of the 1x12. You should be looking at the back of the bookcase now and the outside of the bookcase needs to line up with the inside of the 1x12 (this will be the open position that will allow the work surface to fold up and down).
When properly oriented, measure 6" down from the top and 6" up from the bottom of both the 1x12 and the bookcase and make a small mark on both surfaces. Position one of your 2" hinges just below the top lines and attach them with the provided screws; again, pre-drilling is preferred, but the most important part of attaching the hinges is that you position the center of the hinge exactly over the line where the bookcase meets the 1x12, otherwise your hinges won't swing smoothly (or at all, if they are really crooked). If you attach them and can tell that your hinge is not parallel to the edges of the bookcase and 1x12, remove the screws, move them slightly and re-do it! Once both hinges are attached, try it out - it should swing easily into the inside of the support structure and now the open-face of your bookcase is facing out. There should be space behind the shelf once it's tucked into its new position - this will be where the work surface hangs when not in use. If you're happy with it, move to the right-hand bookcase and repeat the process. When both are attached, we can begin the work surface or countertop.
Step 5: The Work Surface (or Countertop)
Begin by cutting a piece of the 1/2" birch plywood (or whatever 1/2" plywood you chose) to be 31" x 71 1/2" -- 31" (rather than 30") just in case we need a little "fudge factor" because the bookcase sticks out further than you anticipate, due to a tiny mis-cut or an allowance error and 71 1/2" to allow space for the hinges on the bookcase legs.
Position your swing-out bookcase legs to be perpendicular to the wall to which you attached everything (so they are sticking straight out). Set your piece of plywood on top of them and push it back to the 72" 2x4. If you've measured, cut and attached everything correctly, it should sit nicely in the space, with the front edge of the plywood sticking out an inch past the front side of the bookcases and the sides of the plywood should be sitting flush to the open faces of the bookcases. My suggestion is to then mark the underside of the plywood wherever the bookcases sit on each side and use a chalk line to connect them and then trim off the overhang - this will ensure that everything lines up perfectly.
Now that you have trimmed the plywood to the correct size to fit nicely in place, we'll really get to work on it. In order to make the work surface large, but still leave access to the jumbo pegboard, I cut a curve into the plywood (it was really just for function, but it turned out looking really nice, too - bonus!). The plywood is 71 1/2", so find the center by measuring 35 3/4" from the edge. Once you've found the center, measure 6" from the front edge at the center line. Also along the front edge, measure in 8" from each side of the plywood. With these three points, you'll need to draw a curve that connects all three; it took me 3 or 4 tries to make the curve look natural and symmetrical.
If you're not comfortable free-handing the curve, you can use complicated circle math to find the radius of a circle that would contain a chord (a line connecting two points on a circle that is not the diameter) that is 6" (h) and 55 1/2" (c = length of chord) [ r = (c2 + 4h2) / 8h ] ...... so the radius of such a circle would be 67 11/64". You can then use a string to draw the curve on your plywood by tying it to a pencil, stretching it 67 11/64" straight out from the plywood and fixing it in place (with a nail or screw into another piece of scrap wood). Keeping the non-pencil end at that fixed spot and running the pencil along your board, keeping the string taut the whole time, you will draw a smooth, regular curve. If this sounds way-too-complicated, then free-hand it! It's a custom-built workspace!!
Once you've drawn your curve, cut it as smoothly as possible using a jigsaw with a fresh blade (the nicer the cut, the less sanding) and then sand the plywood really well. I built this project for an artist and I know she needs a smooth surface - if you are building this for a woodworking shop and you don't need a super-smooth (or finished) surface, feel free to skimp on the sanding. I used an orbital palm sander for the rough sanding (I started with 150 grit) and then I did a lot of the finer, surface sanding by hand because my plywood had a birch veneer and I feared over-sanding it and going through the veneer. I did a full pass on all surfaces with a 220 grit and then another pass with 320. Once it's nice and smooth, set it aside.
