Introduction: Over-The-Bed Whiteboard Worktable

We believe that every living space should have a workspace that can bring ideas into reality. But if you're like us and don't have that convenient extra room or garage, you have to get a little creative with how you use the space you have.

One such creative use of space is an over-the-bed worktable - a standing table with a massive amount of project space that spans the length of a queen-size bed and rolls away when you want to catch a few Z's. The top surface of the table is whiteboard, meaning you can draw your project plans to scale or organize your components by marking out space for them. We've also sized the table perfectly to fit through most doorways and be easy to maneuver into place. Let's get hacking!

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Time Needed: ~4 hours

Total cost: ~$140

Materials: (Note: These dimensions are for a queen-sized bed, but they're easy enough to adjust!)

Tools: (We made it at TechShop Pittsburgh)

  • Cold miter saw or horizontal band saw
  • MIG (or TIG) welder plus filler, clamps, accessories, and safety gear
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Power drill with 3/16" metal drilling bit
  • A faucet and cup of water
  • Hand grinder
  • Orbital sander

Step 1: Materials Prep: Steel

There's surprisingly little to do with the wood and panel board, aside from cutting it to the right dimension - so let's get started on our steel by cutting it down to size, drilling some holes, and blasting off the black coating that it ships with.

Take an old rag and some acetone and scrub down the steel pieces you received, to get rid of some of the oil and grease. Then spin up your cold saw or horizontal band saw and cut the steel in the following lengths and quantities:

Length (in) Qty Purpose
823Horizontal length-wise support
22.254Horizontal supports along head and foot of bed
38.754Vertical leg supports

You'll have to use an 8-foot length apiece for the three longest pieces, but you can cut two of the 8-footers into a 38.75" and two 22.25" segments, then cut the last bar into two 38.75" pieces, plus some scrap.

Time to weld the frame together!

Step 2: Welding the Frame

Throughout the welding process, it helps to have another person around to spot out-of-place welds and help secure parts to your welding table. Just make sure you all have the proper apparel (heavy gloves, welding jacket and mask, etc.) before you start. We also recommend starting with one weld per join, then coming back to weld the rest once the entire structure is standing. It's way easier to break one weld than many if you make a mistake!

Let's take a moment and use our hand grinder to make sure we have a clean surface to weld on. On each of the steel pieces, grind off the black metal coating off all sides of the first 1-2" of each end.

Now we can start off easy by welding the sides parallel to the head and foot of the bed. Take two 22.25" and two 38.75" sections of steel and arrange them flat on your work table in a rectangular shape, such that the end faces of the 22.25" lengths are flush against the sides of the 38.75" sections. You should be able to see all the way through the 38.75" sections, but both sides of the 22.25" sections should be closed off.

Use your MIG or TIG welder with the appropriate weld settings (we used MIG at 18V and 220 feed speed) to weld each of the joints together on the top face.

Put this part aside, then make the second short side using the rest of the 22.25" and 38.75" stock.

Now that you have the two sides, clamp both vertically with one of their 22.25" sections flat on the work surface. Position two of the 82" lengths so they complete a rectangle on the work surface; the 82" tube holes should be covered and flush against the side of the vertical support piece. Weld these into place, then lay the frame on its back (with an 82" piece and two 38.75" pieces flat on the table) and secure the final 82" piece roughly 7" from the opposite side of the 82" piece on the table. You'll want to grind away the black metal at this joint before you weld it.

Now go around and finish off your welds. Make sure to leave the top and bottom faces of the frame unwelded, as a weld bead in these places might unbalance the table.

Take your power drill and 3/16" bit and drill two holes - 2" away from each end - on each of the top horizontal segments, with an additional hole at the midpoint of the top horizontal 82" lengths. These will be used to fasten the wood to the top of the steel frame. We also drilled a few holes towards the top of the legs to make it easier to mount things like power strips to the sides.

Give your drill holes a quick once-over with the hand grinder to remove all the rough edges and burrs, then move on to the next step.

Step 3: Spray Painting

Since this table is enormous, we were unable to powder coat it with our setup. Instead, we used a couple cans of black spray paint to give the steel a nice finish.

Move your assembly outside or to a well-ventilated room, and apply a light coating of the spray paint. You should still be able to see some of the metal at this point.

Wait a few minutes for the paint to dry. Apply two or three more light coatings, waiting a few minutes in between.

Give it an hour to cure, then bring it back inside for assembly!

Step 4: Assembly

Plug in your glue gun - it can heat up while we secure the rest of the table.

Next lay your plywood down flat on soft ground, flip your frame over so the screw holes are on the bottom, and position it on top of the plywood. The wood should be flush with the side of the tube at the back of the table, and there should be about 1/4"-1/2" of extra room on the other three sides. Screw through the drill holes into the wood using your truss screws.

While the table is inverted, let's mount the wheels. Take your glue gun and smear a liberal coating of glue onto the plastic socket of one of the casters, then jam it into the exposed hole in one of the vertical (38.75") square steel tubes. Repeat this for the remaining 3 tubes and casters. Let the glue dry for a few minutes, test to make sure the casters are secure, then turn the assembly over.

If you haven't already done so, take a moment to sand down the rough edges of the plywood with an orbit sander. The top face can stay rough, as we're just going to overlay the panel board on it.

Grab your roll of permanent mounting tape and lay three strips flat along the entire length of the table, minus a few inches at each edge. Carefully place your panel board over the plywood, starting at one side and making sure the edges are flush, then proceeding along the rest of the table.

Step 5: Hack!

You now have over fourteen square feet of extra table/whiteboard space that occupies room you've never been able to use before. We've had up to three people at this worktable before, each working on separate projects.

As projects can sometimes get messy, we recommend buying a plastic drop cloth to put over your bed in case something gets dumped onto it. For both technical and non-technical makers, we also found that a nice long power strip mounted to the back of the table is fantastic for powering tools, electronics power supplies, and various inventions.

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