Introduction: DIY Project: How to Make a Workbench

Picture of DIY Project: How to Make a Workbench

I love having a stationary workbench in my shop. While many benches I build are mobile by design—whether for the job site or just to move around the shop—I like to have a fixed, sturdy, flat place to do all kinds of stuff from sharpening to paperwork.

As usual, however, I want lots of utility and versatility without spending a lot of money. And I want to maximize the space, which this workbench does nicely. Because it is wall-mounted there are no legs to get in the way (like when I’m sweeping up) and I can store things I don’t use that often underneath.

And, as you may be able to tell from the picture, this workbench is in an old house. So even if I wanted to build a 4-legged workbench, I’d need about 300 shims under the legs to accommodate the undulating concrete.

All it takes to build is some 2×4, fasteners, and 5/8-inch BC plywood.

Step 1: I Like a Bench at Typical Counter Height: 36-inches Off the Floor.

Picture of I Like a Bench at Typical Counter Height: 36-inches Off the Floor.

Thirty-six inches off the floor is a nice height. Also, the more your house looks like it was a location for Silence of the Lambs, the better this workbench is.

Step 2: Strike a Level Line. Destroy Pencil.

Picture of Strike a Level Line. Destroy Pencil.

A level line is next. When scribing on concrete or masonry like this, your pencil will instantly be torched. Good thing this link will take you to a terrific video on how to sharpen a carpenter’s pencil.

Step 3: ​Fasten the Ledger to the Wall.

Picture of ​Fasten the Ledger to the Wall.

On this workbench, I installed the sides onto the ledger first. It makes getting the angle for the legs (next) easier. Make sure the sides are level before laying out and fastening the legs.

Tip: Use concrete screws or expansion anchors to fasten to masonry or concrete.

Step 4: Run a Leg Back to the Wall.

Picture of Run a Leg Back to the Wall.

For a workbench like this, I like the leg to be at least 24-inches long. To get the angle where the leg meets the side, I cut a 45-degree angle off the wall-side, then just put the piece in place and trace the top.

Step 5: Add Ribs to Support the 5/8-inch Plywood Top.

Picture of Add Ribs to Support the 5/8-inch Plywood Top.

I like to install ribs every 24-inches or so before putting on the front piece.

Step 6: Add the Front.

Picture of Add the Front.

Adding the front piece is: (A) terrifying, (B) agonizing, (C) fun?

Step 7: Add the Top.

Picture of Add the Top.

Adding the top gives me an excuse to use one of my handiest tools, my narrow crown stapler. It’s awesome for this kind of project because the staples hold fast and (even though they’d work fine) leave a smaller countersink than screw heads. Plus they go in fast and make a cool noise.

5/8-inch plywood works great. Run a router with a chamfer bit to ease the square edge.

Step 8: Customize.

Picture of Customize.

Nails or screws are all I use. And rhymes. I use rhymes too.

There are fancier ways to organize a workshop. Drawers, doors, closets, etc. But for me, in a shop like this, I can finish something like this (A) in my lifetime and (B) it’s easy to build. It’s inexpensive and delivers buckets of utility. It doesn’t do everything—closets and cases are great for stuff like paint cans and a zillion other things—but this creates a space for stuff I use that I can see it and grab it when I need it. You with me on this?


Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-24

Hi, I've added your project to the "Make Your Own Workbench!" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

wolffram (author)2015-12-05

One question - how do you you fix the legs to the wall? You don't mention that. Thanks.

wolffram (author)2015-12-05

OK, I'm going to do it. You've convinced me! Wish me good luck...

Wade Tarzia (author)2015-01-23

Nice. Would someone explain to me how to drill holes in concrete? I have a good Milwaukee hand electric drill but hesitate to do something stupid that would ruin it.

It's part about the bits and part about the drill. For concrete you'll at least need a hammer drill and a bit for concrete. Expect to go through several bits in harder concrete (like you'll find in a newer house). Some ear protection is nice here. Hammer drills are wicked loud. If you rent a tool, a rotary hammer is a much better choice.

gaieb (author)MyFixitUpLife2015-06-19

I been drilling small holes in concrete for years, 1/2 inch and smaller, 1/2 is enough to put in anchor bolts. I have never used a hammer drill, just a 3/8 drive drill, cheap ones from harbor freight, never had a problem. But yes, you can expect to go through lots of carbide bits, I don't think the Chineese carbide is real carbide. I have some old ones US made in the 60s and they still have the full size carbide.


