Introduction: Budget $30 Workbench

I set out to make a compact workstation that I can use for my many small projects. These projects are mostly with small electronics but sometimes branch out to various things that I needed something I can work on top of and not be afraid to ruin. When this top is done I simply unscrew 6 screws and replace it. But I don't see that happening. So I drew up a basic workstation in Google Sketchup and then made a revision that included supports around the bottom rim of the MDF. The dimensions in the drawing are only estimates as the exact size of your material will vary.

There are many more things I could have added to this project but my goal was two things:

  1. Cheap
  2. Small

With that in mind I was aiming for a budget of around $20 but I didn't have any fasteners so that cost me about $7 right there. Altogether this project was sourced at Home Depot for $31.16. Please keep in mind that I have almost no carpentry experience and did this with a 40 year old circular saw, some basic hand tools, saw horses and and a Makita drill/Impact set. So I feel this project is well within the grasp of the novice, and of course, expert alike.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


  • 3/4" Thick 2' x 4' MDF
  • 2" x 3" x 96" Premium Whitewood Stud (x4)
  • Box of 2 1/2" Construction Screws
  • Box of 3 1/2" Construction Screws


  • Circular Saw or Table saw, etc... Whatever works best for you
  • Standard Drill and an Impact Drill too. The latter being highly helpful in setting the long screws.
  • Clamps to hold work in place
  • Level
  • Drill bit 9/64"~24

Step 2: Time to Cut!

  1. Take some measurements of the width of your MDF.
  2. Cut your 2x3's for the measured width. This will go under your MDF and be part of top supports.
  3. With your MDF laying flat, set the 2 cut pieces on it's edge.
  4. Measure the inside dimensions for the 2 longer Top Supports of your MDF; cut
  5. Place between the previous 2 pieces. If done right they should all be just about perfectly square and lining up with the edges of your MDF on all four sides.
  6. Cut your legs at the desired height.

Step 3: Assembling the Top Support

This part can be a bit tricky to get started. I laid all four pieces on the floor and had them set up as I would if the top was ready to be screwed to it. Just like a dry fit I guess. Then I drilled two holes about equidistant from the top and bottom and what will be center of the 49" piece of wood you're going to be attaching to. Make sure when doing this you keep pressure on the top of the wood to keep the pieces from moving around. The drill bit should be long enough to leave at least a small mark on the wood behind it(the 49" piece). This mark/shallow hole should be enough for you to then drill that piece. Line the pieces of wood back up and, using the impact, attach (x2) 3.5" screws (the 2.5" screws will work too) in the holes you just drilled. Repeat this process for the remaining 3 corners all the while keeping an eye on your edges to make sure everything stays lined up.

Step 4: Attaching MDF to Top Support

Lay your MDF on top of your completed support and attach it with a 2.5" screw(remember to pre-drill your holes) about 4" from your corner. Be careful to not damage the MDF by screwing down too deep.

Step 5: Attach Legs and Leg Supports

Fit your legs into the corners and keep them snug with your bar clamp. Attach with a 2.5" screw, after pre-drilling your holes. I used a handy square to line up the new screws. (Make sure the 3" side of the leg is parallel with the 24" support.)

No pictures of this next step, sorry.

Stand your workstation up. Using a level make sure it's sitting straight, shim the legs if you need to. I just crumpled up some newspaper I had sitting next to me. Then make sure your legs are level on both vertical sides. They'll have some wiggle room, so just push into place or loose their screws if you really need to. Once they're level measure the inside distance between them, cut a piece of 2x3 to fit in between the two legs and attach with screws at 12" off the floor. Attach one side, set your level on it and attach the other. Do this for the back and the opposite side. I used the 3.5" screws here.

Note: If you want to save about $4 you can use the 2.5" screws everywhere else and at this step instead of having wood between the legs, it'll sit on top of the legs and you can screw through the support and leg with the 2.5" screws. I think it looks nicer the way I did it and seems more sturdy to me.

Step 6: Finished!

All done, time to clean up and bring it inside. Paint it if you wish, but I like it like this. Then set up with your gadgets, projects and start making stuff.