Make a Space-Saving Table

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/folding-work-bench-zb0z1302zpit.aspx

Finished Folded Work BenchThis article originally appeared on Instructables and is reposted with permission from Milutin Milovanovic.  

It's easy to build your own space-saving table using wood recycled from another piece of furniture. This project was inspired by an old computer table I owned that was in bad shape. Its panels were shaky and someone before me had already tried all sorts of things to make it stable. At the same time, I needed a space-saving table because I rent a small apartment. I wanted a flexible piece of furniture that could be moved easily and didn't need to be screwed to the wall. I liked the idea of a small folding table, but most of the designs I found didn't allow much room for folding the legs, especially if the table had a small desktop. This simple project avoids that problem.

You can use my guidelines to recycle any wooden work surface for your own purposes. This folding table is made up of a desktop and two hinged legs. Each leg is composed of a vertical panel and two gatelegs — one at each side — that swing out to support the table top. All three leg pieces are hinged at the middle so the table can be folded and stored until it's needed.

Step 1: Planning

I'm not giving exact measurements for my project because your cutting dimensions will depend on the work surface you're recycling and how big of a finished folding table you want. Pay close attention to the cutting marks in my photos and use them as a guide to design folded tableyour own folding table. As with any woodworking project, measure twice and cut once because you can't go back once you've starting cutting.

Here are some guidelines:

When planning the dimensions of the legs, allow a gap so the legs can fold and unfold easily. Study the photo at left, which shows the assembled table in a folded position, with the top face-down. As you can see, I've allowed about a half-inch gap between the folded legs (the gap extends across the center). I've also set back the legs around the edges of the top's underside so there's a space for each leg when the table is unfolded.

Folding table upside-downThe maximum length of the two legs when folded and measured together should be the length of the desktop, minus the thickness of the leg wood and half an inch (for the center gap).

Step 2: Cutting

You're ready to cut after you've marked the wood you're recycling and have double-checked your measurements. You'll need to cut one desktop and two sets of leg parts. Remember, each leg is made up of a vertical panel and two gateleg boards that swing out to support the table top.

The trickiest part of this project is cutting the curved bottoms of the legs using a handheld circular saw. I made round cuts with a radius of a little over 3 inches because this was the smallest radius my saw would produce. Because the leg panels are hinged across the middle, it's easiest to begin with this cut and then move on to cutting the separate parts for the legs.

Step 3: Assemblyhinged pieces

I used a total of 18 hinges to connect all the parts of my folding table. Study the image at left to see how the leg pieces are hinged together. The set on the left shows the hinge locations on the outside of both leg panels. The right set shows how the hinge positions should look on the inside of the leg panels.

After you've finished assembling the leg panels as shown, you can connect the legs to the desktop using 2 hinges each.  

And then you're done!

For more photos, see my original post on Instructables.