4hr $70 Workbench




Introduction: 4hr $70 Workbench

My friend was given an old workbench in pieces. We had to figure out how to put it back together and in doing so I became intrigued by the simple, strong and easy to construct design. I have determined that I need to remove and invert the engine from my Ninja motorcycle, so I decided I needed a bench of my own. The original had a 6ft wide surface and short backsplash, but I decided I wanted something more compact. This design is extremely sturdy and with some simple checks I was able to keep it square very easily.

My first time I built this very simple design in 4 hours. I think I could get it done in 3 to do it again. I also like that it was entirely cross-cuts and the only tricky bits are the notches, but a $15 Harbor Freight tool made quick work of that.

Step 1: Materials

(6) 2" x 6" x 8'
(1) 2" x 6" x 10'
(4) 1" x 4" x 8'
2 1/2" deck screws
1 5/8" drywall screws

Step 2: Tools

Power Tools
- power mitre saw (the lack of sheet lumber means this is your best friend)
- saw capable of plunge cuts (I figured this out later and would have saved me lots of time. this one was $15 from Harbor Freight)
- opt. table saw (this can be used to make the notches, but it is more dangerous, time consuming and will also require chisels)
- drill, and drill/driver (I prefer and impact driver)

Hand Tools
- Square
- Tape measure
- bits for drilling and screws.
- countersink bit (optional, but recommended)
- clamps
- brush

Step 3: Measure and Make All Cross Cuts

Measure and make the following cross cuts
2" x 6"
(6) 48" - Table top and backsplash (this can be any length between 48" and 72")
(2) 43 1/2" - Top supports (Horizontal for the front and back. This determines the width of the base)
(2) 60" - Back legs (this can be any length over 40". I chose 5ft as it was half of the 10' board)
(2) 33" - Front legs (wait to measure these until after you cut the 28" boards. You will have a large enough scrap out of each for this piece.)
(4) 28" - Side supports (measure from each factory edge to make two out of each 8' board)

1" x 4"
(6) 44" - Bottom shelf (any adjustments to the width of the base need to be reflected here)
(2) 27" - Top re-enforcements (on the original these are mounted outside of the base, but mine are inboard. I had to trim mine a bit to fit inside the base.)

Step 4: Mark and Make Your Notches

This was the trickiest part of the whole build and it is not difficult.

Using scrap 2x6, mark the notches on the front and back legs. With the legs laid flat the bottom notches will be on the outside and the top will be on the inside. The top notches on the front legs with be all the way at the end.

Using the square you can transfer the line markings to the other boards.

If you have the plunge saw it is very easy to cut out the notches following the lines (highly recommended).

I didn't remember we had one of those so I started by clamping all of the boards together and running them through the table saw several times to prepare for chiseling to clean out the notches.

Step 5: Build the Frame

This is the step where the genius of this design is revealed. It is also where some careful measurement will make for a very square table.

Build each "side" first by pre-drilling and using the deck screws to affix the bottom and top sides to the front and rear legs on your work table.

The sides will now free-stand and you can attach to front and rear top supports. Check the width at the front and back to make sure it is square and you attach these pieces.

Step 6: Attach the Shelf and Top

The bottom shelf also squares the bottom of the legs, so measure carefully.

Carefully attach one 1x4 at the front and one at the back using drywall screws. Make sure the overhangs are even and that the bottom is square.

Use a scrap 1x4 to set the spacing for the rest of the shelf. They should be evenly spaced.

Place the five 2x6 top boards in place. I used the 1 1/2" side of a scrap 2x6 to find the spacing for the outside screws (you will need to measure differently if you went wider than 48"). Making sure the overhangs are even attach them with deck screws.

Set and screw the backsplash in place. I left this off for now and I may get a little more creative there.

Flip the bench over and attach the two 1x4 re-enforcements to the underside of the top with drywall screws. Since my table is narrow and will be supporting a lot of weight I cut them down a little more and put them inboard. On the original 6' wide table these hold the ends of the table top together.

Step 7: Place and Enjoy

I was able to squeeze the bench against the wall and had plenty of room for my roll away cart in front of it. I am very pleased with this project and think it will be very sturdy and have a long life.

