Introduction: First Workbench

Eversince I can remember I have been making stuff and it has always been a dream of mine to have my very own workshop where I can let loose my creativity with great precision and style. Towards that end I have collected several tools over the years but have always felt the need for a place to call my own. My happy place :-)

Since I live in an apartment with ceramic tile floors it has become impossible for me to work on the floor for fear of cracking the tiles, so I finally decided to make my very own workbench.

Some of the design criteria or constraints I had in mind when I started with this were:
1. Workbench should be sturdy.
2. Can be used for a variety of things.
3. Flexible storage space
4. Minimum cost.
5. Minimum wastage of materials.
6. Require least variety of tools to make

Raw materials:
1. For legs I used 3" x 3" x 30" solid wood legs. Unfortunately I do not know what kind of wood it is, I just asked the timber merchant to give me the cheapest he had.
2. For the remaining parts I used one full sheet of 18mm thick plywood, 4' x 6'.
3. 6 dozen 1.5" Screws/nails
4. Tools, the more the merrier.

I had gone to the timber shop a day before to find out what were the standard sizes of ply that were available (4'x6', 4'x7', 4'x8', 3'x6', 3'x7', 3'x8') then came back and made the cutting plan on Google Sketchup so that the least amout of wood would be left over.

Step 1: Gathering the Materials

One of the tools I don't have is a saw for cutting large pieces of wood, and even if I did have one it would be virtually impossible to cut the plywood into the strips I need without a worbench and a powertool.

So to make my life easier I got the timber shop to cut up the entire plywood as per my cut-out plan using their circular saw.

You should now have the following materials
1. 4' x 3' ply for the work top
2. 3' x 2' ply for the storage/shelf top
3. 3" x 36" strips (4x)
4. 3" x 24" strips (4x)
5. 3" x 3" x 30" solid wood legs (4x)

You can go for thicker or thinner plywood depending on your usage, I though 18mm thick would be best value for money for me. A pouch of glue and about 6 dozen 1.5" screws are all that is left to be added to the materials list.

All the above raw materials cost me Rs.1500/- thats about 30$ (USD)

It is very important to have strong and sturdy legs (applies to you as well) as these are what will take the entire load of all the work that you will be doing on the workbench.

First step is to stand the legs on a flat surface and make sure they stand vertically and the cut ends are absolutely flat and square. Mark and cut the legs into equal lengths. My workbench legs are 30" long.

Step 2: Frame It Right

Next step is to make the frames that will brace the legs. Mark the legs to the height that you want the shelf to be at. Carefully drill pilot holes, glue the wood contact surfaces and then screw them together. I used 3 screws for each side of the joint. Remember to make pilot holes for the screws and the counter sink for the screw heads first, before screwing them in.

Take measurements at every step to make sure the legs are always parallel and the frame corners are at right angles.

At the end of this step you are left with 2 frames of 3' x 2' around the legs.
Before starting with the top frame I suggest you mount the shelf first so that it is easier to mount it between the 4 legs. The shelf will rest on the bottom frame and the 3" x 3" pieces cutout at the 4 corners of the shelf top, for the legs.

Step 3: Attach the Top

Once the frame is ready and the glue has dried, check to make sure all the legs are even and that the finished frame does not wobble. Next we need to attach the work top.

Now here is where I have a dilema and I am counting on someone experienced to help me out. The easiest thing to do would be to just screw the top onto the frame below, however, the table top is 4' x 3' and the rooms in my apartment have doors that are about 2.5ft wide, as a result if I need to move the table I will have to unscrew the top everytime.

I need an idea so that the top can be detached easily and yet provide stability when being worked upon. One of the ideas I have is to use some sort of nut and bolt arrangement, but I am open to ideas.

P.S: I found these L brackets which I have used to attach the top since I first posted the instructable. There are 4 of them, one in each corner.

Step 4: Finished

And last but not the least is to paint all the wooden surfaces to increase their durability and protect them from scratches and liquid spills etc. Sandpaper all the paint surfaces with a coarse sandpaper, then with a fine one. Be careful of the splinters from the plywood, you don't want those under your skin.

I am very new to woodworking but I am quite pleased with the way this turned out. Nothing is more satisfying that buying it with your own money and making it yourself.

I plan to install a bench vice and later maybe a drill press. Oh, and the 30" x 30" ply that got left over can be used for a bench hook or something so that nothing gets wasted. I have kept the space under the table open for now as I have not yet decided how much storage I need, I can always install drawers when needed to keep the tools.