Organize – Phase 6: How to Build a Good Workbench

 

Organize – Phase 6:  How to Build a Good Workbench

 

A workbench is a must have for all homeowners who perform any of their own Home Repairs. Pre-fab workbenches can be purchased, but it is fairly easy and usually better to build your own. You can custom build them to your own specifications and design requirements. A project that you can be proud of for a lifetime.

How to Build a Good Workbench:  Make it sturdy, versatile, and build it to last a long, long, time.

There are many ways to build a good solid workbench. I will show you one way here. You are certainly able to do something different, if you so desire. The key elements that I believe should be incorporated in the design are:

  • Solid, Good-Sized Top with a Smooth Surface
  • Sturdy Legs and Supports
  • Under-the-Top & Over-the-Top Shelving
  • Pegboard Behind Top
  • Fluorescent Light Attached
  • Power Strip Attached
  • Vice Attached
  • Bench Grinder Attached

You would certainly like to be able to build your workbench as cheaply as possible. One way to accomplish, this is start by purchasing some of the Materials & Supplies Needed from a Habitat for Humanity ReStores. These are Non-Profit Home Improvement Stores and Donation Centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Check your local listings for one close to you.

First, look for your top. This can be made from a repurposed, solid-core wooden door. A brand new door that had NEVER been drilled for a lockset or mortised for hinges will provide the largest top with the least amount of work. However, a door that has already been drilled for a lockset and mortised for hinges, is a good second choice. It will just require some cutting down to be able to best work for what you need.

You may possibly be able to get some of the other materials needed at the Restore as well. If this option is NOT available to you, you can purchase these items at your local Home Center, or on any of the websites that I offer you.

You may consider building a workbench in each of your Bases. If you have certain space constraints, you can change the dimensions for your workbenches based on your requirements.

 

Materials & Supplies Needed to build your workbench:

Make sure that when you order your Materials, specify that all of your boards need to be straight and NOT twisted.

  • 30” x 80” Solid Core Wooden Door (which has NEVER been drilled for a lockset or mortised for hinges) or a 36” x 80” Solid Core Wooden Door (which has been drilled for a lockset that will be cut down to size)
  • (9) 2” x 4” x 8’ long
  • (2) 4” x 4” x 8’ long
  • (1) 1″ x 10″ x 8’ long, 3/4” thick, Upper Shelf Board
  • (1) 1″ x 12″ x 8’ long, 3/4” thick, Lower Shelf Board
  • (1) 1” x 6” x 8’ long, 3/4” thick (optional if needed for leg base plates if using wheel casters)
  • (1) Sheet of 4’ x 8’ Hardboard Pegboard, 1/4” thick (color and type of your choice)
  • (2) 10″ Pegboard Shelf Brackets
  • (1) Variety Pack of Pegboard Hooks, plus Additional Hooks as needed
  • (8) 1 1/2” Steel ‘L’ brackets
  • (8) 3″ x 3/4″ Steel Mending Plates (with (4) screw holes in each)
  • (40) 2 1/2” Coarse Thread Phillips Flathead Wood Screws
  • (56) 3/4” Long, #10 Phillips Round Head Wood Screws (with optional 1/2” Washers if heads are too small to prevent screws from sinking into the pegboard
  • (112) 3/4” Long, #10 Phillips Flathead Wood Screws (or #8 Screws depending on your brackets and casters)
  • (1) 1” long or longer Finishing Nail
  • (1) Single Bulb, 4’ Fluorescent Light (plug-in type)
  • (1) 40W 4’ Fluorescent Light Bulb
  • (4) Heavy Duty, Locking, Caster Wheels (optional)

Purchase Materials & Supplies Needed at:   AceHardware.com   Amazon.com   eBay.com   HomeDepot.com   SamsClub.com   Walmart.com

 

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Mechanics Work Gloves
  • Design Plans for both your Primary Base and your Secondary Base
  • Scratch Paper
  • Clipboard
  • Sharpened Pencil
  • 25’ Tape Measure
  • Claw Hammer
  • Cordless Drill
  • Quick Change Phillips Head Bit
  • Magnetic Quick Change Extension for the Cordless Drill
  • (2) Drill Bits (equal to, or with slightly smaller diameters than the shafts of your (2) screw sizes)
  • Saw Horses or Cutting Table
  • Compound Miter Saw with a Cross-Cut or Plywood Blade
  • Skill Saw with both a Rip Blade & a Plywood or Cross-Cut Blade
  • Jigsaw with a Plywood or Cross-Cut Blade
  • Drill Press with appropriate sized Drill Bits for pre-drilling holes
  • (2) 12” Wood Clamps
  • 4’ T-Square
  • 12” T-Square
  • Chalk Line
  • Whisk Broom
  • Broom and Dust Pan or Shop Vac

