Craft Room Organization – Stage 7 – DIY Drop Leaf Craft Table!
This is the seventh in a series of posts I have been writing about my craft room make over. Here, I will walk you through how we turned two IKEA pieces into a drop leaf craft table on casters. You can go back and read through my whole craft room transformation journey: starting at the beginning.
In my last craft room remodeling post, I bought IKEA furniture, assembled and set it up around the room but did not use the last two KALLAX units. In this post, I will show you how we used those last two units to make my drop leaf craft table on casters!
My craft room is large enough to have a central work table but, when we have a house full of guests, we set up a queen-sized air mattress in the craft room for extra sleeping space. To continue to do that, we needed a central work table that could be rolled out of the way to make room for a mattress. That was the inspiration for the drop leaf craft table on casters. The craft table, with the leaves extended, is 3-feet by 6-feet and is 3-feet high, which is a great work height for me (I am 5′ 5″ tall). The casters are large so they easily roll around on the carpeting but can be locked to prevent rolling.
An IMPORTANT Word About Table Size!
We made this table to fit what I wanted for a work surface size. I wanted something that was 36″ wide to help with measuring fabric plus a large work surface. The 36″ width meant that the assembly of the table HAD to be done in the craft room because it WILL NOT fit through the door without deconstructing parts of it.
GOOD NEWS! You CAN make some tweaks to the dimensions so it will roll through a standard door. I will let you know where to make these changes later in the post. The alternate (narrower) cut sizes are also included in the file you can download from my resource library.
Materials and Supplies for the Drop Leaf Craft Table
(This post contains affiliate links to one or more of the items I used in this project – which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. There is no added cost to you!)
- 2 IKEA KALLAX Shelf Units 2×2 cubes (Link)
- A 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood (cut details are in my resource library). You want a cabinet-grade plywood, not a construction-grade plywood. If you are new to working with plywood, this might be an opportunity to talk with your lumber yard specialist. Explain what you are making and that you will drill into the surface and into the edges of the plywood. This is why you need something that is of a grade that will not split or splinter.
- Piano hinges & screws – Piano hinges come in varying lengths. You need to buy enough for the width of craft table you plan to make. For the 36″ wide table, you need to make two that are 36″ long and four that are 13.5″ long. For the narrow table, you need to make two that are 30-3/4″ long and four that are 13.5″ long. Whatever length you buy, you can use a hacksaw to cut to the size you need for this project. The screws for the piano hinges should come with the hinges.
- 24 2-1/2″ wood screws
- 2x4s – You need two pieces that are 36″ long (or 30-3/4″ long for the narrower table) and two pieces that are 23-1/8″ long. Better quality 2x4s will give you straighter boards.
- 4 wood shims
- Wood or plywood scrap (mine was 2-3/4″ x 11″ because we happened to have a piece this size in our scraps but the size can vary). This is for some added support after assembling the frame (read ahead to see how this is used).
- Thin panel for the “floor” between the two KALLAX units. I used Lauan but you could also use masonite, hardboard, etc. You can use anything that is sturdy and between 3/16ths of an inch and 1/4 of an inch in thickness. (The exact dimension for this may vary within an eight of an inch or so, depending on your specific construction. Mine is 5-3/16″ x 30″). If you are making the narrow version of this table you do not need this piece.
- Casters & screws – My casters have 3″ wheels
- Drill and drill bits for pre-drilling holes for all the screws
- Bit for your drill for screwing in all those screws (or a screwdriver)
- Sand paper
- Pencil (for marking)
- Tape measure
- Paint – I used the leftover high gloss latex white paint I used for the trim in my craft room
- Paint brush
- Wood filler (if you are not adding the Optional top surface layer)
- Wood glue
- Straight edge (a yard stick or large level will work)
- Carpenter’s square
- Optional: Top Surface Layer (discussed later in this post)
- Optional: Adhesive for adhering top surface layer (e.g. contact cement, carpet tape)
Cut Materials to Size
The cut pattern for the plywood is in my resource library.
