Because you park your cars in your garage like a good American
Oh, Saturdays. Is there anything better than a Saturday with nothing else to do? You wake up, cook yourself some chorizo and eggs, pop a few Ripped Fuel pills, and decide to build yourself a fold-down workbench in the garage.
Also because the Longhorns don’t play until six.
Let’s talk supplies
Head over to Home Depot in your SUV and purchase the following:
- 4′ by 4′ plank — if you go longer than 6 feet wide, you may have to add another foot. That will look weird. And where will you attach it?!
- (3) 2x4x8 — whatever color, material you like
- Piano hinge
- (2) 3″ bolts in 1/2″ diameter w/ nuts.
- A latch! — Something like this.
- Some screws — wood screws, 2.5″ or 3″
Make sure you purchase all of these things together, take them out to your car, and not be able to fit the 4’x4′ plank into your Nissan Rogue. You’ll really enjoy having to go back into Home Depot to have them cut the plank for you.
Measure out the framing
As April Wilkerson points out, you want to put the frame a few inches from the edge of the plank so you can use clamps. Measure, make some marks, do a little dance.
A speed square makes makes this speedy and square
I went all the way around before I realized that one edge of the plank is going to have the frame flush against the wall. So, you can do all four corners, but be sure to measure from one edge to one intersection for the boards.
Cut three sides of the frame
As I learned in the previous Mirror Framing Incident of 2016, it’s a crap-shoot to measure and assemble a frame by itself and then try to fit it to something. Instead, measure the sides one-by-one and screw them into place somehow. April drilled holes for pocket screws; I couldn’t figure that out at all! I just clamped the boards into place and screwed up from underneath.
You can go all gangsta pocket holes on the cross beam if you want, or, just screw in from the sides.
Complete the frame
At first, I cut a board to fit snugly in the open space. Then, I realized I wanted the eventual legs to fold flat against the bench when it was stowed. This meant leaving enough room on the sides for the legs. Here’s the progression.
I used some scrap to size the new board. I was so proud of myself for being smart.
Attach board to wall
Now, why are we doing this step now instead of after the feet are cut? Well, smart-ass, maybe you forgot that your garage floor isn’t level! Yeah, now who’s writing this post?
Anyway, grab a level and your favorite drill, find some studs, and just go to town. That means whatever you want it to mean.
If this is the first time you’ve ever attached a board to a wall, try putting the center screw in first, but don’t tighten it all the way. Then you can rotate the board until it is level, drill a pilot hole, and screw it into place. The more you know, right?
Make one good leg and one crappy leg
This really is the hardest part because who knows how legs work.
Note: If you mounted the board on the wall at your desired height in the CENTER of the board, then one leg will be slightly shorter than that height and one leg will be slightly longer. That’s all I can say about that because it’s too complicated and you’re an adult.
Here’s the sequence I used for the second leg.
- Use a speed square to mark 45 degree angles from both corners (making an X)
- Drill a 1/2″ hole at the X
- Put the board in place in the workbench and clamp it down. Use the existing hole to drill into the frame.
- Remove the leg and trace a circle that is centered around the hole you drilled. Surely something in your garage is the right size.
- Use a jigsaw to cut the half-circle
I decided to cut both boards to “a little longer than final” so that I could get them attached and see how much I needed to cut off to get level.
The crappy leg — don’t just make a lot of marks and hope it works!
Clamp, drill, etc…
Left leg is shorter than the work surface; right leg is longer. This will make sense later.
Test the fit on the wall
You can now put the workbench on the really sturdy board you attached earlier. Test the level and adjust the length of the legs as necessary. I’m not gonna lie — my first-try legs produced a perfectly level surface. Yeah, that’s right, first try.
You can see how badly I mangled the left leg at the top.
Latch it up, latch it down
We’re coming to the step where we’re going to attach the plank to the board on the wall. To do that, we need a way to keep it against the wall while we work. Use a scrap piece of plank (from the piece the Home Depot guys had to cut for you because you don’t know the size of your car).
Measure, attach it to the wall, and put the latch on it.
You can use the second half of the latch on the plank if that’s your style.
Attach the piano hinge
The hinge I got from Home Depot was 4 feet long and needed to be cut down to size. Figure out which way it’s supposed to bend and attach the plank to the board on the wall.
Once you’ve filled all 89-bajillion holes in the hinge, your bench should look something like this.
Another cross beam
The keen observer will note an extra cross beam in the previous photo that was heretofore unmentioned. This keeps both legs in sync as they fold out and also keeps the legs from coming out too far when you extend the bench.
Attach the cross beam while the bench is folded out and put the beam right below the framing.
Depending on how much attention you pay to your projects, you might be able to get both sides of the cross beam flush with the framing.
WARNING: This beam creates an excellent space to mash your fingers!
Put your car in your garage
Fold your work bench up and pull your Japanese car into your American garage like the thoughtful neighbor you are. Seriously, why do people park ten cars in their driveways? Or worse, on the street? Or worse, on the street in front of my house?!
It’s a thing of beauty.
Disclaimer: This edition of BSIY was kind of a cheat because I watched this video of April Wilkerson building a DIY Fold Down Workbench. She’s really amazing and details every step of the build. If you’re actually interested in building one of these, I fully recommend you watch her video.
She even has plans available on her website (for a small fee), but that kinda defeats the purpose of Bullshit-It-Yourself, doesn’t it? Come on, only a lame-o uses plans and schematics. You’re not a lame-o; you’re a bad-ass BSIY vato.
Disclaimer 2: I only took on this project to justify buying a jigsaw. Don’t tell Dom.