1/2" plywood is not the strongest work surface and across six feet you can expect it to sag under it's own weight, so if you plan on putting anything at all ON your work surface, we need to add some support. However, I wanted to make the supports as unobtrusive as possible, and I hate paying extra for fussy little lumber, so here's what we'll do: Set the miter fence on your table saw to 2 1/2" and then rip (3) of your 2 x 4 x 8' boards. Set the pieces that are now 2 1/2" wide off to the side for later (they will be the framework for the jumbo pegboard) and then the cut-offs (which should be about 7/8" wide) will be our supports under the 1/2" plywood. Cut the following lengths from the 7/8" wide cutoffs:
(1) @ 71 1/2" (this one will run the width of the work surface, along the rear)
(2) @ 28 1/4" (these will run from the rear support to the front and will sit flush to the bookcase legs)
(1) @ 56 1/2" (this will run between the 2 side supports, about an inch from the deepest part of the front curve)
**If you are a Nervous Ned/Nelly (like me), you can skip the wood glue in the following steps and just use the wood screws to attach the supports. Once they are all in place, test the work surface for proper fit in the support structure and, if you're happy with it, remove the supports, add wood glue, and reattach them.**
You'll notice that your 7/8" cutoffs have a flat side and a slightly rounded side and you want to orient the wood so that the flat side is flush to the plywood for all of these supports. Generally you want to attach two pieces of wood by screwing through the thinner wood into the thicker, but we can't do that here or else we'll leave the screw heads showing on the top of our work surface when we are done. Because of this, you want to place your plywood so that the face that will be the underside when it is attached is up and then run a moderate bead of wood glue along the flat edge of the 71 1/2" support. Place the glued-side down on the non-curved edge of the plywood and, if possible, clamp it in place - you want the edge of the cutoff to remain flush to the edge of the plywood while you add screws.
Once it is placed and clamped, you need to pre-drill holes through the support and into the plywood but you need to be careful not to go all the way through the plywood. To avoid going too deep, I like to put a small piece of painter's tape on my drill bit that signals the appropriate depth (here we want to only go 1" - 1 1/16" deep). Because the screws are really only here to keep it on place and allow the wood glue to "do its thing", I only put in 6 of the 1" screws, spaced evenly along the length of the support. After the screws are secure, you can release the clamps, wipe off any glue that has oozed out and move onto the next supports.
The ends of the (2) 28 1/4" supports will sit flush to the 71 1/4" piece you just attached and should be positioned so that they are just inside of where the bookcases sit. The bookcases should be 5 3/4" deep if you used the same materials that I did (that is the width of a 1x6 plus the 1/4" plywood backing board), but if you altered the plan at all, you'll want to measure your bookcases and use that measurement as your placement guide for these supports. For the sake of these instructions, I'll assume that yours matches mine....so I measured in 5 3/4" from each end of the plywood and made a few small marks as reference points for placement. The procedure for attaching them is the same as with the first support (glue, clamp, pre-drill, screw, wipe excess glue, unclamp) and I used (4) 1" screws for each of these supports.
The final support piece should sit snugly between the two supports you just added, but if there are any discrepancies in cuts or placement or there is a slight warp to the side supports, it might not fit perfectly. If this is the case, trim your final support as needed - just be careful not to take off too much at once; you can always trim a bit more, but you can't re-grow the lumber if you cut it too short. When your final support sits snugly between the side supports, repeat the attachment procedure (glue, clamp, pre-drill, screw, wipe excess glue, unclamp). I suggest placing the final piece about an inch away from the deepest part of the curve because it looks nicer, but this is totally up to you.
Allow all of your glue sufficient time to dry (follow the label directions).
When the glue is dry, return your work surface to its support structure, making sure to fit it in as snugly to the back as possible and tucking the bookshelves into the support nooks you just created. Once it is in place, get underneath it with your 3" hinges and some painter's tape. Like we did with the bookcase hinges, we need to align the hinges so that they are perfectly centered over, and parallel with, the gap between the 2x4 structure (that's attached to the wall) and the work surface - the 7/8" support you attached to the underside of the 1/2" plywood should align neatly with the 2x4 support. Measure in 24" from each side, place and align each hinge using the painter's tape to hold it in place so you can mark the location of the holes. Remove the hinges and pre-drill the spots you marked, being sure not to go too deep into the work surface (again, use a small piece of tape to mark the bit at 1"). After pre-drilling, replace your hinges and attach them using 1" screws. Now comes the fun (and scary) part - testing it!
