Introduction: Workbench Shelves

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

This workbench shelving design is a quick and easy way to add organization and more storage to your workspace. Since my shelves were built using modular aluminum speed rail connectors, it can be modified and adapted to a work bench of any size.

In fact, it is so easily configurable, I have found this setup to be infinitely helpful for my tiny workspace. I use mine to hold organizational part bins, tools, photo sweeps, rolls of 3D printer filament, and also to display finished projects on the top shelf.

On account of it being easy to assemble, it will also be very easy to disassemble when I eventually move out of my tiny apartment. Overall, I have been very pleased with my workbench shelves, and I highly recommend this as a weekend project.

Step 1: Materials

Materials you will need include:

(x2) 14" x 67" composite pine board (or similar)
(x4) 84" x 1" diameter aluminum tubes
(x1) 66" x 1" diameter aluminum tube (optional) (72" cut to size)
(x3) 60" x 1" diameter aluminum tubes
(x2) 16" x 1" diameter aluminum tubes (24" cut to size)
(x6) 10.5" x 1" diameter aluminum tubes (24" cut to size)
(x12) 1" through-hole aluminum flush support
(x2) 1" 4-Way elbow aluminum connectors
(x16) 1" aluminum through hole tee connectors
(x2) 1" aluminum crossovers with through holes (optional)
(x4) 1" round aluminum base flanges
(x12) 3/4" x #12 screws
(x1) Polycrylic satin wood stain

Tools you will need include:

(x1) Drill press
(x1) Corded Drill
(x1) Drill bits and drivers
(x1) 1-1/8" Forstner bit
(x1) Hex wrench
(x1) 1" sponge brush
(x1) Pencil

Please note that some of the links on this page contain Amazon affiliate links. This does not change the price of any of the items for sale. However, I earn a small commission if you click on any of those links and buy anything. I reinvest this money into materials and tools for future projects. If you would like an alternate suggestion for a supplier of any of the parts, please let me know.

Step 2: Drill

Grab one of your pine boards and measure 1.5" upwards from the bottom left corner and make marks inward from the left edge at 2.75", 33.5", and 64.25".

Next, measure 12.75" up from the bottom left corner and make marks inward from the left edge at 2.75", 33.5", and 64.25".

Place the shelf atop a wooden board, and then position it on the bed of the drill press. The idea is that the backing board will present blowout from the Forstner bit.

Drill 1-1/8" holes through each marking using a Forstner bit.

Step 3: Stain

Now is time to stain both the drilled and undrilled board. By applying stain your shelves will last longer and generally be more durable.

With a sponge brush apply an even coating of stain to all sides of the board.

Once it is dry, lightly sand the boards, and apply a second coat. Sand the board once more.

Finally, apply a third coat.

Step 4: Pencil

Lay the board with the holes atop the board without the holes.

Using a pencil, trace the outline of each hole onto the surface of the undrilled board.

Step 5: Brackets

Center each of the flush mount brackets atop each of the pencil circles on the undrilled board.

Affix the brackets to the board with the 3/4" screws.

Next, grab the board with the holes through it and center each of the 1-1/8" holes.

Mount more flush mount brackets to this board as well using 3/4" screws.

Step 6: Stack the Shelves

Now it is time to begin assembly of the shelf. The first order of business is to space the shelves about a foot apart. The easiest way to do this is to find some boxes of the same size. I found that organizational bins work well for this.

First I placed the undrilled board on the ground with the brackets facing up.

Then, I placed the pins on top of the board.

I stacked the other shelf atop the bins with their brackets also facing up.

Finally, I inserted the 7' aluminum poles through each of the corner brackets and tighten each of the bracket's set screws using a hex wrench to lock them in place.

Step 7: Shelf Supports

Two additional aluminum shelf supports are then slid onto the main support posts. These help keep the shelves from sagging.

Each beam consists of a 5' foot pole with a through-hole tee connector slid onto the center and then a through-hole tee connector attached to each end.

Firmly attach the two end connectors onto each post using their set screws, and then slide the whole assembly down one set of support poles. Stop short about one foot short of the shelf. Repeat this process with the other shelf support.

Insert the 16" aluminum bars down through each set of shelf brackets. Lower the whole shelf support bar into place such that the center tee connector is aligned with the 16" bar.

Tighten all of the remaining bracket set screws that have yet to be fastened.

Step 8: Photo Brace (optional)

The next addition I added were 10.5" cross bars with an aluminum crossover on the center. The crossovers are meant to hold a 66" aluminum bar which, in turn, holds a paper photo sweep.

Step 9: Cross Brace

Another 10.5" cross brace with through-hole tees on each end is slid about halfway down one set of support posts and locked into place with support screws.

This is repeated for the other side as well.

Step 10: Structural Support

A series of horizontal support bars are then installed near the base of the vertical supports.

This consists of two through-hole tee connectors, two 4-way elbows, two 10.5" aluminum bars, and a 5' aluminum bars.

At this point you should get the drill. Put everything together, slide it into place, and lock it down using set screws.

Step 11: Feet

Slide the round base flanges onto the end of each post and lock them into place using set screws.

Step 12: Right Side Up

Now is time to flip the shelves right side up.

This is a two-person activity. I would not attempt it by yourself. I tried, and it quickly proved to be a mistake.

Step 13: Slide the Desk In

Slide the desk into place, and set it up to your liking.

Step 14: Get Some Use Out of It

The nice thing about this system is that it is both expandable and adaptable. It enables me to use the space as a workbench, a photo studio, and as a computer desk.

I'm happy I built it. It works great in my tiny workspace.

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