Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to build a Workbench


How important is a good workbench?  Extremely!  It doesn't matter if you're working on a woodworking project, automotive project, or any other kind of project.  Having a good bench to work on will make your job a lot easier.  And if you need, you can also incorporate shelves into it as well (who doesn't like extra storage space, huh?).  The intent of this post is to show you my idea of a good sturdy workbench and how to build one yourself.

Now, your workbench can be built to any dimension.  The main thing is to build it to accommodate the work area you need it for, while making sure it's at a comfortable height.  The particular workbench I've built for this post is 16' long and 24" deep.  It also has a shelf below that is 18" deep.  Before we get started, let's talk about what you are going to need, such as:


  • Circular Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Cordless Drill
  • 4' Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Chalk Line
Material:    *These amounts are for the particular bench described in this post.
  • (2)- 4" x 4" x 8' Posts
  • (7)- 2" x 4" x 16'  Lumber or (14)- 2" x 4" x 8' Lumber
  • (2)- ¾" Sanded Pine Plywood
  • (3#)- 3" Screws
  • (3#)- 1-5/8" Screws

To get started, let's make some measurements and mark them on the wall and floor.  To make this workbench at a comfortable height, it will be 40" off the floor (again, this can be whatever height you like).  To allow for the thickness of the plywood (¾"),  make a mark on the wall at 39 ¼" from the floor.  Make this mark at both ends of where the bench will be.  Once both marks are made, use a chalk box and snap a line from one point to the other.  This mark will be for the bench top frame.  Now for the shelf frame, let's chalk a line at 19 ¼" from the floor.  This will put the shelf below at 20" high, and half the distance as the bench top.  Now that all the marks have been made on the wall, you can start building the frame.

 Let's start with the middle shelf, and using the miter saw, cut two 2" x 4"s to 16' long.  Next, cut 13 boards to 15" long.  This will make the joists (or framing members going from front to back) for the frame.  These boards will be attached in between the long boards every 16 inches (or 16" o.c.).  Once this is put together, attach it to the wall at the lower chalk line with 3" screws into the studs in the wall.  Temporarily hold the outside of the frame off the floor with scrap boards.


Now that the frame for the middle shelf is attached to the wall and propped up by scrap boards, cut your 4" x 4" posts into 4 pieces at 39 ¼" long each.  These will be the legs for the workbench.  You can lay these posts inside the frame, on the backside of the front board.  Try to keep these posts evenly spaced and no more than 4' apart.  With posts in place, use a 4' level to make sure that they are plumb (plumb means vertically level, or level up and down).  Once they are plumb, anchor them to the frame with 3" screws.

Jig Saw PlywoodWorkbench

Since the middle shelf is going to be 18" deep, use the circular saw and cut one piece of ¾" plywood down to 18" wide by 8' long.  This will be enough to cover half the length of the shelf so you will also have to cut a second piece of plywood to cover the entire length.  Before you install the plywood, you will need to measure and mark where the posts are, and cut the holes out using a Jig saw.  Once cut, you can lower the plywood over the top of the posts and down onto the frame.  Attach the plywood to the frame using 1-5/8" screws.  Congratulations, you are half way there!


After building the shelf, the rest of the process should be easy!  Just like the middle shelf frame, cut two 2" x 4"s to 16' long.  Next, cut 13 boards to 21" long to make the joists (this is because the top of the bench will stick out 6 inches more than the middle shelf).  Just like before, attach the joists between the 16' long boards every 16 inches (or 16" o.c.).  The only thing different that you'll want to do on the top, as opposed to the middle, is to attach another 16' long 2" x 4" across the posts at 35 ¾" from the floor.  This is called a ledger board and will sit just below where the top frame will need to go.  After doing this, the top frame can attach to the wall with 3" screws at the original line you made at 39 ¼".  The front will sit over the top of the ledger board and will be screwed into it with 3" screws also.  The ledger board adds strength to the top shelf, and is needed since it will be hanging out over the posts.  Once the top frame is installed, you can cut the plywood to fit (which will be 24 inches wide this time) and installed using the 1-5/8" screws.  The last thing that I would recommend would be a good sanding across all parts of the bench, especially the top!

Now you can step back and look at the work you've done.  One advantage to this bench is that the top is cantilevered over the legs.  You should now be able to freely walk from one end to the other without tripping over the legs!  Another cool thing about building a workbench is that you've now built something that can help you build something else!  Cool, huh?

I cannot end this post without giving some credit.  I first got the idea for writing this post after reading the blog- Flipping The Flip.  The author, Becky, wrote a great post about building a workbench, along with many other projects.  I encourage you all to check out her blog when you have a chance! A lot of good stuff there!   As always, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think about this post, or any others of mine!