Purchase Tools & Supplies Needed at:   AceHardware.com   Amazon.com   eBay.com   HomeDepot.com   SamsClub.com   Walmart.com

 

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Step-by-Step Instructions

 

Step 1 – Create a Materials & Supplies Needed Sheet

Step 2 – Calculate Project Cost

Step 3 – Order Your Materials & Tools Needed

Step 4 – Inspect Your Delivery

If you are building your workbench to the specifications in these instructions, then the Materials & Supplies Needed sheet can be created by copying the Materials & Supplies Needed list, shown above. If you are changing any of the specifications, you will need to make the necessary alterations to your Materials & Supplies Needed sheet according to your designs.

The information to complete these (4) Steps is found in the page:   Steps Common to All Projects

Simply click on that Link and you will be directed there.

You can also access it in the Drop-Down Top Menu under:   Home

After completing these (4) Steps, simply click on your ‘back arrow’ (top left corner of the page) to return to these instructions.

 

Step 5 – Procedure for Cutting Your Door to Size

If you are using a 30” x 80” solid core wooden door (which has NEVER been drilled for a lockset or mortised for hinges), you will skip this Step.

If you are using a 36” x 80” solid core wooden door, you will need to cut the door down to a 30” width.

a.  Measure, 1/2” in from the ‘mortised for hinges’ side of your door, and mark at both ends. Tap your 1” long finishing nail into one short end of your door (about 1/2″ deep), in line with your cut mark. Attach your chalk line, and holding it taught, with the line covering your marks, snap a line.

b.  Measure 30” away from your chalk line, mark each end, and snap a chalk line on those marks.

c.  On your circular saw, measure the distance from the blade to the edge of the shoe (base) on the left side of the blade. Using (2) 12” wood clamps, clamp a 2” x 4” x 8’ to your door, at the distance measured, away from your second chalk line (toward your first chalk line). This will act as a fence guide, to assist you in keeping your saw straight while cutting.

d.  Make your cut, keeping your saw tightly against the fence. Repeat the procedure for your other cut line.

 

Step 6 – Build the Rectangles for Your Frame

The dimensions of your 2” x 4”s should actually be: 3 1/2” wide and 1 1/2” thick. If they are NOT, you will need to adjust your measurements and cuts according to your board’s dimensions.

The size of your workbench frame is based on using a 30” x 80” solid core wooden door for your top. If you are using a different sized top, you will need to adjust your frame dimensions accordingly.

The height of the workbench is designed to be used with a standard chair, with a seat height of about 18”. If you will be using a particular chair or stool with a different seat height, you will need to adjust the length of your 4” x 4” legs accordingly.

The frame for the workbench consists of (2) rectangles, 76 inches long, by 28 inches wide made from 2” x 4”s. Each rectangle will be screwed together with (2) screws in each end, going thru the faces of your Short Boards into the ends of your Long Boards, and (2) screws in each end of your center brace, going thru the faces of your Long Boards into the ends of your Short Center Brace.

Each rectangle will be attached to (4) legs, made from 4” x 4”s, 30” long, and attached with (4) screws into each leg. This length will include any casters and base plates used.

a. Gather the following Materials:

  •      (6) 2” x 4” x 8’ Boards
  •      (2) 4” x 4” x 8’ Boards
  •      1” long or longer Finishing Nail
  •      (40) 2 1/2” Coarse Thread Phillips Flathead Wood Screws

b.  Using your 12” T-square, pencil, and saw, square off and cut one end of all of your 2” x 4” x 8’s, and your (2) 4” x 4“ x 8‘s.

c.  For your Upper rectangle, measure (from your squared ends), mark, and cut the following:

  •      (2) 2” x 4”s, 73” long
  •      (2) 2” x 4”s, 28 inches long
  •      (1) 2” x 4”, 25” long (cut from leftovers)

Set your Upper rectangle pieces aside.

d.  For your Lower rectangle, measure (from your squared ends), mark, and cut the following:

  •      (2) 2” x 4”s, 73” long
  •      (2) 2” x 4”s, 28 inches long
  •      (1) 2” x 4”, 8” long (cut from leftovers)

Set your Lower rectangle pieces aside, keeping them separate from your Upper rectangle pieces.

e.  For your legs, measure (from your squared ends), mark, and cut the following:

  •      (4) 4” x 4”s, 30” long

If you have a drill press, use it, with the appropriate bit to pre-drill all of your holes. If you do NOT have a drill press, use your cordless drill, with the appropriate bit, making sure to keep it perpendicular to your boards when drilling.