Gently lift the work surface and swing one of the bookcases outward until the work surface will clear it (this is the position we used to attach the hinges), then do the same to the other side. If all went well, you should be able to lower the work surface to a completely vertical position and then the bookcases can swing inward and just be bookcases. If your work surface hits hinges, you'll need to sand or trim the sides slightly. If it doesn't hang vertically, one (or both) of your hinges might not have been installed straight. Do your best to troubleshoot any issues you encounter at this point, before finishing the work surface. I've tried to pre-troubleshoot as much as I can in these directions, going by where I had slight issues during the initial construction, but with so many moving pieces and tiny fractional measurements, it is possible that you'll have to do some figuring.
Once you've tested the work surface and are happy with its functionality, it's time to start finishing the work surface. To do so, you'll want to remove the hinge screws from the work surface (but leave the screws and hinges attached to the support frame) from the work surface, so you can take it outside. I chose to finish the underside of the work surface with several coats of clear satin polyurethane, sanding between coats with 400 grit sandpaper and wet-sanding after the final coat with 600 grit. This created a shiny, smooth surface that looked fine and protected it. If you are choosing to stain the underside, you should do it before adding poly...I like the natural look of the wood I chose, so I did not.
For the top, I took a little more care. I wanted to create something visually pleasing, but also make it a very durable surface for whatever projects my girlfriend might throw at it. I read a lot about finishing products. A LOT. I finally settled on Polycrylic, as it seemed to have a lot of good reviews insofar as durability and final clarity were concerned, but there were a million opinions about a thousand products (thanks, internet...) and I encourage you to choose something specific to your desired outcome. I bought a quick-dry polycrylic so that I could give it multiple coats daily without dragging the whole project out even further. My general advice is to put on a thin coat, allow it to dry, add another thin coat, allow it to dry, wet-sand it with 600 grit sandpaper, wipe it with a soft rag, allow it to dry and repeat. I'm not certain how many times I repeated this, but my guess is that I have somewhere just shy of 30 coats of polycrylic on it now. For the last few repetitions, I went up to 800 grit sandpaper and sanded between each coat for the last four or five. It looks really nice, it's very smooth and it has been very durable. Again, if you choose to stain your work surface, do so before adding polycrylic. I also read that polycrylic can be used over painted surfaces, but you'll want to research that on your own - I am by NO means an expert.
While you are finishing the work surface, you can move on to the jumbo pegboard. (Just don't forget to reattach it when it's done!)
Step 6: Jumbo Pegboard (Basic)
If you're only interested in some organization and a jumbo pegboard, this is almost the last step! If you want more bells, whistles, etc., then you'll also need to read the next step - Jumbo Pegboard (Wired).
We'll begin the jumbo pegboard by cutting the 1x8, the 3/4" plywood and (1) of the 2 1/2" 2x4s that we ripped in the previous step to a length of 73 1/2", which is the width of the entire lower support structure. We'll also cut the other (2) ripped 2x4s to a length of 53 3/4", which is the (48") width of the 3/4" plywood plus the width of the 1x8 (which is actually 7 1/4"), minus the width of the "2x4"s (1 1/2").
Once it's cut to size, you can paint or polyurethane the 1x8 - it's easier to finish it prior to installing it and won't hamper any add-ons you choose to, well, add on later (I'll address this in the "Add-ons" section later).
Before we put the supports in place on the wall, we need to prepare our "2x4s" (those that were ripped and only 2 1/2" wide now). Lay them all with the flat edge down and the rounded edge facing up. Because I was using 2 1/2" screws, I wanted to create a deep countersink for each screw so that I could attach the "2x4s" directly to the wall without the use of corner braces (L-brackets). You may choose to use corner braces (L-brackets) in place of, or in addition to, this step. To make deep countersinks, mark a 3/8" paddle bit with a piece of painter's tape so that it's 1 1/2" from the tip and then drill (4) evenly spaced 1 1/2" deep holes in the (2) shorter lengths of "2x4" and (5) in the longer "2x4".
