Introduction: Easy Garage Storage and Bench

Picture of Easy Garage Storage and Bench

This instructable will show how to build a cheap and simple garage storage and workbench out of plywood that will allow you to store all of your tools or gear safely while doubling as a great work bench surface.

This is my first instructable so please be nice but also leave comments to tell me what you think.

Step 1: Determine Your Plan and Identify All of Your Needs

Picture of Determine Your Plan and Identify All of Your Needs

I had a 22ft long wall in my garage that is perfect for setting up a bench and storage.

I wanted a place to use my miter saw and lots of drawers to store my woodworking, gardening, and mechanics tools.

The bench would be designed to be 39" high from the floor and two feet deep.

I wanted to take the bench top from wall to wall and therefore would have room to tuck under my lawnmower, snowblower, table saw, shopvac, and cyclone dust collector.

The bench would be made by simple modular plywood cabinets that would hold the storage drawers. The floating portions of the bench top will be made by 2x4 framing.

Step 2: Cut the Plywood

Picture of Cut the Plywood


I used sanded 3/4" Plywood from Home Depot for the main cabinet carcass and for the bench tops. 4 full sheets of plywood are enough to make 5 cabinet carcases and a full 20' length of bench top.

With a circular saw with a plywood blade and a Kreg Rip Cut saw guide; rip each sheet of plywood into two strips 2' x 8'.

I kept 3 of the nicest looking strips for the 20' of bench tops.

Each half sheet can make two sides, a top and a bottom for cabinet carcasses. I was planning making 5 cabinets so I cross cut into 28" lengths for the carcass sides. I cross cut strips into 23 1/4" lengths for the bottoms and tops of each carcass.


For the drawers, I used 1/2" Sande Plywood from Home Depot that was sanded on both sides. Similarly, I ripped all of the full sheets into 2' x 8' halves.

Each drawer bottom is the same 24" x 24". I cut 20 drawer bottoms to length and saved the rest of the plywood for using as drawer sides later.

About the tool:

The Kreg Rip Cut saw guide is definitely worth the money. I purchased this tool for this project and it worked great. I do not have a large table saw with outfeed table, so I have to make due with cutting plywood on the garage floor. The Rip Cut tool made this the easiest and safest plywood cutting job I ever had. The tool is long enough to rip up to 26" wide which is perfect for cutting down plywood for cabinetmaking.

Step 3: Cut the Drawer Guides

Picture of Cut the Drawer Guides

I designed each cabinet so it would have 4 drawers. 3 shallower drawers and one deeper drawer for larger items.

I used a 1/2" router bit in my plunge router to cut the guides. Only cut 1/2" in depth.

Cut the first one 1" from the bottom of the carcass sides. Cut the other three tracks at equal distance 5" from each other and 5 3/4" from the top end. I made temporary jigs for my router to easily line up the cuts so they are all the same on all the cabinet modules.

Step 4: Assemble the Cabinet Carcasses

Picture of Assemble the Cabinet Carcasses

Each box has two matching sides facing each other. They are butt screwed to a top and a bottom.

I did not put any backs on the cabinets since you would never see them but I did use scraps of 3/4 plywood at the tops of the back end to help square up the cabinet, and to provide a place to screw the cabinets to the wall.

Note, I wanted a place for my mitre saw so I make one cabinet 3" shorter than the other 4. I planned two shallower 3" drawers for this cabinet.

Once I had assembled the 5 carcasses, I attached them to the wall and to each other using screws. These are floating 10" above the garage floor.

Below the cabinet, I will have extra large drawer to store large or long tools and jigs. These drawers will simply sit on the concrete floor and slide out on carriage bolt heads. You could use casters but I found cheaper carriage bolts with a furniture felt pad worked fine.

Step 5: Fit the Drawer Bottoms

Picture of Fit the Drawer Bottoms

Drawers were a tight fit within each drawer track. Using an orbital sander, I slightly rounded the drawer bottoms so they would slide in the track more easily. In some cases, I used my table saw to remove 1/8" of material. Make sure each drawer bottom slides well in the tracks before you complete the drawer build.

Step 6: Make Lots of Drawers

Picture of Make Lots of Drawers

Drawer sides, fronts and backs were made by cutting strips of the 1/2" plywood.

Using my plunge router and a home made jig, I cut a handle in the front of each drawer.

With my orbital sander I sanded each drawer part.

I assembled the drawers by using a brad nailer, and I added two drywall screws to the fronts of each drawer to give additional strength.

