How to Make an All-Purpose Work Bench

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 4, 2012 · 128 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

Editors note: This is a guest post by Ethan Hagan from One Project Closer.

A Quick Intro

In the video, I share that you’re about to learn how to make “the only workbench you’ll ever need.” That’s a bit of an overstatement, especially for woodworking enthusiasts who will need features like an integrated vice and bench dogs. If that’s you, I’ll bet you already have an exceptional workbench. For the rest of us, what we need is a solid, versatile work-surface for assembling a bird feeder one day and re-sharpening a mower blade the next.

Maybe you don’t think a workbench is really all that important. After all, you’ve only got a few tools and everyone knows the folding table in the basement is your space. A dedicated workbench isn’t worthwhile, is it? I’ve seen too many guys stashing their tools in a kitchen drawer or expecting their kids to not touch the freshly painted picture frame. You need a proper place to work and store your tools, and I’m going to show you how to build it.

How to Build an All-Purpose Workbench

Your workbench is going to have some key features like a strong, rigid work surface, power for your corded tools or chargers, a shelf to store tools and accessories, and wheels so that you can move about. The materials are going to run about $120 (cheap ≠ quality) and you should secure a drill/driver, miter* saw or circular saw*, and jig saw* before getting started.
*You can substitute a handsaw if you’re up to the challenge.

Materials:

Head over to the local home improvement center with this shopping list:

  • (1) sheet of 3/4″ sanded plywood
  • (1) sheet of  3/8″ plywood
  • (9) 2—4×8′s
  • (8) Simpson rigid tie connectors (see below)
  • (200 count) #8 x 1-1/4″ screws
  • (4 count) 3″ screws
  • (1) tube of heavy-duty construction adhesive
  • (4) 2-1/2″ locking casters
  • Mountable power strip

I’ve listed nominal plywood thicknesses, however the store will display actual thicknesses. For instance 3/4″ plywood is actually 23/32″ and 3/8″ plywood is actually 11/32″ thick. Sanded plywood will give you a nice, splinter-free surface, and, at 3/4″ thick, it’ll absorb a lot of deflection.

Have the store rip both sheets of plywood in half (resulting in 2 x 8' pieces) to save some work.

Straight boards make for a straight workbench, so look down the length for any cupping (side-to-side curve) or crowning (up-down curve), and put those boards back.

The Simpson ties are awesome because they form the corners of your workbench and shelf. Without these, you'd need a lot of angled braces.

The #8 screws are usually sold right next to the Simpson ties because they're designed for each other.

Down to Size

Since the home improvement center ripped the plywood for you, all you need to do is cut the 2×4′s down to size. Use a square to mark straight lines. Here are the lengths:

  • (5) 90″ for the lengthwise supports
  • (4) 17″ for the width-wise supports
  • (4) 36″ for the legs
  • (2) 24″ for the caster supports

Let me save you some confusion and tell you that the plywood is going to overhang one side by 3″. This is on purpose because that overhang will protect the power strip that we’ll mount to the side.

Some Assembly Required

To put this beast together, start with the sides. Grab a leg and width-wise support and slip a Simpson tie in place. Use pieces of scrap to make sure all the heights line up, and be sure to orient the legs the same way we show in the pictures.

Remember, you need two Simpson ties per leg (one for the work surface and one for the shelf), and corresponding ties should sit at the same height. Put screws in all of the pre-drilled holes, keeping each piece firmly against the adjacent pieces.

Now it's time for the length-wise supports. There are five of these because we'll use the extra to reinforce the work surface.

Run the extra support centered between the other two, and secure it through each end with two 3" screws.

Before you put on the 3/4" plywood top, run a bead of construction adhesive on all the supports. Put screws every 16" or so. Once you're finished, flip the table upside-down.

Next, grab one of your 3/8" plywood pieces and cut 2x4 notches in all the corners to account for the table legs. I used a jigsaw but a handsaw would work just fine. Do the same for the remaining piece of 3/4" plywood.

This piece of plywood is going to be fastened to the underside of your work surface. It may seem odd, but this "torsion box" design will further improve the rigidity of your work surface. Glue and screw just like with the 3/4" plywood.

While it's upside-down, screw those caster supports between the table legs and then fasten the casters in place. These supports are important because otherwise the caster is only sitting on end-grain which makes for a weak joint.

Flip the bench right-side-up and put on the 3/4" plywood (glue and screw) for the shelf. Lastly, mount that power strip underneath the overhang. This'll help prevent sawdust, paint, oil, etc. from damaging the strip.

