I am starting my first DIY project -- a workbench for my 2 year old. I'd like the bench to function in two ways. With the table top on, it will be a traditional workbench surface. But I'd like to be able to remove the table top, as well, to have more of a "potting bench" setup, where I can place bins for other "sensory projects" (think preschool activities).

I've seen some plans for potting benches that have cleats to secure the table top. But because this is for a toddler, I'm concerned he'd accidentally lean on the table top edge and tip off the top (the table top extends a couple inches around the frame). I've also thought about using dowels. Can anybody recommend a simple way to attach the table so that it can be removed and replaced without too much hassle, but still be "secure" for a toddler?


  • How often are we talking about? What type of materials are we talking about? A few wood screws may be the ideal choice if you're talking about every couple of months or longer and using most woods.
    – Jason
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 23:42
  • I'd like to be able to remove the top frequently. Depending on our activity, we'll be going back and forth. But I don't want my son to be able to do it himself. :)
    – user480029
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 23:47
  • I'm using a pine frame with plywood sheets for the sides and front / back.
    – user480029
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


Generally, the first step in this type of project is to decide on the hardware, then design the unit around the hardware.

A general idea would be to use cleats mounted underneath the top to keep it square on the bench, then use hardware to latch it down ....

1) A couple of gate hook and eyes mounted underneath:


2) A couple of swivel hasps mounted underneath:


3) A surface mounted deadbolt w/key, mounted underneath:


4) A couple of window sash locks or clasps, mounted underneath:



For the workbench top, I recommend a used solid core door from, say, HH's Restore. Cut it to size. It's weight will help make the bench stable.

  • Thanks for the idea and quick response. I'll check it out as an option. I hadn't even thought about using external hardware.
    – user480029
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 23:54
  • Need to find those magnetic child locks, that way they do a "Magic Trick" to open it!
    – Jason
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 0:09
  • Wow. Thanks for the super thorough response. I like the cleats / latch combo. And I should be able to add in the hardware without changing my existing plans.
    – user480029
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 1:50
  • Of course! The magnetic locks! We have a box of those just waiting to be installed someplace. :) Thanks for all the help.
    – user480029
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 1:51

Use a slip hinge or latch hinge. Optional clasp on other side.

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The last image is a latch hinge which could double as a clasp/latch (not using the hinging aspect)

The slip hinge, make sure to get one the requires the hinge (and the work top) to be open in order to slip. Choose which direction is best to hinge (hardest for the kid per design) since the objective is for them to not open/remove it.

Optional clasp or latch on the opposite side of the hinge so it requires more than defeating gravity to open.

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