Introduction: How to Build a Sturdy Workbench Inexpensively

Think quick. What is the most used tool in your workshop? What tool do you use every day and for every project? Did you say your workbench? Well you should have. Thank about it. A good, solid workbench is the most important feature of any well equipped workshop. You hammer on things on it. You clamp things to it. You layout and assemble things on it. Or you can just set a bunch of stuff on it and clutter it up. However you use it, even if you take its presence totally for granted, it is actually the most important tool in your workshop.

This Instructable will show you how to build a very sturdy workbench easily and inexpensively in only a few hours work, that will give you many years of use. The workbench presented here is 80 inches long by 36 inches wide by 34 inches tall, and rock solid.

More information on this and my other projects can be found on my blog at mdpub.com.

Step 1: Gather the Materials and Tools

The materials

This workbench is built from a solid-core wooden door re-purposed as a bench top, and mounted on a frame of 2X4 lumber. It was built for a little over $80. Here is the list of materials required:

1 36 by 80 inch solid core wooden door.

10 2X4s 8 feet long.

Some 2 1/2 inch long coarse thread drywall screws.

Some 1 1/4 inch long #6 drywall screws.

6 steel angle brackets.

(Optional) Enough 1/2 inch or thicker plywood to cover an area of 76 by 32 inches for a shelf.

The door was purchased at my local Habitat for Humanity Restore for only $30. The Restore is a great place to pick up salvaged building materials inexpensively. It was a brand new door that had never been drilled for a lockset or mortised for hinges. There was some damage to the veneer, which made it unwanted by most people, but it was perfect for my application. A salvaged door that had been drilled and mortised can also be used, and probably can be had even cheaper.

The 8 foot 2X4s only cost about $3 each at a local big box homecenter store. Select straight pieces without twists, splits, or a lot of large knots for best results

The screws and 6 steel angle brackets also came form the local big box store. The screws cost about $6 per box, and the angle brackets were a couple of dollars each.

The tools

The tools that were used for constructing the workbench consisted of:

A power mitre box saw for cutting the 2X4s to length.

A cordless screw gun for driving in the screws.

A cordless drill for pre-drilling screw holes.

A tape measure.

A carpenter’s square.

A pencil.

(Optional) A brad nailer and brad nails.

Cordless tools aren't necessary to build the workbench, but if you have access to them, they make life a lot easier.

Step 2: Build the Frame.

The frame for the workbench consists of two rectangles 76 inches long, by 32 inches wide made from 2X4s, and four legs 32 inches long, also made from 2X4s.

I wanted the top of the workbench to overhang the frame by 2 inches on every side to allow for easily clamping things to the top of the bench. Since the top is 80 by 36 inches, the two rectangular frames needed to be 76 by 32 inches. To make them, cut four pieces at 76 inches, and four pieces at 29 inches and screw them together with the 2 1/2 inch coarse thread drywall screws to make two rectangles. Cut an additional two pieces at 29 inches long to be used as stretchers across the middle of each rectangle. Predrilling the holes for the screws will help prevent splitting the wood.

Cut eight pieces of 2X4 at 32 inches long for the legs. Screw two of the leg pieces together in an "L" shape to make one leg. Repeat three more times. The finished height of the bench with 32 inch legs will be approximately 34 inches after the top is attached. If a different finished height is desired, the length of the legs can be modified to suit your particular application.

Attach the legs to the two rectangular frames as shown in the photos. One frame should be screwed on 8 inches up from the bottom. The other should be screwed on flush with the top of the legs.

The purpose of the lower frame is to strengthen the structure and prevent the legs from spreading, but it can also be covered with plywood to be used as a storage shelf to maximize storage space in your workshop.

Step 3: Attach the Top to the Frame

The easiest way to attach the door top to the frame is to lay the door on the floor, and then set the frame on top of it upside down. Make sure the side of the door you want to be up is down against the floor.

Make sure the frame is centred on the door and there is a 2 inch overhang all around as shown in the photos.

Use the six angle brackets to attach the top to the frame. Us the 1 1/4 inch #6 drywall screws to screw through one side of the angle brackets into the frame, and through the other side into the door. use at least four screws per bracket to strongly attach the frame and top.

The workbench is now nearly complete and very heavy. Stand the workbench upright. The help of a friend my be required to get it upright.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

(Optional) Attach plywood to the lower frame to make a storage shelf. Use 1 1/4 inch #6 drywall screws or brad nails to attach the plywood.

(Optional) A power strip can be attached to the frame of the workbench to allow for easily plugging in power tools.

(Optional) The top of the workbench can be finished with polyurethane to protect the wood, or covered with a sacrificial sheet of thin plywood to protect it from damage during heavy use.

(Optional) A heavy duty bench vise can be screwed to the top of the bench, and is a very useful addition to the workbench.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

The workbench should give many years of good service in your workshop. If the top of the workbench becomes badly damaged or worn after several years of heavy use, the top can be detached and flipped over. That will allow for at least several more years of use.

