Introduction: Multi-Purpose Woodworking Bench

Picture of Multi-Purpose Woodworking Bench

We recently moved into a new house (OK a year ago now..) which needs a huge amount of work doing... obviously the various bits of joinery will be a lot easier if I have a proper space to work in and a nice big bench.... Or at least that is my story and I am sticking to it....

So I Cobbled together this woodworking bench... The idea is that it can treble as a big bench, big table saw or eventually a big router table....

It took me about 12 hours to build.

Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

The house is pretty old and the cellar (where the bench is to go) really shows it's age. The first image is straight after we moved in. This really doesnt do it justice, it was way more rank than this picture suggests...

So first I put up a pathetic set of shelves to get some of my huge collection of tat out of the way... Added Lights, you can never have too many lights afterall... well actually I am sure you can... but not without really trying... go for low energy lights to save money and planets...

Next we need some sounds so I used the lonely table-saw to cut a bit of 1" ply into some quick and dirty speaker brackets... The speakers are some old Wharfdales I picked up at a car-boot sale for a fiver... I get all my speakers from car boot sales, there is nowhere better....

Most of this was re-cycled wood and off-cuts... the speaker bracket wall battons were once part of a crappy bed-base...

Good tools will make any god way way easier and nicer, so you are more likely to do more (remember this advice and repeat it to your wife or significant other when needing to justify the purchase of outrageously expensive tools)
I am using a Makita Impact driver. These are super super expensive at first sight, but use one for any length of time and you will soon see that they are an absolute bargain if you value your time AT ALL... Batteries last longer (because the motor never operates at stall currents), torque is amazing but without putting a strain on your wrist, which means you can use it for much longer without getting tired.
Trust me these things are much better than normal electric screwdrivers.

Step 2: Build a Frame

Picture of Build a Frame

As you can see, I have a dirty great stone slab in my cellar. I had no intention of ripping this out and it should form a lovely solid foundation for my new bench. So I built my frame to butt up to and fit around the slab.

The frame is just rough sawn 2by4's screwed together with 4inch long No10 woodscrews.

First I built the frame that will support the top, then laid this up on trestles and clamped it to the stone slab. A bit of fiddling about with the spirit-level to get it flat, and I was ready to start on some legs.

Becuase my floor is rough stone slabs laid straight onto bare earth it is a little uneven, so rather than cut a load of legs the same length, I measured each location and built up to the frame.

My cellar floor is also a little damp because of this, so I made a little boot for each leg to help keep it warm and dry... Just a bit of damp proof course material stapled on...

Step 3: Put the Top On.

Picture of Put the Top On.

So far I had been able to use stuff that I had "in stock" but I didnt have any ply for the top. So I ordered two sheets of 3/4" exterior ply (along with some other wood I needed) and sat back and waited for it to be delivered.

When the ply arrived I cut it up in the garden partly because the weather was nice, but mainly there is no way I can get a full 8 x 4 sheet down the stairs to the cellar...

So after much freestyling with the circular saw I had these two bits to screw on...

Not wanting to spoil the smooth top of the bench with screws, I drilled and countersunk all the screws up from underneath the bench. Thanks to the impact driver I was only crawling about banging my head on the underside of the frame for an hour or so... but still not much fun...

I ground the long pointy tip off the end of all these screws to help them grip deeper into the top without breaking through...

Oh yes, and I put a shelf between the legs to hold a few tools etc...

Step 4: Make an Insert

Picture of Make an Insert

As you can see from the previous step. My plan was to have a space in the middle where I could drop in the table saw or a router table or any other fixture I need. The table saw is the first bit, so I cut a bit of the 3/4" ply to fit in my preprepared hole. This rest on a little ledge on all three of the enclosed sides.
Then I tried it in to check it fitted... OBVIOUSLY it fitted perfectly first time and I didnt have to trim a bit off one side or do any sanding or anything....

Next I measures up for the table saw and cut a slot for the blade. I did this using my hand held circluar saw and a bit of plunge cut action...

Step 5: Butcher Table Saw

Picture of Butcher Table Saw

I dont like having to modify the table saw, but it had had a hard life and I didnt thing a couple of new holes was going to be the end of the world...

I could have made some little brackets to hold the top on at the sides, but this would have made everything a bit wanky.

So instead I put a few holes in the top of the saw table to screw up through into the top... remember to look at what is underneath before you drill through into something important and/or live...

Having screwed the top on I then had to decide whether or not to hack off this bracket. The bracket is there to support the blade guard (which I wont be using*)... but in the end I decided I could work round it and left it on... but this meant cutting a notch in the table frame to clear it when the blade is at full height.

*Yes, I should use the guard... however, a guard doesnt make a table saw safe you can still lop off an arm or some fingers pretty easily. Seeing a rapidly spinning blade is a stark reminder of how dangerous the thing is and personally I think makes me extra careful....