This step was the most time consuming because I needed to cut, route, and sand 112 drawer parts.

I built the extra-large drawers that sit on the floor below the cabinets. I made two drawers 4' long, and one 2' long. These lower drawers are only 20" deep to provide toe room for standing while working on the workbench. These are great for extra long items to be stored like clamps, jigs, and shop vac hoses.

Step 7: Install Bench Tops

Picture of Install Bench Tops

The bench tops are another sheet of 3/4" plywood screwed on top of the cabinets.

For the floating portions of the bench, I created a frame in 2x4 lumber, and screwed the bench top to the 2x4.

With 2x4s and two layers of plywood over the cabinets, the bench top is really solid. I was able to install my bench vice.

Step 8: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

I sanded all tops with my orbital sander and used Minwax Natural stain to stain all the plywood.

I added strips of red oak ripped to 1 1/2" and cut for the drawer tracks. I stained these in a Red Oak color.

Everything was covered in three coats of polyurethane.


I was able to store tones of tools and supplies and was able to retire a dozen storage bins and tool boxes. I love my storage now.

If I were to do it all over again, I would have more 3" drawers. These are great for small tools and hand tools. Some of the 5" drawers are getting pretty heavy when they are fully loaded with tools, and the 10" drawers can be too big. If you are copying this idea, spend the extra time and money to make more shallower drawers and only make as many medium sized and deep drawers as you need for larger tools.

Total cost for this project was around $500 in material but the price will vary with the type and quality of plywood you will use.


vince1ltd (author)2017-10-26

Looks pretty good to me!

sgbotsford (author)2016-11-17


If you are loading the cabinets heavily adding backs will reduce the tendency to rack.

Also, if you live in a wet climate, make the slides undersized. Give yourself 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch of play on both dimensions. Wood changes dimension in wet climates.

If you do have problems with drawers not sliding, try dusting them with baby powder. Talc is as good as graphite for low loads, and not nearly as messy.

Finally: You make want to make the slides out of high density polyethylene. You can often get scraps at a plastics fabricator for cheap. You want to use the original smooth face on the bottom, so you would need minimum 1/2" thick plastic. This stuff is tough. (I used to build dog sleds out of the 1/4 inch stuff, and the sleds would slide sideways on the crown slope of dry pavement.)

wil4aim made it! (author)2016-05-10

I did it! added pegboard, added a floating shelf, light, stain and poly top, strictly stuck to the instructable. I will build a sliding box that will allow for access to the items underneath as per the instructable. And now I am driving my wife crazy with all the bragging I have been doing around the house ( you think dishes are hard try builing a MARCJOLI SPECIAL WOMAN!). I am going to add a border around the peg board for a framed in finished look. I will be doing my other wall in the same fashion but will embed a full size mechanics tool chest in place of a couple sections and share the tables top for an integrated look. ALL HAIL MARCJOLI for his instructable. I have not fully completed putting all my stuff on my pegboard so mercy please.

marcjoli (author)wil4aim2016-05-10

Awesome job. Looks great. It can store an incredible amount in that bench and below too! I wonder how much increases the home's value??

MaryP148 (author)marcjoli2016-10-18

perfect work space, thanks for the info

wil4aim made it! (author)wil4aim2016-05-10

I forgot to mention that I customized some drawer pulls for the first two rows out of 50cal shells and for the rest a spring loaded pull that will sit flat against the drawer. Hope you approve.

marcjoli (author)2016-09-29

Its been two years since I completed this project so sorry I do not remember how many sheets of plywood I needed for the drawers.

The cabinets are sitting on the back on the edge of the garage foundation which is a course of cinder block wall. Had I not had this foundation to sit the boxes on, I would have put a support under there, in the back.

cchubb (author)2016-09-27

You mention that you used 5 sheets of 3/4" for the box carcass, but how many sheets did you need of 1/2" for the drawers?

