2X4 Work Bench

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Intro: 2X4 Work Bench

If you're after a solid workbench for a small price, this is it!

Step 1: Tools Needed

This project requires minimal tools, however, as it comes with woodworking, there are some that could greatly decrease your time spent and aid in safety/execution.

Tools Needed:
Measuring tape
Pencil
Speed square
Clamps (more the better)
Circular saw
Table saw
Drill
Hammer
Wrenches
Hand plane
Belt/disk sander

Tools that would greatly assist with build:
Dado blade set
Jointer
Thickness planer

Step 2: Lumber and Hardware

Lumber:

This workbench is built from 100% 2X4's. Depending on your design , you could vary how many you need. I built mine so it would be just under 3' high and 5' long with a 2' wide top. I needed a total of 24-26 2x4's. It's always nice to have a few to spare.

Hardware:

3.5" deck screws
3" deck screws
16 3 " 5/16 Carriage bolts
16 5/16 nuts/washers

Woodworking vise. I shopped around but ended up buying one from a local hardware store for about $35.

Step 3: Making the Top.

Step 1:

Rip all lumber so your 2X4's will have a final dimension of 1.5 x 3". Easier way to complete task is to first set your fence to 3.25 inch (inside of kerf), rip all. Now, reposition fence to 3" and now rip other side of all. This gives you a nice flat, square top to work on.

Step 2:

Position all the boards you will need to achieve your top width square and flat (take a board perpendicular to and butt up all boards needing to be cut). Clamp on a guide fence and cross cut all of them with your circular saw to length. * Make sure to add a couple inches to your overall length here. You will cut to final length at a later step.

Step 3: Preparing top for catch all "cubby hole" (optional)

If you have to have a "cubby hole" you need to dadoe out 6-10" of material anywhere from 1-2" deep. It's absolutely critical you take your time here and you measure three times and cut once. I centered mine lengthwise and one board in from edge. Refer to picture#3.

Note: I do enjoy this feature, however I sometimes find it as a catch all and hard to keep organized.

Step 4:

Now it is finally time for glue up. If your total top width is over 12" or so, I would strongly suggest to glue your top in two sections and then glue them together as I did.

I also want to state, I did this glue up untraditionally, but for my purpose it has served extremely well. For each board I glued together, I screwed in 2.5" wood screws as well for extra clamping/holding power. Once I had approximately 5 screws/board, I would glue next one and repeat, then clamp.

Warning: Make sure you remember to leave room for your legs (tenon) to come through your table top(mortise). The best way for this is to have a scrap board for a spacer. * Make snug, but not overly tight.

Once your two halves are completed, now would be a good time to run on a jointer/planer to prepare for final thickness. I took my hand plane and belt sander to square up stock before joining the two halves.

Once joined, repeat planing and sanding to achieve a nice flat working surface. Now, cut top to final length. 5' for my case.

Step 4: All About the Base

Step 1:

Determine overall dimensions needed.

Since we are extending our base legs through the table top, your measurements must be exact!

For instance, my top is 24" wide. I placed my openings 2boards in from each side ( 3") and six inches in from ends. Therefore each of my bases (there's two which you later connect) must be 18 inches wide to outer edge.

For my table, I decided to have a 6" overhang on each side. However, this almost became a problem when installing my face vise, so you will want to check on this if you will be installing one. Furthermore, my base must be 4' long.

Needed cuts:
4 legs at 34"
4 end stretchers at 18"
4 side stretchers at 4'

*Refer to diagram for clarification

Now comes the tricky part. Making all the dadoes in your legs. And, yes a dadoe blade and/or a cross cut sled would be extremely beneficial.

There are 4 dadoes per leg. Each dadoe is 3" wide (the width of your rippped 2x4) and 3/4" deep (1/2 the thickness of a 2x4).

2 for your cross supports (end stretchers). One 7" from bottom and the other 9.5" from the top.

1 for bottom side stretcher: 7" from bottom

1 for tabletop support (top stretcher). 3" from top of leg. * This support is extremely critical to make precisely. You will eventually pound your top on to ground it, adding stability and ensuring its level.

Once everything is cut, assemble one base at a time. Glue, clamp and screw end stretchers to legs (picture #2). When completed, it is time to add your bottom and top stretchers. For these, you will want to clamp them in place, predrill for bolts, glue and then bolt into place. Refer to picture #1 and #5.



Step 5: Almost There!

This is by far my favorite step. Your base and now top are assembled. What's left? Put it together!

Grab a mallet, a scrap piece of lumber, align your mortise' with the tenons and start pounding it on until it is flush with your top stretcher. Tip: Pound each side a little bit at a time and never let one side dip too much before your other side has time to catch up. If your fit is a little loose, I would glue before setting top for extra support.

Once your top is on, this would be the time to install your face vice. Follow instructions or refer to this site if need help.

Step 6: Finish

There is a lot of debate about what kind of finish to use on a workbench top. Some people like wax, lacquer, nothing or even oil. Do your research and see which is best for your needs. I personally went with oil for the sole purpose to "pop" some of the grain and have the ability to easily refinish my top after years of abuse without needing to strip anything first.

Well, there you have it! You're done! Enjoy your beverage of choice and have fun with your new work bench!

Step 7: Credit

I want to make it clear I used a few different articles from multiple publications for workbenches and made a hybrid. I would honor those by releasing their names, however I can not remember which ones I used it from.

Furthermore, I want to thank the individuals who made it to the end of this article. I hope you found it useful and I apologize for any confusing areas (this is my first post). Next time I make something, I think I'll take more pictures for greater clarification.