If you are using saw horses, you can place your door on them to use as your clamping and drilling table. (When pre-drilling, always use a scrap piece of 2” x 4” as a backup board between your workpiece and your table.)

f.  Mark one face of each of your 28” long 2” x 4”s for your Upper  rectangle, at 1” in from each edge, as follows:

  •      at 3/4” in from both ends, and also,
  •      at 1 3/4 in from both ends. Mark all (16) spots with an ‘x’.

Take your 1” long or longer finishing nail and your claw hammer, and put a small indentation in the center of each ‘x’.

g.  Mark one face of each of your 73” long boards, 1” in from each edge, as follows:

  •      at the center of your boards (at 36 1/2” from either end) and also,
  •      at 1 3/4” from each end. Mark all (12) spots with an ‘x’, and center punch indentations in these marks as well.

h.  Pre-drill each of the marks in all of the boards, going completely through the boards.

i.  Now, take a 73” Long Board and a 28″ Short Board for your Upper rectangle, and place them on their edges at a 90 degree angle to each other, lining up the ends, with the face of the 28″ Short Board covering the end of the 73” Long Board. Be sure to keep the face of your choice for each board facing outward. Take a 12” wood clamp, and clamp the boards together, with the pads from the clamp equally spaced on the edges of the (2) boards (you will need to overhang the 90 degree corner off the end of your work table about 3”).

j.  Using your cordless drill with your phillips head bit installed, and your 2 1/2” Coarse Thread phillips flathead wood screws, screw the boards together, countersinking each screw head slightly.

k.  Repeat this process with the other 28″ Short Board for your Upper rectangle, on the other end of the same 73” Long Board. Then, take your other 73” Long Board, and attach it to the other ends of your 28″ Short Boards. Now, take your 25” Short Board and attach it to the Center of both of your 73” Long Boards. Your Upper rectangle is complete.

l.  Now, for your Lower rectangle, mark one face of each of your 28” Short 2” x 4”s at 1” in from each edge, as follows:

  •      at 3/4” in from one end, and also,
  •      at 10 1/4” from the same end, and also,
  •      at 2 1/4 in from both ends. Mark all (16) spots with an ‘x’.

Mark one face of each of your 73” Long Boards, 1” in from each edge, as follows:

  •      at the Center of your Boards (at 36 1/2” from either end) and also,
  •      at 1 3/4” from each end. Mark all (12) spots with an ‘x’, and center punch indentations in these marks as well.

Pre-drill each of the marks, and fasten your boards together in the same fashion as you did for your Upper rectangle. Be sure to keep the face of your choice for each board facing outward. Now your Lower rectangle is complete.

m.  Start all of your 2 1/2” Coarse Thread phillips flathead wood screws in each remaining hole that you have drilled. Make sure that you are going thru the correct face of your boards to be able to attach your rectangles to your legs. Do NOT allow the tips of the screws to stick out of the other face of your boards. Set the remaining screws to the side, to be used later.

 

Step 7 – Attach your Top and Legs

Attach your top to your Upper rectangle using your (8) ‘L’ brackets. Install optional wheel casters and additional base plates if required, and cut legs to the appropriate length. Attach your legs, securing each leg with (4) screws.

a.  Measure, mark, and cut, (4) 6” long pieces of 4” x 4” from your leftovers. Place these (4) pieces on the floor, spaced to accommodate your bench top near the corners.

b.  Place your door that you are using for your bench top, placing the best face, face down on the (4) 6” long blocks.

c.  Place your Upper rectangle on the bench top underside, positioning the frame even with one Long edge (this will be the backside of the bench), and the (2) Short edges equally overlapping. The other Long edge will overlap as well.