Using a step-stool or ladder, place one of the shorter "2x4s" against the wall, resting on the top of your lower support structure, flush to the outside of the 1x12. Use a level to be sure that it is nice and straight, and then put (1) 2 1/2" screw into the lowest of the 1 1/2" deep countersink holes. Repeat this process on the opposite side. Once both uprights are in place, but only secured by one screw each, make sure that your longer "2x4" cross beam can rest on top of them, flush to the outside of each support. If necessary, you can gently push or pull the upright supports to make everything flush before attaching the top "2x4" to the uprights using (2) 2 1/2" screws at each end.
Once the upper cross-beam is secured to the uprights, check again that your uprights (and cross-beam) are as level as possible and then continue putting 2 1/2" screws into each of the 1 1/2" deep countersink holes that you pre-drilled. As with the lower support, I am lucky to have very sturdy walls and I didn't require any special anchors, BUT YOU MIGHT! If you have plaster, drywall, concrete blocks, etc., you'll want to follow this same basic procedure, but you will only want to go through the wood far enough to mark the wall, then add the appropriate anchors and then attach the supports to the wall using the anchors you've installed. I also used a corner brace (L-bracket) on each side where the upper support rests on the lower support, just to tie everything together.
Once your upper "2x4" frame is attached to the wall, you can attach your 73 1/2" 1x8 to it, using (2) 1 1/2" screws at each end and 2 corner braces (L-brackets), evenly spaced on the inside to keep the 1x8 from moving later on. To install the corner braces, you'll need to set them in place, use some painter's tape to hold them in place, then remove the 1x8 and attach the corner braces (L-brackets) to it using 5/8" screws. Once the corner braces (L-brackets) are attached to the 1x8, it can be replaced and re-attached to the lower support "2x4". After attaching the 1x8, you'll notice that it sits slightly back from the front of the lower 2x4 support - I did this mainly so I wouldn't waste lumber, but also, by making the top part slightly smaller than the bottom frame, it moves the center of gravity of the entire upper piece back slightly, which means more of its weight is supported by the bottom frame (which sits on the floor), and not just by the screws attaching it to the wall.
At this point, you can set the 3/4" plywood on top of the 1x8 and that will give you an idea of how it will look, in case any measuring/cutting has gone awry and adjustments need to be made. You can even attach it by pre-drilling and using the 1 1/2" screws. BUT, we still need to drill a whole bunch of holes (see what I did there?) if we want to call it a pegboard, so once you check for fit, take it down and grab your drill.
Planning the holes for your jumbo pegboard can be entirely your design, depending on how many you want/need. I chose to lay mine out with 8" between the centers of each hole, and since it's 48" tall, that meant I had space to make it 6 holes high. It was 73 1/2" wide....which sounds like an awful lot of math....but it's not. Well, not really. If we disregard the extra 1 1/2" for a moment, it's basically 72" wide, which would be 9 holes wide. Since we don't want holes at the very edges, we'll leave a margin at the top and bottom equal to half the space between holes and on each side we'll leave a margin equal to half the space between holes plus half of the disregarded 1 1/2". Confused? It's a lot easier to lay out than it sounds.
Working on the face of the plywood that WILL be the outside, measure along the top and bottom (the two long sides), to find your center point (it should be half of 73 1/2", so 36 3/4") and connect these points using a chalk line. Stretch your tape measure along the length of this center line and make marks at 4", 12", 20", 28", 36", 44". These are the locations of your first six holes, but don't drill yet. Repeat that process, making marks at the same points at both ends of the plywood and then use your chalk line to make 6 lines, connecting your points (they should pass through the 6 that you marked at center, but chalk lines can be fussy....do your best to keep everything straight!). Stretch your measuring tape along each of the "horizontal" lines you've just made and make marks at the following measurements: 4 3/4", 12 3/4", 20 3/4", 28 3/4", 36 3/4" (this should be one of your original six), 44 3/4", 52 3/4", 60 3/4", 68 3/4". That's it - you've now marked all of your pegboard holes.
