Introduction: Toolbox Workbench

About: I work as an electrical engineer, but I'm also interested in music and motorsports.

Everyone loves a good toolbox, but what I really need is a workbench. There has to be a way to have both.

While cruising the internet, I came across a gentleman by the name of Steevo at who had a great corner workbench with 4 tool boxes in it. I don't have quite as much space, nor quite the need, so I scaled my plans down and the result is what you see here.

Link to Steevo's Incredible Build


6x 34" x 2" square tube 1/8" wall

4x 43" 1.5" angle 3/16" wall

4x 24" 1.5" angle, 3/16" wall

2x 94" 1.5" angle, 3/16" wall

6x plastic inserts for threaded feet

6x metal adjustable threaded feet

2x Harbor Freight 44" tool box

1x 96" x 34" 12 ga plate, 2" bends at 90 degrees on the long ends

Step 1: The Frame

Pro Tip: "bright, shiny" steel costs more. My local steel supplier sells steel coated in mill scale (residue from the manufacturing process). This will eat up consumables (flap wheels and the like) like no one's business. I used muriatic acid to strip the coating off. This is VERY HAZARDOUS!!! Do so only at your own risk, and wear the appropriate protection: goggles, gloves, and a respirator at the least. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water after the coating has dissolved to neutralize the acid. The metal will flash rust after this, but if you use it quickly the rust comes off much more easily than the coating.

I wanted a 38-40" work height, so the uprights seen are 34". I had originally planned wheels, but decided a more stable platform would be best. The feet are from J.W. Winco and are quite pricey, but they will support the load. I believe mine are 3/8" course thread and each supports near a ton.

I wanted the top to be a continuous sheet of steel, and since steel comes in 96" lengths, the completed bench must be 8 feet or less from end to end. I bought two HF 44" boxes, which are highly recommended by the folks over at GJ.

The boxes are slightly narrower than 43" and roughly 18" deep, so I had to notch the 43" pieces to weld them onto the 24" sides at 18" from the front, as seen in the pic.

**Edit: The 2018 and newer boxes are deeper, I want to say 22" deep. Verify all measurements before buying and cutting materials.

Keen observers will note that this picture does not show the middle supports. That is because I overestimated the loading capacity of my materials, had to cut the thing in half, and add supports in later. Don't make my mistake. You need a middle support.

Step 2: Prime and Paint

In this photo you can see the previously painted sections and where I added the middle support. Also note how the legs are 24" apart, but the inner support rails for the toolboxes are only 18" apart. I used a self-etching primer, and although I did not, I would recommend following that with a lighter-color high build primer to disguise the grinding marks. I used flux core wire and had a few ugly welds.

The paint is red engine enamel from the local auto parts store, followed with clear coat from the same product line.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

When the paint is dry, carefully turn it over and put the inserts into the square tube for the feet. The fit should be tight, you may need to persuade them. The feet then thread right into the inserts. I set mine to approximately 2" of clearance to get the work top height where I wanted it.

CAUTION: These boxes are HEAVY! Call a friend, work smarter and don't injure yourself. I used an engine hoist because I had one available, and I took all of the drawers out first. You may want to put some tape on the edges to prevent chipping either the boxes or the frame.

Once the boxes are it, the top goes on. Currently mine is just sitting on top. Eventually I will drill mounting holes in the top rails and screw some 1" plywood or an old solid wood door down to the top, then use some liquid nails to attach the steel top to the wood core. This will prevent the metal from moving too much and keep the noise down while providing a solid surface if I really need to beat on something in the future.

Edit from the future: I didn't do that. Because I use the top for welding, I decided not to sandwich it against a flammable backing material. Instead, I welded a ladder frame from 1"x1" square tube to the back of the top and mounted it to the uprights.

I built a welding cart using similar construction. I cut the 12 ga plate to 30"x48", then welded a 2" lip all the way around. This is time consuming. For this work top, I made a deal with a local fab shop who cut and bent the plate on their brake. This not only gives a nicer, straighter edge, but it will save you probably 10 hours of cutting, welding, and grinding.

All that's left after that is to arrange the drawers to your preference (shallow and deep drawers are interchangeable) and fill them with your tools. Now get to work! That garage isn't going to organize itself!

Metal Contest 2016

Participated in the
Metal Contest 2016