Cut the piano hinges and 2x4s to the appropriate sizes, as mentioned in the materials and supplies section above.
Prepare the Wood Pieces
You will need to sand all the cut edges. Do not round the edges. Just sand them so they have no splinters. Depending on the quality of the wood products you buy, you may need to sand the faces of the wood. I used an old bed sheet to protect the carpeting where I did this messy work.
Primer and Paint for the Drop Leaf Craft Table
I used two coats of primer on one surface of my plywood because I had some color seep through.
After the primer, I used the leftover white gloss paint I used on the trim in the craft room and painted two coats on the four drop-leaf support wing pieces, all of the 2 x 4 pieces, and only the edges of the three work/top surface pieces. I did not paint the top or bottom of these pieces because we are covering the top with a sheet of PVC. If you are not adding this optional layer, will will need to paint the top of the work surface but you should wait until after it is attached to the KALLAX units because you will screw the top to the units and you will need to fill and sand where you have screws before you paint. There is no real need to paint the bottom of the work surface.
Assemble the Drop Leaf Craft Table
With the painting complete, it was time to move all the pieces up to the craft room to begin the assembly. We started, again, with an old bed sheet on the floor to help protect the floor since we would be drilling holes for screws and creating a mess. It just makes for faster clean-up after the project is complete.
Create the Foundation Frame
Start by setting the two KALLAX units in the middle of your work space, spacing them about five inches from each other.
If you are making the narrower version, set the KALLAX cubes flush against each other.
Lay the 2 x 4 pieces on top of the KALLAX units, moving the KALLAX units until they are aligned with the 2 x 4 pieces that will become your bottom frame for the support and casters.
This next picture shows you where you will use the 24 2-1/2-inch wood screws.
Position the casters over the joint where the shorter 2x4s meet the longer 2x4s and mark the position for the caster screws, then set aside the casters. Pre-drill the holes for the frame’s wood screws and screw all 24 of them through the 2x4s and into the KALLAX units to secure the frame to the units.
After all 24 screws are in, pre-drill the screw holes for the casters and attach them to the support frame.
In the list of materials and supplies, I mentioned that you could read ahead to see how this “support piece” is used. This is where you use that piece. The KALLAX units should be pretty stable on the frame without this piece but, because we put this on casters with the intent of this being moved around, we wanted a little bit of extra support. There was no need to prime and paint this piece because no one will ever see it. 🙂 You are certainly welcome to prime and paint it if that appeals to your sense of completion.
Adding the Top Work Surface
It is now time to flip over your drop leaf craft table. This is easier if there are two of you but not required. Lay the assembly towards the side that has the long 2x4s. If you drop to the ends that have the shorter 2x4s, you can torque the screws holding the frame to the KALLAX units and introduce some cracking of the wood fibers.
Set the table top and one drop leaf, top sides down, on the KALLAX units. Butt them up against each other so they are in perfect alignment. Lay one of the long piano hinges so it is centered over the place where the two pieces of wood come together. Pre-drill ALL the holes and screw the piano hinge to the table top and drop leaf.
Fold the leaf onto the table top, shift the table top over and repeat for the other piano hinge and drop leaf. The piano hinges should now be attached to the central table top and drop leaves.
Flip the table top over and let the drop leaves hang over the side. Center the table top on the KALLAX units and attach with screws.
If you are not adding a surface over the wood (like I will do in this project), this is the step where you fill over the screw heads with a wood putty, sand, prime, then paint.
Drop Leaf Supports
With the table top secured to the KALLAX units, it is now time to add the support wings that will hold up the drop leaves.
Start by attaching the piano hinges to the support wings. Align the piano hinges to the bottom of the support wings. Again, pre-drill the holes into the plywood to make your life easier. Do this for all four support wings and set them aside.
You can either work with the table still in its upright position or lay the whole table on its side so you do not have to work under the drop leaf. Or you may do some combination of this effort (like we did).