Gloat

Step back and marvel at your creation because you have just finished building a hardcore workbench. Go ahead and feel the solid work surface that won’t bounce when you’re hammering something together. Unlock the casters and move your workbench around the room. Set up a battery charger on the conveniently mounted power strip. Best of all, call up your friends and brag.

_____________________________________

Ethan Hagan is the primary editor at One Project Closer. He spends most of his days shadowing real contractors on actual job sites and most of his nights writing about the experience. To see what I mean, check out their latest “Pro-Follows” or finished, expert guides on things like How to Build A Shed and How to Build a Deck. If learning and interacting with pro contractors sounds like something you’d enjoy, sign up for OPC email updates.

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Moeregaard April 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Excellent article. Everyone needs a work surface other than the kitchen table. I made my portable workbench from a donated Boos Block laminated-maple table top. I welded up a frame from 2″ square tubing (1/8″ wall) and installed some non-marring locking casters. The whole mess probably weighs 150 lbs., but it’s rock-solid and the 30″ width allows it to be moved through most doorways. I’m in the middle of a home remodel, and being able to move it from room to room is a good thing. What’s nice about the Boos Block is that, in addition to being tougher than a whore’s heart, it’s as flat as anything this side of a granite surface plate. After reading this article, I think a power strip will get installed this weekend…..

2 SB April 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Great directions. Great workbench–especially the integrated powerstrip. One change I would recommend would be NOT to glue the top sheet onto the frame. That way you can easily change it out after a few years…or one disastrous project.

3 Nick April 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Do you find that not treating the wood is ok?

4 Steven April 4, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I have two very similar ones in my garage right now. I’ve never used a bracket before. Seems like it’s cheating. ;)

5 Mick April 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I made a similar workbench for myself a few years back with timber found in a pile of scrap from a house construction next door. I was given the material for the bench top, a 1/2″ thick marine plywood. The legs are 4″x4″ and the timber bracing is 2″x4″. I had to forego the under shelf becaisue I needed to store some of my wifes junk under the bench…Well actually it was my junk that I was going to throw away, but the wife commandeered it before I could, damn it all :-)! I also have a powerboard on mine. I’ve set it up with a drill press and a bench grinder/multi-tool rig for my knife-making hobby and anything else I feel like working on. Most recently I added a wood turning lathe to my work area which I simply bolted down to a pair of saw-horses. It seems to be ideal as it puts the lathe at a nice work height and has no vibration or instability during use. It was certaily easier than constructing a new bench just for that as well.

6 caleb April 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Love it!

I am actually working on making one a bit different myself. I have an old server desk from my work that we couldn’t sell so I took for scrap. We then had the idea to trim it down to fit in the garage and make it mobile so I can roll it anywhere inside or in front of the garage to work on any projects including the cars. It is much taller, so still figuring out if I want to keep it tall in the back for a pegboard to keep it shot like this one.

Definitely some good ideas! Thank!

7 Bryan April 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Great project. What kind of expense are we looking at here all said and done?

8 Mark April 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Looks like a good design. I never thought of using brackets, but that looks like a good reinforcement.

I do have an addition, everyone should have two workbenches. One at a comfortable sitting height, and one at a height for stand up work. It really saves your back that way! I made a sit down and stand up and love being able to choose whichever fits the job at hand.

9 Chase Christy April 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Looks amazing! Can you teach me how to make a retracting work bench for my apartment?

10 Fernando April 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

This is just the inspiration I needed for the computer desk I’m planning to build! Of course there will be some deviation from that above, but thank you so much!

11 Bruce West April 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Ethan,
It appears your miter saw jig (in background) is made to the right height so you can place it next to your tool bench for long cuts of wood. Am I onto something? I’d love to get those plans!

12 Claude Warner April 5, 2012 at 6:18 am

Great workbench, but give it a coat of satin enamel and it will make a very manly workspace in the kitchen.

13 Russ Davis April 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

Very nice design. I have never seen those tie connectors before; those are sweet. I made my workbenches using this design:

http://woodgears.ca/workbench/build.html

But when you have kids, you don’t have time cut dados, drill dowel holes, and wait for glue to dry. Wish I’d seen this two years ago!

14 kirk April 5, 2012 at 8:41 am

Great directions! Building mine today… but going to add a 24inch magnetic strip along the top front 2×4 to hold tools and parts while working.

15 Dennis April 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

Very nice. Wish I would have known about Simpson ties about 6 weeks ago when I built mine. This is probably one of the best plans I have seen for a general purpose bench.

