Living Room Workbench




Introduction: Living Room Workbench

Necessity is truly the mother of all inventions…

Since I currently live in an apartment without any extra rooms that I could turn into a workshop, I had to come up with a way of squeezing a workbench in what I had. Luckily for me, my awesome wife "Hi honey!" (just in case she comes snooping around here) is extremely understanding of my addiction to tinker with things!

Nevertheless, I had to build my workbench while keeping with the general living room decoration, so that it didn’t turn into an eyesore.

I think this will be a constant work-in-progress since I already have a couple more features to be added...

This will not be a fully detailed Instructable (as far as the construction steps go), so if that's what you're looking for please run away now!

PS: Oh! Before I forget, one of the first workbench themed Instructables I came across was from daleruisky ( so here’s a shout-out to you! ;)

PS_2: To all you grammar Nazis out there, English is not my mother tongue, so please flag any issues and I’ll update the post accordingly.

Step 1: Location, Location, Location

I had the perfect spot picked out before the beginning of this endeavor. I had some free space on the corner of our living-room that was small enough to be somewhat hidden and "large" enough to place a small workbench.

It was being occupied by an almighty Lack IKEA table, which I think was mainly used as a death-pit for dust bunnies...

(the picture was taken after the removal of said Lack table and after the installation of a couple of neat storage boxes).


Step 2: Color Scheme

To keep the living-room theme, I went with black and red matte wood paint, finishing up with some matte varnish. After applying the varnish, the final result was not as dull as with just the matte paint but still not shiny of reflective.

Step 3: Eat – Sleep – Plan – Repeat

Since I had just installed Sketchup at the time, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to start using it.

I did not regret my decision!

I've added the SketchUp file on the Instructable's intro.

By the way, the small space that you can see below the "pegboard" was intentional as it allows to pass through small power cables.

Step 4: Materials/Parts

The planning and building stages for my workbench took a looooong time (seriously, a really long time).

This was mainly due to not having a definite time-frame and not having started with a set design (it was changed a lot during the build).

However, I kept a really good track of all the materials/parts used. I won’t be posting prices/parts lists because it’s kind of pointless, since I’m guessing that just a few of you actually live in my country.

I can say, however, that the end result was more expensive than anticipated, but in part this was due to the need to have something good-looking and not only functional.

Just as a quick list of materials used: The entire structure is made of pine wood (maybe not the best choice, but what readily was available), MDF for the work surfaces and shelves and obviously an assortment of screws to join everything.

Due to the need to keep up with the whole living-room theme there was also an investment in paint (this part could easily be skipped if you don’t care about the looks of if you prefer the "au naturel" wood look.

Step 5: The Leg Bone’s Connected to The…

I won’t bore you with the actual step-by-step build, partially because I can’t exactly remember it anymore and mainly because there’s not much to it.

I’m not a skilled woodworker so there’s probably a thousand better ways to do this, but I just went around connecting the different parts using common sense and voilá...

Step 6: Storage Space

Apart from the main work surface I also needed some storage space (mainly for small items, so no need to go overboard on this one).

I ended up adding a couple of shelves under the main work surface (these will eventually be closed on all sides and have a door at the front, but for now they’re open to the world!

Step 7: Mobility Issues

Since the workbench would be fitted in a small space, I needed a way to get it out and back again at will.

I could have simply used those felt "thingies" that you place under chairs and tables to let them slide better, but with the kind of weight I’d be dealing with I would end up struggling with it and inevitably twisting the legs a bit each time.

I ended up choosing some rubber wheels with locking mechanisms (these also added about 10 cm to the overall height, which worked out nicely).

Step 8: Size DOES Matter

Since I only had a 60x60 cm space I was going with a 50x50 cm workbench. But then I started wondering:

"What if I ever feel the urge to take an electronic keyboard apart?!" – (never have and probably never will).

It was at around this point I remembered that I had spotted some cool hinged supports at a hardware store that would allow me to overcome my "small table size issues".

I first went with just two of them (one in the middle of each extra surface) but that caused a lot of wobble, so I ended up using 4 of them (2 on each extremity of each extra surface).

This way, I managed to end up with an overall surface length of 120 cm, while keeping the 50 cm depth limit.

I don’t remember the rated weight for the supports but they are actually quite sturdy, so I’m comfortable in putting some weight on them.

