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How I made my folding counter for less than $20
My kitchen was tiny, but I needed more counter space. This is my first decent home improvement project, so I wrote a up a really detailed description of how I did it so that I could learn and so that it would serve as a "how to make a folding counter" guide for others. I hope it doens't sound too obvious since it's really not that hard, but I wanted to include everything so people who haven't done stuff like this can follow along. You should be able to scrounge most of the parts for free (except maybe the hinges?), but even if you buy all the parts from the hardware store it's still under $20.

February 2006

Materials I Used
  • Two 3' by 8" pieces of wood (3' means 3-foot and 8" means 8-inch)
  • two hinges with enough screws to fasten them to the wood
  • two or three L brackets (a.k.a. 90 degree brackets)
    • one wall anchor for each hole in the brackets that will need to connect to the wall.
    • screws that fits into each wall anchor
    • a drill bit that is the size called for by the wall anchor (on the wall anchor package, 3/16" in my case)
  • one wood-screw for each hole in the brackets that will need to fasten to the wood
  • A screwdriver
  • A drill (optional but helpful)
  • Tape measeure (just generally helpful)
First I attached the boards together with the hinges
I pushed the boards tightly together. I put the center of the hinges just to one side of the crack. I was meticulous about getting the hinges straight so that my counter would swing properly. To get the screws intothe wood, I first drilled a small hole with a tiny drill bit (1/16").

Then I attached the counter to the wall
I started by attaching the brackets to the wood (again it helped me to drill a tiny hole where I wanted the screws to go in to get them started). I lined the brackets up so that the perpendicular part would be at least even with the edge of the wood. I did this part on the floor.

When all the brackets were attached to the wood, I held the counter in place on the wall where I wanted it to go and marked where the holes should go on the wall by poking a pencil through the bracket-holes. Then I drilled holes using the drill bit that was sized for the wall anchor. I hammered the wall anchors in. Finally, I had someone hold the counter up while I screwed all the screws into the wall anchors through the brackets. As I screwed into the wall anchors they expanded making a snug fit in my drywall (you may not have drywall).
The hinges attach the wood together, but you must attach the wood tightly together to get it to unfold flatly.

Placing the hinge to the side of the crack makes things work out better in my opinion.
Here's the counter folded out.

It's pretty stable for chopping, but the wall-side board is more stable than the other one.


( Leave Your Comments)
02.20.06    This is really very nice in our tiny kitchen. I love Jay and our new folding counter! He is so creative. And he did the dishes tonight too!~jodi

02.20.06     Dude, this rocks.

02.20.06    i\'ve got some ideas for improvements should you decide to make revisions at any point- notably, the feature that it could lay entirely flat against the wall until use, so it wouldn\'t be half-size at minimum, just about 2\" or so...just a thought- good work!jeff

02.20.06    Lovely shelf! YAY! I also have some ideas (which may or may not be hte same as Jeff\'s) on how it could lay flat against the wall. At Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston POPS), they have shelves like this lining the walls backstage, which they can take down to put instrument cases on. Very handy. Karina (Arshan\'s girlfriend).

02.20.06    ...At Tanglewood... They are held from above by chains, with one block of wood pivoting into place to hold it up when it is in the \"up\" position. Then it is released, and the chains are taut (forming a triangle between the chains, the wall, and the plank of wood), supporting the weight of the shelf and whatever is on it. They held multiple violins, percussion equipment, etc, so they can certianly be strong. Like Jeff said, it can then be one big piece of wood, instead of having a hinge in the middle. It would obviously stick out as far as the wood is thick (~2\").

02.26.06     i like fold out stuff...would like to see more moving pieces of furniture, like all the arrows on the diagram too.