jump to example.com
Knock-Down Utility Table

Is workspace in your household as much an issue as it is in mine? An unfortunate soldering incident has me banished from the kitchen table, and my planned basement work bench is still on my to-do list. But I came across an ingenious idea for a very simple work table via the internet TV network Revison3’s show Systm episode 13. It doesn’t get simpler than this: one piece of 3/4 inch plywood and a few simple cuts yields a stable 37″ tall 16 square-foot work space.

You could easily tackle this little project in one afternoon. Heck, if you can find anyone at the local Home Depot or Lowe’s you could get them to cut it into its three major sections — though beware. The HD staff cuts “to within 1/2 inch.” That’s not exactly accurate.

You essentially cut two slots to allow the legs to interlock and notch the bottom to reduce rocking on uneven surfaces. Optionally, you can add cleats to top of the legs to secure the top. Broken down without the cleats it stacks to less than 3″ for easy storage — perfect for the handyman with limited space.

Original Plans [Reader’s Digest’s Family Handyman]
Systm Episode 13 [Systm.org]


18 Responses to How To Build A Cheap, Simple Worktable

  1. John says:

    Bah. 36inch, 6 foot plain flat interior door (hollow core or full slap) and 2x4s. Less than $40, maybe even less. I did mine with a $24 hollow core door and $6 worth of 2x4s. And all I needed was a hand saw and nails.

    • SLee says:

      I would like to know the details of making a worktable like that. I am the chief of UNhandypersons, and I am NOT exaggerating.

  2. koba says:

    Wow, on a site named TOOLmonger someone just suggested that their readers have wood cut for them. How pathetic. I work at a HD, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people will bitch, moan, and cry over not having someone else make their cuts for them. Hell, if you can’t cut it, you don’t have any business working with it, hire a carpenter. It really and truly is sad how far gone society really is today.

  3. Nordmann says:

    Koba, wow thats the exact attitude I get at HD when I ask for anything to get cut. I often get long boards cut in half so I can easily transport them to build in remote locations.

    In this situation if your building a work bench you likely don’t have a set up for cutting wood until you have your work bench built.

  4. There are several reasons as to why someone may want their lumber cut up before leaving the store.

    Not everyone is capable of transporting lumber in stock thicknesses. A mid-sized sedan would be hard pressed to transport an 8′ long 2×4 (although it *is* possible), and forget about 8′ long plywood sheets. Additionally, not everyone has a table saw to cut their lumber down to size even if they can get it home in one piece. Yes, circular saws are cheap, as are handsaws, but longer cuts exaggerate any and all inaccuracies.

    Then you have to consider that not everyone has a basement or garage. I happen to think that this worktable is actually pretty well suited for a wide range of DIYers. It’s cheaper than portable work centers, and provides a nice medium-sized work surface. Sure you can get pre-fab worktables, but those come with a high cost and often don’t fit into small shop or apartment settings.

    I can also understand why many people may complain about needing their lumber cut. When I was at HD last week looking for a 2′ length of hardwood, I was directed to a stack of 8′-12′ boards and told to cut what I wanted from a larger board since it’s priced by length. There are no tools around, no straightedges, no nothing to make self-cutting possible. So… I drove the quarter mile to Lowes and picked up the board size I wanted in all of 5 minutes. Most Lowes will cut boards down to size at request – the first cut is free, with subsequent cuts costing a quarter or so.

  5. Eric Dykstra says:


    You’re complaining that customers request that you preform a service that HD offers? I assume that big saw isn’t just there for giggles. If it is really that big a deal let me say as a Home Depot customer to all Home Depot employees. Sorry for waking you.

    Also to your point that if you can’t cut you have no buiness working with it. That is total bull crap. I would venture to say that decent place to work is the most important thing a TOOLmonger can have. Someone living in an apartment very well may not have the space or tools to properly cut a sheet of plywood. Someone without a truck or van might not even be able to take a full sheet home.

    Seems like the attitude you’re taking is why places like home depot gets such a bad reputation.

  6. jude says:

    We made a workbench here at the store for under $50 with one 4’x8’x3/4″ plywood (cut in half at HD ;0), 2- 4x4x8′ posts for legs, and 4-2x4x8′ for the frame. It’s nice – we painted it black except for the posts and it can double as a portable bar (on wheels). I’ll send a photo if i can get one.

  7. blitzcat says:

    Oh look at me, I work at HD! I decree if you don’t have a truck large enough to transport sheets of plywood, go back to the kitchen where you belong!

