I had a little two-shelf bookcase that my late father-in-law had modified to my specs - I wanted the top to be bigger so I could put my sewing machine on it. The second picture shows the particle board extension from below. It worked for awhile, then life got busy and I didn't sew for like, 15 years. When I decided I wanted to start up again, we had moved to a place where the only room available was a teeny bedroom with very limited space. I thought I could convert the thing to a foldable work table, to get it out of the way when I'm not sewing. My late husband left me a garage full of a lot of tools (most of which I don't know how to use) and some wood - 2x2s, 2x4s, sheets of plywood, some particle board, etc. and lots of things like screws, nails, and hinges etc. I figured I could put this thing together without spending any money except for paint. Funny how these things always only take an afternoon in my mind...
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Step 1: Sketch the Plan and Assemble the Tools and Materials
Power drill & bits
Hand saw (used in the garage, so not pictured)
Locking tape measure
My dad's old carpenter's pencil for luck
4'x4' sheet of plywood
hinges & screws
Four locking table leg hinges
hooks & screw eyes
Gorilla Glue (™)® (not sure which symbol to use there)
Paint & stirrer
Lots of newspaper and plastic tarp
Note my gloriously professional drawing there! This was not the first drawing. When I was imagining making this, I thought I could just put a hinge on the proximal (toward the shelf unit) side of the two legs, and just fold them up and use a hook & screw eye to keep them in place when the table top was down, flush against the front of the shelves. This didn't work; legs long enough to make the table top level with the top of the bookshelf, were too long to fit neatly against the underside of the table top when folded. I don't have great spatial conceptual ability (obviously) so I ended up asking a very handy friend what I was doing wrong. I emailed him my sketch and over the phone described what I was trying to do. He suggested the design in the sketch: putting a 2x2" spacer block on the proximal side of the leg, and attaching the hinge to that, moving it down the leg 2". (And he didn't even laugh at me! Now THAT'S a friend!) Darned if I could envision what that would do, but I followed his directions and was I surprised and pleased when it worked!
Step 2: The Final Plan
So I turned the bookshelf upside-down to attach the hinges. (You'll see I had professional supervision. Always.) But those hinges were pretty small. I decided I didn't want them to have to bear the full weight of the table top when the thing was in use, so I added a couple more legs, closer to the horizontal center of the unit ("close legs" in the picture), so there would be little-to-no strain on those hinges. I attached the hinges to the tops of the table legs. Then came the locking table leg hinges.
Step 3: Locking Table Leg Hinges & the Inner Legs
To most woodworking people, locking table leg hinges are probably a walk in the park. Kindergarten stuff. Me, it took me a whole day to figure out how to install those things. A scraped knuckles, mashed thumbs, blue air, walk-away-and-do-something-else-for-awhile day. The EXTREMELY sparse line drawings that came with the hinges were no help at all. But I finally got them in there.
It took me awhile, also, to install the inner pair of legs near the bookshelf edge. I had left it until this stage because I didn't want to be battling flopping legs from all sides, I wanted the first pair to be in place and secured out of my way. But that made it rather tricky getting the second pair of legs installed - however, I did it - AND when I folded the table up, I was chuffed to see that the legs fit inside the shelves like they were supposed to (third and fourth pictures).
I hand-sanded everything, filled any holes with wood putty, and after letting that dry, I put two coats of paint on the whole thing. Next picture: The AFTER SHOT!
Step 4: Ta-da!
I am very pleased with the result. However, I never got around to putting those hooks & screw eyes in (meant to keep the legs tucked against the underside of the table), because my table now is just "the sewing table" and I've never had to fold it up. They're in my sewing box in case I ever need them, though.
My skilz are not mad, no question. But I was pleased that I was able to make this simple piece to make my life nicer. Thanks for reading!
Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2016