Simple Modular Work Tables (WITH MAGNETS!) // Woodworking How To


Hey, I’m Bob and I like to make stuff. Today, I’m going to make some really simple work tables with some really cool features This is my new shop. Now, I haven’t done anything down here except move my stuff in and just put it against the walls So I have a ton of work to do. I’ve got lighting to do. I’ve got walls to cover I’ve got electrical to run and lots and lots of organization But the first thing I need to do is build a new workbench. Last week on my live stream on twitch, I decided to have a collaborative design session I talked to everybody in the chat and told them I wanted to make a big work table and asked for ideas So we all worked together and came up with a really cool idea. In my shop I wanted a big table to work on but I also kind of didn’t want a big table because they’re kind of hard to work Around and sometimes they just eat up a lot of space, so together we came up with the idea for the Voltron of workbenches It’s a few smaller tables that will connect together to make one big one when you need it. It’s going to be pretty cool I’m excited about it Let’s get started. The construction for this table is extremely simple, and I designed it in a way So that there’s only a few different sizes of 2×4 to cut. Let’s talk about the materials I’ve got three sheets of half-inch MDF You could use something else if you wanted to but MDF is nice and sturdy and very flat I’ve also got a 4×8 sheet of eight inch hard board This is sometimes called masonite – it’s a really thin inexpensive cover to put on the top of the table So if you mess it up, you can easily take it off and put down a new sheet to have a nice clean tabletop I’ve also got a whole bunch of locking casters and some spray paint There’s a few more things that go into this down the road, and I’ll show you those when we get to them But right now let’s put together the frame. I’m going to end up making three tables and between them I need a whole bunch of pieces of 2×4 cut to length. In fact I need 20 pieces cut to the exact same length I’m going to set up a stop block on my miter saw so I can just put the pieces in chop it and move on To the next piece and get through them really quickly There’s a really quick and easy way to do that because my miter saw is fixed in place And it’s not going to slide back and forth. First I’m going to measure out the length that I need on a board and mark it with a pencil. Then I just make sure that That mark is lined up exactly where it needs to cut with the blade and while I’ve got the workpiece held firmly in place I lay another scrap piece of wood right against the end of it and driving some screws to the table So now every time I put a 2×4 up against that piece I know it’s exactly the right distance from the blade Then I just have to make a whole bunch of cuts Just a few minutes later, I’ve got all the two-by-fours cut in case you were curious. I use sixteen eight-foot 2x4s Which is a lot But there’s only this much waste left from all of those pieces I cut the 2x4s into three different sizes one for the legs one for the long sides and one for the short sides and Setting up a stop block like that makes it very quick and easy and makes sure that all of your pieces are exactly the same Length. Next up, I’m just going to screw them together and make the frames for the top and bottom to make the frame I’m just going to screw these together end to end It’s really simple But the important thing here is to make sure that you get these pieces overlaid in the correct direction You want to make sure that they’re laid out this way so that the final dimensions of the table will be 24 by 48 I’m going to drive some two and a half inch screws from the outside of these long boards into the short board and make sure that I’ve pre-drilled all of these holes before I screw them in Since the holes are so close to the end of the board if you don’t pre-drill them there’s a good chance you’re going to split the wood Now I’ve got three sets of frames ready to go. Each one the smaller tables has two rectangles and then the large table has two big squares. At this point all of these frames are very flexible in one direction You can see that they flex a lot here And that’s okay now because these are going to be tied together a lot better once the MDF goes on But the next step is to tie the top frame to the bottom frame and you do that by screwing in the leg piece Those get screwed on to the face here where you see the end grain of the 2×4 and not the other face It’s kind of important later on Those are going to get screwed on just like I did with all the other construction making sure that they are flush with the top of the top frame and the bottom of the bottom frame and when I do that It’s really important that I don’t screw those in where I’m going to be installing the magnets later on down the road All the frames are put together now They’re ready to put on the mdF on the top and on the bottom shelves, but before I do that I’m going to put on some casters. That mdF is going to make these things a lot heavier So since I’m going to have to flip them over I’m going to add the casters now Flip them over and then add the