Bracket installation cheats:

1 - I marked the holes with the table upside down, with the table extensions in place on the floor (this way I just had to lay the brackets upside down on the table extensions and mark away - see last SketchUp image);

2 - I used washers on top of the brackets to raise the tables and make them as flush as possible (you can get a glimpse of some of them on the first picture [The shiny parts on the left extension table]).


As far as I can remember I’ve also had a thing for pegboard, I don’t know why but if I had my way we’d probably be living in a pegboard covered house…(Ohhh, the possibilities...)

Although the initial plan was to go with the real (wood) stuff, it ended up being a lot cheaper to use some pre-molded plastic pegboard sheets (complete with assorted hooks and supports).

Step 10: Final (at Least So Far) Results

Step 11: Final Thoughts

As I mentioned in the beginning, this is currently a work-in-progress, so there are a couple of future updates coming up!

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and most importantly I hope this helps anyone that’s currently in the same spot I was when I started this.

Keep tinkering and remember: If you want something done right, Do It Yourself. ;)

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    5 years ago

    That is one beautiful job !!! I was thinking of making something like that, but I need a few extra details - I also live in an apartment, and I want to make a bench for working on guitars, soldering, leather work, and repairing small stuff. Could this unit be rolled over to a couch or living room chair, and used while sitting ? I spend about 90% of my time there, so it would be good to be constructive during that time. Another thing I'm hoping for is to be able to use pallet wood to assemble the unit, maybe with an MDF top. I'm on a tight budget, and I can get that for free here. Guess I'll download SketchUp and see what I can put together.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Hi jw58479,

    I'm really glad you liked it! ;)

    Exactly "as it is", I don't think it would be possible (comfortable) to use it like that. It was originally created to be used with a "somewhat high" folding chair I had. BUT, with some minor tweaks it's totally feasible: the three bigger changes I can think of would be making the tabletop deeper (for it to protrude forward from the front legs), making the whole thing shorter (so the tabletop could rest at a comfortable height for you to use it while sitting on a couch) and increasing the space between the front legs (so you could fit your legs between them). Oh, also, if you increase the forward length of the tabletop, I'd probably try adding some weight on the back (or you'll end up pinned to your couch if you put something heavy on the tabletop and everything tilts forward...) xD

    As for using pallet wood, I'm all for it! Unfortunately, where I live it's not easy to come by free pallets... You mentioned using MDF for the tabletop, but that would be exactly where I would have used reclaimed pallet wood (sanded and bonded together). As for the legs, you'd probably need something thicker.

    If you haven't used it yet I highly recommend fiddling around with Sketchup Make. Besides being free, it really is a great tool and highly intuitive. If you need some help with it, just send me a message and I'll be happy to do so! ;)


    7 years ago

    I like how the "cool hinge supports" line up to make the extended top flush. Is that what they're actually called? I was wondering where to purchase such things and how to accurately install them to be "flush" for a future project if anyone knows of a good tutorial (I am an ambitious maker but totally a n00b when it comes to execution).


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi StoryAddict

    I guess it all depends on which part of the world you're
    in. I'm guessing "folding shelf support" or "hinged shelf bracket" (or a
    mix of both) will get you there.

    As for making the tables flush, I've used two "cheats":

    1 - I marked the holes with the table upside down, with the table
    extensions in place on the floor (this way I just had to lay the
    brackets upside down on the table extensions and mark away);

    2 - I used washers on top of the brackets to raise the tables and make
    them as flush as possible (you can get a glimpse of some of them on the
    "Size DOES matter" picture. The shiny parts on the left extension table).

    Hope this helps ;)


    7 years ago



    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is AWESOME!

    I've needed something like this for a very long time.


    Sweet!!!!!! Goose neck Light & Power Outlet is all you need....
    Try pocket screws on your next build it takes a but more time but the strengh gained in construction...
    a Work bench that Huge stored in a cubical...
    Professional Job in Reclaiming Living Space!!!!!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The power outlet is being worked on and I liked your Goose Neck Light idea!

    Thanks for the tip on the pocket screws technique! ;)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Your little workbench looks great! Thank you for sharing your build!


    7 years ago

    very nice


    7 years ago

    That looks incredible!! Great thinking!!!
    Thank you :)