16 Ethan@OPC April 5, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hey everyone,

Thanks for the kind words and suggestions. I’m gonna try to answer some questions:

@SB- We’ve considered adding a melamine top that’ll be easily replaced. It’s a better approach than NOT gluing b/c the glue really does contribute to a strong work surface.

@Nick- As long as the surface doesn’t get wet often (and stay wet), untreated wood is just fine. Plus the casters keep it up off the floor.

@Bryan- It cost about $120. Not the cheapest option, but a good workbench is worth it (IMO).

@Bruce- You’ve got a good eye! We made the miter bench shorter so that the other workbenches act as supports. The only difference is that we shortened the legs. Here are some more pictures.

@Kirk- I love the idea of a magnetic strip. I might just add that too….

17 Eric April 5, 2012 at 9:23 am

Solid, functional, well-designed and well-built workbench. Going to add those plans to my growing list of workbench plans. THANK YOU!

@SB – The glue on the top is part of what makes the top surface a the torsion box. No, it’s not a *great* torsion box, but the setup shown is part of what gives it the rigidity that a good workbench needs.

Yes, you run a risk of screwing it up with one bad project. But a new sheet of 3/8″ plywood can be laid over the top and screwed down to “cover up” the mistake when it happens.

Or, get a sheet of 1/4 or 1/8″ hardboard and make a “cover” for the workbench when you’re working on things that could really make a mess of the top surface. That’s what I have for my “nice” woodworking bench.

18 Jeff April 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

Nice bench! With a few modifications, this would make a GREAT Big Green Egg table!

19 Ask The Jage April 5, 2012 at 9:57 am

While this would be a great bench for a time I have to say that the fasteners used are inappropriate. It would be more cost effective and sturdier to use carriage bolts instead. Carriage bolts can be removed I you need to move the table and can be tightened/replaced as time goes on. As you use your table you will come to find that the stress of working on it torquing the table, pushing on ends and whatnot, the table will start to wobble, using fixed fasteners held together with screws, you will not be abot to tighten it and may, in fact, damage the wood where the screws are set making you unable to repair it and resulting in new legs being needed. Carriage bolts are easy to use and replace, the hardest part would be making a counter sunk hold for the nut to go if you choose, you could just have the end of the bolt stick out to the underside of the shelf/top. You can do that easily with a paddle bit.

20 DAN April 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

I have a similar one that I built. Looks good.

21 Ethan@OPC April 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi ATJ, Using carriage bolts in lieu of the #8 screws would NOT be more cost effective OR easier to install. You’d need multiple lengths, washers and nuts. You won’t be able to purchase all that for less than the $18 you’d spend on the screws I recommend. Plus, you’d need to pre-drill (and potentially countersink) every hole before inserting the carriage bolt.

22 Big Dan April 5, 2012 at 11:04 am

Thanks for this! I have been looking for a good plan to put into action as I came across a nice butcher block piece of maple (from a machine shop going out of business) last summer and want to turn it into the top of a nice workbench. This is a great plan!

23 Bryan April 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

Very nice, now to find plans for a shed to build it in.

24 Kirk April 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I just made my own and its not quite a pretty as that one(I need a miter saw I only have a hand saw) . I could find some cheaper possibly better composite board for the top than the piece that was shown in the article. I think I paid 12-14 bucks. Same dimension as the one above.

25 Ryan April 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

A few ideas:
Layout a right angle on the surface and make a graphic ruler so you never have to look for one.
Consider hinging the top as you made a box and could keep tools in it. This would be less sturdy, but I would double the thickness of the top and it would make up for it. To laminate plywood use const adhesive and place sheets together on a flat concrete surface. Add weight on top and you may screw through from bottom while maintaining the work surface if you feel the need. A belt sander makes the sides perfect.
Seal the top at the very least with laquer or some other finish.
Consider for an advanced bench: a laminate top may include a t shaped cut out with top layer wider than bottom. Multiple same sized inserts can be made and tools like vises, saws, grinders, etc can be fit and removed as needed.

26 TMZ April 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Very cool design and plans, thanks.

One question — what are these?

(9) 2—4×8′s

Do you mean 2x4x8?

27 Ethan@OPC April 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

@TMZ- good catch. That should read (9) 2x4x8′s.

28 TMZ April 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thanks for clarifying that. I’m a real newb when it comes to this stuff so it’s always likely that I just don’t know about something… subscribed to your blog, looking forward to more posts from you.

29 Jeff April 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm

What is the finished height of the bench?

30 Pete April 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Very cool. I wonder if I could use this general idea to build a solid beer pong table?