I hope you found this Instructable helpful.

More information on this and my other projects can be found on my blog at mdpub.com.

Comments

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workshopgranny made it!(author)2017-04-13

I am so excited! I am a 73 year old woodworking granny. I just completed my first project--your workbench. I got a solid core door for ($18.00) at my local lumber store. It had a couple of dings on the edge but otherwise was fine. I made it all by myself except my hubby insisted helping me attach the legs and the top. It took me most of one day to make it. I think I viewed your tutorial at least 10 times. Now I am ready to move onto some small projects like bird houses. Measure twice---cut once. Thanks again.

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vintage1944 made it!(author)2017-02-25

what would be the best sealer for this bench? keeping it outside all the time using it for knife making. so it will get dings and stuff any help would be nice. I am a rookie in wood working just needing the right direction.

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zahnarzt made it!(author)2017-02-09

thanks for the Instructable! Just moved into a ne who use and your bench is the first project. I used mdf and plywood for the base and will continue to use scraps to finish he lower shelf. Finished the top with BLO. I am going to make another shorter version with a sliding top for a miter station. Great project!

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NateH44 made it!(author)2017-01-28

Thanks for the design idea. I opted for 3/4" sanded plywood for the top and shelf. 80x33" with a final height of 36". I also reinforced with 2 more cross boards on the tabletop and secured with 12 corner brackets. Overall a pretty easy build and very happy with the outcome.

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JordonY made it!(author)2017-01-26

What tools are recommended? Table saw? Mitre Saw?

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DaveT116 made it!(author)2016-12-27

Awesome article. Was able to make mine with CLS from B&Q and a wood worktop from IKEA. Did two identical ones for less than £100!

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Cleyton made it!(author)2016-12-08

Thanks, mdavis19, for the guidance. I've now used variations of your design for three separate projects: a computer desk for my son, 3d printer cabinet with turntable for easy access to the back, and a workbench for my garage. Each is rock solid.

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bgsly made it!(author)2016-12-17

Hi Cleyton, just wondering what stain you use for the computer desk, it looks great.

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Shueman007 made it!(author)2016-12-11

Thanks for the instructions. Just finished with a coat of deck stain and polyurethane. Added some wheels as an added touch to move around the garage as needed.

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Cid6000 made it!(author)2016-12-06

I used a Kregg Jig for as many screws as I could, so it took close to three and a half hours, but still very straight forward!

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Cwheeler111 made it!(author)2016-11-12

I was looking for an easy and inexpensive workbench to add to the front of my garage for tinkering with things and working on classic car stuff. This was perfect! I also found a door at local habitat ReStore for $30. Rest of the materials was only $26. I read previous comments and incorporated them into this project. Construction screws over drywall screws and hole in door for electrical. It only took 2 hours to build and I love it. Thanks for the ideas.

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bullardteen made it!(author)2016-10-17

Nice and sturdy! Perfect way to use up some of the spare lumber I had in my garage, along with a door I had from an earlier remodeling project. The hole left from the doorknob is perfect for routing electrical!

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JamesB578 made it!(author)2016-08-24

This was my first build and it came out nice! Love the way everything comes together vs. using large posts for the legs.

I modified the size to fit an area in my garage, went with a half shelf on bottom to give me leg room and used 2x6s for the top.

Thanks OP!

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JamesB578 made it!(author)2016-09-25

Update: I was drilling some dog holes and it finally settled in to me that a flat, one piece top is most appropriate for woodworking unless you're able to joint and plane your stock. I'm happy with what I've got for now but I'll put more thought into vise mounting and dog holes next time.

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n7mog made it!(author)2015-03-04

Since drywall screws have lousy shear strength, I'd just suggest deck screws instead. Otherwise great plans!

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TonyB153 made it!(author)2016-09-04

I was going to say the same thing. Use deck screws, or any kind of wood screws. I snapped plenty of drywall screws in projects like this, before learning that they are really not meant for wood.

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Pleady made it!(author)2016-08-04

Thanks for this tutorial. Such a simple but great build and exactly what I needed.

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Josh524 made it!(author)2015-08-31

Great tutorial Mdavis19, I made my workbench. Just need to add my vice and coke bottle opener.

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afscozia made it!(author)2016-05-17

Looks awesome!

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Josh524 made it!(author)2016-07-15

Thanks!

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Lizziecro made it!(author)2016-06-28

Love it! Thanks so much for sharing this. I reckon I'll be using your ideas to make a similar one. Cheers!

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MarkR252 made it!(author)2016-06-18

Awesome tutorial. Got mine done in a few hours. I used ply for the work top.

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akumaking made it!(author)2016-05-28

I slightly modified your design, I used 2x6's across the top because I couldn't find a door for under $100. Next up is sanding and painting.

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DaveC156 made it!(author)2016-05-06

Great tutorial, can't wait to build one for myself. Thanks for sharing

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gerbils made it!(author)2016-04-11

Two workbenches built for my new robotics lab / cave.

