DIY projects are so cool! From making a pallet sofa and a cool garden bar to your own gazebo! Now think quick! What tool is often used in your workshop? What tool do you use on a daily basis and for all projects? Did you just say workbench? Well, you certainly should have. Think about it. A good, strong workbench is the most vital aspect of any well-equipped workshop.
It’s where you lay out and put things together. You pile loads of items on it and clutter it up. It is the most crucial tool in any workshop, regardless of how you use it or whether you take its presence for granted. Building one is easy and we will show you how to make a highly robust workbench quickly and cheaply in only a few hours that will last for years.
Things you need to know before starting your project
So, here’s the deal: your first DIY workbench plans shouldn’t be a woodworking project, but you should rather approach it as a “work table.” Below are factors to consider before you get started:
1. Start simple
Your first DIY workbench design should be simple enough to do over the weekend. Before you think about what your dream workbench will be, you need to get started making stuff and you’ll need a place to learn in order to do so.
Your garage is the one to go. So don’t expect a Roubo-inspired end result as your first garage workbench. In the beginning, it will simply be held together with wood screws and bolts.
2. Use materials that are suitable for construction
As a beginner DIYer, never spend a lot of money on some rock maple or other good cabinet woods unless you know exactly what you are doing. You will make mistakes the first time around, and this is the time to learn from such mistakes.
Probably the type of wood to get you started on your first simple workbench would be dimensional lumber, such as the one sold at the home centre. A basis of yellow pine or Douglas fir works well, and you can glue pieces together for added mass. Invest your time, instead of money, in going through the stacks to find the greatest boards.
If you have access to a table saw, choose 2x10s and rip them down yourself. They are usually more straight and clean than 2x4s. However, make sure they are dry enough to work with. Larger lumber is frequently offered as “green” with up to 30 % moisture, depending on where you live.
3. MDF is a good option for a top surface
Yes, it’s not as attractive as a long-grain hardwood, but MDF is extremely hard and flat, making it an excellent work surface. You can quickly stack and glue the layers together. If you don’t need to move it frequently, go for at least two, if not three or four.
MDF is fairly heavy because of its superior density. Although the edges can be delicate, you may either surround them with wood or simply replace them as needed. It will take a long time for them to degrade.
4. Alternatively, you can purchase a ready-made benchtop
If you truly want a solid-wood outfeed bench with ample tool storage, you can put together a pine or fir base and buy a pre-fabricated maple top that can overhang. They cost roughly £140-200 for a 60 x 150 cm slab when new, but with just a circular saw and a drill, you can make an all-wood bench in a weekend time.
You can also look for butcher block countertops online to obtain a decent deal. Just make sure it is of excellent quality. Then, when you are ready to build your “dream bench,” you may reuse the same top.
5. The width of the bench should be 50-60 cm
The length of your workbench should be as long as possible, but it should only be 50-60 cm broad. Unless you’re working with a specific trade or material that necessitates a broader bench, 60 cm is the maximum.
This is wide enough to hold practically any job, and you can work on something with a depth greater than 60 cm because you have length to help bear the load. Simply pull the bench away from the wall if you require more space.
You will need a front vice if you are a woodworker
To use sharp tools like chisels and saws properly, you must secure your work while allowing access to it. Clamps are useful, but they can also be inconvenient.
A relatively inexpensive front vice can be found at any home improvement store. Cast iron vices bolt to your bench and can be set up in under an hour. Don’t worry about aligning the back jaw with the rest of the top. This may be done later. Simply add some wood or leather jaws, and you’re ready to go.
If you are not a woodworker, a classic machinist vice mounted to the tabletop of your bench can be useful too. You just need to attach it to your bench without permanently installing it, so it doesn’t get in the way when you are working.
6. Bench dog holes are fantastic, and they’re free
Traditional woodworking benches with a slew of holes in the top are probably familiar to you. These are conventional 7/10 cm bench dog holes that can accommodate not just bench dogs (small pop-up stops), but also holdfasts, shop-made stops and fixtures, and the formidable Veritas Wonder Dog.
The best part is that these holes do not cost anything except time if you have a drill and they will substantially increase the functionality of the basic workbench.
How to make a DIY workbench step-by-step
1. Define the custom dimensions
Determine the Workbench‘s dimensions. Take measurements of the desired length, width, and height in relation to your work area and write them down.
2. Look for a benchtop
- Thick, wooden butcher-block-style workbench tops (which are rather expensive.)
- Thin, hard, industrial benchtops (which are more economical.)
