Introduction: Heavy Duty Workbench With Loads of Storage

About: I've always tinkered with things and taken products apart just to put them back together again, and I enjoy challenging myself to create unique or interesting projects.
I set out with the intention of making a sturdy, reliable, and mostly simple workbench. As I was tired of not having a proper location to work on projects, or brainstorm creative solutions for existing problems.

A few years ago, I had a basic idea in mind of a large, long work bench with a replaceable work surface, a lower shelf and pegboard for tool storage/organization. Another design goal was to ensure I had the ability to break it down with relative ease when I eventually move.

I had a pre-existing plan in mind, but adapted the method of sandwiching the posts, and temporarily supporting each shelf from:

Two (2) 4’x8’ sheets of 5/8” plywood
Three (3) 4x6x10’ treated wood posts
One (1) 4‘x8’ sheet of 1/4” pegboard
One (1) 4‘x8’ sheet of 1/4” hardboard
Twelve (12) 2x4x8’ boards
Twenty Four (24) 5/16”x6” carriage bolts
Twenty Four (24) washers
Twenty Four (24) hex nuts
A large number of 3” deck screws

Step 1:

The first step is to cut sixteen (16) 36” segments from the 2x4‘s. You can cut each 2x4 twice, so this will require eight (8) 2x4’s. Next you need to cut off 38” from the top of each 4x6 post. Accuracy in this step is crucial as we’ll be using the 38” post as the front of our desk and the 82” remainder as the rear structure and the pegboard support.

Step 2:

The next step is to build the basis of our frames, by attaching one 36” segment to the edge of two full length 2x4’s.

Step 3:

At this point, I made sure to measure out the distance of each of the cross members. I started out by pre-measuring where I thought that I wanted each to be, so that I could distribute the load equally along the length of the table.

There was to be a cross member at the 26" mark, and the 70" mark, while the centre posts would be centered at the 4' mark.

I then proceeded to do a dry fit around each of the main posts. I made the mistake of not leaving a little bit of breathing room between the main posts and the cross members, which then led to much cursing later on when I was doing final assembly.

Step 4:

After cutting out six (6) square 4” blocks from my end cuts off of the 2x4’s, I knew that my desired final height was a working height of 38”, so I calculated the distance down from there to account for the thickness of 2x4, hardboard, and plywood. In this case that thickness came to a total of 4 1/8”. So from the base of each post I measured up 33 7/8”, and marked it with a straight edge. I then took the square off cuts of 2x4’s and used them as a temporary brace support for the top shelf. I then started from one side and began to drill holes through the post, and shelf, while ensuring the top surface was level throughout the entire process by making slight vertical adjustments as I moved from post to post.

Step 5:

As it turned out, the posts were slightly too thick in the end, so I used a 3/4” spade bit to create a slight countersink for the nut and washer inside each post. At this point I held the top shelf in place with the carriage bolts, and removed the temporary brace supports. I then measured out where I’d like my lower shelf to sit: in this case I wanted to have 10” clearance for the second shelf, so I measured from the bottom of each post up to 23 7/8” and once more marked out that distance with a straight edge, and screwed the temporary braces into place at the marked out distance.

Step 6:

I loosened the carriage bolts one at a time to allow the bottom shelf to be raised up into place and then to rest onto the newly moved temporary supports.

Once more I moved from one side to the other, leveling the shelf then moving on to the next section.

Step 7:

As soon as it’s all leveled nicely, drill your holes once more, and then insert a carriage bolt into each hole to ensure that the shelf doesn’t move. After all the holes have been drilled, grab the 3/4” spade bit and once more create a countersink for each hole, so that the washers and nuts have a place to get properly held in place.

Step 8:

Now we’re finally getting to the fun parts! I used a 1/2” socket driver to fully and tightly secure each nut to the carriage bolt on the lower shelf, after initially making sure that the bolt was firmly in place with a few good hammer strikes.

Step 9:

Knowing that the overall surface area I desired would be 8‘x38”, I first trimmed down both sheets of plywood to this dimension. I then laid the plywood down on top of the posts to easily find out where to mark out each post’s position, measured in 6” from the edge, and cut out the location of each post. Using the first cut piece of plywood, copy the same cuts to the second piece of plywood.

Step 10:

Lay down the first piece of plywood on top of the lower shelf, and using the 3” deck screws start from one side of the plywood and secure it into place by screwing into the exterior frame and the cross members.

Lower your upper shelf back into place, and using the same technique as before, use 3” deck screws to secure the plywood into place.

Step 11:

I wanted to make sure that I my plywood and posts would be as flush as possible, and since my 10’ posts ended up each being slightly longer than 10’, I used this opportunity to use a hand saw and cut off the excess from each of the front posts.

Step 12:

Nearing the finish line! I laid the hardboard on the top of the bench and first notched the rear side to slide around each of the posts and then trimmed the front to ensure it was a nice clean and flush fit on all sides.

Step 13:

I knew going in that the hardboard work surface wouldn’t last forever, so I wanted to have the ability to replace it whenever the surface became too marked up to bear. To facilitate this I took a few pieces of plywood scraps 2x4 scraps and made removable clamps to be used on each of the side and the front lip of the bench. This will allow me to remove the clamps and replace the hardboard at any time.

Step 14:

I swear this is almost the last step. I measured out the length of pegboard needed, trimmed, and then using screws, pegboard spacers, and washers I mounted the pegboard to the rear posts. I found it was much easier to move from one side to the other during this step and I used a speaker to hold the loose end in place.

Step 15: Finished!

There we have it! One incredibly sturdy workbench with an additional storage shelf plus pegboard for all your most-used tools. All this and the design maintains the ability to be easily disassembled for (relatively) easy moving when and if the need arises.

Step 16: Additions

I hadn’t intended to make these additions, but it felt right to do so while I was hanging tools.

1. I made a couple simple speaker brackets which I mounted to the rear side posts, and used a 2x4 bracing to keep it nice and stable.

2. I had a pre-existing lamp cord and bulb from an old lamp, which I mounted to a 32” 2x4, and then moved the switch from near the bulb to near the plug, which in turn was then screwed into place onto the top of the centre post, with wiring run down the backside of the pegboard.

3. I had a couple power strips which I wanted to have at the back of the worktop, so I bored a hole in the back base of the pegboard to fit them through, and then ran the wiring for the lamp down to them, and hooked up the stereo power to one strip, as well as running an auxiliary cable so I could play music from my iPhone.

4. I have yet to do so, but I’d like to finish the hardboard with a polymerized tung oil to help make it more durable and withstand moisture.