  8. PutnamEco says:

    Wow, on a site named TOOLmonger someone just suggested that their readers have wood cut for them. How pathetic. I work at a HD,

    Should we mention the fits HD peoples throw, when we cut lumber (with our own tools) in the parking lot?

  9. koba says:

    If only most of the good points brought up were relevant to what I mentioned, this would be a much better discussion. The post recommended that the finished cuts be done at HD. Having lumber RIPPED (read: cut nastily and inaccurately) for transport is logical, having precision cuts made so that someone can skip a few steps is what gets me.

    It really saddens me that so many people in this country have gotten so helpless, years ago I can remember when kids I went to school would almost brag about being bad at math, now they almost brag, or are smug about not being able to maintain their homes.

    I have one word for anyone embarking upon learning to DIY anything, Mercedes. Start picking out you favorite color, because by the time you retire you’ll have to live with it. It’s like I tell people, there are only two things needed to do most of the things involved around your house (or your car) and those are your full attention, and persistence.

    Sorry to be brash, but when people start looking at projects as inconveniences, it’s best they hire a professional. Going through the trouble of actually doing the work is what’s fun about it.

    Lastly, those miserable legions of retail losers most people hate to deal with are common at HD, and Lowes, Menards, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and they used to exist at Furrows, HQ, etc. Those people bring their baggage to work (much like many of my customers).

    I’ve always been perfectly pleasant to my customers, and those are their words, not mine.

  10. George says:

    two letters hd. remember where your opinions got you a job. one word for you : Hyundai.

  11. Stiltdancer says:

    This reminds me of a lot of furniture I’ve seen at Burning Man. http://www.playatech.com has huge variety of DIY stuff that is made to slip together (no fasteners), be rock-solid, and use a sheet of plywood with almost no waste. They’re made to assemble and breakdown easily.

    And I have a lot of cuts made in plywood at Depot. I don’t have a table saw and they can make cleaner cuts that I can. They do a lot better than 1/2″ for me.

  12. PutnamEco says:

    It’s like I tell people, there are only two things needed to do most of the things involved around your house (or your car) and those are your full attention, and persistence.

    Not according to Red of Red Green show fame.

    The two things you need are duct tape and WD40
    Duct tape if it moves and you don’t want it to, and WD if it doesn’t move and you want it to.

    This reminds me of a lot of furniture I’ve seen at Burning Man. http://www.playatech.com

    Reminds me of those old one sheet plywood project books from the 60s
    wasn’t there some plans in the Whole Earth catalogue also?

  13. Kurt says:

    # PutnamEco Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    “Should we mention the fits HD peoples throw, when we cut lumber (with our own tools) in the parking lot?”

    Wow. I never thought about that. I’ve always just asked them to cut the plywood sheets for me (so they’d fit in my vehicle). It never occurred to me just bring my cordless skill saw and rip away.

    Next time!

  14. Tracy says:

    Uhh . . . not to interrupt the whining above, but back to the story. Am I the only person on this site that bothered to look at the picture, read the write-up, and see the contradiction?

    Plans call for 2 * 3/4″ x 36″ x 48″ and 1 * 3/4″ x 48″ x 48″.
    The article says one piece of plywood.

    Beg to differ, but where are you shopping that your plywood is over 10′ long?

    In my world, this would be two sheets of plywood.

  15. Joe says:

    Seeking info about a work table, I ran across the comments about it and Home Depot. Although I am a small stock holder, some HD’s have very good customer service; it depends on manager/employee’s work ethic. I always get help, have had wood cut and am usually very satisfied. I also like Lowe’s. It’s not the company that is at fault; it’s individual employees, like some the ones who commented here.

  16. Victoria says:

    I am considering building this table so that I’ll have some work space in my basement. I am a single 28-yr-old woman and I am happy to be able to take on even a small project like this one and know that I can complete it competently. I don’t have the tools to cut the lumber at home, but I’m not about to let that stop me. I think it’s a GOOD thing that more people are attempting to complete things on their own, rather than buying something prefab or giving up and leaving it to the pros!

  17. craig says:

    i just ran across this. one of the woodworking magazines had plans for something similar. i built one about 15 or twenty yers ago. i added a 1×2 rim to the top to increase rigidity and reduce splintering. the table is perfect for ocassional assembly in the garage. at the time it cost abot $15 to build. i’m still using it it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.