This Instructable is for us amateur woodworkers out there without the luxury of a spacious workshop. I have a small 2-car garage that has no extra space on the sides when the vehicles are inside. Instead of building all my projects on the kitchen table, I decided to put my wall space to use and build this folding workbench!
Step 1: Step 1 - Tools & Materials
Drill with phillips head & various size drill bits for pre-drilling holes
Clamps (not shown)
Level (not shown)
Saw Horses or some kind of temporary work surface
Pegboard, 2'x4', 2 EA
Particle Board (or any other surface you want for your worbench), 1 4'x8' sheet, cut*
1x3x8' cedar, 3 EA, cut*
1x4x12' pine, 1 EA, cut*
2x4x8' pine stud, 3 EA, cut*
3" core butcher paper roll, 3 EA
(we print a lot of large format drawings at work, so I used the cores from empty paper rolls. You could easily replace this with 2x4's or metal fence posts if you like)
7 Door Hinges (3")
2 2" Hooks
about 4-6" small chain
50ct 3" Wood Screws
100ct 1-1/2" Wood Screws
100ct 1" Wood Screws
50ct 1/2" Wood Screws
You won't use every single screw, but those are the standard size packs that are commonly available.
If you are capable of producing reliable straight cuts, go for it. You are ultimately way better than Homer at deciding how to cut your own lumber. I was not capable, so I had them do it. Most places say they charge for cuts, but most of the time if you are nice, courteous, and not in a huge hurry, they will not charge you.
Particle Board: ripped @ 23"1x3x8'
cedar: 4 @ 44-1/4", 3 @ 23"
1x4x12' pine: 6 @ 23" (really just 6 equal cuts)
2x4x8' pine studs: 2 @ 20", leave the other 2 studs full length
If you chose to make your legs out of 2x4, wait to cut them to length until you have mounted everything on the wall. This will save a lot of hassle. Get at least 2 extra studs if you choose to go this route.
Step 2: Step 2 - Worktop
First, I set up the worktop. Because it folds, both sides will be visible & functional. The underside will show when the workbench is folded closed, so that is where we will add the 1x3 cedar as trim. This also helps the stability of the particle board, but not very much.
I arranged the trim around the outside of the particle board with 3 vertical pieces (23") and 2 horizontal pieces at the top and 2 at the bottom (each piece 44-1/4").
Tip: Pre-drill all of your screw holes! This will keep the wood from splitting, and it will make it easier to start each screw. This may seem like a waste of time, but believe me, IT IS WORTH THE EXTRA 10 SECONDS!!!
Next, I flipped the worktop over and added one of the 2x4's to the edge that will attach to the wall. I secured the stud with several 3" screws from the trim-side of the worktop into the stud, and six 2x2 corner braces on the workbench side using 1/2" screws. If it makes you feel better, you can use more, but I think this should hold up just fine. This shores up the particle board much more.
Step 3: Step 3 - Mount the Pegboard
Next, I used the stud finder and marked the studs on the wall, as well as my desired workbench height. I secured the 1x4 pine slats to the wall centered over each stud. This gives the separation needed between the wall and the pegboard for pegs to properly mount. I aligned the bottom of the slats about 4-5" above the top of my desired workbench height. The bottom of the slats is VERY IMPORTANT! It doesn't really matter if the tops of your slats are a little uneven because it is the bottoms that will be attaching to the workbench assembly.
Next, I aligned and secured the pegboard to the wall slats. You might need someone to help hold everything up so you can concentrate on screwing into the slats. Again, don't worry about the slats sticking up past the pegboard. Those will be covered up later with a frame. If you are still worried, cut them shorter than 23".
Step 4: Step 4 - Attach the Workbench
Next I aligned the worktop with the pegboard. I balanced the worktop on two sawhorses that I shimmed with extra wood so that they were the proper height. I centered the hinges with respect to the wall slats supporting the pegboard and marked their location on the 2x4 backboard on the worktop. This ensures that the weight of the worktop will be supported by each stud through the hinge. Secure the hinges to the 2x4 on the worktop first, NOT the pegboard. Once the hinges were on the worktop, I re-aligned and attached it to the wall. I made sure the hinges folded well and there weren't any issues or catches.
Note: I mis-aligned one of my hinges, so I removed it. It would have either cracked the backboard or bent the hinge, so I just decided to remove it altogether. The remaining hinges are more than enough to support the weight of the workbench.
The cores that I used for my legs come with some HDPE plastic plugs that go into the end, so I screwed three of these into the bottom face of the worktop at the ends and middle for a secure leg location. I sized each leg so that the bench sits level, and trimmed them to the proper height.
Step 5: Step 5 - Frame & Paint
Next, I aligned the remaining 2x4's in a frame around the top and sides. Screw a few more 2x2 angles into the pegboard at the support slats to hold the frame in place. It's important to make sure the bench doesn't contact the sides when it folds up. You might have to angle or sand the edges a bit to allow for the rotation. I just cut them short and dealt with the gaps, but you can measure out the precise length needed and trim accordingly. I also noticed that the sides didn't want to stay plumb, so I glued a couple 1x3 spacer pieces behind them to rest against the wall. (Don't glue them to the wall!)
Next, I screwed a couple of hooks with some chain at the center to lock the bench in the upright position. You can get as fancy as you like here, but hooks & chain works just fine for me.
When the bench is not in use, I store the legs on top of the frame and keep them in place with some small picture hanging nails sticking 1/2" out.
Lastly, paint the pegboard with chalkboard paint and mark the location of each tool so that you know where each one goes. The chalkboard paint isn't necessary; you can just mark the location of your tools using a marker on the white pegboard. We just like chalkboard paint and had plenty left over from other recent projects.
Step 6: Step 6 - Complete!
There are a few additional options for finishes that might be a good idea:
- If you decide to use particle board like I did, you can cover it up with some cheap vinyl flooring. This will keep the normal wear and tear from shredding your workbench surface.
- You can also use 2x4's or metal fence posts as your legs if you need something sturdier.
- For the trim-side, you can paint the entire surface, just the trim, or cover it with photos. It's up to you to make it look like you want.