ThisFlynn made it! (author)2015-06-15

Complete with creepy basement!

The bench is gloriously level. I'll be rehanging the peg board to line up better (otherwise it's going to drive me nuts)

Blckfrnk (author)2015-02-23

Would this design work by fastening the ledger and legs to studs in a garage wall?

MyFixitUpLife (author)Blckfrnk2015-02-23

Definitely. I recommend using two deck screws per stud. Set a couple of screws as 'cleats' in two studs beneath the ledger location to support it on the line. And start a few screws to limit the inevitable 3-hand requirement in DIY.

RaptorWing (author)2015-01-06

I've found a chalkline extremely helpful in extending the life of my pencils. I've been meaning to do something like this for a while now... I've just got to get the garage cleaned up a bit first!

MyFixitUpLife (author)RaptorWing2015-01-15

Yes, chalk lines are good like that! Good luck on the bench. And the garage.

j4v1jh (author)2014-12-29

So smart!

MyFixitUpLife (author)j4v1jh2015-01-15

Thank you.

AngryRedhead (author)2014-12-29

I like things I can easily sweep underneath, so this works for me. :)

Good call. That's part of why we kick the legs back to the wall instead of run them to the floor.

Deskpilot7368 (author)2014-12-29

Nice batman T

We try. Dark Knight rocks--

Orngrimm (author)2014-12-30

"Step 2: Strike a level line. Destroy pencil."
Hahaha! Nice title! :)

MyFixitUpLife (author)Orngrimm2015-01-15


Natalielge1 (author)2014-12-30

Nice Work!! I appreciate the way you design: it needs lots
of hard work and dedication.

Thank you!

adamwatters (author)2014-12-30

Nice quick and useful build. Looks great!

Thank you--

bo88y (author)2015-01-01

"Use concrete screws or expansion anchors" for fastening the ledger. I think expansion anchors are CLEARLY the better choice here, given the vibrations and pounding that the bench is going to take, and that when you push down on the bench, you put withdrawal-force on the fasteners.

MyFixitUpLife (author)bo88y2015-01-15

On other benches and shelves, we've had concrete screws into stone for anywhere from 5 to 9 years. Nothing has budged. Expansion anchors are often much easier to use (we have those too), without a doubt. Concrete screws are hit or miss in anything but concrete. And even then...

matthieutje65 (author)2015-01-05

clever and well build, thanks for sharing

Thank you. We get a lot of use out of it.

ctwillie (author)2015-01-06

Awesome and thanks for sharing!

Quick question: is this bench stout enough to affix a decent vise?

MyFixitUpLife (author)ctwillie2015-01-15

We have our stationary sander on ours--about 30 pounds--so, yes, I'd say there's plenty of meat on this to hold a vise.

Potter John (author)2015-01-06

A possible add is a hardboard top. Cheap, protects the period, and replaceable if damaged

Love that idea.

Potter John (author)Potter John2015-01-06

Protects the plywood...

alderaic (author)2015-01-06

would be even better with pocket holes. clean surface.

nice instructable ;)

MyFixitUpLife (author)alderaic2015-01-15

Thank you. Spoken like a true woodworker. :)

odellkevin (author)2015-01-06

Wouldn't it have been better to have the bottom edge of the legs actually touch the floor? That way, any downward force would have been transmitted to the floor rather than to the bolts. I don't know, I'm not a carpenter, it just seems like it would make sense.

MyFixitUpLife (author)odellkevin2015-01-15

Good question. Our answer: Not really. Kicking the legs back to the wall opens up space underneath for sliding, moving, storing. As for a 'continuous load path' to the ground, it's nowhere near necessary in this application.

dtepper (author)2015-01-06

From the first photo, I thought this was a fold-down bench, which would be the ultimate in space efficiency. I suppose it wouldn't be that hard to make the bottom cantilever legs notch into a cross-member and then have hinges on the top of the cantilevers. Might sacrifice some sturdiness, but could be worth it for space efficiency when not in use.

MyFixitUpLife (author)dtepper2015-01-15

For us, there's never something not on it, so fold-down means the stuff we store on and under it would need to be moved around.

dilipaz (author)2015-01-06

I loved this Instructable, and your enthusiasm and fun nature really shows through. Happy "project"ing!

MyFixitUpLife (author)dilipaz2015-01-15

Thank you Dilipaz!

About This Instructable



Bio: MyFixitUpLife is a husband-and-wife’s home improvement obsessed lifestyle. Mark and Theresa are constantly fixing something up.
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