31 Austin April 5, 2012 at 10:11 pm

So…Seeing as how the bench has an enclosed space at the top and bottom, how about putting a set of hinges on the top portions of the tables to create some storage space?

32 Mike April 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

I built a smaller version for reloading. It worked out great with one exception, and I see the same weakness here. The casters. The workbench can handle the abuse and pounding, but all that energy is transferred through the workbench to the casters, which quickly go to caster heaven. My solution was to buy a couple of furniture slides that I use whenever I have to move it. Not the most elegant solution, but functional for those infrequent moves.

33 RobM April 6, 2012 at 8:22 am

I would buy a 1/8″ inch piece of plywood over the top. Bench tops get worn down and dirty so can change this as needed. Just let it float.

34 KLash April 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

I built this yesterday, with a couple of changes.

Didn’t glue the tops down. More easily replaced in the future.

36 inch legs were too tall if you are planning to stand while working (but i’m only 6ft tall). Also, if you use 34 inch legs, you only need 8 studs instead of 9.

I cut the length down to 7 ft. Easier to move around my smaller garage and still plenty of benchtop to work on.

Didn’t do the 3-inch overhang. Instead, mounted the power-strip on the bottom shelf between the legs.

Mounted a magnetic tool holder to the front rail for holding handtools and parts when working.

Bought everything at Home Depot. It was about $160 in total cost (plus another $15 for the magnetic strip). Lumber costs must be higher where i live.

This thing is STRONG !! The Simpson brackets square everything up automatically and add some extreme strength to the whole bench. VERY solid construction.

If there’s ever a tornado, i’m going to take shelter below this workbench.

Am VERY pleased with the results.

Thanks Ethan !

35 Phil L. April 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

First off, what a completely awesome work bench! I wish I would have seen these plans before I made my work bench. i never even thought of making one that’s mobile.

My current work bench is actually made out of a lower kitchen cabinet on one end (nice for storage), 1×3 supports on the other end, and double thick 3/4 plywood. All material was donated by my father-in-law. Total cost $0 and two-hours of labor! So don’t forget to check with friends and family for useful scrap that you can craft into a manly masterpiece!

36 Fisharmor April 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Man, wish I knew about those Samson brackets about 10 years ago. But they probably didn’t exist then!

The only thing I’d do to this is add a middle shelf. If you look at the “gloat” pic, he’s got toolboxes stacked on other toolboxes. I can’t have that!

‘Course, I stuffed an entire metal shop (with welders, tanks, grinders, shears, and helve hammer) into a 1-car garage, so I’m a bit of a space freak.

37 dogg April 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Very nicely done and illustrated. This is a project that even a novice can easily follow with the excellent directions.

38 Deborah H. April 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Very nice plans. Just had a 30 x 40 shop built for my husbands auto repairing and my woodworking, so this would come in handy for a womanly as well as manly solution. Thanks for the ideas.

39 Ryan C. Moon April 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I built from these plans this afternoon and have to say that this thing is strong and big. It is easy to overlook the size when looking at the pictures, but it is almost 8′ long. I have some pictures on my G+ post about it here >> https://plus.google.com/101772483800523413467/posts/382jyJf412V

Also, a brief note. I had one extra 2x4x8′ and had to use ~250 #8 screws, so an extra box of them would not be a waste if you are buying them in 100 count as I am.

~$150 at Home Depot, lumber is more expensive right now.

40 Steven Hopper April 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

So, I did this project with my long weekend, and it turned out very nice, I just made a few minor adjustments. Took the whole thing down to six and a half feet long, for my own space requirements, and I left a small overhang all the way around as I do a lot of small work with small clamps and need something thinner than a 2×4 to hook on to. We also had the bright idea to cut down the bottom shelf to 14 inches wide, leaving space to pull a shop stool or tall chair up under there if you ever need one. Very strong bench, for sure, and a very easy project for an afternoon. The shorter length led to slightly less lumber, and I chose to only use the strong ties on the top joints, so I wound up being right at $80 out the door of Home Depot.

41 Moeregaard April 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

In addition to my workbench that utilizes the donated, laminated-maple Boos Block for a top, I built a second bench for my dad that uses a solid-core door from Home Depot (Macy’s for Men). These things aren’t very expensive, flat as Twiggy’s chest, and faced in masonite. I removed the cheap white primer applied at the factory, finishing with #320 grit on my random-orbital sander, and applied three coats of clear urethane. At 30″ wide, it’s deep enough for such manly projects as cleaning rifles and shotguns, as well as building model airplanes, and it still passes through doorways without trouble.