Also, am I correct in seeing that the whole thing is only hanging from the wall on the rear tie strips along the back of the edge? Is it also sitting on a support at the bottom rear? At least you put your vice near a vertical 2x4 leg. Once full, and with a load on top, this seems like a lot of weight to be hanging from the studs.

markgrogan (author)2016-05-15

That's an amazing storage bench for the store room. It looks like you're really going to have a lot of space for everything a person would need in the garage! Kudos to your courage to post this up and don't worry too much about the people in here, we're a generally friendly community! Haha!

ghaines1 (author)2016-04-26

Comments: 1. The drawer bottoms is a good call because it allows you to put heavy heavy items in the drawers without fear of tearing out railings. 2. The red oak trim looks great with the lighter ply wood. Criticisms: 1. Some of the photos seem blurry. You're a internet star now, you deserve a nice entry level digital SLR. 2. Go do more Instrucables. This one is great.

marcjoli (author)ghaines12016-04-26

The toe kick floor drawers and the larger drawers are really BIG. They get heavy to pull out and I tend to overfill them. Great for storing stuff you don't need every day, or stuff that is lightweight (shopvac hoses, bike helmets) but they should probably be smaller if your storage is going to be used for woodworking tools in an active workshop.

ghaines1 (author)marcjoli2016-04-26

I wonder if there would be some anti-friction thing you could do (like those discs that let you slide a couch on the floor. Maybe those discs and cover the drawer shelf with remnant carpeting to give it something to slide on? Or maybe some industrial slick film or something...I'm trying to come up with something that doesn't cost a lot... they might raise the drawer and you would have to cut it down. Now I'm just causing work... Really liked this Bench Plan, though!

Lovetra (author)ghaines12016-05-06

At harbor frieght I found in the casters section some very small flat like roller barings and put six of then under an old drawer I screwed to a 1/2 inch of used plywood for strength and roll it under a bench in my garage with some really heavy stuff in it. Made the handle with a piece of rope run through a cut off of garden hose, and knots tied inside slider drawer. It is very low to the floor, very durable and very usefull although done on the fly is isn't very pretty but very usefull.

marcjoli (author)ghaines12016-04-26

The friction wood on wood channel has not been a problem yet and its been 18 months and two winters since I built it. I did sand the drawer bottom entensions smooth and rounded them a bit so they would have a bit of give.

Adding any tape or plastic sliding material is an issue waiting to happen when that tape starts to break down and or gum up. Maybe having some sort of metal channel or angle would help but you may as well use heavy duty ball bearing sliders if you are going to spend money on hardware.

Shiseiji (author)2016-04-28

I saved these when you posted them as they looked so good, and then relooked at them today when Instruables included them in an email. They still look just as good!

For consideration on the slides: HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) Plastic Sheet 1/4" x 12" x 48" On April 28, 2016 it is USD $27.21 a sheet free shipping in the US (I have one coming in early next week I hope. 4" is for my table saw fence, I knew I'd come up with something for the rest :-) ). By cutting 1/4" X 1/8' strips, 12" will provide 96 each 48" long. Enough for 48 + drawers depending on the drawer depth. Since they will be sitting in the dado there is plenty of support and they only require ~3 small countersunk screws to hold them to the case carcass.

An inexpensive jig for safely ripping the strips is a block that goes against a table saw fence with a sacrificial push support on the left simply screwed perpendicular, think like a carpenter's square with the short leg to the left, into the end of the block. The support gets cut away with the strip. This will permit safe ripping of the strips.

Thanks for the 'structable!


TeresaM7 (author)2016-04-26

Wow, I really need to do this in my shed! Eventually. One day. ARGH!!! Too many projects! :)

dart70ca (author)2015-10-26

Nice project, thanks for posting.

Only issue I see is the top being too shallow for a sliding compound saw or radial arm.. Radial arm would fit but cut width slightly compromised. Sliding compound will need more room out front or a pocket in the back wall. Maybe the upper drawer under the saw could have a false top that you can pull the saw forward onto as needed? Or the section of benchtop it rests on could slide out in dadoes like your drawers do and the top drawer could catch dust.

marcjoli (author)dart70ca2016-04-26

Yeah when I upgrade my saw I will probably need to modify that first drawer, or create a platform that can sit on top of the first drawer while it is half extended out.

donb1951 (author)2016-01-07

Looks like one I made years ago. The work top was deeper than the drawers ( they would have been to heavy when full) so I made the sides of my drawers longer than the drawer itself. By doing this I could pull the drawer out all of the way to access the contents and the drawer didn't fall to the ground or dump everything out.

marcjoli (author)donb19512016-04-26

Good suggestion but alas I can never leave out out usable space in my design.

CarbonManMKE (author)2016-04-26

Great workbench! Been doing a ton of research and this is it! Thank you! I love the two tone finish on face. I also like the comments about waxing to allow drawers to slide easier. Great work and thanks for sharing! I really need to get my 1st instructable done!

Callie Lea (author)2016-04-26

Wonderful project and great photos and instructions. This is just the work surface and storage design that I've wanted for years. My father sold his drug store when he retired and the new buyer didn't want his old - make that antiquated - storage, so we have a multi-drawer (small drawers) to store small things in. We really need more and larger storage space to replace our original work benches and your design is perfect for what we want. Thank you for sharing your project!