I took mine one step further by priming and painting it. I applied truck bed coating to the top for a more resilient finish. You must believe me that it was by a complete coincidence that the table ended up matching the bike I am going to use it to rebuild. I appreciate any improvements, comments and questions.

Step 8: Sneak Preview

I recently stored most of my stuff in plastic containers and that got me dreaming about using the design of the workbench to build a shelving unit. I did it in SketchUp first this time, so I thought I would give a little sneak preview of the build. It is now built and working great, though I have been slow to make another instructable on it. I switched all of the horizontal boards out for 2x3's and the vertical ones are 2x4's. This saved a huge amount of cost and weight, but it is extremely strong and freestanding. The unit is 8ft x 8ft x 2ft. The shelves themselves are 1/2 plywood. Stay tuned to find for the instructable.

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22 Discussions

What do you mean by a drill that can do plunge cuts? I'm a newbie DIYer, sorry if thats a stupid question...

2 replies

I meant saw, not drill! It's been a boozy xmas, lol.

disregard my previous replies, Google answered my question :)

Hi and thank you for this awesome instructable. I'm new to DIY and I have a question about the type of wood used here.. my local hardware store have regular pine and it looks bent and have rounded edges.. i wonder if these characteristics will affect the finished product because I can see from your pictures that your wood looks more "flat" and consistent quality.

1 reply

I realize this is an extremely late answer and I do apologize. I would like to answer just in case others have the same question. I used just regular construction pine from the home store. The edges on dimensional lumber are typically rounded, so no worries there. Warping, crowns and twists would be a little bit of issue for many of the pieces needed here. You can often get away with using less than perfect lumber on shorter components. Depending on location it may often be useful to look for a local lumber yard. These are often forgotten gems that do most of their business in construction and have high turn over of materials. Learning to inspect and utilize lumber may or at least could be a very good instructable as it is an important skill to have. Just because it is not perfect does not mean it does not have a place. However, that place may not be the top of a table. :)

Very nice bench! I am just getting into DIY and am green. I want this bench to be my first project. Can you explain the top reinforcement boards better as I am not understanding them - are those boards notched slightly into the front and back cross pieces, or are they just drilled up into the tabletop?

1 reply

Thank you for the comment. I am glad you like it. This is a great project for a first timer. Especially if you can get access to a mitre saw (or power mitre like I have pictured).

I just drilled and screwed those reinforcements into the top. They are in no way structural. It is overkill, but since I was going to coating the top I wanted to limit the flexing movement between the individual 2x6's that form the work surface.

Please let me know if there any other questions I can answer to help you get started.

Great project and very clear instructions. I re-adapted the dimensions and it took me 2 days to complete because I had to cut all the wood by hand. I spent £80 of wood. Rock 'n roll!!!

1 reply

Looks great! I especially like the backsplash. Thank you for the kind words.

Very cool rangertough, the one I originally copied was used for smithing/reloading.

1 reply

Thanks for the 'ible. I'm not very good at building (my adult life was mostly professionally breaking stuff for Uncle Sam) but I can follow simple directions. This was a well designed and more importantly well explained project.

Needed a multipurpose bench. Mostly for gunsmithing. Modified the the bottom to accomodate my footlockers.


Thank you very much for your comment. I think one could even do a little better than that if one were so inclined. It is much sturdier than the ones at the home store for $300.

I used the longest screws I could for each part. 2 1/2" deck screws for the main support and 1 1/2 - 1 3/4" drywall screws for the bottom shelf. Keep in mind to run them a little short if you are going to countersink them like I did.

1 reply

Very nice..I already have a bench that I built for $100 about 10 years ago but the sweet colors and smaller size make this one I may build for a 2nd bench :) Nice job.

Thanks for the instructable. Nice progression of steps. As a side note if you have the time and can wait a bit. Almost all the lumber you could ever need can be found in contractors dumpsters on the street, right in front of a renovation or new home build. If your really luck they'll have some demolition waste like solid wood doors to use as a table top.

Very good bench
I bet u could get 100 for it on cl
Make a little profit
What length screws u use?