Upcycle Old Furniture Into New Toys

We used a computer/printer cart to make our workbench. You could also use a nightstand, side table or cut down a shelving unit. The key is to make sure the piece is adequate height for your child.

Step 1


Before: Lost and Forgotten in the Thrift Store

We found this piece at a secondhand shop for just a few dollars.

Step 2


Prep for Paint

Paint sticks better to raw surfaces. Remove the existing top coat off the piece of furniture by lightly sanding it all the way around. We did not sand the top because we are going to add a new work surface top.

Step 3



Apply a coat of paint in a fun color. Wait until it is dry before determining if it needs a second coat.

Step 4


Add Backing

If there is an open back to your piece of furniture, measure the opening and cut piece of plywood to cover it. We made our plywood backing about three inches taller than the table. The added inches will sit above the new work surface and be used to support the vertical pegboard. Paint the backing and let it dry.

Step 5


Make the Work Surface Top

If adding a new top, measure then cut the plywood so there is a small overhang in the front and on one side. We made a bigger overhang on one side to allow for holes in which to hold tools. Attach the new work surface top with wood screws.

Step 6


Measure and Cut Pegboard

The back of the workbench has a vertical piece of pegboard to hang tools and toys. Cut the pegboard to size and sand the edges smooth.

Step 7


Attach the Backing and Pegboard

Attach the backing to the back of the unit using wood screws. Remember, the backing should sit a few inches above the top of the work surface. Hold the pegboard up against those few inches and attach the pegboard to the backing and to the work surface with L-brackets.

Step 8


Add Hooks

Insert store-bought pegs into the pegboard.

Step 9


Make a Spot to Hang a Hammer

Use a hole-saw drill bit to make holes on one side of the work surface top to stash hammers, clamps and drill guns.

Step 10


Photo By: Joanne Palmisano & Susan Teare

Joanne Palmisano & Susan Teare

Seal the Work Surface

Sand the work surface smooth and round the corners. Apply three coats of polyurethane letting it dry in between coats. Add toys and have fun.