Step 6: Put the Kettle On...

Picture of Put the Kettle On...

All done bar the tidying up.

Slide the saw into place and feel the satisfying thud as it drops onto it's seat. You cant really see, but in this position the legs are just clear of the ground and the top blends almost seemlessly into the main table.

You can see that I made a bit of a mistake in putting the ply for the surrounding table the way I did.
The seam from the big sheet to the narrow sheet will probably catch me out a few times until I give in and rout out a little slot and screw something in to hole the two sheets flush.

The saw blade can be wound right down out of sight for bench use, then raised quickly to cut some well supported wood...

I am pretty pleased with it....

I will probably put a couple of layers of Linseed Oil on to keep it nice....


lblackmon (author)2011-07-26

abnor (author)2011-05-30

Nice man cave.

Good bench since it works for your needs. Only thing worried about is the environment you work. Do something about it is not healthy.
Thanks for sharing

I dont spend much time down there to be honest but just because it looks a bit ratty doesnt tell the whole story. The bench has been there 4 years now and still looks like it does in these photos, still pretty dry and no mould on it, which suggests that the atmosphere is OK.

ultrabob (author)gsport george2011-05-26

ah maybe you do still have it and there is more than one concrete slab in the cellar. Curious how it worked out for you in the end. To my inexperienced eye it seemed like the table saw could potentially be a bit awkward to work with enclosed the way it was.

gsport george (author)ultrabob2011-05-26

Yes I still have it, there are two rooms like this in the cellar and the long bench is in the other one. The other bench is more of a metal working one.

The saw being in the middle of the bench makes it easy for me to handle large sheets on my own and I havent had any problems working with it.

sitearm (author)2011-05-26

Gsport; I had a lot of fun reading your Instructable. The "rank" picture made me think, "Oh you poor man having to work in that." (It gives a new perspective on the idea of man cave.)

Next, your real priorities became clear: shelving and speakers. Oh, and tools. (You probably need to rest up for a few months now before actually fixing up the house.) Now I am thinking, "Oh his poor wife having to work with that."

Great project and pics and especially fun narrative.


gsport george (author)sitearm2011-05-26

Glad you enjoyed it. I actually wrote this instructable about 5 years ago now. Check out my other instructables for a better view of my priorities... cellar is still pretty rough but the rest of the house and garden is much improved.

ultrabob (author)gsport george2011-05-26

Looking at the cargo bike instructable it looks like you eventually got rid of this workspace and went with a long, narrower bench. Did you find there was something about this setup that didn't work out for you in the end?

sadey (author)2011-05-26

it is a very interesting project, but I have to say that my first thought was "It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.". I hope you don't take offence and that you get a laugh.

msilverthorn (author)2009-08-30

Just to be on the safe side. Spray your walls and floor with a mix of bleech and water. This kills mold. Great bench, I think I'll make a motified version for my stainglass work.

bettbee (author)msilverthorn2011-05-26
Strong hydrogen peroxide is also good against mold and less toxic than chlorine.
HowlinPreacherMan (author)2011-05-26

Very nice! I can see this in my garage with my radial arm saw as the back section, and my router table (Rockler, w00t) in the middle

rbbiggs (author)2011-05-26

Lol,, "way more rank then these pictures suggest" !! Make an instructable on re-stuccoing !!

Anyway, good job on the bench.. Thanks for sharing it with us.

gsport george (author)rbbiggs2011-05-26

Glad you liked it, re-surfacing the walls is really not a priority and I think it would blow off again pretty fast.

ongara_01 (author)2010-10-31

EXCELLENT job & nice bench

hphancock (author)2010-03-01

excellent job -- I been thinking of a way of incorporating my craftsman tabletop saw itno something similar in my future shop.  Thanks for the ideas......And good luck with the cellar

gsport george (author)hphancock2010-07-25


hawgnutz (author)2010-03-07

I was just thinking tha maybe you could cover th entire bench with a "disposable" top of 1/4" MDF.  That way, once it get to dinged up from tols or other things.  When it gets too worn, you just replace the top.  Then you would not have any seems for wood to catch on.  If you added a layer of 3/4" MDF or play you could also add a bench or tail vise.

Great project!  It is on my FAV list and I plan to use the idea for my shop!

gsport george (author)hawgnutz2010-07-25

Thanks for the suggestion and I am glad if the instructable is any help. I am hesitant to add any thickness to the top because it means a restriction on depth/height of cut.

rapidprototyping (author)2010-07-25

plaster and lime should be inert to the effects of black mold but mildew might effect and product that is like paper coated so sheet rock wont work. as far as the floor probable no vapor barrier under that rock slab floor but they have a floating floor system that wicks away moisture not it's like a grid draing to a sump. in basement shops dust collection is important. but we have what we have where we have it. so more placer and lime wash might make the walls less likely to bother visitors.