d.  Place your (8) ‘L’ Brackets on the inside of the rectangle, in the center of each of your boards, (4) on each half). Take your pencil and mark each of the holes in all of the brackets, being careful not to move the brackets during marking. Remove the brackets. Take a piece of painter’s tape, and wrap it tightly around the appropriate drill bit, 1/2” from the tip. Center punch a small indentation in the center of each of your marks using your 1” long or longer finishing nail and your claw hammer. Then pre-drill each hole, 1/2” deep, being careful not to allow the painter’s tape to scoot up the bit. Then install 3/4” long, #10 phillips round head wood screws in each hole (use flat head screws if your brackets have countersinks). Tighten all securely, countersinking each screw head slightly.

e.  If you are installing caster wheels on your workbench, you will need to cut your legs down, by a distance equal to the height of your caster, first checking to see if you will need an additional base plate, as follows:  Center a caster plate on the bottom of one of your legs. Pencil mark the (4) holes, and remove the caster. Look at your marks to see that there is at least 3/4” between your marks and the edges of your legs. If there is NOT, you will need to add a 3/4” thick, 1” x 6”, 5 1/2” long, base plate to each leg.

If you need base plates, measure, mark, and cut them now. Then, pre-drill (4) holes in each of your base plates, using the appropriate drill bit to accommodate #10, – 1 1/2” long, flat head wood screws, making sure that the holes will be aligned to your legs, 1” in from the leg edges, and that the holes will be at least 1/2” away from the holes in your caster wheel plate.

f.  Now, measure, mark, and cut your (4) legs down to the height you will need. The amount that you will remove from each leg will be equal to the caster height (from the bottom of the center of the wheel to the top of the mounting plate), plus 3/4” if you are using an additional base plate.

g.  Once your legs have been cut down to the correct size and your additional base plates have been pre-drilled, center each base plate on each leg and screw it in. Then, attach your wheels using (4) #10 – 3/4” long, round head wood screws for each caster, tightening each screw securely (use flat head screws if your casters have countersinks).

h.  Now, place your (4) legs on the inside corners of your Upper rectangle. Holding each leg tightly against the top, and securely against the 2” x 4” rectangle, screw in each of your screws, securing each leg with (4) xcrews. (You can use your 12″ wood clamps to assist you in holding the legs securely against your rectangle while screwing in your screws.)

i.  Flip your workbench right side up. Place your workbench into your Lower rectangle. Take your (4) 6” blocks, and place them underneath your Lower rectangle, in the corners, in order to support the rectangle 6” off of the floor. Holding each leg securely against the 2” x 4” rectangle (You can use your 12″ wood clamps to assist you in holding the legs securely against your rectangle while screwing in your screws.), screw in each of your remaining screws, securing each leg with (4) screws. Tighten all securely, countersinking each screw head slightly.

 

Step 8 – Install Your Lower Shelf

Measure, mark, and cut your 3/4” thick, 1″ x 12″ to fit on to your Lower rectangle toward the backside of the rectangle. Attach with screws if desired.

a.  Measure the length of your Lower rectangle at the longest point. With the cupped side up on your 1″ x 12″, mark the length needed, and using your skill saw, cut your board to length.

b.  Measure your back legs, and transfer these measurements to the back corners of your shelf board, marking cut lines in each corner. Cut the corners out using your jigsaw.

c.  Place your shelf onto your Lower rectangle. If desired, you can pre-drill and screw it into place with 1 1/2” drywall screws, although it is not really necessary.

 

Step 9 – Install Pegboard on the Backside of Your Workbench

Make your pegboard framing, and cut and install pegboard on the backside of your workbench, at 80″ long and 24″ wide.

a.  Measure, mark, and cut your pegboard to the following dimensions:  80” long, and 24” wide. Brush off with your whisk broom, and set this piece to the side.

b.  Measure, mark, and cut 2” x 4”s for your framing:

  •      (3) (the height of your workbench plus 24″)
  •      (4) (1/2 the width of your Workbench minus the width of 1 1/2 of your 2″ x 4″s – approximately 5 1/4″)

c.  Place your (3) Long Boards parallel on the floor, about 35” apart. Then place (2) of your Short Boards even with the top edge of your (3) Long Boards, and the other (2) Short Boards placed parallel to the first (2) Short Boards, with the lower edge at 24” from the top of your Long Boards. Tighten up to eliminate any gaps.

