Picture of The Very Rigid $45 Eight Foot Workbench
Your shop needs a good workbench. It needs to be rigid so you can trust it to hold any project you are doing. It needs to be big so you have room to work. It needs to be inexpensive so you have more money for tools.

I built this bench for under $45 using all new materials in the spring of 2011. The top is eight feet long and two and a half feet deep. The shelf is full length and one and a half feet deep. The tool ledge is three and a half inches deep.

Note, this Instructable will use the US standards: inches are marked as ", feet are marked as '.

Materials list

Description. Qty
2"x4"x8' (nominal size) 7
1"x6"x8' 1
4'x8'x3/4" particle board 1
Box 2" exterior wood screws 1
Bottle of wood glue. 1

Saw (hand or power)
Measuring tape
6" clamps

Good to have
Post level
Corner clamps
Large square
Drill guide
Countersinking drill bit
Workmate style clamping table
Larger pieces of cardboard
Rubber mallet 
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Step 1: Step 1 At the Lumber Yard

The 4'x8' panel can be particle board, MDF, or chip board. I chose particle board as a good compromise of cost and durability. Buy from a lumberyard or big box store that will do free cuts with a panel saw. Have the store cut the panel lengthwise at 30". Panel saws do nice straight cuts if the operator is even minimally competent. Not only will this result in a better cut than you can make with a portable saw, but it will also make the parts lighter to cary and easier to maneuver.
plshaw made it!17 days ago

I built 2 of these yesterday. I adjusted it to about 3 1/2 feet, very good workbench and instructions.

pawelski (author)  plshaw16 days ago

Nice job.

EddieZ13 months ago

So far I really like it. I had to make a height adjustment after I realized how tall it would be at 4 feet... otherwise it looks great! thanks for the directions

pawelski (author)  EddieZ116 days ago

after using the bench for a few months, what do you think could be improved?

Hi. thanks for the instructions, here is mine.

pawelski (author)  Alfonso Quintana11 months ago
Looks great. Did you run into any problems while building it?

thanks, I live with my parents, so if my mum dosen't like, I'm in trouble XD, no problem everything well explained, de floor isn't level equal so I'm goin to anchored to the wall with screws and is going to be rock solid.

know I have a nice place for works in other projects, thanks

pawelski (author)  Alfonso Quintana11 months ago

If mum dosen't go for the holes in the wall, look for "leveling feet" in the hardware store or on line. Rockler has several types, other places have smaller selections, but lower prices.

bendy7 made it!11 months ago

Great design! It looks great in the garage--thanks for the design.

pawelski (author)  bendy711 months ago

You got a good location too with that outlet just above the table. I added a power strip to the front of the ledge on mine.

tim_n2 years ago
Built this on the weekend.

Spent £46 on materials (in the uk) and about £6 on screws all from B&Q.

Didn't go for particle board but a larger chunkier chipboard.

The only thing we really do need to do is brace the shelf under at the front with an extra 2x4 because it is dipping.

I used kreg screws to make stronger joints on the bench top supports.

The feet do feel a little wobbly and might benefit by being 3x3 or 4x4.

In addition triangular supports on the sides would make a big difference to the rigidity.

Pic: (uploaded from a mobile device)
tim_n tim_n2 years ago
Similarly we assumed you were putting the 22" supports (all four) on the able top. Particle board tends to sag as it asborbs moisture (especially in damp places like a garage). The extra support will help stop this - as will sealing it with watered down PVA.
pawelski (author)  tim_n2 years ago
All good improvments. I've been "overloading" my lower shelf and seeing the same sag you describe. An additional 2x4 under the front would take care of that and woul add a little extra rigidity in the long direction.

An alternative to going up to 3x3 or 4x4 is to use a second 2x4 on each leg, but instead of placing it "flat to flat" with the existing leg, place it "edge to flat" so it forms a long T or L depending on where you atach the two pieces. This moves more of the fibers further from the centerline and makes it stiffer than the same amount of wood in a square cross section.

Watered down wood glue does make a good sealant. I didn't put it on mine which is setting in a shop in Georgia (southern US) that is only heated or cooled when I am actually in there working. Going through the seasonal changes, I have not noticed any warping of the top.

Somthing I did on my second table is add an L extension on the end. This puts additional legs out of plane with the others which makes it stiffer fore and aft. I use the extension both for a router table and for my main assembly table because I can get to three sides of whatever I am building.
ShaunHill2 years ago
Could you please post some more photos of the tool ledge as I can't quite imagine it.
pawelski (author)  ShaunHill2 years ago
There isn't much more to see. Look at the fist picture in step 3. The two boards are glued into an L shape. Look at the far right of the first picture in step 6. See the L again? It is just below the table top and in front of the legs. In the front view picture in step 6, you can see the ledge head on. It is wide enought to lay small tools on it like measuring tapes, markers, calipers...
Thanks for this instructable! I used your basic design for my workbench... which is about 3/4s done now... (ran out of screws, of all things) I have spent UNDER $45 in wood though! I bought a big solid core door from the local Habitat for Humanity Restore for ~$20... It isnt as pretty as a clean piece of wood, but it will do the job. The bad part is, I have spent ~$100 on clamps, and assorted bits and pieces to do the job. :) Wife wasnt too happy. I am anxious to see how it turns out. I am very much the amateur, and I cant imagine I have the legs on even... I bought some cheap levelling screws at Lowes to try to offset both my failures with precise measuring/cuts, and my horribly uneven basement floor.