42 JMarcure April 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

Nice post, great project. A good solid work bench is a must for any work space.
I used 4×4 legs and the appropriate Simpson Strong ties. The recommended fasteners are far superior to carriage bolts. The “torsion box” isn’t really adding anything at this scale unless you plan on placing massive loads on top. Instead I screwed the second layer of 3/4 to the top. Now I can remove and replace it when it’s fouled and gouged. I built my bench about 9 years ago and use it just about every day. It’s still going strong!

43 Philip April 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

One alternative suggestion for a work surface: get an old solid core door from a reclamation store or online community bargaining network. Perfect size and completely indestructible. I found mine for 25 bucks.

44 Fred @ One Project Closer April 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I’m Ethan’s partner in crime over at OPC and thought I would jump in on a few of the questions.

@Ryan – Checked out your G+ photos and it was exciting to see someone else build this workbench!

@Steven – Good mods. I definitely like the idea of the shorter bottom shelf for leg space.

@J – The torsion box can be a bit overkill, but it will actually help preserve the flatness over the course of a few years with a heavy load on top. We think for the cost of 1/2 sheet of 3/8″ plywood its worth adding, but it is definitely optional.

@Phillip – Solid core door will definitely work well for this, and it is very likely to be totally flat. Might be a little more expensive/harder to find than the materials we use here.

Glad this was so useful to everyone. Looking forward to our next opportunity to share a project!

45 Aaron H April 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

This definitely earned a spot toward the top of my to-do list this summer. Looks useful and fun, great article!

46 chris April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

I built mine a couple of years ago for about $40. I went for a sturdy design based on a lot of plans I found on the internet. You can see it here;

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/26973

47 Jesse April 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thank you for posting this. You have inspired me to build the outdoor kitchen I’ve idly fantasized about. I intend to start with this design, and add sides covered in faux stone and a glazed tile top. It will be used as a preparation surface and place to hold a tabletop grill.

48 Mike April 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm

One Project Closer now bookmarked. Great article!

49 Derek April 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I’m excited to get building on this but my pricing is coming out to a pretax $198.23. I still think it’s worth it but am I going overboard somewhere? I tried to buy all the same pieces and SKU’s as the pictures above. The only thing I think I’m “splurging” on is the surge protector which is coming out to $22. Maybe it’s just a regional thing (I’m in SE Michigan).

Thanks for the great article and thanks Ryan for sharing your building link above. You guys are really motivating me to get started when my schedule clears up next week.

50 Jollyprez April 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I built this today, and noticed one thing. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see instructions to trim 3″ off three of the four plywood sheets. The top is fine, with the 3″ overhang, but the three inside the frame are too long to fit!
For my project, I shortened the plans to six feet, and added a middle shelf. We have *no* kitchen cabinets in the 160 year-old house, and this will help a lot. It’s a tank.

51 George April 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm

@jollyprez thanks for the heads up on the 3inch trim. Maybe I won’t do the overhang

52 Brian April 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Quick, easy and inexpensive. I might have to make one for my wife’s studio so I can put away those cheap rickety plastic tables she LOVES.

53 JustEd April 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Nice looking , simple bench! This is the kind of bench you can get down and get some work done with, because you won’t be afraid of marring a pretty hardwood top. I like the use of the braces, also. I recently moved into a new house, after a few years of “living small” so I am ready to build a new bench. I’m going to use your design for the base, only shorter, (6 feet) and add a top with a vise for woodworking.

Ed

54 Andrew April 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

Great plans! I just made a scaled down version of this for my cellar workshop. Although I used 3″ screws to attach the plywood for added strength.

55 T.Ferg April 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Bad ass. Keep up the good work, men.

56 John Havard April 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I just finished building a bench of my own this weekend. The only change I did was instead of the lower shelf running the entire length, I have 24″ wide shelves on either end with the center open to store a roll-away cabinet or to be able to sit at more comfortable. The change took the cost up to about $170 or so with the added brackets/screws. Also, instead of buying 3/4″ sanded ply, I found 3/4″ cabinet grade ply. Its still sanded but cost $10 less.

57 Barry Gordon May 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

You have spurred me to build same but with scrap and repurposed lumber that shows using carpenter joining techniques (lap, dado, rabbet, dowel, biscuit, mortice, tenon)
This is fast and easy and versatile…
now the next chapter.

58 Barry September 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I just made this today! It was easy. I didn’t make the 8 ft one. I made a 4 ft one.

