Flip-top workbench

When I first started fitting out my “workshop” (more on that another time) space, the initial problem was where to mount my drill press and mitre saw. I hate having “fixed” tools sitting on the floor in the corner, pulling them up onto whatever workspace I have handy when needed. So I had a good look around at what the options were, and quickly became inspired by Izzy Swan’s Quick and Easy Tool Bench. I recommend watching that tutorial, as he explains quite a lot. You’ll also find a link to a free set of plans, which I mostly followed but adapted to my needs; in particular I made the work surfaces a little higher to accomodate the height of my drill press.

I first made a close copy of Izzy’s design (that’s the one in the photo above), then later built another but with a longer flip-top and no side-cabinet. This second one also features integrated mains wiring through a swivel coupling, so all three tools on that bench have permanent power. And there’s a nice big emergency-stop button on the side that disconnects all the mains. I might write another article about that one.

So where did I differ from Izzy’s plans? Apart from a change in dimension as explained, I also went for a full-length continuous metal-pipe swivel mechanism. This is super-strong, although it did mean I had to be really accurate with drilling the pipe-holes through the flip-top frame to ensure they lined up properly. And rather than having bolts and holes to hold the top steady, I used a couple of really cheap hold-down toggle-clamps.

This is the problem I was trying to solve:

I really only had space to have one thing set up at any time. In this picture, the table-saw is pushed out of the way, and everything else is piled up on the couch. Fortunately the cat (the late great Genna) still had a place to sit. In the foreground on one of my folding benches, I’m assembling the top platform of the new swivel-top bench. If I needed to cut something on the table-saw, I’d have to wait for the glue-up to dry, pack everything away, fold the table up and stick it in a corner, then drag the saw out into the middle of the room. It was painful!

So… the flip-top bench. The added bonus of the side-cabinet gave me a handy place to store my initial couple of DeWalt tools (I roughed out a couple of dummy battery shapes from wood) and charger.

I’ve learned a lot (obvious example: put the pocket-holes on the inside!) since I built this (it was one of my very early projects), but it’s still in service and very sturdy. If there’s sufficient interest, I could go into more details (both of mistakes/lessons-learned and of the build process itself). It’s been reconfigured several times, and currently homes my bandsaw on the cabinet-top, the front side of the cabinet has my pocket-hole jig hanging off it, there are various things hanging on the right (open-frame) side, my mitre saw on one face of the flip-top, and my drill-press on the other, along with a small frame-clamping setup which serves as a little flat work-area and a good spot to clamp down my pocket-hole jig. All of that in a neat & tidy foot-print.