- make it strong
- use all 4 feet by 8 feet (actually 49" by 97") of one MDF board with virtually zero waste
- keep it simple (dimensional lumber & lap/butt joints)
- keep it inexpensive
- PROFIT (ha ok, metaphorically speaking)
Step 1: The Design
To keep it simple the frame is from dimensional lumber and attached by lap and butt joints and I spent a good deal of time determining their optimal placement and making sure I'd have screws in the right places to maximize the strength and long-term durability of this work bench. Check out the pictures for details as it'd be too confusing to explain.
- I intentionally placed the front 2x6 legs inside of the top frame so that I'd have a perfect rectangle on all edges of the bench top. This also means the top frame is flush with the walls where I placed the bench.
- The shelf is not as deep as the top so that when you stand in front of it you won't hit your shins on the shelf
- The are 4 legs so that the bench can stand on its own should I need to move it for any reason.
- The overall dimensions for this bench are: 96 inches wide, 27.5 inches deep, 40 inches high. Make it as wide as is comfortable for your space, like in a kitchen: there's no such thing as too much 'counter space.'
Whatever width your MDF (or plywood) is you'll want to find two numbers that have a difference of 7 and together add up to the total. Based on this you'll know where to cut (rip) your 4x8 piece in two.
48" = 27.5" top + 20.5" shelf
49" = 28" top + 21" shelf
The reason for this is the "6 inch side" of the 2x6 is actually 5 1/2 inches and "4 inch side" of the 2x4 is 1 1/2 inches, which totals ... 7 inches. Hopefully from this explanation and the pictures you can decipher what I mean. I broke a cardinal rule of carpentry by not measuring first. I assumed the 4ftx8ft piece of MDF I bought was 48x96 but it was actually 49x97. I think they do this so that if you drop the MDF on it's edge in transport you can still strip it down an inch on any side.
My 2 cents about how to choose the right overall bench height:
- Your purpose for the bench - do you want things at hip height so you don't need to bend over? OR will you need to get weight/leverage with what may be on the bench top?
- Obviously the answer to #1 changes based on your personal height.