59 RStans October 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Just finished building my bench. The Simpson ties really make this easy, and sturdy! Only change I would make if I make another one of these benches is 4×4 legs instead of 2×4. Can buy Simpson ties for 4x4s too. Thanks for the instructions, fun project, great new addition to the garage!

60 Kurt November 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

I am really new to this but have a general question about the wood used to make the bench. Is there a specific reason why you would use plywood for the top surface instead of just two 12 inch sheets of pine or the same standard wood as the 2×4′s? Also, is there a specific type of wood I should avoid with the 2×4′s? Thanks.

61 Garret November 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for this post! I followed the directions fairly precisely. Everything turned out really well! The biggest change I made is to get some rough cut lumber from a local sawmill for the top. I wanted to experiment with finishing rough cut for indoor furniture, so this was a good way to do it and still have it be useful. I’d love to submit pictures if that is possible! I think it looks great, and is a great testament to the effectiveness of these directions! Thanks again!

62 Garrett November 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I like encouraging people to build their own stuff, but I have to say a few things.

1. I would NEVER advise getting the Home Depot people to cut your stuff for you. Panel Saws may look like the easy solution, but a Circ Saw with a home made guide is much more accurate when you consider the average intelligence of HD workers.

2. Extending the toggles that support the top surface onto the legs rather than butting them up to the legs better transfer the forces and means that instead of those metal braces (which I generally find silly) you can just use some screws on a cornerblock or a simple keystone made from shop scrap.

3. No need for the Liquid Nail, just the drywall screws will hold down the lid. I never use adhesives on lids since it makes them easier to replace and the forces are generally always never acting on them in a way that would tear them off.

4. I’m a bit of an over builder, but I never screw in casters. I would make corner plates for the bottom and bolt them on. I’ve seen too many casters fail on tiny ridges in concrete.

63 Josh December 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Building one of these at the moment. Solid.

64 Eric Ryder December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I have a question about the shopping list. Does this (9) 2—4×8′s
mean (9) 2×4 that are 8 feet long? Sorry for the stupid question, I’m not much of a handyman but I feel like I could build this bench. I appreciate you taking the time to put this together. It looks like a pretty solid bench.

65 dave December 22, 2012 at 7:37 am

@Eric, yes that’s what he meant. There was another comment about it.

66 Bill January 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Awesome plan! I changed mine up a little though. I made mine 5′ long instead and just a little bit shorter to suite my needs. Also, painted it flat black and placed a Detroit Red Wings logo on the bench top and then several coats of clear coat for protection.

67 MRDeighton January 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I just finished it! It turned out nice and it is even more stable than I thought it would be. Thanks for the plans and the tutorial! What a great excuse to buy a chop saw.

68 Caleb January 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Just finished this project. Thanks!
However, with clever cutting I only needed 8 2×4′s. I used the extra as a middle support for the bottom shelf.

Anyone else not use the full 9 boards? Did I miss something?

69 Andrew February 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I think your project is cool, and I always appreciate when people actually build things, as opposed to assembling a kit. You learn things that way, and can make quality work.

Still, it would have been cool if you used mortise and tenon joints, instead of the metal joint connectors. If you learn how to do that, your projects will come out super cool and you’ll feel like a rockstar.

70 Joanne February 16, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I am confused. If the boards are 2 x 4 and the middle board is cut to 17″ doesn’t that total 25″ and make the legs wider than the 24″ tabletop? I am sure this will turn out to be a dumb question. Thank you and I can’t wait to have my son and husband build this for me.

71 jfpurdue February 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Is this strong enough to hold a vice or would the surface need to be thicker/stronger for that?

72 brad February 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Just so everyone knows and maybe saves a little money. The Metal braces by simpson strong tie are available in a kit. it’s called the KWB1 workbench kit. Here in Canada, it’s $45 at home depot, and comes with 8 braces and 200 simpson screws. Not exactly sure where it might be available in the US, but might be worth looking for.
Also, built the bench for my garage…. works great! really solid and very easy to put together. I also managed to get by with only 8 2×4′s, so I ended up with an extra.

73 Tom March 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

I just finished this project. Turned out great!! Very sturdy.

Joanne – 2 x 4′s are actually 1.5 x 3.5 inches. So, the width is 17 + 3.5 + 3.5 = 24.

74 Stan April 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

Great post. I’m on it this weekend.

75 Ganz April 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

In the past, I’ve found a solid core door (one that is not pre-cut for handles and hardware) works better as a tabletop surface, but over all this is a great quick and easy work bench

76 Geoff Manning April 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

This is a great project, but too big for my work area. Some have mentioned making a smaller (7′, 6′, 4′) version.