ThatGuyDuncan (author)2016-04-22

Nice. I have been struggling to reuse parts from two old kitchens we bought in preparation for our whole-house reno. I've made do, but this would have been a better approach. Love that your mitre stand is built-in. Good job, home-slice. :)

tpagels (author)2016-02-01

I would be a little concerned about sliding the drawers in and out without drawer slides or at least waxing the bottoms of the sides. Other than that you show very solid workmanship with this build.

ChrisB110 (author)2016-02-01

Thanks! great bench.

Riehl_One (author)2016-01-03

Beautifully done! Thank you for sharing.

wil4aim (author)2015-10-29

you have achieved Jedi status my friend!

jrusso-1 (author)2015-06-19

Three things...
1.) Great job!
2.) If I do this I'll probably edge the top with pine, let the edging sit 1/4" proud of the ply, skin the top with 1/4" hardboard. Couple of countersunk screws to keep it flat and you've got a super-smooth sacrificial surface.
3.) Love that you incorporated usable drawers into the toe-kick.

pesmith79 (author)jrusso-12015-08-10

Like the hardboard idea! I'm going to use that! Thanks!

buck2217 (author)2015-06-24

That looks superb

vincent7520 (author)2015-05-21

very well done.

Thanks for sharing.

SCHLEPIC (author)2015-05-18

Kudos for taking the extra time to stain and poly your project. It looks fantastic.

Bigredhawg (author)2015-05-17

thank you thank you

i have been thinking, and sketching, plans for a bench/ storage for my shed

this is a great idea, and great step by step

much appreciated, thanks


marialanger (author)2015-05-17

The Kreg Rip Cut link on Page 2 is bad. Try this on Amazon:

dogmommy07 (author)2015-05-17

I love these cabinets. For someone who doesn't do this type of stuff it would be worth getting someone else do these.

vV Ajax Vv made it! (author)2015-04-02

I managed to make myself a two-cabinets wide bench using a couple sheets of OSB wood. I made the top cantilevered on the left (my portable table saw fits perfect under it) and added a ledge to the right side to allow my compound miter saw to sit level with the top. Also on the right side is a ~5 ft. bench that I can use away from the wall when I want to. The movable bench is actually from this instructable here:

Altogether, including the bench, I managed to keep the project under $150.

I will add that it was difficult cutting anything around 24 in. from a 8 ft. sheet (I was able to get the Home Depot to rip the 4x8's before leaving the store. I couldn't have them make all the cuts, of course). My table saw is portable and can only make ~12 in. cuts. I had to set-up a straight edge and cut with my circular saw. Do-able, but annoying to keep setting up. I've since invested in the Kreg Rip Jig shown in this instructable while working on my next project (another instructable). I will say this: It's made all of my wide cuts and rips immensely easier.


TimG45ACP (author)2015-01-04

The finishing touches (red oak trim) make this really stand out! Simple construction and low cost make this a very attractive idea. I have used the drawer bottom as a guide in the past in a custom A/V cabinet. It did take a bit of work got get them to glide smoothly.

I may have to re-think my planning for my garage. I'd love to do this across the back wall (24 feet, less the width of my compressor cabinet).

Is your dust collection built into the bench, or is it mobile to connect only at the point of use?

Thanks for sharing!

oilitright (author)2014-10-12

If you are tall like me you may have had this experience. A vertically challenged individual will not have a moments thought in asking you if you would be kind enough to "get that such and such item" down from a high up location. You always good graciously comply with their quite understandable request.

BUT! Have you ever considered what response you would receive if you, rather than getting down on your hands and knees - to peer into a floor level cupboard, were to ask that same vertically challenged individual to do the low level fetch for you?

I assure you they would look at you with varying combined expressions of disbelief, scorn, puzzlement and others.

It's clearly a case of height discrimination. One instance perfectly acceptable the other complete rejection.

Think of it.

RonaldoNZ (author)oilitright2014-10-13

Ha! very good point. The thought has never occurred to me. I must try it on my shorter friend next time he is in the workshop. Should make for some entertaining conversation.

jmrock (author)RonaldoNZ2014-11-10

I do it quite often- not half as much fun as grabbing ahold of a co-workers waist and lifting him up high when he asked hey 'too tall' I can't reach that- can you help me out? LIKE A CHAMP- he laughed and ran the screw in- even said thanks.