Before you begin drilling, make sure you have a brand new 1" paddle bit, maybe even 2 (the sharper your bit, the cleaner your holes will be). We will also be drilling on the front side of the plywood, just in case the bit chips out any pieces of wood as it emerges through the back...this ensures that the front will remain as clean as possible. Another thing to consider is how to keep your drill as perpendicular as possible - these holes will eventually hold dowels that will support shelves and you don't want them to come out at weird, irregular angles. If your drill has a level bubble, pay close attention to it. If your drill "ain't so fancy", you can use a speed square (one of the triangular squares that come with or without levels...) to check your angles prior to beginning. While drilling, let the bit do the work - though some pressure from you is required, if you're pushing down really hard to speed it along, you run a higher risk of chipping out on the backside, thereby diminishing the ability of the plywood to support your jumbo pegs later on.
Once you've drilled all 54 holes (or more or fewer, depending on your own customizations), you should give the front face a good once over with the orbital sander again (150, then 220 grit). This will take care of any splintery bits that have emerged from drilling and it is also the most efficient way to remove your chalk lines. I also suggest using a 1" rotary flap sanding wheel (for your drill) to smooth out the inside of the holes....I had one, but it was pretty much dead when I began, so I ended up sanding all the holes by hand....which was awful. Trust me - do yourself a favor and go buy a couple. HOWEVER, be cautious as you use the sanding wheels - you don't want to expand the holes too much, only smooth them!
After drilling and sanding, you can finish your jumbo pegboard however you'd like. I chose to give it several coats of clear satin polyurethane (again, because I already had it), sanding in between each coat. You could also paint it, if you prefer. However, whether you poly-coat it or paint it, you will need to sand the holes carefully and thoroughly afterwards. We will be using 1" dowel as our jumbo pegs, which will already fit quite snugly into the 1" holes we drilled, so any amount of poly or paint that gets in the holes could significantly hamper the dowels' insertion!
Allow your pegboard to dry thoroughly and then it's ready to be attached. Again, I suggest pre-drilling and counter-sinking these screws, since they will remain visible. The 1 1/2" screws should be sufficient to attach the pegboard to the frame, but just for my own piece of mind, I used the 2 1/2" screws - 5 along the vertical edges and 5 across the top.
All that's left is to add pegs and shelves and such. Since we drilled 1" holes in our pegboard, we will be using 1" dowel to make our pegs, and the pegs can be used for hanging many different things. On of the most useful applications is modular shelving.
I made most of our shelves using the 1" dowel and some 1x8 left over from another project and I've been quite happy with the outcome. I don't think I would go with anything larger than 1x8, but you could certainly go with 1x6 or even 1x4, if you have a lot of small stuff that you want to put up. Whatever size board you choose, you'll want to cut 2 pieces of 1" dowel that are about 1 1/2" longer than the width of the board for each shelf you build. After you've cut your dowels, test them for fit in the holes where you want to use them - there will likely be slight variations in the final, precise size of each hole due to slight variations in the amount of sanding each received. If the dowel goes in with difficulty, or not at all, just lightly sand the insertion-end of the dowel and test it again. Keep repeating the process until the dowel goes in with a little force and comes back out, but not too easily - this will ensure that you have nice, sturdy shelves (but if you do over-sand, you can try that dowel in a different hole or flip it around and use the other end).
Once you get both dowels into the appropriate holes, cut your board to be at least 2" longer than the width of the two dowels (measure from the outside of one to the outside of the other and add 2"). For example, if you are putting your dowels in adjacent holes, those dowels are occupying about 9 1/4" of space, so the shelf should measure 11 1/4" or more (mine are 12"). If you leave a hole between your dowels, they should measure just over 17" and your shelf should be at least 19" (mine are 20"). I would avoid making the shelves more than 6" longer than the dowel-space, for stability's sake. Anyway, cut your shelves to the appropriate size and set them on top of the dowels and that can be the end of it. If you want to go the extra distance and really secure the shelves in place, you can add a 1" pipe/conduit strap that will go around the dowel and screw into the wooden shelf. Honestly, though, all the shelves we have installed on our pegboard are "floating" and they are working really well.