sheets. I got 12 locking casters each one of these is rated for about 125 pounds a piece. I got enough to go on each corner of each table And I’m just going to screw them right into the two by fours because these are made of two-by-fours which are not always perfectly straight some of these joints are not super-tight and that causes these edges to Not necessarily be exactly 48 or 24 inches They’re usually within 1/16 and then eight at the most, and that’s not a big deal in this case So I’m going to measure the outside dimensions of each one of these tables Individually and cut a piece of MDF to fit exactly edge to edge. Once I get does in place I’m going to pre-drill and countersink the holes to drive screws in directly into the studs through the mdF I want to make sure that those screw heads are flush with the surface because there’s another coating going on top after. After I get Those tops put on I’ll use the same process to add the bottom shelves We got that first corner in and it is square But as we turn this around you can see that the other sides do not always match up And that’s because the 2×4 frame It’s just not square by itself But there’s a way around that we attach the first corner in that direction and now we’re going to attach this Opposite corner by forcing it into place Bending the frame and driving in the screw. By putting these Opposite two corners in place correctly with the corner the other two corners are going to be really really close to where they need to be Here’s the little thing I didn’t expect That four by eight sheet of hardboard that I got for the top of this is not actually four by eight Instead a 48 inches wide it’s forty seven and a half inches I don’t know why but that forces me to have a little bit of a gap on two sides of this It’s not a huge deal, but next time I go to replace this top I’ll probably use eighth inch plywood that way I know that the final sheet is actually four by eight I’m going to go ahead and screw this top on in the same way dis countersink some screws in a couple of places to hold It down but actually decided that I’m going to move the sheet so that all of the extra gap is on one side rather than split between Two sides and the reason for that is so that the one side that has the big gap on it is going to back up To the table saw as the out feet the other three sides will be all the way to the edge and then when I line Them up with the other tables there won’t be a big seam for these smaller tables I’m going to use some smaller screws to attach the hard board just to the mDF and not through it into the frame Because these mdF tops are going to need to hinge I’m going to use some really short screws for this and I have to countersink through the top of this But the material is very thin the countersink will go right through it And then you’ll end up with too big of a hole if you’re not careful We’ve got some more mdf to put down here on the bottom shelf So I’m going to lay this in place drive in some screws Then flip the whole cart over and add another piece in this section and screw it on as well Now comes a really cool part getting these tables to stick together like Voltron We’re going to use magnets for that in fact really big rare-Earth magnets these are neodymium magnets And they are pretty strong and pretty big you don’t necessarily have to go this big But I wanted to make sure that they had plenty of strength in each corner of each table we’re going to put a magnet in one face and a washer in the other face and we’re always going to put them in the Same configuration, so that anytime this corner hits a different corner on a different table They will match up The magnet of the other table will always hit this washer and the washer of the other table will always hit this magnet I measured down the same distance on both sides of these corners and the same distance from the outer edge So that the center point of this one is the same place as the center point of that So when two corners meet the center of these two things should be the same and they should line up. On each corner of each Table, I’m going to make the exact same markings I’m going to use a forstner bit to bore out a bigger hole to put the magnet in because it’s pretty thick the washer I’m just going to screw in on the face so it’s a little bit proud of the surface that will help it connect to the Magnet that it’s trying to reach. It’s just a matter of screwing those in and this corner is good to go now I’m going to add it to three more corners And then we’re going to do a little test to see if the two tables will stick together And if they don’t it’s okay because we can always add another set of magnets and washers below these that will increase the grab strength on each one of these corners Next I’m going to put the tops on to these little tables So that they can hinge open and I can get to that storage that I built-in onto the inside this is going to be hinged on this back edge with something called a piano hinge or a continuous hinge It’s really just one long hinge that runs from end to end. These are really easy to install I mean, it’s basically just a hinge but in this case I want to make sure that it’s recessed a little bit underneath