How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day

How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day | Need a workbench that doesn't take up too much space?  Don't want to spend a lot of time building it?  See how to build a fold down workbench in a day.
How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day

This technically isn’t a decorating project, but if you like DIY projects like I do, then you may have this problem, too…I don’t have a big enough workbench area to do most of my projects, so I end up doing them on the dining room table or living room floor (not the most ideal location!)

The other issue I have is that although I want a big workbench area, the workbench is going in the garage.  And I still want to be able to park my car in there….at least some of the time 🙂

So that’s how I ended up building a workbench that has a top that folds down.  That way I can have a regular sized workbench for small projects, and still fit the car in the garage.  But when I need a big surface, I can fold up the top to double the size of the work area.

This is a 2-part series…the first part is the how-to for building the workbench.  It actually was much easier than I thought it would be…it literally took me less than 8 hours including the trip to the hardware store to buy the materials.

In the second post, I add all of the organization tricks I have have come up with in order to get my tools (and other DIY odds and ends) in order.

Click Next to find the instructions for how to build a fold-down workbench in a day.

A Sneak Peek

The workbench with the top folded down | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The workbench with the top folded down.

Here is the work bench with the top folded down.

Workbench with top raised | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Workbench with top raised

And here it is with the top folded up.  It definitely provides the work area that I was looking for!

At this stage it looks a little “plain jane” since I haven’t added all of the organizational bells and whistles yet…I would never call a workbench completed if it didn’t have some pegboard storage somewhere!

Click here to see all of the organizational projects I added.

What You Need

  • 15 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ boards


  • 1 – ¾” x 4′ x 8′ plywood board


  • 1 – ½” x 4′ x 8′ plywood board




Cut the Plywood for the Workbench Top

3/4" x 4' x 8' plywood cuts | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood cuts

These cuts are of the workbench top and need to be at least ¾” thick in order to be sturdy enough to fold.

If you prefer, you could also use boards that are 24″ wide.

1.  Cut the 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood board in half length-wise.

2.  Cut each half to 65″ in length.

3.  There is a fairly large piece of plywood left over that you can use for another project.

Cut the Plywood For the Shelves

3/4" x 2' x 8' plywood cuts | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
3/4″ x 2′ x 8′ plywood cuts

Since the shelves will be attached and have a fairly substantial support system, ½” plywood or MDF will be more than strong enough to carry the load.  If you have pieces lying around from other projects (like I did), you can also piece these shelves rather than using one large board.

1.  Cut the ½” x 4′ x 8′ plywood in half, lengthwise, so that you have 2 pieces that are 2′ x 8′.

2.  Cut one of the halves to 65″ in length…the resulting board should be 65″ long x 2′ wide.

3.  Cut a 12″ x 68″ piece out of the other half.

There will be some of this plywood left over as well.  We will be able to use some of it for the tool organizers in the next post.

Cut the 2″ x 4″ Lumber

2" x 4" cuts | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
2″ x 4″ cuts

1. Cut the first 6 of the 2″ x 4″ x 8′ boards into a 62″, 21″ and 9″ length.  There will be a 4″ piece of wood left for each of those boards.

2" x 4" cuts | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
2″ x 4″ cuts

2. Then cut 4 of the boards into an 84″ length.  We will also use 2 of the 12″ pieces that are left.  There will be 2 12″ pieces of board left over.

2" x 4" cuts | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
2″ x 4″ cuts

3. Cut one board into a 65″ and a 24″ length.  There will be a 7″ piece of board left over.

4. Cut one board into 4 21″ lengths.  There will be a 12″ piece left over.

5. Cut the remaining three boards into a 24″ length and 2 36″ lengths.

Build the Workbench Top Frame

The finished workbench top frame | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The finished workbench top frame
Workbench Top Frame
Workbench Top Frame

1. For the workbench top, you will need 2 of the 62″ boards, 5 21″ boards and 2 24″ boards.

Attach the 24" boards to the end of the 62" boards
Attach the 24″ boards to the end of the 62″ boards

2. Use 2 2½” nails or screws at each end of the 62″ board to attach the 24″ boards.   I like to use screws…mostly because if (or should I say when?) I make a mistake, they are easier to remove and re-do.  Make sure that the ends form a 90° angle by checking the alignment with a construction square.

Start the screws with the board lying flat | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Start the screws with the board lying flat.

I find it easier to get the screws to go in straight if I start them with the 24″ board lying flat.

Turn the board on its side to install | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Turn the board on its side to install

Then I turn the board sideways to attach it to the long board.

Add the center 21" support | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add the center 21″ support

3.  Measure 31 ¾” from the end of the frame and mark the position with a pencil.  Measure the same distance from the other end of the 62″ board and mark it.