Don't forget to reattach your work surface, if you have not already done so!!
Step 7: Adding Bluetooth Receiver and Speakers *OPTIONAL*
**First off, a warning: I am not a trained electrician. I have done a lot of wiring projects at home and in a technical theatre setting, so I am fairly comfortable trying things out. I also did a LOT of reading and research to make sure everything I was adding to the project was going to be safe, so I felt confident going into it. If you don't feel confident in your own wiring abilities, your home's electrical system, or my admittedly amateur skill-level, then you should consult an actual electrician and not attempt this alone. There is no substitute for safety.**
Bluetooth Receiver and Speakers
Here are your additional needs:
- (2) in-wall/in-ceiling speakers - I used these: Pyle PDIC60 In-Wall / In-Ceiling Dual 6.5-Inch Speaker System, Directable Tweeter, 2-Way, Flush Mount, Black (which were available from Amazon, but now I only find the white version for $37.99/pair....I think I paid slightly more than this over the summer...)
- (1) in-wall bluetooth receiver - make sure you select on with a volume control and an amplifier. I used this one from Amazon: In Wall Volume Control with 15W X 2CH Amplifier and Bluetooth Receiver for $59.99
- ~20' of 16 gauge speaker wire (you may need more than this, if you choose to mount the speakers in a different spot on your pegboard)
- (1) single-gang electrical box (blue plastic, 8 cubic inch size, or "shallow", or "old work"), which cost $1.20 at Home Depot
You will still build the pegboard as described in the previous step, but you will need to make two important modifications:
1. In the 1x8 that acts as the spacer between the lower support frame and the plywood pegboard itself, you will need to cut a rectangular hole that is the same size as the interior dimensions of your single-gang electrical box. Where you place the rectangular hole is really up to you, but my suggestion is to think carefully about where your nearest power source is located. If there is an outlet to the left of where you are installing the workspace, it makes sense to locate the bluetooth receiver near it. If one is to the right, place it on the right. If there is one somewhere below your lower support space, then put it wherever you want! Why am I going on about the placement of the hole for the bluetooth receiver? Well, the bluetooth receiver I purchased came with two power options - it can be directly wired or it came with a power adapter that leads to a standard wall plug. It did not come with detailed instructions, so I elected to use the power cord and if you only want the bluetooth + speakers (and you are not wiring the pegboard for electrics), then you should also use the power cord, and that will dictate where you install it (unless you don't mind running extension cords all over the place).
Before you re-attach the 1x8, you should drill a 3/8" hole in the 2x4 support nearest your available outlet and then feed the power cord through it. Next, you need to attach your single gang shallow electrical work box to the back of the 1x8. This little blue box should sit comfortably around your rectangular hole and can be screwed in with a few 5/8" screws. Even if you're not wiring for other electrical components, you should still use the box - it will protect the delicate connections inside, just in case anything gets dropped into one of the pegboard holes that could cause problems. You should then measure, cut and secure your speaker wire, giving yourself a little extra length, as you'll need to pull the wire through the speaker holes once the pegboard is attached. You want to cut both speaker wires to the same length, regardless of the relative distance, and then secure each wire near where the speakers will be, using painter's tape or a thumb tack. After attaching the electrical box, you need to feed the speaker wires into it through the holes at the top (you may need to snap off a small tab to open a hole), and try to separate them, or label them, so you know which one feeds to which speaker. You then want to run the power cord into the nearest convenient hole, but not the same hole as the speaker wires. Once your power and speaker wires are fed into the box, you should carefully reattach the 1x8 to the frame, making sure that you haven't pinched any wires anywhere.