the top so that this side of the top is it lifted I want the whole top to be as flat as possible to make that recess I’m going to use a straight bit in my router And then use an edge guide on the router as well to run along this back side and cut away just enough material so that The Hinge fits down into it and is flush with the top To make sure that I get the right depth on the bit I just put the hinge right on top of the router and then adjust it so that the tip of the bit is flush with the top of the Hinge My line up the outside Of this hinge with the outside Edge because I don’t want it to protrude and get in the way of the tables connecting So I’m going to try to get it completely lined up and flush out here, and then punch some holes to start the screws That hinge will help it attach and go up and down But it’s kind of heavy because it’s a solid piece of mdF so to assist that a little bit I’m going to use these gas struts These are really inexpensive ones that I found but they can get very expensive so just be sure to look for the cheap ones unless you want to spend a lot of money. These install really easily on the Inside they have two points of contact and you can twist them However, you need to to make sure that they can connect to the two sides that you need to connect just follow the instructions They’re really easy you screw in the two pieces snap these into place And you’re good to go. The hinge and the gas struts help it to open and close kind of safely and easily but you also Need a simple way to open it. To do that I’m going to use the trim router to cut a slot all along this front edge So you have a place for your fingers to go to grab the top That’s as far as I’m going to take the build on these tables right now. There are some things I want to add in the future But I want to use them in the shop first before I add those things and while I tell you about those things Let’s see the tables in action. Work tables unite. One of the big things I definitely want to add to these tables in the future is a shelf underneath at least the smaller tables. The large table is going To have a shop Vac and a compressor underneath it, so it doesn’t need a shelf but the smaller ones would be Awesome to have a shelf to hold power tools so that they could be ready to use anytime I need them for them to be ready to use that means those tables also have to have some sort of a power source under them, so Eventually I’m going to add a power strip underneath the table somewhere. First I want to use these in the shop to make sure that I don’t put those power strips in a place that gets in the Way, but eventually I think it will be mounted underneath the table top or on the inside of the leg It’d be really nice to have a jigsaw or sander They’re just ready to go I could run an extension cord over to the table plug it in and get to work So I’m going to add the shelf I’m going to add the power and also on the smaller tables I need to add some sort of a layer on the inside of that storage so things don’t roll around when I’m rolling the table Around I’ll probably use some sort of a foam mat or something like that I’m not exactly sure yet But if you wanted to get really fancy you could always put in Kaizen foam or something like that and cut out spots for specific Tools, I probably won’t do that But who knows. I figured out another big thing on these while I was putting them together And I wanted to kind of warn you about this I tried really hard to get two by fours that were nice and straight, but even those are not perfectly straight So when you put things together like this not all of the faces and not all of the edges are going to line up Typically that wouldn’t matter very much but when you’re trying to get two magnets to stick together They have to actually be close enough to grab so there are a few corners on these tables that are bowed Just enough to where they don’t actually grab the magnet I mean the good thing is here that all the sides of all the tables connect So you can just spin them around to find a better connection but it’s just something to think about try to make all of your corners and your faces as square as Possible so that the magnets and the washers can line up there you go some really simple Sturdy work benches that can be customized to be whatever you need in your shop I want to say a big thanks to my community on twitch who helped me Brainstorm the ideas for these table gave me lots of great ideas if you want to come hang out with this go to Twitch TV Slash I like to make stuff. I stream every week. It’s a great community. It’s a lot of fun I’m really glad to finally be able to bring you a project from my brand new shop I’m going to have a lot more videos about setting the shop up and getting it ready to actually make better videos So that’ll be coming soon, but in the meantime I’ve got lots of other projects, and you may be interested in so be sure to check those out And I’ve got some new home renovation videos that are going to be listed right here Don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching I’ll see you next time Also on the smaller tables, I got to put something on the inside of that cabinet cat drawer and storage storage

