This Instructable describes how I built a 5' workbench with drawers for my son in 5 construction days.
My previous experience in building shop cabinets with drawers was limited to building the two shop cabinets described in this Instructable:
I followed the basic shop cabinet design and assembly approach described in Tom Clark's "Practical Shop Cabinets" (see his 30" x 60" workbench plans on page 16).
Note: I am not affiliated with Tom Clark in any way.
For this Instructable, I've decided to show you the steps that I took to build this workbench over a period of 5 work days. My desire is to eventually build something like this in 3 days, as Tom Clark states that he does, but I'm not there yet. After building my first set of drawers, I acquired a used table saw, and built a kit panel saw (Swap Saw), which greatly speeds up the process of cutting the sheet plywood to size.
If you have any questions about how I built this, please comment or message me.
Step 1: Day 1: Cut the Sides, Center Pieces, Face Frames, Rear Supports, & Drawer Slide Supports
I followed the workbench design shown on pg 16 of Tom Clark's book, except that I lengthened the cabinet base to 60" (vs 54").
I laid out the major parts using CutList Plus Express.
I purchased some nice 3/4" & 1/4" birch veneer plywood from Lowe's.
Then I used the Swap Saw and the table saw to cut the large pieces, face frames, rear supports, and the slide supports.
Then I marked the exact center of the "inside" portion of the top and bottom face frames and rear supports and added small pieces of plywood to help locate the center support pieces in a later step.
See the pics for more info.
Step 2: Day 2: Layout the Locations of Drawer Slide Supports, Attach Slides, Build Frame
I then carefully laid out the location of the drawer slide supports, taking care to make sure that they were all the same height above the base and as level as possible. I attached the drawer slide supports with glue and nails from an air nail gun.
I then attached the appropriate drawer slides to each drawer slide support.
Then I assembled the pieces to make the frame of the cabinet.
Step 3: Day 3: Make the Drawer Frames
I had several pieces of oak veneer plywood that I purchased off of Craigs List to use to make the drawers.
It is critical at this point to build a "test" drawer to confirm the dimensions. The length of the drawers was the depth of the cabinet minus 1/2". The width of the drawers is approximately 1" less than the width of the opening. The height of the drawers is approximately 1" less than the total opening height to allow for easy insertion and removal of the drawers.
It is critical that you do not make the drawers too wide (they will bind) or too narrow (they will fall out).
After making and scrapping one drawer (too narrow), I determined the correct dimensions and then made all of the drawers to those dimensions and adjusted the drawer heights accordingly.
I used butt joints with pocket screws to hold the drawer pieces together.
I managed to make all 8 of the drawers (no bottoms) in one evening.
Step 4: Day 4: Add the Bottoms to the Drawers
On the next day, I cut the 1/4" inch plywood to fit the bottoms of the drawers, and then glued and stapled the drawer bottoms on.
See my prior Instructable for more information about adding the drawer bottoms.
After adding the bottoms, I added the associated drawer slides, and then inserted the drawers into the cabinets as I made them.
Fortunately, I had done a pretty good job of centering the center supports so that the two sides of the cabinet were virtually identical in width. This allowed me to put the drawers into either side without a problem.
Step 5: Day 5: Add Stiffeners and Top
I added stiffeners with pocketholes to the top of the cabinet and then cut a plywood top for the cabinet.
I followed Tom's basic design and made the top 3" wider on all sides than the base.
I attached the top using the pocketholes in the stiffeners.
The cabinet was then ready for shipment to my son.