Are the 2′ x 4′ plywood project panels suitable (square) for a project like this? Would need to give up the overhang which is fine.

Any other adjustments need to be made to accomodate the smaller size?

Thanks!!

77 Geoff Manning April 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

EDIT: Just realized I will not need to forego the overhang.

78 wayne settle April 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I’d like an overhang all the way around the table for clamping a fence of some type of straight edge for making straight easy cuts with my circular. Is this a dumb idea?? I’m pretty much a beginner, retired, and setting up a little shop in my basement to cope with Michigan winters. What do you all think? Great workbench. Can’t wait to get going!

79 Kevin April 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Just bought everything on the list and am figuring out the details on building it in my head, and have a dumb question probably. Your not supposed to use the #8 screws for screwing the plywood down are you? I’m thinking that the heads would be above the surface of the plywood?

80 Dan April 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Awesome bench! I’ve just started surfing the net for good and simple designs and like this one the most so far. Any idea if it would be possible to attach a bench vice? Sorry for the noob question, I’m quite new to this :-)

81 Drennen May 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Found this while pricing it out:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Simpson-Strong-Tie-Workbench-Hardware-Kit-KWB1/100375388#.UakQ7ZxvBv0

A simpson kit that saves around $12 on the part list.

82 craig sinclair June 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm

i just finished this project and took 2 days to finish.it took a few dollars more than what you said .that,s probably because i am from ontario canada,the prices are higher than in the u.s.what a fantastic work bench,no more bending over to do some work.and i can move it anywhre in the garage.very very happy.thank you

83 Josh June 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

I’m planning on building this minus the Simpson strong ties. In my honest opinion, they really aren’t needed. I’m going to just use 4″ deck screws and dowels to connect the legs and cross members. $50+ seems a little steep for the ties and screws, especially if they aren’t necessary. I might add some cheap angle brackets later under the cross members for a fraction of the cost.

84 Old Russ June 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Made one somewhat like the original, but I went down to Home Depot and they were out of Simpson brackets but they had 2by2 with a 4by4 leg. I had a 12ft 4by4 at home so the legs are really good sized. I swear I think I could put a good sized engine up there. It is 32″X6′, and I used a piece of 1&1/8 Tee and Gee for the top with a piece of tempered masonite on top. So I did not put a center crossmember or a bottom on the top shelf.

It seems to work well and thank you for the design

85 Douglas L. H. July 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

This is the perfect design to use to build my 4 monitor desk :-)! I may forgo the casters when I build it (going against some windows in a carpeted apt). However, the bottom shelf will be perfect to keep my computer tower & other assorted Tech gear stored.

From looking at some of the comments, I may look into adding locking cabinets to keep my 14mo old daughter from playing in electronics…

86 Allison K July 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I am not a guy but I love power tools and projects. This one was perfect for a kitchen island in our rental home. Previously there was a very dilapidated melamine desk serving as a prep counter. I used the existing butcher block top and created the workbench/island around its dimensions. I had to modify it so that there would be no lower board in the front to enable my portable dishwasher to slide in.
The shelves are from Ikea. You gotta love Ikea for cool cheap housewares.
One great project! Thank you!

Here are some finished product pics

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201594883817921.1073741826.1352906150&type=1&l=e990176077

87 Nick Marques July 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hi all,

This article looks like a great start… have you guys seen this? Haven’t read all of the comments to know if you have.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Simpson-Strong-Tie-Workbench-Hardware-Kit-KWB1/100375388#BVRRWidgetID

It appears to be cheaper than buying even just the 8x connectors, and it comes with 200 of the screws.

88 Anthony D July 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

I don’t like the idea of having a workbench on wheels. Doesn’t seem sturdy enough. So:

Instead of putting wheels on mine, I just attached a retractable cart to the bottom of it. That way it sits securely on the floor when I don’t need it to be portable, and the cart can even be quickly removed. I also have three different places in my workshop where I can bolt the whole thing to the floor. Maybe that’s going a little overboard, but my idiot neighbor backed his truck into it once and it didn’t budge.

89 Kendall K August 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I have never successfully put together anything until today. I looked this over last night, woke up, went to home depot when he left for work at 630 am, and I was done before he came home at 2:45 pm. I even went back to home depot and got wider 2×4′s made so it would be bigger. Needless to say I’m the best girlfriend in the world right now. My dad swore all 3 of my degrees wouldn’t put that desk together right, boy did I prove him wrong. I broke a nail, my no chip manicure suffered a few chips, and I have a few splinters but this girly girl put that desk together and I’m so proud of myself. Thanks for all the directions, photos, and tips. Never could have done it without the great directions.

