Introduction: DIY Workbench With Retractile Wheels

About: DIY electronics, Arduino and ESP32 projects, home automation and much more! You can find me on YouTube (Giovanni Aggiustatutto) and on Instagram (@giovanniaggiustatutto).

If we think about it, in a workshop the workbench is where all our projects born: in fact we use it when we solder, saw, screw, build... So in my opinion a workbench has to be designed well, so that it is solid and comfortable to use.

Hi, in today's guide we will build a new bench for my workshop. When I designed this workbench I had two things in mind: it had to be easy to make, and in fact we will only need a drill and a few basic tools to build it, and it had to be fairly inexpensive.

My workshop is very small, so I am trying to use the space as best I can. Because of this, and also because I use that space also to make videos, I need to be able to move the workbench. So I designed a system to lower the wheels by turning a crank when I need to move the workbench, leaving them retracted in the other cases. This way the workbench remains very stable, because when we use it it rests directly on the legs and not on the wheels.

To see more details about the construction, watch the video on my channel (it has English subtitles).


To make the structure of the workbench I used 22 mm plywood, to make it strong:

  • 8 pieces 73,2 x 10 cm
  • 3 pieces 115,6 x 10 cm
  • 2 pieces 53,4 x 10 cm
  • 2 pieces 51,2 x 10 cm

Instead, for making the top I used glulam fir 18 mm thick:

  • 1 piece 121 x 61 cm

Screws and hardware:

  • 32 ~60 mm long screws
  • 84 ~35 mm long screws
  • 6 metal brackets
  • 24 ~15 mm long screws

To make the retractile wheels I used:

  • 4 moving wheels
  • 20 M4 12 mm bolts
  • 16 M4 nuts
  • 4 M4 locking nuts
  • 16 M4 washers
  • M5 threaded rod
  • 8 M5 locking nuts
  • 20 M5 nuts
  • 8 flat head screws
  • 4 ~35 mm long screws
  • 4 16x5x5 mm ball bearings


  • Drill
  • Electric sander
  • 3D printer (only for the wheels mechanism)
  • Wood clamps

Step 1: Design

This summer I took some time to learn how to draw in Fusion360, and it was definitely worth it. In fact, for this project having done a 3D drawing really helped me.

The structure of the workbench is made of four legs, each made by two 73,2 x 10 cm pieces of 22 mm plywood screwed at a 90° angle. These four legs are connected together by some reinforcement pieces that form two frames, one directly below the top and the other one a bit raised up from the floor. The front low reinforcement is missing to allow sitting down at the workbench and putting the legs underneath. On top of the structure there is a panel of 18 mm wood.

This design makes the workbench light, sturdy and easy to build.

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

To buy all the wood I went to a hardware store in my town, because they do wood cutting service, so I brought home the pieces already cut. Obviously if you have wood cutting machines like a table saw or a circular saw I recommend cutting the pieces from an entire panel, because you will get better cuts at a much lower price.

To make the structure of the workbench I used 22 mm plywood, to make it strong:

  • 8 pieces 73,2 x 10 cm
  • 3 pieces 115,6 x 10 cm
  • 2 pieces 53,4 x 10 cm
  • 2 pieces 51,2 x 10 cm

Instead, for making the top I used laminated wood 18 mm thick:

  • 1 piece 121 x 61 cm

Step 3: Sanding

First I sanded all the plywood pieces with a 120-grit sandpaper, both on the two faces and on the edges, using an electric sander. Then I refined the edges by hand with a sheet of sandpaper. Obviously the pieces can also be sanded by hand, but having an electric sander makes the job a little faster, although sanding is still boring.

Step 4: Assembling the Legs

Let's start by making the legs of the workbench. Each of the 4 legs will be made of two pieces of plywood set at an angle. To fasten the pieces together I will use 8 ~60 mm long screws for each leg. So I marked on one of the pieces the points to make the holes for the screws. To make the holes at the right distance from the edge of the wood I made a 3D printed jig, of which you can find the 3D file below. Using the jig I drilled the eight 3 mm holes, using a battery drill.

Once the holes were drilled on the first piece, I put another piece underneath and transferred them with a drill bit. This way, we end up with 4 pieces with holes and 4 without.

Then I countersunk all the holes to have the screw heads aligned with the surface of the wood. At this point I need to screw the leg pieces together. To keep them at 90 degrees I had bought a clamp made for this purpose, but it was far from being 90 degrees. So I made two wooden squares with two holes that I attached to the pieces with clamps, which worked way better and were much cheaper. Once one piece with the holes and one without them were clamped together, I put in the screws with my drill. Of course I repeated this process four times to make four legs, which turned out quite good.

Step 5: Long Side Reinforcements

These four legs will be connected together by some reinforcement pieces that form two frames, one directly below the top and the other one a bit raised up from the floor. These reinforcement pieces make the workbench very stable.

To join the legs on the long side of the table I will use these 3 pieces of 115.6 x 10 cm plywood. It's 3 and not 4 because the front low reinforcement is missing to allow sitting down at the workbench and putting the legs underneath. These reinforcements will be screwed on the inside of the legs, like shown in the pictures. Also these pieces need some 2 mm holes drilled at both sides, to fasten them with six screws to each leg. To make all the holes in the right position, I 3D printed another template (3D file below). I countersunk these holes as well to have the screw head flush with the surface.

