I finally built a respectable workbench for my shop and you can too for around $65 bucks! This is a Roubo style bench and is very sturdy and looks pretty cool. There are a ton of different and more technical ways to build a bench like this, but who has the time? Not me!
So here is the easy and affordable way I built mine.
Step 1: Building the Bench Top.
I started by cutting my 2x4's to a rough length of around 6'. Running the boards through a jointer is a great way to remove the beveled edges that are included with the purchase of your new 2x4s as well as eliminating the crowns that these boards most likely have. With that said, I do not own a jointer..... I know, what self respecting woodworker does not own a jointer? ....ME! So, i chose to run them through my planer. Seems to work just fine.
After the boards are somewhat prepped, out comes the glue. I glued up three sections so I can run them back through the planer after the glue dries. The finished width for my top is around 30".
Step 2: Ooooh.... Legs
I used 4x4 Douglas Fir posts that I found at the big box hardware store. Make sure they are nice and straight!
Using a cross cut sled on my table saw, I set the depth of the blade for my tenons. Mine were 1-1/4" tenons. The purpose of using the table saw to make the first cut all the way around the board is to give you a nice, straight line and to make it a lot easier to use the router to finish them off. There are many ways to cut tenons. This was a great method for the tools I have in my shop.
The tenoning "jig" I used is pretty primitive. I screwed three off-cuts of the same 4x4 post to the table to surround and loosely clamp the post to the table. Next, I used a 3/4" straight bit on my plunge router to hog out the material all the way around the post. It was fun!
Step 3: Assembling the Base.
Once all of the tenons are cut, its time to make some holes for these things to fit in to. Trace your tenon out on your post. Drilling several holes with a forstner bit is a great way to get the mortises started. Be sure to mark the depth of your mortise on your drill bit with some tape.
Once you drill the holes, connect them using a SHARP chisel. It is no fun at all if your chisel is dull (trust me). I have some cheap chisels that I am constantly sharpening with a whetstone and guide.
Its important that these mortises are a tight fit, so be patient and keep dry fitting them, you'll be glad you did!
In my build, I didn't plan for a brace at the top of the base so I had to add one after everything was glued up. I just screwed some 2x4 chunks to the face of the posts, but a mortise and tenon joint here would have been much cooler.... whooops.
Once all of the mortises are in, now its time to assemble the base. Stuff a bunch of glue down in the holes and SMOOOSH! Make sure the legs are square with the 2x4 braces. I didn't have clamps long enough to hold everything together, so I used some ratchet straps around the whole thing and it worked fine. Just be sure to cross square the base!
Step 4: Combining the Top and Base.
With the base on the floor, I covered the tenons and the joints of the top with wood glue and smashed everything together. The weight of the top held everything together nicely!
Step 5: Cherry 'er Up!
Next, I added bowties. These are totally optional. The main reason I put them in is because there was an area in the top that didn't glue together as nice as I would have liked. These little bowties are very strong and look pretty rad too!