Here’s a work space that’s huge and
accessible from all sides, yet folds up
and stows away easily. If you don’t have
room for a full-size, permanent table for
glue-up, assembly and finishing, this
worktable is the ticket. It opens to a solid
4-ft. x 7-ft. surface with both side tables
up, yet closes and rolls into a small
4-ft. x 18-in. space on 3-in. lockable casters.
It’s made from two sheets of 3/4-in.
plywood and costs about $120, including
It’s a perfect work space for the garage
or basement and can be used for everything
from assembling projects to laying
out a baby quilt.
Assemble with glue and nails
I used 3/4-in. birch plywood from a home
center, but any flat plywood sheet will do.
Avoid construction-grade plywood because
it often has bows or warps that make precise
Once you cut all the plywood pieces,
rip the 1/4-in.-wide edge banding from
3/4-in.-thick boards and set them aside.
The thin hardwood edging
is a necessary component
of the table; without
it, the hinge screws won’t
hold and the plywood
could easily delaminate
along the edges.
Assemble the upper
and lower shelves as
shown in Fig. A and
Photo 1 with carpenter’s
glue and 6d finish nails.
The large shelf supports (A1 and A3) on the bottom and top of
the shelves keep the table from racking
out of square.Glue and nail the sides to
the shelf ends, then let the assembly sit
for an hour to allow the glue to dry
before attaching the casters, as shown
in Photo 2.
Attaching the hardwood edging
Cut to length the edging for the long
sides of the top and bottom and the
flip-up side tables. Start a few brads
into each piece of wood edging, put
glue on the plywood and tack each piece
into position (Photo 3). Overlap the
short pieces and run them a bit long.
After you glue and tack them in place,
trim them to length with a handsaw.
Nail all the edging every 6 in. with
brads.When the glue is dry, sand the
sharp corners of the edging.
The piano hinges
Like ’em or not, all those
piano hinge screws give
along the joint for a
sturdy worktop.Be sure
to align one hinge blade
with the top (C) and the
other with the top of
panel D. It’s simple to align the top and
side panels if you tip the assembly on its
side, as shown in Photo 5.Use a hinge
center punch like the one shown or a
Vix bit (a special self-centering drill
bit), see Sources, page 65. Securely
mount the hinges in place with the
The flanges and clocks
Glue and screw the blocks to the underside
of each panel (D) to support the
3/4-in. pipe flanges and pipe legs. I
bought 3-ft. lengths of pipe, threaded on
one side, and found that I needed to
cut (with a hacksaw) about 1 in. off the
length. This allowed room for the flanges and the rubber feet (available
at home centers).
The locks serve a dual purpose.
First, they keep kids out and second,
they keep everything inside from tipping
out if the table is jarred. To install
them, drill the holes for the lock and
glue a wooden catch to the bottom of
the shelf, as shown in Fig. A. Measure
the shaft of the lock once it’s
installed to get the correct thickness
for the block.We used a 1/2-in.-thick
block for ours.
Finish with a urethane varnish
Remove the hardware to make painting
or varnishing a whole lot easier.
Label the panels in a hidden spot so
you get the table together again easily.
Small variations from one panel to
the next can show up on your hinge
placement and locks.
Sand the entire table with 150-grit
sandpaper and use a power sander
to knock down any high spots on
the hardwood edging. Vacuum the
dust,wipe the table down with a tack
cloth and apply your finish.We used
two coats of oil/varnish (Minwax
Antique Oil Finish). Wait a few days
after the last coat of finish to let it
cure before you put the first scratches
on your new worktable.
Fig. A: Exploded View
Click any image to view a larger version.
In folded form, it’s
a mere 19-1/2-in. deep and
Screw-on pipe legs give the flip-up
side tables rock-solid support. Unscrewed,
they store on one of the interior shelves.
1. Glue and nail the anti-rack shelf
supports (A1,A3) to the shelves first, then
nail these assemblies to the sides (B).
Next, align, glue and nail the top and
bottom pieces to the sides.
2. Attach casters while
the table is upside down.
Align the caster bases with
the outer edges of the
bottom. Use 1-1/4-in.-long
lag screws (drill a 3/16-in.
pilot hole) on the outer
edge and 1-1/4 in. carriage
bolts (drill a 1/4-in. pilot
hole) with nuts and
washers for the inner
3. Glue and nail the 3/4-in. by 1/4-in.
hardwood edging to the exposed plywood
edges, with the table right-side up.
4. Screw the 3/4-in. pipe flanges onto
5-in. square reinforcing blocks cut from scrap
plywood. Glue and screw the blocks to the
underside of the front panels, as shown in Fig. A.
5. Attach the flip-up side tables (D)
with the table on its side. Align each flip-up
side table with the table’s frame so the
1-1/2-in. piano hinge fits, as shown, and
clamp in position. Align your screw holes
perfectly with a center punch or a Vix bit
(see Sources, below).