Thanks to the template it really took me very little time to drill all the holes, so now we can screw these three pieces to the legs. I screwed the top reinforcement between the inside corner of two of the legs, using ~35 mm long screws and being careful that they were square. I repeated the process for the other two legs. Then I screwed also the lower reinforcement to two of the four legs. To distance it from the floor 65 mm (needed to mount the wheels), I 3D printed another small template.

Step 6: Short Side Reinforcements

Now that the four legs are connected on the long side of the workbench, we need to join the legs on the short sides of the table to have the finished structure.

The process is the same as before: I took 4 pieces of plywood (2 pieces 53,4 x 10 cm and 2 pieces 51,2 x 10 cm) and drilled the holes at both ends.

Then I screwed these pieces to the table legs, at the same height as the other reinforcements. This way, the finished structure of the workbench should look like the one in the picture. The structure came out really solid, and by measuring the two diagonals we have a difference of about a millimeter, so it is almost perfectly square, although I think more by luck than anything else.

Step 7: Top

Now we can think about the top of the workbench. For the top I will use a 120x60 plank of 18 mm glulam fir. However, for the top you can use the material that best fits your needs, using, for example, MDF, plywood, laminated wood...

I sanded the top on both faces and edges with 120 grit, as I did for the other parts. Then the part that will be visible was sanded with 180 grit to make it smoother.

To attach the top to the frame I used 6 simple angle brackets, screwed to both the base and the top with 15 mm screws. Although this is not the most elegant solution, the brackets are almost completely hidden.

I will give the top some Bondex floor paint to protect it from scratches and dirt. I chose the matte version to avoid reflections that would be annoying in videos. I gave a first coat, let it dry for a few hours and lightly sanded the top before giving it a second coat.

When also the second coat was dry, I brought the bench in my workshop.

Step 8: Retractile Wheels - How They Work

The idea behind this bench was to be able to move it around the workshop, to use it not only leaning against the wall. So I need wheels to be able to move it around. The problem is that putting wheels directly under the legs, even if they have a brake, would make the bench much less stable.

So I thought of a system to lower the wheels only when I need to move the bench, and then raise them when I am working on the bench, so that it rests directly on the legs. After a few hours of planning and several ideas to throw away, I decided to create a piston to which the wheel is attached moved up and down by a screw, which is turned by a hand crank. Obviously making the mechanism move with an electric motor would have been very nice, but also very expensive. 

Step 9: The Mechanism of the Retractile Wheels

To make each of the wheel mechanisms, I 3D printed two parts (files below), one of which is the piston and the other is the base, and of course the piston slides in the hole of the base.

In the base, above the space for the piston, there are two 16 mm holes: there I put two ball bearings, and to press them into the holes I used a hammer and a piece of wood, to apply the force on the outer ring of the bearing.

In the part that moves (the piston) I put two M5 nuts in the hexagonal spaces, one at the top and one on the inside.

Then I cut a 9 cm piece of M5 threaded rod. On the threaded rod I put a self-locking nut with the flat part 45 mm away from an end, and inserted the threaded rod into the two bearings from the hollow part of the base. Then I put another nut to lock the threaded rod, without tightening too much so as not to damage the bearings.

Now I attached a 40 mm diameter moving wheel to the base of the piston with four M4 screws, nuts and washers.

As the workbench will have 4 wheels, I had to repeat this process another 3 times, to have four mechanisms.

Step 10: The Crank of the Retractile Wheels

To turn the threaded rod, which then lowers the wheel, we need a crank. I 3D printed it in two pieces, the crank itself and the knob. Then I inserted a self-locking nut into the hexagonal space of the knob, and screwed the knob to the crank with an M4 screw. This way, the knob can turn as we move the crank with our hand, making this feel a more "premium" product.

At this point I put two nuts tightened together on the threaded rod, which fit perfectly into the hexagonal space of the crank. To lock the crank I put another nut in the little recess on top.

As a last thing I got the piston into the base by turning the crank, and already there the mechanism seemed to work really well.

Of course I had to repeat also this process another 3 times, to have four of the wheel mechanisms completed.

Step 11: Installing the Retractile Wheels

Now I mounted the four wheel mechanisms to the lower reinforcements of the workbench. To mount each of them I used two flat head screws in the two top holes. I also put a longer screw in the hole that's hidden behind the piston, that can be accessed from the front only when the piston is at a certain height, by using a long screwdriver. I made this hole like this instead of making tabs on the sides to save a bit of PLA, that isn't cheap.

So now the four wheels are mounted. By giving the crank a few turns backwards we lower the wheels enough to move the table. When we are then finished we simply turn the crank forward to make the wheels rise and the workbench rest on its legs.

Step 12: Quick Wall Attachment

During the construction of the bench I made 8 mm large slots in the top reinforcements. The idea I had was to make a system to quickly secure the bench to the wall in various positions, to prevent it from moving when I use it. However I am still far from building it, because although it looks simple, it is not at all. However, if you want to take inspiration from my idea, above you can find a 3D design of the first version of this system.

Step 13: Finished

I am very happy with how this workbench turned out, and the fact that I can move it around it a huge plus for me, as it is very convenient when I shoot for videos of my projects. To see more details about the construction, watch the video on my channel (it has English subtitles). Thanks for reading my guide, bye!