Making Quick & Easy Work Tables




Introduction: Making Quick & Easy Work Tables

About: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

This is a simple workshop table I made from an old door and some 2x4s (basic framing lumber). It includes three simple hanging drawers as well. It was built to hold a small lathe, as shown.

The technique I used was to build the table from top-to-bottom, basically upside-down.

This was a quick project, and this approach could be used to build a simple work table of any size.

This instructable is about the assembly techniques I used . . . so while I have not included any precise measurements, hopefully there are some tips here to help you out with your next project!

Step 1: Solid Core Doors, Aka Heavy-Duty Table Tops

I love old solid core doors, as they make perfect heavy-duty table tops.

I got this door remnant at a ReStore where I live (for more info: Habitat for Humanity ReStores). These stores are a great place to donate and purchase used building materials, and they support an excellent cause.

For my table, I wanted to use the door to make the top as well as a lower shelf. I began by cutting two pieces exactly the same size using a circular saw. Multiple saw horses were used to support the door as it was cut into pieces.

Step 2: Prep 2x4s

I cut sections of 2x4s as needed to create the various leg and support pieces. The layout and how these pieces all fit together are shown in the following steps.

Step 3: Notch Corners of Lower Shelf

I cut the corners out of the panel that will become the lower shelf. These notches were made using a band saw, and were cut to match the thickness and width of the framing lumber that will make up the legs.

These notches could be cut using a variety of other tools if needed. For example: jig saw, table saw, circular saw, hand saw.

Step 4: Skirt Structure

With the top piece top-down, a 2x4 skirt/frame was fastened together with screws installed into drilled and countersunk pilot holes. The skirt structure itself was then fastened to the underside of the table top with screws installed in pocket holes.

This skirt structure was actually left open on one side to allow for the drawers later on.

Step 5: Building the Legs

The legs were built of multiple individual boards in order to add strength and support the lower shelf. The photos show the details of how these went together. These were put together using glue as well as screws installed into pre-drilled holes.

If you don't have a set of tapered countersinking bits, you need some. This is the set I have.

Note that the back, inner boards have notches to allow them to fit around the skirt structure; these notches were cut using a band saw.

Step 6: Add the Lower Shelf

The lower shelf was added next and screwed from the bottom side into the existing leg pieces.

The lower leg pieces were screwed in place next, along with a cross piece added to the backside below the lower shelf.

Step 7: Route Leg Bottoms

The bottoms of the legs were now routed with a 1/2" round-over bit.

Step 8: Route Top

The table was flipped rightside-up, and the top was routed with the same bit that was used on the leg bottoms.

For a simple work table, you're basically done!

At this point, I lightly sanded some edges with 220 sandpaper, and then sprayed a few coats of lacquer onto the bare wood leg structure.

Step 9: Hanging Drawers

I made some simple hanging drawers for this little table.

These were built with scraps of plywood that were glued and screwed together (always in predrilled holes, of course). Drawer bottoms were made of 1/4" mdf scraps, which were also glued and screwed in place.

For drawer guide rails, I cut strips of hardwood scraps which were glued and screwed to the top long edges of each drawer.

Step 10: Drawer Faces

Pieces of pine wood were added as drawer faces. These were screwed in place from the insides of the drawers.

Step 11: Hanging Drawer Guides

More hardwood scraps were cut into strips and screwed to the underside of the table top to act as drawer guides, from which the drawers will hang.

Step 12: Wax the Rails

For the drawers to work smoothly, I sanded off any splintery bits with 220 sandpaper and then waxed the mating surfaces of the drawer guides with basic paraffin canning wax.

Step 13: Add Handles

For handles, I cut some bits of wood and screwed these to the drawer faces from the inside of the drawers.

Step 14: Level and Mount

The floor in my shop is sloped, so I always have to shim up my work tables to make them level.

With the table leveled, I screwed it through the skirt structure into the wall studs.

Step 15: Use It!

For such a quick project, it's a rock-solid little table.

Thanks for reading; I hope I shared something you found useful! : )

2 People Made This Project!


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20 Discussions

I was checking out your guide because I plan on making some new workspaces for my garage this summer when I noticed you had some of the same solid core doors I have salvaged as well. I found 8 of them from an old church that are 10 foot high. Crazy huge. I used a small chunk of it in my recent project and it looks very similar to yours. Really nice to have this kinda stuff laying around. I can't imagine trying to buy anything this heavy.

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1 reply

I love old doors - they're extremely useful. Getting 8 at once - that's a killer find! :)

I'm about to post a couple of new work tables I'm finishing up, and one uses hollow core doors actually. I needed lightweight but rigid removable tops, and they fit the bill perfectly.

Great looking project, thank you for the link.

Nice, stout unit, Seamster. I wondered about that lower back brace, but when you concluded by fastening it to the wall, it all made sense. With your doubled up 2x4 legs, this would also make a nice freestanding unit that could easily move around on casters. In that case, I'd consider making the lower brace full length, and fastening it into the face grain of the legs, rather than relying on screwing into the brace's end grain. Truly belt and suspenders considering how sturdy it already is, but that would really make things rock solid. The 3 1/2" length of the lower shelf cantilevered out the back would be more than adequately strong for any perceivable use!

1 reply

I love the simplicity of the construction! I'll use this design to make a table for my scroll saw.

1 reply

Thanks! I hope you will - be sure to share a photo at least, if you make something similar. Or post a whole instructable on it! ;)

beatiful and great idea.i will use it.

Very nice. Im going to use that drawer idea. :)


8 months ago

Pallets are an excellent source of cheap hardwood. Not the slats, but the lengthwise pieces. Pull the nails and you have two or three hardwood 2x4's

I have a worktable I made out of some 10 ft pallets that were used to ship sheets of solid surfacing for a kitchen fabricator.

1 reply

That is true, I've used those boards for projects in the past. Very strong and cheap! Thank you for the tip.

That is a really good use for a solid door. I like it. Nice job!

Nothing like Simplicity to make something so beautiful and sturdy!
Thank you for the instructable.

And thanks for the details of the hanging drawers. I have an old kitchen table that is of sentimental value to my family, but the drawer guides and slides were made of pine or fir. Seventy five years of use has worn those down to nothing. I'm going to rebuild them out of some rock maple.

I like it. It is similar to several I've made, none with a door for a tabletop, yet. For a couple of them, since I had only cheap screws available, I opted for 1/2" or 3/8" hardware, which I had a lot of (until I built tables and bed frames with them).

Adding 'kickstops' to the backs of the drawers might be desirable. If your drawers get loaded like mine, you do not want them coming down on your foot ...


8 months ago

Good Job, Thanks for sharing.

WOW! Great instructable. Was particularly impressed in the drawer construction and attachment! Simplest, cleanest, and most economical idea for attaching drawers I have ever seen! Love it!

looks super-sturdy (i usually hate 2x4 tables because of wobble). don't think it would be a problem here! nice job!

this is going into my kitchen. Love the drawers; simple, effective!

Straightforward build. I like how it came out

I like your design, it is simple and sturdy, well done.