DIY Portable Workbench (knock-down Design) With a Leg Vise and Storage - From Scraps and Simple Tools!

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Introduction: DIY Portable Workbench (knock-down Design) With a Leg Vise and Storage - From Scraps and Simple Tools!

In this Instructable I show how to build a woodworking workbench that can be disassembled for transport.

this workbench is built entirely from scrap wood, using mostly hand tools. it's relatively small (1m wide), so it fits easily into any car.

I've used this workbench for more than 5 years and it is very comfortable and also extremely sturdy, thanks to the storage space which is packed with tools.

the design is based on the this article, especially the notched stretchers.

some notes:

- I used mostly hand tools to build this workbench. it was a personal choice to show that you don't need fancy woodworking tools to build a good workbench.

- the storage area is optional. personally, I added it a few months after the workbench was complete

- the leg vise is my own design, inspired by the moxon vise.

- the video shows how I assemble the workbench after transporting to my new apartment.

I hope this article helps you with designing and building your own workbench.

Supplies:

scrap wood (2x4's, old door frames etc.)

woodworking tools (saw, drill, rasps, planer etc.). I used mostly hand tools because it's fun!

Optional - for the leg vise:

threaded rod with 2 bolts and a washer - diameter 20mm or more, rod length around 40cm

square metal or wood bar

Optional (for drawers) - drawer rails and material

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Step 1: Build the Top Surface

I built the top surface from scrap door frames I found on the curb.

I recommended using 2x4's, but as you can see it can be done with any scrap wood - as long as it doesn't contain metal, screws, nails etc.

first, I use a hairdryer to remove the vinyl wrap, revealing laminated wood and glue.

I scraped off the laminate and glue with an old woodworking plane.

then, I planed the glue up surfaces with a no. 4 plane.

to make glue up easier, I drill holes and insert dowels that keep mating surfaces aligned and prevents them from sliding.

I don't have any large clamps, so I improvised with a couple of leftover planks and wedges. wedges provide excellent clamping force!

I also found a small table top that was almost the exact dimensions. I glued it below the work surface to add extra height and strength.

Step 2: Make the Legs

The base shape of the legs is a large "A" (or "R"). it is relatively easy to build from straight pieces.

I'm using hand tools, including a hand saw and chisels, so I recommend creating "knife walls" for cleaner saw lines and guiding the saw,

I improves a shooting board for 2x4's using a wedge, and used it to clean the edges.

Tip: when creating 2 or more identical pieces, I recommend marking and copying elements from one piece to another (instead of measuring). in my case - I copied the locations of notches for the stretchers from one leg to another.

I prepared all the stock material, and then I glued and screwed everything together.

Make sure to check that edges are straight and square.

Step 3: Build the Stretchers

The stretchers provide rigidity, they prevent the frame from racking and the bench from rocking. They are meant for easy disassembly.

as mentioned before, stretcher design is based on this article at woodcraft.com.

in principle, a single bolt creates 2 focus/pressure points against the leg.

in order to secure the bolt, a hole is drilled into the stretcher for the nut.

if you plan on adding a storage shelf, make sure that the stretcher tops are level with each other.

Step 4: Assemble the Top to the Base

connect the top to the legs using bolts similar to the stretchers. I use 4 bolts - 2 on each side.

make sure to sink the bolt heads well below the top surface!

after everything is connected, check for level, plane the top and optionally apply finish (in my case, boiled linseed oil).

Step 5: Build the Leg Vise (moxon Style)

this leg vise is based on the Moxon style bench vise, check the video to see how it works, and see the assembly video above for a breakdown of the parts.

it uses simple materials:

- 20mm threaded rod,

- 2 nuts

- metal square tube

- some wood and bolts.

The vise is relatively easy to make (see pictures):

- drill the top hole in the leg for the threaded rod

- drill the bottom hole for the tube, and square it using a chisel

- attach the square tube to the leg vise.

- fix one nut to the back of the leg

- fix the other nut to the wheel

and that's it!

Step 6: Add Storage / Drawers

workbench storage is absolutely optional. However, it has several advantages:

- storage space

- adds weight to the workbench, making it much more stable and rigid

first, I added a shelf on top of the bottom stretchers. this will hold the drawers box.

I chose to built separate drawer boxes and shelves. they can be disassembled and transported very easily (see video above).

see the picture for description of the steps and useful tips!

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Workbench!

I also added a bottom drawer (on wheels). it adds storage and also prevents stuff from rolling under the workbench :)

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    13 Discussions

    0
    GottaLoveProjects
    GottaLoveProjects

    2 months ago on Step 1

    I'm IMPRESSED! Signed up here just to say that. I really like the fact that you have had it for a while and used it! Thanks for taking the time to put it up, I'm adding it to the list of things I need to build.

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Reply 2 months ago

    thank you so much for the compliment :)
    I really like it, and always think of ways to improve. I plan to add retractable casters with a cool lever mechanism, hope it will work..
    Good luck with your own build!

    1
    IgorL33
    IgorL33

    2 months ago

    Its need to add a steel bondage to upper end of bench clamp. Great work, congrats you and thanks.

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Reply 2 months ago

    yes, you're absolutely right. very few people notice this issue, good catch!
    I plan on adding some kind of metal reinforcement to the vise, hope it will help.
    thank you so much for the compliment!

    0
    GenP1
    GenP1

    Question 2 months ago on Step 6

    Fantastic ‘ible! Question: how did you layout/build the drawers & slides? I see the box provides a cabinet for the drawers but not much about laying out/attaching slides. (Current project prompts the question:). Thanks again- loving your appreciation of hand tools too btw.

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Answer 2 months ago

    Thank you for the kind words!
    to be honest, I didn't take pictures of this step, and it wasn't simple because I had 2 different types of drawer slides: Blum slides and regular, single roller slides. they are very different in drawer construction and slide layout, so it made things complicated.
    it was all very "trial and error"..
    in short: the drawers I made aren't much to learn from. the best tip I can give is to watch a few YouTube videos about drawer design and layout (depending on the type of slide), and then give it ago :)

    1
    GenP1
    GenP1

    Reply 2 months ago

    Doing a lot of trial & error too (lol), as using 100% scrap was part of my objective as well. Good call on the videos, thanks! Cheers

    0
    a-morpheus
    a-morpheus

    2 months ago

    wow, really nice.

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Reply 2 months ago

    thanks!! :)

    0
    NormandR
    NormandR

    2 months ago

    Your project deserves to be submitted to a "Furniture Contest". I would argue that a Workbench of this quality is a piece of heirloom furniture. Your use of common manual tools is a joy to see. All this is a piece dedicated to the art of recycling wood products.
    Bravo! Reuse-Retool-Repurpose-Renew-Recycle!

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Reply 2 months ago

    thank you so much for the kind words!
    it was my very first woodworking project, a kind of "rite of passage" to this wonderful world. I really enjoyed working with hand tools (they were the only ones I had at the time..), and always try to use salvaged materials, there is so much of it around!

    0
    paulbsa
    paulbsa

    Question 2 months ago

    Nice design and work on this. Did you think about using T-nuts where the table top and legs attach? It would save having to worry about losing nuts (or holding them to tighten.)

    0
    mrGreenMakes
    mrGreenMakes

    Answer 2 months ago

    thank you!
    I didn't think about T-nuts at all, it's a great idea.
    at the time of building the workbench, I didn't have any T-nuts (not even enough bolts) so I had to make do with what I had: a few bolts, some threaded rods and regular nuts.