Introduction: Folding Bench Top Extension Made From Recycled Bed Frame
I recently reduced the length of my work bench to better fit my work area which was nice since I could move around it more easily. It has worked out great for the most part but whenever I work on larger or more complex projects I realized I need more horizontal space. So I decided to make a fold down extension to my bench top that could be stowed away when not in use.
I used recycled bed frames to make a frame to hold the extension bench top. I liked the idea of having a metal frame so that I could switch out the top if it gets to beat up and worn out with out having to build everything from scratch again. If the extension top gets too damaged I can just unscrew it and replace it with another one. The actual extension bench top is made from two pieces of compressed particle board that a friend of mine was throwing out. Before he threw them in the trash he texted me to see if I could use them. At the time I didn't have a real use for them but they were free so I went by his warehouse and picked them up.
I only had a vague idea of what I wanted so this is more of a design/build type of Instructable. Also the dimensions I used are specific to my bench this would most likely need to be customized to fit your personal space.
Bed Frames or Angle Iron
2 pieces of 1/2" x 18" x 36" inch particle board or plywood
Angle Grinder with cut off disks and flap sanders
Drill Bits Various Sizes
50 pack 1 inch screws
6 - 2 inch wood screws
4 - 5/16" lag bolts with
6 - 5/16" Washers
2" x 2" x 18" piece of scrap wood
Black Spray Paint
This is a picture of my bench. The second picture shows the particle board leaning against the bench, its sort of my mock up to see if the sizing is right. I didn't want the particle board to touch the floor so I decided to cut it shorter.
I decided to make the extension 32 inches long. I have some scrap wood to lift the pieces off the floor and then clamped the two particle board pieces together. Then I used another piece of scrap wood as a straight edge and my circular saw to trim down the two pieces.
Next I liberally spread wood glue all over one piece of the particle board. Then I placed the other piece on top and predrilled some holes and screwed it together. I could have clamped it together and let it dry overnight but I was a little impatient and decided to screw it together instead.
A few weeks ago someone in a nearby neighborhood was throwing away several bed frames and posted a "curb alert" on a local neighborhood app. They were free for the taking and sitting on the curb in front of their house so I drove over and picked them up. I didn't have an immediate use for them but its good steel that's free so I couldn't pass them up.
Bed frames are great but they do come with a few extra pieces that need to be removed which is no problem for an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. Most of the attachments are sort of pinned or riveted in place. To remove them you just cut off one side of the rivet. The more flush to the bed frame you can make the cut the better. Then hammer out the remaining piece of the rivet. Some times you need to use a steel drift to knock out the pin, if you don't have a drift then a scrap piece of round bar or a old/dull drill bit will do the job as long as it is smaller then the pin's diameter.
Sometimes if you don't need the full length you can just cut off the extra bit which saves time but waste material.
I cut all four pieces of the bed frame slightly larger than the particle board by about 1/4 inch. So the longer pieces of the frame were 32 - 1/4 inches long and the shorter pieces were 18 - 1/4" long. This allows me to account for the thickness of the angle iron for the welding portion of the build. I also decided to notch both ends of the two smaller sections so that I could get flat seams when I weld the pieces together.
Full disclaimer: I can't weld. But I do have a welding machine. My welds are not pretty by any means but the are good enough to stick the pieces together. I made sure to weld all the inside and outside corners. You can see from the pics they are pretty rough but they clean up okay with the angle grinder and flap disk.
After cleaning up all the welds and cleaning off the dust I spray painted the entire frame black. The spray paint helps the overall look tremendously, it hides my terrible welds and makes everything look more uniform plus it protects the metal from rusting.
Next I placed the frame over the particle board and screwed the frame to it using some 1 inch wood screws. I made sure to predrill the holes before screwing them in to the particle board. So that's it for the extension bench top now to move on to mounting it to my actual bench.
In order to attach the extension to my current bench I needed to add a block of wood to the existing bench top so that the hinges could have something to attach too. I had to do this because I wanted the extension to be flush with the bench top when in the open position. Other wise I could have just attached it to the bench top but it would have sat proud of the actual bench top.
I used some 3 inch lag bolts with washers and secured the wood block to the underside of the bench top.
Here in the second pic I am showing how I will attach the hinges to the newly added block of wood. I did not mortise out the wood for the hinges which leaves a gap between the bench top and the extension which I didn't mind.
I placed the hinges about were I wanted them to go on the frame and then removed any paint to allow for them to be welded on. I then clamped the hinges in place and welded them on to the frame. As you can see the welds are not pretty but they hold. I cleaned up the welds with my angle grinder and flap disc and then spray painted them black.
With the hinges welded on to the frame now it was time to screw them to the bench. I used a rolling cart to position the extension at the right height so I could screw the hinges to the bench top. I predrilled and then screwed the hinges to the bench top.
Now I needed to make the support leg that would hold the extension up. So I cut a 35 inch piece of bed frame and notched off one of the corners so that the extension could sit on top of the leg. The notch also acts as a sort of stop for the leg it prevents it from going past 90 degrees. I predrilled a hole in the center of the support leg so that I could attach a bolt to act as a pivot point.
This is the one area that I think needs improvement. I need to come up with a way to lock the support leg in place. Also with the one leg support this should only be used for light duty work. I don't really work on super heavy things so I think I will be fine but I wouldn't mind coming up a way to have two support legs instead of one. But for now it will more than get the job done.
I used a 4 inch long 5/16 inch lag bolt with two washers to act as the pivot point for the support leg. I made sure to not to screw the lag bolt in too tight so that the support leg can be easily folded away or extended when setting up the extension. But also not so loose that it can just drop under its own weight.
I am super glad I did this as I know I will get tons of use out of it. Its always a good feeling when you can make something that fits your needs exactly and you don't spend a lot of money to make it. My only expense was the hinges, bolts and washers the major components were all free.
I hope that this Instructable will be helpful to anyone looking to add some extra horizontal space. Thanks for taking the time to check this out.
Participated in the
Recycled Speed Challenge