How to Build a Portable Work Bench

Written by michelle diane
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How to Build a Portable Work Bench
New or repurposed, steel sawhorses make good supports for your work bench. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

You downsized your living space, and while you have plenty of storage for your hobby supplies, there is no room for a permanently placed workbench. Portable workbenches start around £65 for a 2-by-3-foot surface; you can build a custom-sized bench for about half as much. This portable workbench is easy to construct and takes less than an hour to complete.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • 2 Steel folding sawhorses
  • 1 ½ inch thick plywood
  • 1 ¼ inch screws
  • Power screwdriver
  • Hinged luggage handle(s)
  • Safety goggles or glasses
  • 150 Grit sanding block (optional)
  • Tack cloth (optional)
  • Plastic sheet
  • Paint brush
  • Rag
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • Varnish (optional)

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  1. 1

    Consider where and how you'll use your portable workbench, your work surface requirements and storage space to determine the most efficient measurements for your portable workbench. It must be at least as wide as the sawhorses.

  2. 2

    Decide if and how you'll finish your workbench to avoid multiple shopping trips. Most home improvement, building supply stores and lumber yards will happily cut the plywood according to your specifications. Remember to take your measurements with you.

  3. 3

    Lay the plywood on the floor. Measure 5 inches toward the centre from one of the wide ends and mark the spot. Repeat on the opposite end; the marks indicate where to position the sawhorses.

  4. 4

    Use 1 1/4-inch screws to secure the sawhorses to the plywood. Place the luggage handle centred near the edge of a long end of your workbench and secure it in position with the screws. Make sure the handle extends far enough over the end to ensure comfortable carrying. Fold the sawhorse legs in and your portable workbench is ready to store. If you intend to use your workbench for sewing or other crafts, apply a finish to ensure a smoother working surface.

  1. 1

    Turn your workbench over and lightly sand the surface with the 150 grit block and wipe it down with the tack cloth to remove any residue.

  2. 2

    Use a paint brush to liberally apply the wood stain. Wipe off any residue with a clean rag. Protect the floor with the plastic sheet.

  3. 3

    Let the stain dry thoroughly and paint on a thin coat of varnish.

  4. 4

    When the varnish is dry, flip your portable workbench on its face, fold in the sawhorse legs and put it away. Clean up and you're done.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a hollow core door for your work surface, if it fits your sawhorses
  • Always wear safety glasses or goggles when sanding wood to protect your eyes from damage due to flying splinters.

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