- Or a couple of pieces of plywood layered on top of each other. You can also salvage a solid-core door for a robust, durable, and economical alternative. The most crucial thing to remember is that the workbench must be both flat and strong. If required, cut the benchtop to size.
3. Cut 4 legs from 4x4s
Each leg’s length should be equal to the desired bench height minus the thickness of the benchtop.
4. Cut 4 leg braces from 2x4s
Each brace should be equal to the width of the benchtop minus the width of two 2x4s if you want the top of the workbench to be flush with the frame underneath it.
Cut the braces to the same length as the bench top’s width if you want the frame to just slightly out from underneath the benchtop, which can be useful for storing clamps, for example. Measure the width of your 2x4s for a precise cut.
5. Position each upper leg brace on a pair of legs
Place two 4x4s completely parallel to one another, with the distance between the outside left and right edges equaling the length of the brace. Then, place one leg brace across the two edges.
6. Bolt every top leg brace to a pair of legs
Drill two holes through the 2×4 and the 4×4 using a 7/20 cm drill bit. Drill the holes diagonally from each other (i.e. one at the top left, one at the bottom right) so that you may later fit the third bolt into the gap between them.
Slide bolts through the pre-drilled holes as you progress from the 2×4 to the 4×4. Close them up by slipping washers over the ends and securing them with nuts that can be tightened with a wrench. The bolt ends should protrude from the 4x4s after you are finished. Now, repeat with the last pair of legs.
7. Attach the bottom two leg braces to the other two legs with bolts
Overturn one of the leg pairs. Instead of aligning the brace with the (soon-to-be) bottoms of the legs, lift them a few centimetres so they don’t sit flush with the floor. When you’re finished, you should have a top brace near the top of one leg pair and a bottom brace at the bottom of the other leg pair.
8. Make two top supports from 2x4s
The length of each support should be the same as the benchtop.
9. Install the top supports with bolts
Place the leg pairs such that the distance between the outer left and outside right edges equals the length of the top support, with the top braces pointing outwards (i.e. away from one another). One of the supports on top should be placed across the leg pairs, aligning with the top braces.
Pre-drill a hole through the top support and through the 4×4 on both sides (be sure to drill between the existing bolts). Then, bolt the support in place. Reverse the bench and do the same thing on the other side. When you’re finished, the top of your four legs should now be surrounded by a frame.
10. Attach now the workbench top
Place the pieces in place and, if necessary, pre-drill bolt holes into the underlying supports. To secure the coach bolts, screw them in place.
You can go bolting from the bottom up if you have a thick benchtop. This will ensure that the benchtop is bolt-free and smooth. However, only do this if the benchtop is thick enough to prevent the bolt ends from popping off.
11. If desired, add a bottom shelf
Simply measure the distance between each of the four legs, cut a shelf to fit from your preferred material (for example, plywood), and screw it in place. Shelving can be good to add more storage space.
12. Finish the workbench
If you wish, you may apply varnish, polyurethane, and other finishes to the wood. You could always use a pegboard overhead to hang your smaller tools if you need more space to put them.
Extra accessories for your workbench
So, now that you have got your own workbench, what’s next? It’s time to dress it up with all the bells and whistles so that it can perform to its full potential. Here are a few accessories for you to consider:
1. Magnetic strip
A heavy-duty magnetic strip is an effective technique to prevent hardware from spreading when working on projects and to keep frequently used items close at hand for convenient access. Attach a strip to one of your workbench‘s legs or to the top frame.
2. Power strip
Workflow is usually hampered by extension cords hooked into wall sockets, not to mention the continual disconnecting of one power tool to plug in another
Attach a power strip to your workbench to allow many power tools to be plugged in at the same time, reducing the number of cords.
3. Silicone project mat
A project mat will protect the top of your valuable workbench. A workbench mat protects tools from rolling away while also protecting your workbench top from paint, glue, and debris.
4. Clamp lamp
A clamp lamp will brighten up your space. The light will help you view your workbench projects better and will reduce eye strain. It can attach to your workbench and can be moved around the workspace as needed.
5. Wheels with casters
You will have a mobile workbench with such wheels. Each caster can feature breakers that secure your workbench.
6. Adhesive measuring tape
It’s easy to check measures when you have adhesive measuring tape attached to your workbench. Lay the tape flat on the top bench.
Now you can build a workbench in your garage to help you finish all of your projects and also provide you with some extra storage space. With the above guide, you don’t need the help of the family handyman or some long tutorials. Your workbench should give you many years of good service in the long run!