Introduction: Workbench From Various Sources

About: my first love (after family) is kite making and flying. Next thing is I love to watch what people can do and think at. I also have many ideas that can take time to get alive... :-)

The idea started from my actual workbench... Basically it is an industrial desk that the previous owner of my house left me when we moved in. I used it a lot already but always thought it was not designed for DiY. I like to stand in front of my workbench and this one being 750mm high is not really comfortable (despite the fact that I am not very tall). The other problem is the lack of storage for bits and pieces. I have shelving behind the workbench but they are always full of stuff already and I end up with a real mess on the workbench as you can see on the picture...

Time for a new one!

The actual one has a block of drawers on the right hand side that I would like to keep if possible (It will turn out that I could not...). I want the next one to be the same size (1.6m x 0.8m) as it barely protrude from the wall corner so you don't get hurt when passing by. Therefore, I will keep the worktop. This will save me a bit of money as well :-)

Next thing I want to have on the new one: DRAWERS!!!! I got my hands on a set of pharmacy drawers that were going to be trashed. They open out on 1 metre and I can put them along my wall and opening on the side of the workbench. You can see the final look in the picture!

Step 1: Skecth the Project

As I bought a table saw, I have to use it for this project!

So let's make a frame out of timber. It will have to be square section so corners can go in 3 directions. I am not a carpenter so it took me a lot of time to figure out how to connect the corners together and finally internet helped me to confirm what I needed. I will make something like tenon and mortise with the timbers crossing each others and interlocking. This sketch is my base for working and has been adjusted during the build. Once I knew how to build it, let's call the wood shop to see what timber section I will use

Step 2: Things I Bought

4 lengths of 5.1m of 55x70mm timber to make the frame

1 sheet (2.8m x 2.07m) of 8mm white melamine to finish the sides

this costed me 130€

Step 3: First Thing First: Clean Up the Mess!

let's remove all that is piled up on the actual desk but also what is under it, in the drawers, aside... :-) Well, just get it cleared! :-)

Step 4: Dismantle the Old Desk

keep the drawer block aside as well as the worktop. Keep the steel frame for any future project :-), yes, I do not like to throw away :-)

Step 5: Cut the Lengths

First, I cut all the timbers at the required lengths according to my plan. Final frame will be 1.6m long x 0.8m deep x 0.9m high

Step 6: Make the Timbers Square!

As explained above, to make the 3 directions corner, it is easier if all my timbers are the same dimensions so cuting them square is the next step.

As the original section was 55x70mm, I decided to make them 54x54mm. I chose this section as the assembly requires to divide the section by 3 and 54 / 3 = 18 which is a round figure easier to work with.

Step 7: Mark All the Cuts

to assemble the timbers together, the horizontals will clamp together and the vertical poles will lock them in place. To do so, I will need to remove bits on each end of each timber and in the centre for reinforcement.

Horizontal timbers will be reduced by 18mm on each side (54/3=18) when the verticals will be reduced by 18mm from the centre, opening a cross in them and leaving 4 "spikes" which will interlock with the 2 horizontal timbers. I hope this sounds clear? :-)

Step 8: Start Cutting

Cutting all the pieces will be a repeat process so let's make a jig first to make life easier and faster!

I used 2 plywood panels that I fixed perpendicularly, then I added 2 small strips to hold the 54mm x 54mm timbers vertically. This way, the timbers can be sled from above the jig and removed easily.

I also use my saw sled that I built here :

Place the jig against the sled's fence and clamp it.

To make the cuts, I only need to adjust blade's height once and slide the jig along the fence. Once the jig locked in place, make the first cut, remove the timber, turn it 180° and insert it again in the jig to cut on the other side. As all my cuts are symmetrical, I do not need to adjust the jig for each cut.

Cut all the timbers requiring the same cut before changing the jig position.

Step 9: Mid-depth Cuts

to make them, you will not need the vertical jig anymore.

Adjust blade's height and position the timber directly against the sled's fence.

