Introduction: Cheap Workbench

Sure I call it a workbench, but you may ask yourself: "Is that big enough to be a workbench?" This specific set of photos I took while constructing a cart for my air compressor and shop vac, but these plans are highly adaptable allowing one to make a table of almost any shape or size. This is the third piece I've made using these plans (see next step), two with wheels and one stationary workbench.

[These plans were developed before my discovery of the Kreg Jig, these plans don't require the purchase of any specialty equipment]

One can easily construct a work bench for $25 with the following:

7/16" OSB (4'x8')
8' 2x4
2 1/2" Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
Wood Glue (Optional)

Note: How much wood do you need? See the next step to design your own.

Circular saw
Tape measure
Countersinking drill bit
Power drill
Carpenter's square
Miter saw (Optional)
Nail gun (Optional)

Step 1: Size

You can adapt the size to your needs. I have made three using the same design (The dimensions below are the the size of the wood, not the size of the bench):

1: My regular workbench. This is a tall, sturdy workbench that I use on the regular. Although I just have my miter saw below, its great for stacking boxes or storage totes. I've used this bench as a step stool to work on the ceiling and it felt very stable the whole time.

Tall: 42"
Wide: 48"
Deep: 26"

2: Light-weight cart. It's only light-weight because of the cheap wheels. I use this piece to do some light moving and also set recently painted or stained items on it so I can wheel them outside to dry. The design is some-what reversed than the other two. This is not finished on the bottom; I didn't put the bottom shelf because this thing is always moving. Note: The width and depth are 20", but because of the design the cart is actually a rectangle. Think about this when designing your own bench if you have specific needs.

Tall: 26"
Wide: 20"
Deep: 20"

3. Our finished product. The bottom shelf is dropped to the bottom of the legs (unlike the bench in #1) because it will have wheels. The bottom shelf is short because I used a scrap piece of wood that was just that length (I'm trying to make good use of my wood).

Tall: 28"
Wide: 21"
Deep: 23"

Step 2: Cut Materials

This is much easier with a miter saw (chop saw), but a circular saw will get the job done. Be sure to remember the blade width when cutting; we want all our pieces in a set to be the same size. The measurements don't have to be exact, but the pieces in the set need to be exactly the same.

Here are my dimensions for the cart:

21" (x4)
23" (x4)
28" (x4)

We're only cutting the 2x4s right now. We'll measure and cut the OSB after the frame is assembled.

Step 3: Assemble Frame

If you're using wood glue, dab a little glue in each corner of the legs. Bottom shelf measurement is easy on this project, but if you want a raised shelf, measure and mark.

Assemble the side-rails and legs. The air-compressed nail gun makes this much easier. Put a single nail in each corner so the frame can still be adjusted for square.

Measure diagonally and adjust until both measurements equal.

Drill pilot holes and countersink holes to prevent wood splitting. When the wood splits it will eventually cause the bench to weaken and fail.

Step 4: Assemble Frame (pt 2)

Attach the end-rails. Again, the nailer makes life easier, but a second set of hands or a few well-placed clamps will suffice.

If you want a reinforced bench-top and/or shelf, extra support can be easily added.

Step 5: Secure OSB

Measure and cut the OSB. Scrap wood welcome!

Be sure to counter-sink the screws so nothings gets snagged while you're working.

Step 6: Get to Work

Finish up and get to work! These things look presentable when they're sanded and painted.

I attached some wheels from Harbor Freight and now my ShopVac and air compressor have a portable home. These workbenches are easy to make without expensive specialty equipment and are strong enough to hold an elephant!