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aseptien1 made it!(author)2016-02-28

I was able to purchase a solid slab unfinished wood door from Home Depot for $69 -- not used but also not hundreds of dollars for an unfinished door like other places were quoting me! Really great advice, video and instructions -- thanks a million!

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Yonatan24 made it!(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:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Work...

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ChuckW7 made it!(author)2016-02-18

I still have to finish the bottom shelf but here is what I was able to make. It came out great! Really easy to make and it is super strong.

I added a power strip to the front and plan on adding a vise soon.

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bal41572 made it!(author)2016-02-01

Hi Jeff....Love the videos. I hope that you can make a video one day on how to make a sturdy shelf for a basement. Thanks, Bob

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ghylock made it!(author)2016-01-18

Turned out VERY sturdy and very heavy. I used 3/4" sanded plywood instead of a door. 72x30 top w/ the 2" overhang on each side. I didn't end up using the brackets to secure the top. I might go back and put them on if I have to replace the top at some point, but it is good enough for now.

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kundragon made it!(author)2015-12-25

one in tel aviv.
thanks!

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iwanttoholdyourhand1 made it!(author)2015-12-08

Is it necessary to have two 2"x4"s per leg? If only one were sufficient, you could save on weight, cost and labor.

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Pi+Threepointonefour made it!(author)2015-11-21

Love it. Going to make it.

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Havanotha made it!(author)2015-08-27

Great well detailed instructable Here are things I did with mine

I made mine about 8 yrs ago. The legs I made were not as elegantly simple as yours.

I also used a sheet of 1/8" thick hardboard over the door I used a length of light angle strapping, like the material used to hang a garage door motor from ceiling on the back and sides of the top... this allows me to slide the hardboard out and replace it. I added 2 additional stretchers on the bottom to increase the strength of the shelf I currently have 2 engine blocks and 3 transmissions on that shelf. for power I spanned the front with a length of 3/8" conduit to and mounted a 4 gang box with U bolts a length of heavy cable to the box plugs in to the wall and the entire box slides left to right across the the front of the bench. I had to add add a leveling system cause the floor in the area this was to go was "off" I used 2" galvanized pipe bits flanges and caps on the 4 corners for this.

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DIY-Guy made it!(author)2015-07-01

That closeup of the leg and frame (top) is beautiful!
I learned something just now, it's so simple it's an elegant solution.
Thank you very much MDavis19!

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mattwebb made it!(author)2015-05-16

Just made mine today :)

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NitroRustlerDriver made it!(author)2015-03-03

Very nice build. I like using a sheet of 1/8" masonite (hardboard) on top of the bench. Gives it a very durable finish that can be replaced when worn out. And a 4'x8' sheet is under $20.

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r1ch999999 made it!(author)2015-03-06

I use MDF, 3/4", which makes a nice smooth top and easily sanded. It also gives me two sides so I can reverse it.

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RoadHogg made it!(author)2015-03-03

Drywall screws are for hanging drywall (as the name suggests). Construction screws are for building things (as the name suggests). There's no advantage to using the wrong screws.

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happydupa made it!(author)2015-03-04

Good point. It's easy to snap off the heads of drywall screws when using them for wood projects. They can't handle the torque needed to pull and hold wood together.

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godson1952 made it!(author)2015-03-03

I like it,also good for a butcher table to dress the wild game meat on...I can beat alot of the cost cause I own a Norwood's Bandsaw mill.I can make my own wood to my spec's and still say " thank you for the great idea.

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godson1952 made it!(author)2015-03-03

I like it,also good for a butcher table to dress the wild game meat on...I can beat alot of the cost cause I own a Norwood's Bandsaw mill.I can make my own wood to my spec's and still say " thank you for the great idea.

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godson1952 made it!(author)2015-03-03

I like it,also good for a butcher table to dress the wild game meat on...I can beat alot of the cost cause I own a Norwood's Bandsaw mill.I can make my own wood to my spec's and still say " thank you for the great idea.

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BentSticks made it!(author)2015-03-01

Nice. Love the habitat. They never have any solid doors at mine tho. I just used several layers of osb.

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woodNfish made it!(author)2015-03-03

You can often find damaged solid core doors for a discount at your local supplier - just ask.

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neffk made it!(author)2015-03-03

Nice work. I've found that some cross-bracing really helps. Think triangles.

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Common%24 made it!(author)2015-03-03

I made a bench similar to this one with a powerstrip mounted to the front of it. That thing comes in handy. A friend and I re-purposed a kitchen table into a workbench and mounted a powerstrip to that one as well. He uses it constantly. The trick is finding one with a long cord.

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danzo321 made it!(author)2015-03-03

Very good. Keeping it simple. Looks like you mostly avoided screwing into endgrain but saw no mention of glue. Anytime you screw or nail wood together forever, may as well woodglue it too.

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seamster made it!(author)2015-03-01

Great looking table, very nicely done!

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