Position one of the support wings so that is in its folded position. The short side that is opposite the piano hinge is the outside edge and should be lined up with the outside edge of the KALLAX unit. Make a mark in just the top screw hole of the piano hinge.
Set the support wing aside. Using a carpenter’s square, mark a line that is perpendicular to the table top and passes through the screw-hole mark you made.
Once you have that perpendicular line drawn, put the support wing back up and mark the rest of the holes.
Repeat for the other three support wings.
This is the point where we tipped the table on its side to work on attaching the support wings.
Pre-drill the holes where you marked them then attach all four of the support wings to the KALLAX units.
Set the table upright, lift up the drop leaf, then pull the support wings out so that the tip of each wing points toward the corner of the drop leaf. Position a shim between the support wing and the drop leaf so that the drop leaf is level with the table top. This is where you will use the “straight edge” that I mentioned in the materials and supplies. What you are looking for is to make sure there is no gap between the straight edge and the table top… that there is a contiguous flat surface from the table top to the drop leaf. Adjust the shim until you have no gap under your straight edge.
Use a pencil to mark the outline of where the shims are located.
Apply some wood glue to the shim, place it back in the outline that you drew, and use the wing support to hold it in place while the glue sets. Repeat for the remaining three shims.
Optional Table Top Surface
If you chose to paint the surface of the drop leaf craft table, you can skip this section because you are now finished. However, I wanted a different surface for my table.
My drop leaf craft table has a sheet of white PVC as a layer over the wood. I have seen some people cover their craft tables with a plastic covering that has a grid system printed on it. People who do a lot of sewing crafts would likely benefit the most from something like that. I wanted a smooth matte white surface because, in addition to using the table for my crafts, I may also use the table for some of my photography for my blog and I do not want reflections or the irregularities from a wood surface to distract from the photos. Plus, the PVC sheet gives the craft table a nice surface to work on (and can be replaced if it ever gets damaged).
Where can you get a sheet of PVC?
I have established a relationship with my local sign shop so I can get free vinyl for my Cricut crafts (Seriously! I get free vinyl because they throw away pieces that are bigger than my 12″ x 12″ Cricut cutting mat). Sign shops also carry sheets of PVC. They were willing to sell me a sheet for my project. If you want to learn how to develop a relationship with a local sign shop, you can read my post that walks you through every step of developing that relationship.
PVC can be cut with an X-Acto knife or something similar. We cut the PVC to fit the table top and the drop leaves then attached to the wood with contact cement. We chose contact cement because anything else might allow the PCV that is on the drop leaves to shift due to gravity when the leaves are down.
Mind the Gap
That gap between the two KALLAX units is where I will store large flat things. The piece of Lauan is for the “floor” of this gap. Cut it to fit then slide it in.
Success! A New Drop Leaf Craft Table!
I love my new craft table! Everyone who has visited us (I have a LOT of “crafty” friends) since we built this table now wants one of their own. It turned out great and is perfect for the space in my craft room.
To fill the cubes, I bought these storage bins. I was so surprised at how sturdy these are. I have used fabric cubes before in other areas of the house but these ones are so much better. They were available in some solid colors but I thought they were too dark for my craft room. This striped fabric is great in the craft room. I am considering using the white stripe under the handle as a place to apply a label to indicate the contents – maybe via stenciling or heat-transfer vinyl, but I have not decided yet. Next comes filling the cubes to help organize my craft room more.
I have one final picture to share with you. This is the table with the leaves dropped and rolled out of the way.
That gap between the two KALLAX units is where I will store large flat things like all my cutting mats, larger pieces of substrate (such as Coroplast, PVC, foam core, etc.). That’s why I did not paint that piece that is the “floor” to that gap. I will just slide things in and out of that section. Over time, paint will wear away and it will look “worn.” So, I’m just leaving it as is.
I already LOVE this new craft table. I have so much more surface on which to work!