A tip for any others out there who are starting from the ground up, and lack the clamps (as I did).... If you can afford the nice ones at Lowes, more power to you. I was trying to keep costs down, so I went to Harbor Freight. I have had some bad experiences there, but figured how bad could they mess up some C -clamps. So far, I havent been disappointed.
pawelski (author)  the_howlermonkey3 years ago
If you sign up for their ads, about every other month, Harbor Freight has their 12" ratcheting clamps on sale for $1.99 in their members only flyer. I have had only one fail. The pivot for the squeeze handle was a plastic cylinder that broke. I replaced it with a 1/4" bolt and put it back to work.

The solid core door is a great idea. 16 years ago, my first two benches were made from the side panels of a trashed bookshelf. Nothing was straight on them either, but they are still standing.
I really like the "shelf", it gives me a whole new place to lose my measuring tape!
pawelski (author)  the_howlermonkey2 years ago
The only time I loose mine is when I forget to put it back on the shelf.
Bushie3 years ago
Neat job, there...

I used the same sort of particleboard for a bench top here, a few years ago now ~ except that after cutting the 8' x 4' board into 30" and 18" widths, I glued, screwed and nailed the narrower piece along the front to give a double thickness top with a 12" wide shallow "tool well" along the back..

The top was then sealed with a few coats of a semi-gloss water-based acrylic clear gloss finish for decks..

I then tacked a 6' sheet of external-grade Masonite along the front half of the benchtop to protect the surface from impact, cutting, etc. If I was doing any serious metalworking, I might consider adding a sheet of steel plate on top, as well..

My bench top has already stood up to a couple of decades of use and abuse - mostly general woodwork, and some household maintenance - and is still going well...
pawelski (author)  Bushie3 years ago
Sounds cool. Post some pics.
dimtick3 years ago
very nice simple design.
I think the only change I'd make is that I wouldn't glue on the top so that it can be replaced when it gets beat up.
pawelski (author)  dimtick3 years ago
I thought about doing that. While the front ledge is just taking the vertical load, the rear support is also taking any twisting load. Imagine dropping an 80 lb small engine an inch or two onto the middle of the table. The top will try to bow from the impact. The back side has to twist the 2x4 to do that. With just screws, the shock load can rip them out. Not a problem with the whole length glued to the 2x4.

If you don't mind spending an extra $6, I would recommend getting another sheet of particle board to use as a cover. Since it will be fully supported from below by the main top, it can be thinner and only needs to be attached in a few places. I'd either use four bolts near the edges, or wood screws from the bottom so you don't have to make new holes in your main top each time.

If you plan to have storage on you back 6", you can have them cut the sheet exactly in half and have two replacement tops from each sheet. Better still, you can use two of the ready cut 4'x2' "easy sheets" with the screw from the bottom method. Easier to handle and you only have to replace the side that gets damaged.
Your comment about $6 for another sheet of particle board is making me want you to give a price breakdown. I only have the 2 big hardware stores around, and I'm seeing OSB, particle board, and plywood as the only options in 4 x 8 sheets. The 3/4" particle board is about $20, even 3/8" for a cover layer is $16+.
pawelski (author)  ksexton13 years ago
This is my third try at posting this:
$6 is for the thinnest OSB.
The 3/4" particle board costs $18.45 down here.
I paid $2.49 for each 2x4
The 6" board was just under $5.
Thats a great idea to do a double layer top. i hadn't thought of that. thank you. for my projects (furniture refinishing), the biggest theat is something nasty getting spilled (like paint stripper). can't have anything like that getting onto the whatever i'm working on. i think a thin sacrificial top, like 1/4", would work well for my needs.

the way you have yours screwed, every 6-8 inch's, you don't need to worry about dropping a small engine block. i don't know the length of screws you used but as long as you have at least 3/4" bite (at least as much bite as the width of the wood going thru ), then you don't need to worry about pull out.

you may want to add another 2x4 along the front edge of the shelf, below the shelf edge. the 2x4 the runs on the back of the shelf adds some stiffness but i'm not sure if it's enough. i can't tell from the pictures but you should screw thru that back shelf 2x4 into the table legs. you have plenty of rigidity in the short direction because of the your framing but i don't think it's enough in the long direction. you may want to add some diagonal braces onto the legs. you can also simply screw it to your wall.

another thought. a simple thing to get some more function out of your bench you can drill a grid of evenly spaced 1" holes that will allow you to use bench dog clamps simpilar to that little folding work table you have.
i love these things
jongscx3 years ago
Your "This is in US standards" comment made me wonder...

How do they sell wood in countries that use metric standards? Are they still 2x4s?

Anyway, nicely made. Was the bottom shelf a "Measure twice/cut once" scenario or was that on purpose?
jkm jongscx3 years ago
although in metric, over here in The Netherlands lumber is still measured in multiples of 25 millimeters, i.e. Inches. So a 4x2 would be 50 x 100.
If rough sawn, that would be about the actual dimension. If planed smooth, it would be 44x94. Which would be sold as such, and not as 50x100. Lengthwise, we usually have lumber in multiples of about 30 cm, starting with 180 cm/ 6 feet. For sheets of ply etc, we're just about moving form 4"x 8" (122x244 cm) to 125x250 cm. But you will find both sizes, it's a global market.
pawelski (author)  jongscx3 years ago
Originally, I was going to orient the legs the other direction which would have allowed the shelf in w/o the notches. I accidentally clamped the first leg in the other orientation. I caught it before I glued it, but when I thought about it, I realized using the shelf with a notch around the front legs would make it stiffer. Besides, I had just bought an oscillating cutting tool! :)
Celt pawelski3 years ago
I got an oscillating tool for my b-day recently. at first I wasnt sure what i would use it on, but i have found it to be the most useful and fast tool in my "shop". Great bench BTW, i think i shall model mine after this one, with a few minor adjustments of course.
vincent75203 years ago
nice !
never saw a tool ledge as is … it's a great idea !…
Great design: simple, efficient use of materials.
Nicely laid out Instructable!