d.  Position your 3″ x 3/4″ steel mending plates to overlap all of the Long and Short Boards equally, and centered. Use all (8) of your steel mending plates. Then, mark each hole in all of the plates (being careful not to move the plates while marking) and remove the plates. Using your finishing nail and claw hammer, center punch an indentation in the center of each of your marks.

e.  Pre-drill all of your holes, using the appropriate drill bit, at 1/2” deep, and install all (32) 3/4” long, #10 phillips round head wood screws, attaching your 3″ x 3/4″ steel mending plates to your boards (use flat head screws if your brackets have countersinks).

f.  Stand your pegboard framing up against the backside of your workbench with the braces facing away from your workbench. Mark each of the vertical boards with marks for pre-drilling screw holes in order to attach the pegboard framing to your Upper and Lower  rectangles. You should use (2) marks for each attachment site, spaced about 1 1/2” apart and centered width-wise in each of your rectangles.

g.  Lay your pegboard framing back down on the floor with your braces facing up, center punch all of your marks, and using a 2” x 4” scrap piece as a backer, pre-drill all of your marks completely through. Then flip your framing over on to the opposite face.

h.  Position your cut piece of pegboard on to your pegboard framing, making sure to align your pegboard with the top, bottom, and sides of your frame. Using your finishing nail and claw hammer, center punch an indentation in the second hole down from the top, centered in each of your upright supports, and also in the second to the lowest holes of your pegboard for each upright support. (Be careful not to move your pegboard while punching your indentations.)

i.  Remove the pegboard, and pre-drill holes, 1/2” deep, in all of your indentations. (Be sure to keep your drill perpendicular to your boards when drilling.) Then attach the pegboard using your 3/4” long, #10 phillips round head wood screws (with optional 1/2” washers to prevent screws from sinking into the pegboard if screw heads are too small). Attach all screws snug, but do NOT over tighten.

j.  Then, screw in your 2 1/2” Coarse Thread phillips flathead wood screws into the pegboard framing holes (in the brace side of your faces), making sure that the tips of the screws do NOT penetrate the other side.

k.  Stand your pegboard framing up against the back of your workbench and screw in all of your screws, countersinking each one slightly. Now, brush off your entire workbench with your whisk broom.

l.  Install your pegboard shelf brackets at 16 holes in from each end, and near the very top of your pegboard. Mark and cut your 1″ x 10″ shelf board at 80”, and brush off with your whisk broom. Now, check for cupping on your board, and set the cupped side face down on your table.

 

Step 10 – Install Your Fluorescent Light

Install your Fluorescent Light (flush-mount) under your top shelf, locating it in the center of the shelf, both length-wise and width-wise. Make sure that the cord is on the side that you will be installing your power strip on.

For instructions on installing your light, click the Link:   How to Install Fluorescent Lights

 

Step 11 – Install your Accessories

If you desire, the top of your workbench, pegboard, and shelving can be finished with polyurethane to protect the wood, or the top can be covered with a sacrificial sheet of 1/4” thick plywood to protect it from damage during heavy use.

Install your:  power strip, heavy duty bench vise, and bench grinder. Brush off your entire workbench and hang your tools.

a.  Power Strip:  can be attached to one of the faces of the Upper  rectangle of your workbench (near your light plug), to allow for easy plugging in of power tools.

b.  Heavy Duty Bench Vise:  can be bolted to the top of your workbench, and is a very useful addition. Make sure that you install it near an edge that will allow you plenty of work room when using. Make sure that your upper rectangle will not be in the way of any of your mounting bolts.

c.  Bench Grinder:  can also be bolted to the top of your workbench, if you so desire. Make sure that your upper frame will not be in the way of any of your mounting bolts.

d.  Now, brush off your workbench with your whisk broom, move it into it’s proper location, lock the wheels, and hang the tools of your choosing using your pegboard hooks.

Purchase Tools & Supplies Needed at:   AceHardware.com   Amazon.com   eBay.com   HomeDepot.com   SamsClub.com   Walmart.com

 

When Completed, Stand Back and Admire Your Handiwork!

Nice Job! Congratulations on Completing Your Project!

 

Now, clean up any messes and put all tools used for this project in their proper places.

 

Stay Organized!

 

Please take the time to leave a Comment, letting me know how your project went.

 

Thanks,

CJ Dodaro

 

 

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