4.  Repeat on the other side of the frame.

The 21" support should line up between the lines | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The 21″ support should line up between the lines

5.  Install one of the 21″ boards so that it is centered between the pencil marks you just drew on the boards (using 2 nails or screws on each end).  If the board doesn’t seem to match up with the lines, double-check all of your measurements and cuts, since this is probably a sign that something is wrong

Add 2 supports 9" on either side of the center support | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add 2 supports 9″ on either side of the center support

6.  Install 2 21″ supports, one on each side of the center board, again using 2 nails or screws on each end.

Use the 9" boards as spacers | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Use the 9″ boards as spacers

Use the 9″ boards you have cut above as spacers to line up where these boards should be installed.

Add the additional supports | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add the additional supports

7.  Add 2 more of the 21″ supports, 9″ from the last supports you added.  Again, use the 9″ boards as spacers and attach with 2 2½” nails or screws.

Build the Bottom Shelf Frame

Bottom Shelf Frame | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Bottom Shelf Frame

1. For the bottom shelf, you will need 2 62″ boards, 5 21″ boards and 2 24″ boards.

2.  Use the same steps from the workbench top frame to make the bottom shelf frame.

Build the Top Shelf Frame

The top shelf frame | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The top shelf frame

1. For the top shelf frame, you will 2 62″ boards, 5 9″ boards and 2 12″ boards.

2. The steps for putting the top shelf together are pretty much the same as for the workbench top, except you will use 12″ boards for the ends and 9″ boards for the center supports.

Attach 12" boards to the ends of the 62" boards | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach 12″ boards to the ends of the 62″ boards

3. Use 2 2½” nails or screws at each end of the 62″ board to attach the 12″ boards.   Make sure that the ends form a 90° angle by checking the alignment with a construction square.

Add 9" center support | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add 9″ center support

4. Measure 31 ¾” from the end of the frame and mark the position with a pencil.  Measure the same distance from the other end of the 62″ board and mark it.

5. Repeat on the other side of the frame.

6. Install one of the 9″ boards (with 2 nails at each end) so that it is centered between the pencil marks you just drew on the boards.  If the board doesn’t seem to match up with the lines, double-check all of your measurements and cuts, since this is probably a sign that something is wrong.

Add 9" supports on either side of the center support | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add 9″ supports on either side of the center support

7. Install 2 9″ supports, one on each side of the center board, again using 2 nails or screws at each end.  Use the 9″ boards you have cut above as spacers to line up where these boards should be installed.

Add the last 2 9" supports | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add the last 2 9″ supports

8.  Add the last 2 of the 9″ supports, 9″ from the last supports you added, again using the 9″ boards as spacers.  For the last board, you will only have 1 spacer left but usually by that point, the board lines up pretty straight any how.  Also, note that this last spacer is an extra board, so don’t be worried that you have missed one somewhere.

Add The Legs To The Bench

Workbench Leg Positions | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Workbench Leg Positions

1. You will need the 4 36″ boards for this step.

Attach back legs at the corners on the long side of the board | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach back legs at the corners on the long side of the board

2. Attach the 2 back legs in the corners of the workbench frame, on the long board side of the frame.  Use 3 nails or screws to secure the legs to the back of the frame.

Install the front legs on the short boards | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Install the front legs on the short boards

3.  Attach the 2 front legs at the corners of the workbench frame, on the short board side of the frame.  They should be at a 90º angle from the back legs.  This will allow the fold-down portion of the workbench to work properly.

Install the Bottom Shelf Frame

The workbench with the bottom shelf frame | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The workbench with the bottom shelf frame

1. Turn the workbench over so that it is standing on its legs.

2. Slide the top shelf frame onto the floor between the legs of the work bench.  This will hold up the bottom shelf while it is being installed.

Use the top shelf as a spacer for installing bottom shelf | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Use the top shelf as a spacer for installing bottom shelf

3. Slide the bottom shelf frame on top of the top shelf frame.  Line it up so that it is directly underneath the workbench top.

Attach bottom shelf to legs using 3 screws | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach bottom shelf to legs using 3 screws

4. Use 3 nails or screws to attach the bottom shelf to the legs, in the same manner that the workbench top was installed.

Install the Workbench Top

Workbench with top installed | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Workbench with top installed

1. Center one of the 24″ x 65″ plywood pieces on the top of the workbench.  It will go inside the legs that you have attached to the frame.

2. Attach it to the workbench top frame using nails or screws at the corners and every 12″ around the outside of the frame.  If you are using screws, pre-drilling the holes makes it a little easier to install without splitting the wood.

Turn the workbench over | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Turn the workbench over

3. Turn the workbench over.

Lay down the other half of the top so that it is pushed right up against the workbench top | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Lay down the other half of the top so that it is pushed right up against the workbench top

4. Lay the second of the 24″ x 65″ plywood pieces on the ground as close to the front edge of the workbench as possible.  This will be the fold-down portion of the workbench.