90 Nick Marques August 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I’m just about finished this design and so far I really like it. I figured it out, but where in these instructions does it say to trim down the other 3 sheets of plywood that are not the full 8′ long? I don’t see where the others are trimmed to about 93″.

One tip if you are working by yourself. I put all of the pieces of plywood in place to verify fit. Then I held them up with scrap 2x4s to apply the adhesive. Then it was much easier to just drop the wood.

I also found it good to have a few Irwin Quick Grips or other clamp/vices. The plywood was/is not going to be flat, so I used these to clamp it to the 2x4s to hold in place while I screwed them down. I used other (cheaper) 1-1/4″ screws for the plywood to just slightly countersink the screws.

I do have a question – What would you guys recommend to protect/finish this?

91 CitySlicker634 August 11, 2013 at 6:33 am

Excellent work bench! Easy to read and follow instructions and great documentation by showing photos of all the necessary hardware from home depot. Could not have been better written. Thanks! I love mine and use it all the time. ~ Frank in New Caney Texas

92 Kevin August 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Great bench. Just built it today and it is strong and heavy. I found a couple things, most of which were mentioned before in the comments.

If you fill all the holes in the tie connectors along with using enough to secure the shelves in place, you’ll run out of screws. 250 is a more accurate need. Also, I’m not sure what you guys used to secure the caster supports to the legs but I found that #10 2 – 1/2″ screws work great so you might need 8 of those.

Pat attention to the casters when you buy them. I got mine at home depot and the bases of them are rectangular and not square so they don’t fit well on the legs and supports. I ended up adding an additional set of supports to the outside of the legs. It looks a little goofy but is a stable base.

As for the top, I’m going to put some polyurethane on it for some protections and probably will put the other half of the 3/8″ plywood on it rather than the bottom of the shelf so I can change it out when it gets beat up. I also have some military grade dielectric matting used for switchboards. The stuff is super tough and the blue finish makes it look great.

There’s no need to countersink when using the Simpson screws. They lay flush enough when torqued down. As long as you don’t over drive them, they won’t crack up the ply.

93 Ron August 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

Just wondering, He does not mention which screws to mount plywood. The simpson screws have a head that will remain raised. I think a wood screw would work better so they flush? Any comments would be appreciated.

94 Jim August 16, 2013 at 7:03 am

I also bought my 2 1/2″ casters from Home Depot and ran into the same problem with the rectangle shape of the caster support. I was only able to drive 3 screws into the work bench. Two into the added support and one into each leg of the bench. The casters I bought were the most heavy duty they sold and came with brakes. Each said they could support up to 100lbs. I hope the three screws is enough?

I ended up using particle board for the top of my bench. But these plans were great. So easy to follow for a beginner. Thank you very much.

95 Ryan September 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I created the bench, but without casters.

The problem I have is the bench sits in a sometimes moist area. Is there something I can put on the bottom of the 2x4s to prevent the wood from being ruined by the moist ground?

thanks
-ryan

96 Oren Max September 15, 2013 at 4:40 am

@ Moeregaard:

you mentioned in one of the first commens that you used 2″ tube steel for the table frame/base. how did you attach the top to it? Did you drill through the steel tube and use bolts, or did you use self-tapping screws, or just adhesive or something else? Any help on this would be really appreciated!

Thanks,
–Oren

97 David Russ September 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

This is a great project. I built it yesterday. I love it. However there is a bullet list of discoveries:

* Cost! On Saturday, October 14th 2013, my Home Depot receipt read $208.
* Not all materials are noted. You will need 16 lag bolts and washers to attach the casters. You will also need, flat head wood screws for the tops and slightly sink them.
* For a dollar more each go with 3″ locking casters.

Honestly, stain and seal, then coat the tops with polyurethane.

It truly is a great workbench.

98 David Russ September 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I wrote a short blog on what I did, if anyone would like to read it.

99 Rich September 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Just completed, came out sweet! Should have heeded one of the comments, you’ll need more than 200 screws so get three boxes. Also when putting the panel(s) under the work space and shelf, if you choose, you’ll need to cut the corners of the power strip end to be 4×4 and you’ll need at least 2″ screws for the caster supports.

100 Donnybravo September 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Is it just me, or did plywood go wayyyy up in price in one year? Article shows it just under $20 a sheet in 2012. Went to HD today, it was about $40 a sheet – pretty sure I’m looking at the right stuff – anyone know a reason for this? Am I not buying the correct plywood?

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