I have different pieces that need to be cut exactly the same way. To do so, i put all those pieces aligned together and clamp them. I can then put them onto the saw and cut them together so they are exactly the same.

To make the openings, first, cut on each side of the opening then slide the timber from a blade's width and go through the blade again. Repeat until all the opening is cleared out.

Step 10: All Cuts Are Done

The timbers I bought are not really straight but I do not have a planer to flatten them. I hope this will work anyway.

Step 11: Test Assembly

As said above, the timbers are twisted (more or less depending on the pieces). Before I test the complete assembly, I had to adjust each corner to make sure the horizontal and vertical timbers fit nicely. Some were correct, some had to be adjusted and some broke!!!! Mainly the tiny bits hooking on the perpendicular timber. I had to glue them back in place.

I was frightened to test the poles but luckily none of them broke.

I marked a letter on each corner and wrote it on my plan as well to make sure I could fit the corners back together when they were adjusted.

First try outside, I hold my breath but all went well. Once again, timbers are twisted and I am not a carpenter so the joints are far from perfect but the frame can be assembled and it seems pretty rigid already! Yeah!!!! :-)

Step 12: Panel Infills

I decided to use 8mm thick melamine panel to close the faces. This will help to fix the drawer slides but also will make the frame more rigid as well.

To place the melamine panels, I cut a groove along some of the timbers so the melamine gets flush with the timber. Those grooves are 8mm deep and 15mm high.

Then I cut all the melamine panels according to dimensions and drill some holes where they will be screwed. This will prevent the melamine to explode when screwing.

Step 13: Mark the Slide's Position

I will go with 5 drawers in height. The bottom one will be a double-height when the 4 upper ones will be the same size. There are 3 screws on each slide for fixing. I marked all those holes and drilled the 2 melamine panels together so both sides are identical.

Step 14: Final Assembly and Gluing

I dismantled all the frame and prepared a brush with wood glue before re-assembling the frame. I let the glue cure for 24 hour before giving the frame a good sanding.

Step 15: Install the Infill Panels

put the melamine panels in place and screw them on top and bottom in the timber frame.

Step 16: Fix the Slides and Put the Drawers in Place

I think that 8mm melamine is not strong enough to screw such big drawers which will create a lot of stress when fully out. So I cut some strips of marine plywood that I applied with double-sided tape onto the screw holes. Then I could use some longer screws to fix into the plywood.

First test with drawers in... Works perfectly!!! Yeah!!! :-)

Step 17: Add the Worktop

I marked some lines all around the upper frame and drilled 4mm holes through it. I did not have long enough screws to go through the timbers completely so I had to widen the holes from behind and drill about half-way in height of the timber. To make sure I do not drill too far, I make a mark on the drill bit and stop when it comes to the timber.

Place the worktop above and screw it from below all around.

Nearly finished!...

Step 18: Little Extra Storage...

I left an aperture on the right so I could slide my table saw behind. It should have fitted tightly with just 10mm of clearence. But... It should have fitted this way with the drawers faces sticking out of the timber frame by their face's thickness. When building the workbench, I decided to have the drawer's faces flush with the timbers which is way nicer to look and avoid trapping when walking by. Doing this moved the slides by 18mm backwards so my table saw would not fit along anymore.

Luckily, I could still place it with table face against the workbench so the blade and fence would fit in the aperture.

To make it easier to put the saw in place, I made a little dolly with bits and pieces I had under hand: a bit of plywood, some off cuts of timber and 4 wheels. The saw sits onto its frame and not any other part, I just put a strap around so it does not move.

Step 19: Completed!!!

Now I have plenty of drawers with separators to sort all the different bits that I do not want to throw away. I have them all under hand and do not need to keep them on the worktop anymore.

Very happy with the final result. Now I need to make 2 more modules this way and on wheels for a table in my basement. I will show you the pictures when they will be done!
I hope it will give you ideas for your future storage! ;-)