Add hinges | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Add hinges

5. Attach the hinges to both the plywood on the ground and the side of the workbench using ¾” screws.

Keep the top pressed as close to the workbench as possible | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Keep the top pressed as close to the workbench as possible

Make sure to keep the top pressed to the side of the workbench and on the floor so that the top will be smooth and straight when it is folded up.

Install The Top Shelf

Top Shelf Leg Positions | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Top Shelf Leg Positions

1. You will need the 12″ x 65″ piece of plywood and 4 84″ boards for the shelf legs.

Install the top shelf legs on the short ends of the shelf | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Install the top shelf legs on the short ends of the shelf

2. Attach the 4 legs in the corners of the top shelf frame, all on the short board sides of the shelf.  Similar to the legs for the workbench, use 3 nails or screws to attach each leg.  Since these legs are much longer, this step is much easier if you have help to hold the boards up!

3. Turn the shelf on its side.

4. Center the 12″ x 68″ plywood over the top of the top shelf frame.  Screw or nail it in place at the corners and about ever 12″ around the frame.  It will cover the tops of the legs.

5. Turn the shelf over so that it is standing on the legs.  Note:  this will not be very stable until it is attached to the workbench so be careful that it doesn’t fall over onto someone or something.

Position the top shelf so that it lines up with the back of the workbench | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Position the top shelf so that it lines up with the back of the workbench

6. Position the shelf so that the legs are on either side of the workbench and the back of the shelf lines up over the back of the workbench.

Attach shelf legs to the workbench | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach shelf legs to the workbench

7. Attach each of the legs to the workbench top and bottom shelves, making sure that there is about 5 inches of space between the two legs.  Also add a couple of screws or nails joining the back shelf leg to the back workbench leg (this will add extra stability).

The desk and top shelf should now be very stable.

Add the Fold-Down Workbench Legs

Attach the hinge to the top of the leg, using another board to make sure it is in the right location | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach the hinge to the top of the leg, using another board to make sure it is in the right location

1. Add hinges to the ends of the remaining 2 36″ boards.  Use a scrap piece of board to make sure that the hinges are installed level with the ends…just be sure not to attach the hinges to the scrap board 🙂

Install the strike for the magnet on the side of the leg | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Install the strike for the magnet on the side of the leg

2. On the side of the board, at the other end from the hinge, attach the magnet strike plate.  Repeat for the other board.

3.  Lift the move-able portion of the workbench top and position the legs at either end of the top close to the front.  The top should be resting on these legs.

4.  Move one of the legs to be 2″ from the front of the fold-down top and 6″ from the right side of the top.  Make sure that the hinge side is facing sideways toward the left side of the workbench…it should not be facing towards the front, back or closest side of the workbench or the leg will not fold up properly when closed.

Position the leg under the fold down top and attach the other side of the hinge | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Position the leg under the fold down top and attach the other side of the hinge

5.  Attach the other side of the hinge underneath the fold-down top.

6.  Move the second leg to be 6″ from the front of the fold-down top and 6″ from the left side of the fold-down top.  Staggering the legs like this will allow them both to close completely against the top.

7.  Again make sure that the hinge is facing towards the other side of the workbench.  Then attach it to the underside of the fold-down top.

8. With one leg supporting the workbench top, fold the other leg up until it reaches the underside of the top.  Use a pencil to mark where the strike on the leg hits the underside of the top.

9.  Lower the leg so that it is supporting the top again.

Attach the magnet under the fold down top | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Attach the magnet under the fold down top

10. Then attach the larger magnet where you made the pencil mark on the underside of the board.  Make sure that the magnet is installed with the magnet facing towards the strike plate.

Make sure the strike lines up with the magnet | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Make sure the strike lines up with the magnet

11. Fold the leg up and make sure the magnet and the strike plate meet, and that the leg is held in position.  If the leg won’t stay up, you will need to get a stronger magnet.

12. Repeat steps 7 – 10 to install the magnet for the other leg.

The Finished Project

The workbench with the top folded down | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
The workbench with the top folded down.

The basic workbench project is now finished!  You should be able to fold the legs under the fold-down top and attach with the magnets to keep them in place when the top is down.

Workbench with top raised | How To Build a Fold Down Workbench in a Day
Workbench with top raised

Then just lift the top up and unfold the legs to fully extend the top.

Now be sure to check out all of the workbench organization projects that will make this workbench even more functional!

Have comments or questions on How to Build a Fold Down Workbench?  Tell us in the section below.

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4 Responses

  • Thank you for sharing. I have a work area that needs to be organized. I’m tired of the handy man going to buy stuff I already have simply because I can’t find it. Great tips and tricks. I will certainly being using them.

    Thanks again

    • Thanks, Mona! My workbench and tool organizing projects have definitely made finding stuff easier! Hopefully they’ll be helpful for you, too 🙂

  • Good job! Precise instructions. You are going to enjoy having this wonderful large and sturdy work surface and future projects will take less time to complete.

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