100 Replies to “Simple Modular Work Tables (WITH MAGNETS!) // Woodworking How To

  1. Got to agree with some of the comments (not about to read all 1500+) in that tool storage under the work tables may not be that good an idea can forsee many occasions where the tool you need is still in the table under the workpiece that needs the tool.
    Kindly get back to us after a few uses and let us know how that storage works out.

  2. That was really great! I've been watching Youtube videos for about 3 weeks now, just looking for a new work table design that would be more beneficial than the old one that I have now. Your design blows me away. I need this setup in my garage. I'll likely have to redesign the entire layout of my single car garage but I think the end result will be quite worth it. Thanks for sharing this video!!!

  3. Those magnets are quite pocket-height, don't go leaning against them with your phone or especially your wallet in your pocket!

  4. Hi Bob, just discovered your videos and I have been enjoying seeing how you do things. I know that your shop work tables video has been out for awhile and someone has probably already mentioned this but on a table like your larger one I have found it a good idea to try and add a center non-locking swivel caster when using mdf shelving. Just a way to show down the eventual sag the can happen with mdf. Keep up the good work and best wishes for your channel! Kurt Dahlin

  5. I don't cut full 4×8 sheet of plywood myself anymore. Home Depot and Lowe's will cut it for free. Not sure how many cuts per piece. At least 2 that I know of.

  6. And I would have went with drawers instead of lifting the tops. Sure you'll end of losing storage space but you don't have to clear of the top to get anything inside it.

  7. Mdf and 2×4 are cheap but damn heavy. I would build it like theater carpentry with 5/4 or 1×6. And use plywood. Easier to handle. But more money.

    Did you consider coffin locks instead of magnets. That way it’s sucks the table close ?

  8. That is such a brilliant idea. I'm sorry I never thought of that for my workbenches. Well done, Twitch community!

  9. Now i want to make this but customize it so i have my tablesaw built into 1 table and the other be a miter station. but allow them to join to make 1 big workarea when needed.

  10. Great ideas. I wish that I had the space for the tables, but will try to incorporate some of your ideas into other projects.

  11. Do you ever run into any problems with the MDF bowing into the storage space underneath? Let's say you were doing hammer work or something on top of it. How sturdy is that material?

  12. Hi idol! i would like to thank you for a very helpful videos..i got a lot of ideas coming from this..im a beginner and i need to learn a lots of things to be able like you and i know it is far beyond. I love to try to build a table like that even in just a handy tools. Keep up the good and excellent works..Again thank you for your unselfish videos and i hope to watch another tips and fresh ideas from you. May GOD bless you always!!

  13. Cool modularity. Cork on the bottom of the hinged lids would be great to display large plans. Torsion boxes from 1 x 4s for the tops would resolve squareness/flatness issue and the ribs could serve double duty as built in partitions.

  14. A good idea might be add magnets in one of your walls for the smaller tables to dock when not used. Also for when you need the tables to be sturdy and not move.

  15. I'm curious as to why, this vid only has 27k likes, considering the millions of new subscribers. You make a Lot of extremely cool projects, but this is an Extremely useful something All of us could use to do them and more- and it's really dang awesome! Has there been an updated version i didn't notice?!

  16. Hey Bob and also all of the watchers here, I can really use your advice, as a person who is just about to start woodworking, are tools really important? I mean is it worth an investment to buy a circular saw or else rather than manual conventional saw firstly?

  17. You should set up a circuit so it’s an electromagnet connected to a switch that holds the tables together Then you could detach them with a flick of the switch

  18. Love the idea of the hinged top with gas Stuts. After making my first work bench I’ve already seen things I wish I done better.

  19. I would consider using a good quality plywood for all the parts of the table. Cabinet-grade plywood is more stable, uniform in thickness, fewer or zero knots, blemishes, bows, cups, twists and can doubled up/glued together for 1 1/2" by whatever.

  20. To increase the strength of the magnetic catches, use multiple (4 or more) washers to match the thickness of the magnets at each corner.
    And to follow your idea, recess all the washers except for the last one.

    More washers carry a greater flux from the magnets: that's why the magnets are not 1/16th of an inch thick!