Thanks for reading and the comments. I have learnt a lot about damp in cellars since moving into this house and I will try to write something about it when I get time. At the moment the dehumidifiers do a reasonable job of fighting off the worst of the damp and the electricity bill is a worry, but a fairly low price for two good sized workshops. (you can see the other one on my other instructable).

rapidprototyping (author)2010-07-25

I recomend the incra jig as a fence jig as it is very accurate. thirty bucks is what i paid they have fence jigs but there more and have nice features see their web site for inspiration.

rapidprototyping (author)2010-07-25

Sturdy work benches are the cornerstone of getting wood work done with out them were teetering on the brink of an accident off balanced and overreaching are major causes of injuries.

gnomedriver (author)2009-06-25

Good instructable. I've been looking around for a good plan for a bench to set a model train track on. There's plenty of scope to expand with this bench. Definitely a contender.

neffk (author)2008-12-13

Very nice. I did a whole instructable on making a hand-held saw into a table saw and I found this because it was listed as "related". Looks like it was a lot easier with the saw motor already mounted!

altomic (author)2008-11-23

wow, scary cellar. I was waiting for the "it rubs the lotion into its skin" very cool instructable. thanks

blissfulsnow (author)2008-11-17

Yeah man EXCELLENT job with the bench but id think about creating a "DIY basement overhaul", cause it looks like they filmed one of the SAW movies here, haha.

charlessenf-gm (author)2008-01-07

Good job. It looks like your basement needs a lot more work than mine! Is that Dry-Lok coming off the walls? I just did my basement with Dry-Lok hope it holds up!!! Do you have enough height in there to pour a two-inch slab over some Poly? Soak some old shingles in fuel oil (diesel) for a week or so, then dip those legs in it for a day or so - that will help keep them from rotting. Good luck

The walls are lime plastered with a lime wash finish, probably at least 100 years old so not really surprising that it is coming away. Similarly the floor is the original 150 year old stone slabs, so I couldnt live with myself if I encased them all in modern materials that would probably make the damp issues worse not better. Having said that, I was tempted to pull all the slabs up to use in the garden and pour a nice slab for my other machines... Damp in cellars is a lot more complex issue than people think so for now I am just running a couple of dehumidifiers to keep it reasonable...

Just on a safety note, black mold can cause all sorts of health problems. Just a small amount can cause headaches and nausea. (Small amount as in, size of your hand or so..) Your basement looks even better with a cool looking workbench. I need to build another one too. I think I'll use some of your idea to make one . Thanks!

tashammer (author)2007-07-15

George, well done! Love the cellar, they don't seem to have cellars in Australia. And i love the way your worktop grew like topsy, very organic. More power to yer elbow me old son!

boner (author)2006-11-26

nice job on the workbench-saw. you've inspired me to give this go myself, but i think i'll try to somehow integrating a rip fence of some sort.

chuckw (author)2006-08-18

Sorry if this sounds a big ignorant, but what do you do for a fence on that thing? Personally I cannot live without a fence as I'm simply not capable of making a straight cut without one. ..Chuck..

gsport george (author)chuckw2006-08-19

If you look at the first picture in the 4th step you can see the aluminium channel I clamp in place right across the table... This isnt as quick to set as a sliding fence, but can be much more accurate.

chuckw (author)gsport george2006-08-29

Ahhh, very nice. I've been testing fences on the "Home Depot" table saws and have been very disappointed. All of the sub-$500 rigs have fences that drift on the backside pretty easily.

Cristian Lavaque (author)2006-08-17

Thanks for the instructable. Is the C shape better than others for working?

The C shape was dictated by the need to get to the controls of the saw; on/off switch, height winder etc: and also the need to have a little more support for big sheets of material when working on my own. Also it helps to have the extra support on big items when using it as a bench....

jwestlak (author)2006-08-17

I'd be careful about using wood as a surface for a table warps. It also looks like you have an old style Michigan or midwest basement which gets alot of moisture. That piece of plywood could probably ruin some cuts if not flat.

gsport george (author)jwestlak2006-08-18

The cellar is a little damp, but to the right of the main photo you can see that I have a de-humidifier which keeps the relative humidity down to a reasonable level. The main support timber has been acclimatising to the cellar for several months so hoepfully has done all the warping it is going to do already. I am not aiming to make reproduction Lois XIV French furniture on this, just the odd Kitchen worktop, window shutters etc etc....

Murf (author)gsport george2006-08-18

Good Job George

huckuba (author)2006-08-17

How on Earth are you going to use a fence, or miter bar on a table saw like this?

gsport george (author)huckuba2006-08-18

I am not planning on making anything too fancy on it, the main requirement is to be able to rip simple straight cuts. I have a long length of aluminium channel I can clamp right across the table for a fence.

radiorental (author)2006-08-17

very nice, I've been planning something like this, thanks for some inspiration.

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