Doonular (author)oilitright2014-10-13

@oilitright As a person who is 6'5" and
now in a wheelchair after breaking my back, I can sort of understand
both sides of this height issue. The one major flaw with your logic is
that you CAN bend down and do something at a low
level, although
it may not be comfortable for you to do so. A shorter person can not
spontaneously grow to be able to reach something that is too high.

In regards to this 'ible... very nice job marcjoli, and thanks much for the
follow-up heads-up about shallower drawers.

A possible partial solution to your too-deep 10" drawer problem. Maybe you can make a jig for your router to follow the dado above it and make new dados for a shallower drawer, then cut down the height of your existing 10" drawers and add new bottoms to the cut off tops. At least you'd have less 10"
drawers and you'd only need material for new bottoms for the upper part
of the big drawers. The only problem I see is that the depth of the new
dado would not go all the way to the wall without moving the cabinet
from the wall. Although you could always butcher out the back of the
dado with a hammer and chisel since it pretty much serves no structural
purpose and nobody will ever see it unless they remove drawers and
inspect it.

Doonular (author)Doonular2014-10-13

I don't know what's up with the formatting of the comments, but after 4 or 5 attempts to make it display right, I give up. It's readable enough.

b1tbang3r (author)2014-11-02

Had to double take at the cover photo. Wouldn't think you'd see counter tops that nice in a garage. Looks very nice!

rafaelwecker (author)2014-10-28

great job!

satrap (author)2014-10-18

That looks fantastic. I am an organizing-freack and this is right up my alley. Thanks for this.

ewinesett (author)2014-10-17

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something, but how can you get two 28-inch sides and two 23 1/4-inch top/bottom pieces out of a half sheet of plywood? That adds up to 102.5 inches.

2bears45 (author)2014-10-14

Perfect! I have a problem honoring the adage "Done is better than good". No purchased drawer slides. No maple top. No carefully laid out dog holes. No cute drawer pulls. Like I said, perfect and very good. Congratulations!!!!

dave367 (author)2014-10-12

I love this workbench! I especially like the recessed oversize bottom drawers, which make toe space as well. Cool beans! For really giant drawers, I have used small, fixed (not rotating) casters bolted to the drawer bottoms and running right on the floor (no bottom on the case). Mount as many as you need and put *anything* in those drawers!

Two suggestions, if I may. Home Depot (and Lowes) will cut plywood for you for $.50 per cut, while you wait. Cutting 4 x 8 sheets into 2 x 8 sheets is a perfect use of this service and will avoid the cost of the Kreg jig. Careful thought as to what the lumber store can/will do not only minimizes the cuts, it allows you to transport the wood in a car instead of a truck.

Second, for the workbench top, consider using 2 x 6 (1.5" x 5.5") tongue and groove roof decking (solid wood, not plywood). This stuff is amazing; it has V-grooves on the "good" side but the "back" side is quite smooth. Because it's T&G, it locks the entire bench-top together making it immensely strong. Your top then needs no framing, and this stuff is not any more expensive than plywood half the thickness. Because it is so thick, it will withstand multiple heavy machine sandings to keep it pristine and flat as it becomes nicked from working on it.

Good luck!

LynxSys (author)dave3672014-10-13

About having the store cut your sheet goods for you: big stores like HD or Lowes often use poorly aligned panel saws for this job. I've gotten cuts with a deviation of >0.25" (>6mm) over an 8' cut, which can be an issue, depending on your application.

As an alternative to buying a jig, you can clamp a straightedge across your sheet of plywood and run the foot of your saw along it. I use a piece of angle steel, although you can also buy straightedges for this purpose. I think this method actually produces better results than the jig.

dave367 (author)LynxSys2014-10-13

I don't disagree with you at all, though I haven't had the same experience with the store's saws--Of course I offer to help them set up my job! Both HD and Lowes will trash that board and cut another at no charge (wonder what they do with the "trashed" board... maybe sell it to cheap??)--plus somebody in the lumber dept is likely to be a real expert--and proud of his equipment. Find that guy! (or gal, in my case--she's crackerjack!)

Straight edges are cool enough, though I've found over the years that even a simple straight edge has a learning curve--you will screw up a time or two, more than likely.

Last, I try to build projects this big with some room for "slop," Even if the wood is perfectly cut, the walls will have some twist, or the floors won't be dead level, etc. Absorbing 3 mm of wow in each side of an 8' cut falls well within my comfort zone, though others are welcome to feel differently. ;-)

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