You'll now attach the speaker wires to the appropriate terminals on the back of the receiver (mine was very clearly labeled) and plug in the power cord. At this point, the receiver should be operational and you should see it show up in a list of available bluetooth devices if you scan for it on your phone or computer. Unfortunately, without yet hooking up the speakers you can't actually test it. But, you can install the receiver now (it's easy to remove if, by chance, you need to troubleshoot), or leave it hanging out of the box. On to the speakers.
2. In the pegboard itself, you will need to cut holes for the speakers! I chose to locate mine at about eye-level in the last column of holes, which worked out to be the third hole from the bottom. The speakers came with handy cutting patterns, so before I drilled all the 1" holes in the pegboard, I tacked the center of the cutting pattern to the mark for the third hole (counting up from the bottom) in the last column of holes on each side, then traced it. I then drilled out the 1" hole in the center of each speaker hole and used my jigsaw to spiral outward, eventually winding out to meet the line I traced from the cutting pattern. Set a speaker into each hole, to make sure it fits; you may need to fold down the tabs on the back (which will come into play in the next step). Adjust the holes, if necessary and then continue drilling all of the 1" holes in the pegboard and finish it as directed in the Basic Pegboard instructions.
After drilling and finishing, reattach the pegboard (or attach it for the first time, if you chose not to attach it when we tested for fit). When the pegboard is attached, you can hook up the speakers! Just pull the speaker wire through the speaker hole and attach it to the appropriate terminal on the speakers. This is a great time to test the whole system to be sure everything is connected correctly. If all is well, you should be able to hear the bluetooth "chirp" as it comes online, but still run some music through them, just to be sure! Troubleshoot as needed, then install the speakers into the pegboard.
To install the speakers (that I used), you need to remove the metal grill on the front and you'll see four screws that are connected to four swing-out plastic tabs on the back. Orient all the tabs so that they "lay down", set the speaker into their places and then tighten the screws on the front of the speaker, which will pull the tabs on the back closer and closer until the speaker is secure (use a manual screwdriver, rather than a drill, as too much force could crack the plastic parts of the frame). When the speakers are snugly in place, replace the grills and enjoy!
Step 8: Add-Ons
Now's the time to let your creativity shine. The majority of the 1x8 is available to deck out with whatever kind of storage and organizational goodies you want and need. Here are a couple of items I added to the one I built, with instructions.
Mason Jar Organizers
I've seen these all over the internet, used for a variety of applications, so I won't take credit for the idea, but I do think they've been a very useful addition. Here's what you need:
16-oz mason jars (I added 6)
2 3/4" hose clamps (in equal number to the jars you want to add)
Since these can be added after everything else has been finished, you can set them on the work surface and decide your layout by moving them around until they are spaced as you see fit. I would suggest putting one hose clamp around one of your jars (below the lip beneath the threaded part) and tighten it down, being careful to position it with the screw facing forward on the jar. Once you have it in position and tightened down, mark the hose clamp with a marker directly opposite the screw to find the spot you'll screw through to attach it to the 1x8. repeat this process until all hose clamps are marked.
Use a level to draw (lightly, with a pencil) a straight (and level!) horizontal line across your 1x8 to mark where you'll attach the hose clamps. After drawing your line, make tiny vertical marks at the center of each jar position (personally, I used a ruler to make them all equidistant from one another...) and erase the horizontal line between the cross marks. Using one 5/8" screw per hose clamp, use your fingers to turn the screw through the vertical cut in the hose clamp that is closest to where you marked in the previous step. Once the screw is a few turns into the metal band, you can switch to a drill with a screw bit to attach the clamp to the 1x8. After attaching all the hose clamps to the 1x8, you can re-insert the mason jars and tighten the clamps down. All that's left is deciding what's going to live in each one.
Magnetic Tool Strip
This is a no-brainer! Who doesn't love having a bunch of tools close at hand without cluttering up the work area? I only added one to my finished version, but you could easily fit several on this project, if you so choose.
I chose a 12" magnetic strip from Amazon (by Master Magnetics) that is rated to hold 30lbs per inch. It came with mounting screws and was easy to attach directly to the 1x8. My only word of advice is to install it at a height that makes sense for whatever tools you wish to store on it (i.e.: put it near the top of the 1x8).
***Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy making your own!!***
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