  21. Those struts are great! I want to make a hinging top for my new desk and this is a lot better than the other options I was considering

  22. Regarding the bowed pieces, try to assemble the legs with the bow to inside leaving the magnets clear to contact.

  23. Instead of using a washer, you can use a slightly weaker magnet on the opposite pole (positive to negative) and maybe that can make the connection stronger.

  24. I would add some baringer or similar led fluorescent fixture. Not expensive but work great. Very good light for an old man.

  25. Just found your site and am slowly working through my way through your vids!!!!! Awesome job!!!

    Quick question, if some of these 2×4’s are bowed, would it be worth putting them through a jointer and then planing them to the same size or is that just making it more complicated than it needs to be??

  26. hey dude why dont you try creating a stop lock for your miter saw that just slides with measurements so you dont have to screw wooden pieces to the table.😊

  27. Nice video! Very well produced. I’ve often thought of using magnets to hold modular rolling tables together. Nice to know that it works! I’m a big fan of sacrificial Masonite tops. I like using edge banding to create a retaining fence so the Masonite doesn’t have to be screwed down. That might be an issue with the hinged top (I’m not a fan of under-top storage) but I suspect not. If the top is a good fit, there’s a vacuum effect that should hold it in place pretty well. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve gotten bit in the ass more than once by the underdimensioning on Masonite — enough time goes by between projects like this that I forget and make the mistake all over again!

  28. Now that you've been using them for two years how are they holding up? Are there anything you would have changed?
    Did you ever make a follow-up video with all the additions you put in them and how you use them?
    I love the idea of magnets, but I would probably put them closer to the bottom I occasionally work with computer equipment and would rather keep the magnets far away.

  29. I am excited to start building the 3 piece workbenches. I downloaded the plans and the plans did NOT Include the measurements and cuts for the 4 foot by 4 foot workbench. I clicked on the link provided. I guess I will have to wing it.

  30. I love the tables and have made 2 of them. Has anyone had the problem of needing what is stored inside the table while there is a bunch of stuff on top of it though? What are your solutions if so? I was thinking of using a circular saw to cut the table top in 1/2, but am not sure that would work sufficiently. Thoughts would be appreciated.

  31. Well done working with the tiny shop apprentice! My gaming buddy are going to use this as a jumping off table for a modular gaming table for his garage game room. Keep doing awesome stuff!

  32. I think I would prefer to use a different type of magnets that's more like extra strong fridge magnets. Fridge magnets are made of bands of magnets with alternating polarity, which makes the magnetic field cancel itself out when you get a certain distance away from them.

  33. Such a GREAT IDEA, but I am so jealous!! I WISH, I PRAY, I only hope one day I own a shop THAT BIG that I can actually Move things around in it!! For me I have to constantly move my tools outside into my yard!! My tiny workshop is only 8 foot by 8 foot big after all and there isn't room to change my mind inside it most days!!!

  34. Thats one of the most frustrating things I found when starting out in wood working. WHY DONT THEY SPECIFY THE ACTUAL DIMENSION OF THE WOOD???

    I order some stuff online, marked up as 50 x 50 planed pine. Go to the store, load up the wood, get it home, cut the pieces and start assembly. I then start scratching my head wondering why my frames are all coming out small. Turns out the wood is not 50 x 50 but 47 x 47. Why the heck not just sell it as 47 x 47??? A total mystery to me.

  35. Love these tables. I actually made a smaller version of but added a T-track so that when I do edge taping I can put a ledge (2pcs. of Plywood laminated together) as a ledge to hold my piece at a good height… Any chances of a video on a overarm blade guard with dust collection??

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  37. Hey Bob, Really inspiring video's! I especially like this one with the modular work tables. I want to build them too, but my shop floor is far from flat… I was thinking of adding the magnets inside a groove or something where bevelled tongues would fit into. It would mean wheels would hover but the groove/tongue combi would make it somewhat self-leveling? Any other ideas/tips to solve this?

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