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Fold-up Work Center with Tool Storage

Build a work surface for tackling small projects and protect your most frequently used tools—without giving up floor space in your garage or workshop.

Tool cabinet with drop-down work surface.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost



This project was painted and stained to match the garage -- a little extra work that makes the project really stand out. If you prefer to leave the wood natural (and save money), substitute pine for all of the oak and poplar parts.

Make a Frame

Step 1

Cut the top/bottom (A), ends (B), back cleats, (C), and vertical cleats (D) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Note that the ends are cut from oak boards, not pine like the rest of the components. Sand the parts using 120-grit sandpaper and a random-orbit sander.

Step 2

Assemble the frame using the top, bottom, and ends. Glue and clamp the assembly, then drill countersunk 7/64-inch pilot holes for the 2-1/2-inch screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Good to Know

When drilling a pilot hole for a long screw using a combination pilot/countersink bit, switch to a standard twist bit in your drill to extend the depth of the hole to match the screw length. This will reduce the chances of splitting the wood or stripping the screw heads.

Step 3

The back cleats are held flush to the back of the cabinet.

Glue and clamp the back cleats in position between the ends and even with the back face of the cabinet. Drill countersunk pilot holes and drive the screws through the sides and the top/bottom to secure the cleats.

Step 4

Cut the lower bracket (E), upper bracket (F), and the fixed shelf (G) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram) from oak boards. Sand the boards prior to assembly.

Step 5

Install the vertical cleats using the brackets as spacers.

Flip the cabinet over and install the vertical cleats (D) (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) using glue and screws. Use the brackets as a spacer between the pairs of cleats.

Step 6

Secure the fixed shelf to the brackets.

Place the brackets into position (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) and set the shelf in place. Drill countersunk pilot holes and drive screws through the top/bottom (A) into the brackets (E) and (F), through the fixed shelf (G) into the brackets, and through the end (B) into the fixed shelf.

Add Slats, Shelves, and Pegboard

Step 1

Use a template to drill the holes in the slats.

Cut the lower slats (H) and upper slats (I) from poplar boards (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Position the slats between the brackets and the side, above and below the shelf (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Use a scrap to create a 3/4-inch space between the boards. Drill countersunk pilot holes and drive the screws. No glue for these boards -- they will be removed for painting.

Good to Know

To drive screws in multiple boards with a uniform appearance, create a template: Cut a scrap board of a similar width and drill pilot holes in the precise locations you want the screws. Move the template to each part and drill a shallow locator hole through the scrap into the part. Remove the scrap and use the locator holes to drill the pilot hole for the screws.

Step 2

Measure the opening for the pegboard (J) (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Cut the pegboard to fit the opening with a circular saw or jigsaw. Do not install the pegboard at this time -- just check the fit and set aside for painting.

Step 3

Cut the long shelves (K) and short shelf (L) to length from a 1 x 4 oak board. Slip these shelves between the slats (H) and (I) and adjust them to fit your storage needs.

Make the Clamp Rack, Door, and Sawhorses

Step 1

From a 2 x 4 and pieces of 1-inch oak dowel, cut the clamp brace (M) and clamp pegs (N) and (O) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).  Drill a 1-inch hole in the clamp brace -- the top hole goes all of the way through the brace for the clamp peg, and the lower hole is drilled just 3/4-inch deep into the brace for the short clamp peg (Project Diagram, Drawing 5). Sand the parts and glue the dowels in place.

Step 2

A self centering bit is used to drill the holes for the hinge screws.

Lay the case on its back and position a 30-inch hollow-core bifold-door on the front of the frame. Equally space three hinges along the front edge of the bottom (A), and secure to the edge of the door to the bottom using the hinges.

Good to Know

Use a self-centering bit to drill pilot holes for the hinge screws. Failing to center screws in the hinge holes can force the hinge out of position. A self-centering bit nests in the hinge holes for perfect pilot hole placement.

Step 3

To assemble the sawhorses that support the work surface, first cut the rails (Q) and the legs (R) from 2 x 4s. Sand the parts and assemble the sawhorses following the manufacturer’s instructions for the sawhorse brackets. Project Diagram, Drawing 6).

Finish and Hang the Cabinet

Step 1

Remove the door from the cabinet and sand with 120-grit sandpaper.  Apply an oil-base wood stain to the door, the frame, and the sawhorses.

Step 2

Apply the chalkboard white paint to the lower slats (H) and the upper slats (I) following the manufacturer’s instructions. Paint the pegboard with an exterior white paint.

Good to Know

Match your finish to the type of lumber used. Oak stains well, while poplar lends itself to a painted finish.

Step 3

Draw a line on the wall 1/8-inch above the top of the rails on the sawhorses. The lower face of the bottom (A) will be located on this line. Locate the wall studs and drive 2-1/2-inch-long panhead screws through the cleats (C) into the studs to hang the cabinet (Project Diagram, Drawing 7).

Step 4

Install the pegboard, reinstall the shelves, and re-attach the door. When the door is folded up, add a hook and eye to the end (B) and to the door to hold it closed. The sawhorses fold against the wall when not needed, and swing out to support the work surface when you are ready to use it.