Editor’s note: I saw Elisha’s version of the American Woodworker DIY Folding Workbench on Instagram and asked her to share her modifications on the PopWood blog. She also made an outstanding video of the build, check it out! https://youtu.be/jUNZVaGAE3E
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I’m lucky enough to have a two-car garage, but between the bicycles, yard tools and camping gear, I don’t have nearly as much shop space as I would like. I decided I needed a second workbench that would double as an assembly station and table saw outfeed table. The tricky part was, to maximize space, I also needed the workbench to be collapsible.
DIY workbenches designs are easy to find, but I hadn’t ever seen one that would be both mobile and folding. I asked my Instagram followers for inspiration and was pointed to the Folding Table Base that was featured in a Popular Woodworking Magazine issue in 2007.
Upgrade #1 – Sash Locks
The original base design utilizes basic hardware for the folding movement. With my workbench, I swapped out the hook-and-eye latches for spring loaded sash locks (the kind used to hold a window shut). I was surprised how affordable and easy to install the sash locks were. They hold the joints of the movable members tightly together when locked in place, which helps to add rigidity.
Upgrade #2 – Alignment Dowels
I designed my bench top to be made from a standard 2′ x 4′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood. The upside of a plywood top is that it is inexpensive and easy to replace when needed. The downside is, without modification to the table base, there isn’t a quick and efficient way to temporarily secure the top while in use. To address this problem, I chose to add alignment dowels.
I drilled two, 1/2″ x 1″ holes into the top plates of the workbench base and inserted fluted dowels. I then marked the corresponding locations on the underside of the worktop and drilled 1/2″ x 1/2″ holes.
Upgrade # 3 – Support Rails
In its original design, the folding table base only provides support on each end of the plywood top. The middle is unsupported and wouldn’t accommodate heavy materials or tools unless reinforced.
With the base fully extended and the top in place, I measured the distance between the legs on the long sides of the workbench. I then used that measurement to cut two, 2 x 2 studs to length. I clamped the studs to the underside of the work top and connected them using 2″ screws, driven from underneath.
When not in use, the bench folds into an approximately 24″ x 34″ x 8″ rectangle, which can fit into even a small, crowded garage like mine. Yes, off-the-shelf folding workbench options exist. However, by building your own work surface, you can scale and adjust the dimensions to meet your exact needs.
I’m so grateful I stumbled across the original folding table base design; it was a great jumping off point. With a few simple modifications, I now have a compact, yet sturdy mobile workbench for my future building projects.
Check out the video!
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