What can you make with an old kitchen unit and the base of a bed? Well, how about a work bench for your kids? Don’t miss this step by step guide on how to upcycle an old item of furniture into a play work bench. Your kids will love it so much, they’ll dream of becoming handymen (or women!) when they grow up.
Often, we throw out old pieces of furniture because they’re old-fashioned or slightly damaged. However, we can still make use of them if we give them a makeover and repurpose them. The proof can be seen here in this old unit converted into a play kitchen or these 11 Incredible Upcycled Furniture Transformations.
Knowing how much you enjoy these, in this tutorial we’ll show you how to make a play work bench using an old microwave unit and bed base. The next photo illustrates the state of both pieces:
- The microwave unit was really dirty but in okay condition. It was missing the back panel and the top shelf was warped.
- The bed base had been thrown out and the wood was of a good quality.
Tools and materials
To upcycle old furniture into a play work bench, you will need:
- Circular saw
- Screw driver
- Hand saw
- Sharp knife
- Sanding block, medium grain
- Angled brackets
- Adhesive vinyl in red
- Spray paint
- Wood wax
- Panel of wood measuring 650 x 400 x 27mm
- Back panel measuring 600 x 500 x 3mm
Cost, time and difficulty
The price of materials used is around £30, taking into account that the main structure is made using recycled items. In this sample shopping basket you can purchase some of the necessary tools and materials.
Meanwhile, to make this DIY creation, you need around 6 hours. This timing will be longer or shorter depending on the state of the items of furniture used, and the changes you need to perform.
This is an ideal project for new DIYer, it’s definitely doable for beginners!
Kids play area furniture – miniature work bench, step by step.
In just 3 steps you can breathe new life into those old pieces of binned furniture, while also creating a new favourite toy for your children.
Step 1: Clean and remove damaged parts
The first step is to clean the items and remove any damaged parts. You can use a steam cleaner or a sponge with soap and water.
After cleaning, we removed the top shelf (which was warped), the lower sliding shelf, and the adhesive vinyl from the doors.
We also cut the sides to a better height for children, using the circular saw.
Step 2: Paint and line
Next, we painted the entire unit using a spray paint/primer, except for the doors. This gave the typical metallic look of a work bench.
We also attached a back panel to stabilise the unit, and lined the front of the doors with adhesive red vinyl. This gave the bench a more fun look, while evoking the idea of a work bench.
Once the extra vinyl had been removed with the craft knife, we reattached the door knobs which had also had a makeover using our spray paint.
Step 3: Treat and assemble the work surface and panel
The final step is to attach the work surface and the panel to hang the tools. To do so, follow these steps:
- Use a hand saw to cut the bed base to the desired height, forming the panel from which the tools will hang.
- Sand all surfaces with a medium grain sand paper to remove roughness and the remains of any coating.
- Apply wax and leave it to absorb into the wood. This gives a more polished look and gives the wood back its natural shine.
- Apply wax to the work surface, which will go on top of the play work bench.
Next, screw the work surface to the unit. To attach the tool panel, we screwed it with angled brackets to the work surface, two to the front and one to the back.
Once you have completed all of these steps, the play work bench for kids looks like this:
All you need are a few tools to turn your little ones into handy boys and girls. There’s no better way to develop their creativity than through play!
Now that you’ve seen the before and after, you’d never guess it was the same old pieces, would you?
What do you think about this idea to upcycle an old unit into a play work bench? This is truly a great example of how we should never underestimate the possibilities of old furniture, as well as the power of DIY.
This article was written by: Bricoydeco and translated. Mari Luz authors the blog ‘Bricoydeco’, she is a DIY fanatic, lover of recycling and customising furniture. Her passion is giving a second chance to turn once forgotten things into unique pieces!