First order of business when I moved into my house was to build a work bench.  Okay the wife made me paint first, but the bench was pretty high up there.

After I built mine, my family came out to see the house, and my dad was so taken by it he wanted to recreate it in his garage.  I drew up some plans for the bench, gave him a parts list, and came out to help him build it over a weekend.  This is the documentation for that build.

First some rational for what I wanted to make and the goals that drove it:
• This will be an “Assembly Bench” as opposed to a woodworking or other specialized bench
• Low waste and only uses materials from the big box stores.
• Should stand up to abuse and needs to be rock solid (read: heavy).
• No fancy joints or tools required, simple construction with screws and bolts
• Lots of storage and surface space.

I spent a while researching what kind of bench I wanted to make and eventually settled on a dimensional lumber with MDF top.  The online community is split on MDF, purist wood workers refuse to touch it, others say it doesn't stand up well to abuse.  I've done a few things to this bench to try and increase it’s longevity and have had no regrets thus far.

Step 1: Plan, think, replan, think again, then sleep on it

As I mentioned earlier, I did quite a bit of research into different types of benches.  Here are a few notes that I found useful.
  • Height is recommended to be about the crease in your wrist with the arms relaxed.  Countertops are normally 36" inches, but I found this to be too tall for extensive work.  I'm about 5'8" and have found 34" to be perfect so far. (it also uses an 8’ 4x4 almost exactly)  Adjust accordingly for your own taste.
  • More lighting, especially natural light, is always better.
  • Making the bench too deep is another problem since it limits what you can reach comfortably.  With a pegboard on the wall behind my bench I can reach the top of the 2' board, but couldn't go much higher.  There are enough sheet goods to make it deeper, but I do feel it's on the upper limit of how deep it should be.
  • There are no hobby-specific vices mounted in this design (though you could add it per your preference), but there is a healthy overhang to allow clamping onto the benchtop.
  • I decided against drawers, they add cost and most of the stuff I want to store has its own box anyway.  Your own mileage may vary.
Overall I feel this is a pretty solid no-frills workbench design.  It's not the cheapest bench, but its heavy, does not compromise on strength, and is fairly easy to build.  I only use 90 degree cuts and have designed it to minimize the cuts.

Before helping my dad out I drew the plans in CATIA and made a dimensioned drawing with a bill of materials.  I've provided the cutlist for the 2x4s, for the sheet goods and 4x4, use the "Finished Dimension BOM" (Bill of Materials) off the drawing.  My intention is to be able to build the bench almost entirely from the 11x17 pdf plan below.

How to read F/N's:
For this Instructable, I've labeled the parts used in each step with a Find Number (F/N column on the drawing) that matches a part in the BOM.  For example if you read "Pick up a #5", after referencing the drawing you'll see that I want you to hold in your hand one of the 52" 2x4s.

A few notes on buying lumber
The piles are there for you to pick through!  Inspect the boards for any cupping, twisting, cracks, excessive knots, cracks, but remember to stack the boards nicely when you’re done picking through them.

Inspect the MDF sheets for crushed edges, MDF is dense (why I used it) but has edges that can be easily damaged.  Later we’ll band the edges with hardwood which will help protect it.

Room is left on one of the 2x4’s for some incompetence cuts, but if you’re worried, grab an extra one.

Now, print out the plans, buy the supplies, and let's begin!
<p>Overall a great build. The only two things I changed was using 3&quot; screws to screw to wall (has to go through a 2x4 and 1/2 drywall) and instead of making the center pieces of the table top 11x96 and 18x96 and having a void, there is enough MDF to make two 14.5x96 pieces and no voids. This seemed most logical and gave me three solid layers of MDF for the top. I also used two coats of Zinnser Shellac and two final coats of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. Thanks for the plans.</p>
<p>sure would be nice if you could edit these posts, anyway I forgot one thing. I also used pressure treated 2x4's for the ones that touch the concrete. Sometimes concrete can wick moisture so I figured it would be best to use them. FWIW</p>
<p>Just bought all the supplies to build this (HD for $190). I noticed however that you have 9 carriage bolts in the picture of the finished product but your cut sheet only calls for 6. Appears that you doubled the top of the 4x4's with two? Is this necessary? BTW HD didn't carry 5/16x7 only 6&quot; so I went with 6 3/8x8&quot; should be stronger and since the length is interior I doubt the extra inch will pose an issue. Also, did you coat the bottom of the MDF with shellac or just the top? Instead of shellac can one use poly? Thanks </p>
<p>AWESOME!! I voted for this in both categories. GREAT Work Brodda!</p>
<p>Good work!</p>
<p>This is awesome, things like this cost so much to buy- why not just make one</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing Skitz, that is indeed one heck of a heavy duty work bench. I've bench putting off building a good solid work bench for myself for some time but your project has definitely given me some inspiration, thank you! P.s. Nice shop smith :)</p>
<p>Nice and heffty, I like it.</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: Essentially a snowbird woodworker (unairconditioned garage in Phoenix = other hobbies when it's hot) with an engineering day job. Love the community here, probably visit ... More »
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