Introduction: 2X4 Work Bench
If you're after a solid workbench for a small price, this is it!
Step 1: Tools Needed
This project requires minimal tools, however, as it comes with woodworking, there are some that could greatly decrease your time spent and aid in safety/execution.
Clamps (more the better)
Tools that would greatly assist with build:
Dado blade set
Step 2: Lumber and Hardware
This workbench is built from 100% 2X4's. Depending on your design , you could vary how many you need. I built mine so it would be just under 3' high and 5' long with a 2' wide top. I needed a total of 24-26 2x4's. It's always nice to have a few to spare.
3.5" deck screws
3" deck screws
16 3 " 5/16 Carriage bolts
16 5/16 nuts/washers
Woodworking vise. I shopped around but ended up buying one from a local hardware store for about $35.
Step 3: Making the Top.
Rip all lumber so your 2X4's will have a final dimension of 1.5 x 3". Easier way to complete task is to first set your fence to 3.25 inch (inside of kerf), rip all. Now, reposition fence to 3" and now rip other side of all. This gives you a nice flat, square top to work on.
Position all the boards you will need to achieve your top width square and flat (take a board perpendicular to and butt up all boards needing to be cut). Clamp on a guide fence and cross cut all of them with your circular saw to length. * Make sure to add a couple inches to your overall length here. You will cut to final length at a later step.
Step 3: Preparing top for catch all "cubby hole" (optional)
If you have to have a "cubby hole" you need to dadoe out 6-10" of material anywhere from 1-2" deep. It's absolutely critical you take your time here and you measure three times and cut once. I centered mine lengthwise and one board in from edge. Refer to picture#3.
Note: I do enjoy this feature, however I sometimes find it as a catch all and hard to keep organized.
Now it is finally time for glue up. If your total top width is over 12" or so, I would strongly suggest to glue your top in two sections and then glue them together as I did.
I also want to state, I did this glue up untraditionally, but for my purpose it has served extremely well. For each board I glued together, I screwed in 2.5" wood screws as well for extra clamping/holding power. Once I had approximately 5 screws/board, I would glue next one and repeat, then clamp.
Warning: Make sure you remember to leave room for your legs (tenon) to come through your table top(mortise). The best way for this is to have a scrap board for a spacer. * Make snug, but not overly tight.
Once your two halves are completed, now would be a good time to run on a jointer/planer to prepare for final thickness. I took my hand plane and belt sander to square up stock before joining the two halves.
Once joined, repeat planing and sanding to achieve a nice flat working surface. Now, cut top to final length. 5' for my case.
Step 4: All About the Base
Determine overall dimensions needed.
Since we are extending our base legs through the table top, your measurements must be exact!
For instance, my top is 24" wide. I placed my openings 2boards in from each side ( 3") and six inches in from ends. Therefore each of my bases (there's two which you later connect) must be 18 inches wide to outer edge.
For my table, I decided to have a 6" overhang on each side. However, this almost became a problem when installing my face vise, so you will want to check on this if you will be installing one. Furthermore, my base must be 4' long.
4 legs at 34"
4 end stretchers at 18"
4 side stretchers at 4'
*Refer to diagram for clarification
Now comes the tricky part. Making all the dadoes in your legs. And, yes a dadoe blade and/or a cross cut sled would be extremely beneficial.
There are 4 dadoes per leg. Each dadoe is 3" wide (the width of your rippped 2x4) and 3/4" deep (1/2 the thickness of a 2x4).
2 for your cross supports (end stretchers). One 7" from bottom and the other 9.5" from the top.
1 for bottom side stretcher: 7" from bottom
1 for tabletop support (top stretcher). 3" from top of leg. * This support is extremely critical to make precisely. You will eventually pound your top on to ground it, adding stability and ensuring its level.
Once everything is cut, assemble one base at a time. Glue, clamp and screw end stretchers to legs (picture #2). When completed, it is time to add your bottom and top stretchers. For these, you will want to clamp them in place, predrill for bolts, glue and then bolt into place. Refer to picture #1 and #5.
Step 5: Almost There!
This is by far my favorite step. Your base and now top are assembled. What's left? Put it together!
Grab a mallet, a scrap piece of lumber, align your mortise' with the tenons and start pounding it on until it is flush with your top stretcher. Tip: Pound each side a little bit at a time and never let one side dip too much before your other side has time to catch up. If your fit is a little loose, I would glue before setting top for extra support.
Once your top is on, this would be the time to install your face vice. Follow instructions or refer to this site if need help.
Step 6: Finish
There is a lot of debate about what kind of finish to use on a workbench top. Some people like wax, lacquer, nothing or even oil. Do your research and see which is best for your needs. I personally went with oil for the sole purpose to "pop" some of the grain and have the ability to easily refinish my top after years of abuse without needing to strip anything first.
Well, there you have it! You're done! Enjoy your beverage of choice and have fun with your new work bench!
Step 7: Credit
I want to make it clear I used a few different articles from multiple publications for workbenches and made a hybrid. I would honor those by releasing their names, however I can not remember which ones I used it from.
Furthermore, I want to thank the individuals who made it to the end of this article. I hope you found it useful and I apologize for any confusing areas (this is my first post). Next time I make something, I think I'll take more pictures for greater clarification.