Cheers!

Step 8:

Share

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32 Discussions

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HobbyJim

2 years ago

My bench is similar in construction. You're right, 2x4s are great way to have a solid bench at a reasonable price. I did a few things differently:

For the top, I used a jig to drill four holes in each 2x4, in the same spots. Then I ran threaded rod through each hole as I glued. Once the top was fully glued up, I tightened the bolts on each end of the rods, added some clamps and clamped cleats on the surfaces to keep everything flat.

Once it was dried, I built a router sled (you can Google this) and ran a half-inch straight bit over the whole 2' x 7' top. Sounds like a lot of work but I was removing very little wood, so it only took about 20 minutes. Now, it was perfectly flat.

I used 4x4 mortise and tenon trestle legs for added stability and weight.

I wanted a tough top, so I added 1/4" tempered masonite and trimmed it with pine for a nice, finished edge. The masonite is attached with dabs of contractors cement. I've banged on it for 8 years and it's never come loose. When it's time to replace it, I'll just pry it off, remove any old glue and put a new piece on. The only downside is that I don't have the great grain you have.

I was lucky when it came time for a tail vise. A friends father had an old bench that was in bad shape, but the all-wood vise was in great shape. The screw is 18" long, 2" diameter maple.

Added a power bar and storage and now I have a bench that won't move when I'm planing.

Thanks for the post. Wish I new about Instructables when I built mine.

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BearTrapperHobbyJim

Reply 2 years ago

I love the way you did your top! It sounds very simple and I could imagine the glue up going very smoothy. Overall, I think your bench is top notch. Good idea with the ability to reapply your working surface with ease. Good work sir!

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JeremyS100

2 years ago

Updated after putting a few coats of poly on the top to protect it.

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mid_life_crisis

2 years ago

It costs more, but if you have no confidence in your ability to make the top nice and flat, order a solid wood door to use for the top. If you're lucky you might find one for a nice price in one of those stores that sells used construction materials. In either case, covering the working surface with a sheet of masonite or some kind of veneer is a smart idea.

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katerlynmid_life_crisis

Reply 2 years ago

Habitat for Humanity Restore...stores often have solid wood doors.

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katerlyn

2 years ago

My friend was showing me last week how to set up my saw. He showed me how to only have the teeth just barely showing enough to cut the wood so if I slipped, it would not cut off my entire finger.

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Mike Kapotsy

2 years ago

Nice job on the bench. Good luck!

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Foxtail Quilting

2 years ago

I like. It looks really well done. Not too long ago I was craving a sewing table and happened to find an old drafting table at an estate sale which I got for a steal and love. I have an intsructable entered (a DIY custom t-shirt quilt) in "Before & After", "Sew Warm," and "Handmade Gifts", so I decided to check out all the other contests. You have my vote!

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JGDean

2 years ago

Check this out for assembling your work surface. I'm going to make some before I work on a workbench for myself.

https://www.instructables.com/id/4-Way-Panel-Clamps/

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BearTrapperJGDean

Reply 2 years ago

I saw this on here and I loved the idea immediatley!

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joel.munoz.7547

2 years ago

Great job! I'll definitely be using 2x4's for my project but I'm wondering how I can make this a "central hub", so to say where I am able to incorporate my table saw, router table base and my thickness planner all on my work bench with out neither one interfering with the other or vise versa. Thank you again for taking the time and sharing your nice work of art

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BearTrapperjoel.munoz.7547

Reply 2 years ago

First off, thank you! Secondly, I have been pondering your central hub workbench and remember seeing a couple different articles that give you ideas to do so. I can't remember which publication, but search a few and see what you find. Also, since your top would be pretty large to accommodate all of your tools, I would look into a torsion bench top to save on some wait, cut down on planing and have a perfectly flat surface all at the same time. Just an idea, take it for what it's worth. Thanks again, and good luck with your future builds!

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joel.munoz.7547BearTrapper

Reply 2 years ago

Hey there BearTrapper, kiddos are given when they are deserved. I have not heard of a "torsion bench" but I'll hunt one down for sure. Anything that will help with the build and ensure a nice central hub would be ideal for my projects that I'm about to work on. Thank you once again and I'll take your advise by searching other articles on here that cater more towards my goal. Thank you once again and I still think your bench is a TANK!

Cheers,
Joel

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Don't even bother. Better way to do it is to make a modular system. Build different bases on wheels for each tool such that the working surface of the tool is the same height as the bench. Roll out the one you need and clamp it to the stationary bench. Depending on what you're doing, you can clamp to the end or the side of the bench. By clamping to the heavy bench, you don't need the fancy wheels with brakes.

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Thank you for helping prevent a headache. I do see what you are talking about and I'm going with your idea and I'm hoping it all turns out great. Thank you again "mid_life_crisis" for sharing your knowledge.

Cheers!
Joel

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emachine56

2 years ago

very nice! clean and simple, the way a bench should be.I am building a smaller one (same design as yours) with a Formica top and a swing away under table router...at least the table won't move. A great job, keep it up!

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mlaiuppa.

2 years ago

Lacquer.

You could also do shellac, but it's a workbench.

I'd go with an oil finish too.

I'd love to make one but I lack the woodworking skills and some of the major tools.

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BearTrappermlaiuppa.

Reply 2 years ago

Completely agree. If I spent the time applying shellac or lacquer, I think I wouldn't want to mess up my top and therefore not use my bench to its full capabilities!