Simple Workbench




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 ...

A few weeks ago I got tired of being hunched behind a desk all day. I was already surrounded by all kinds of alternative desks, so I decided to throw my hat into the ring. I've been in situations in the past at which I've worked at workbenches or work counters and always found these experiences highly enjoyable. I prefer to have the option to stand while I work and like having lots of space to spread out my stuff and move around. So, I recently got rid of my desk and replaced it with two rolling workbenches.

Follows are simple instructions for putting together a rolling workbench.

Step 1: Get Rid of Your Old Desk

Before you can build a standing workbench, the laws of physics dictate that you must first un-occupy the space that you wish to occupy.

Put it on Criagslist and greatly under-price it so that someone will actually buy it.

Step 2: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x2) 48" x 36" x 3/4 plywood board
(x1) Set of adjustable bench legs
(x4) Locking casters with threaded rods
(x1) Miniwax Water-based Polycrylic
(x1) brush
(x1) fine grit sandpaper
(x1) pencil
(x1) screwdriver
(x1) power drill with misc. drill bits
(x20) 1-1/4" wood screws and washers

12" x 48" and/or 18" x 48" plywood board for storage shelves
Misc. nuts, bolts and washers

Step 3: Mark the Holes

Lay the boards, one atop the other, on the ground. Measure 3.5" in from the edge and place the table leg upside down. When you are sure it is even with the table, use a pencil and trace the table leg's screw holes.

Step 4: Drill

Remove the bench legs and drill pilot holes for your wood screws in the center of each marking. Be careful not to drill all the way through both boards.

Step 5: Fasten the Bench Legs

Put the bench legs back in place and fasten them tightly to the boards using wood screws and washers (as pictured).

If you don't plan on adding shelves underneath later on, Hiroak has this to say:
You need to support the legs like the one with the shelf. If you are rolling that baby around and hits something your legs will fold under using wood screws. You should consider using carriage bolts and counter sinking them, then fill the holes with harding putty for a smooth surface.

Step 6: Attach the Casters

Attach the casters to the bottom of the table posts by simply threading them in place. Adjust the height of the table so that it is right for you.

A standard counter is around 34" - 36".

Step 7: Sand

Sand the workbench to get rid of any rough edges before sealing it.

Brush it off when you are done.

Step 8: Seal the Workbench

Wheel the workbench into a well-ventilated space.

Stir your finish and apply a thin coat in one direction (either horizontal or vertical). Wait for it to dry.

Once dry, lightly sand it and then brush it off. Apply another coat of stain in the opposite direction that you did with the first coat.

Repeat this process alternating brush stroke direction four or five times.

Step 9: Add Shelves (optional)

When you are done, you can add shelves to the underside of the workbench so that you have some extra storage.

I didn't bother to finish the shelves or do anything too fancy with them. Basically, I drilled some holes in the plywood and bolted them down. It's not the prettiest, but it gets the job done.



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    17 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. Just what I'm looking for. The Grainger legs, however, do not seem to come with the posts. I contacted Grainger and they couldn't tell me whether they came with posts or what locking casters would work with the legs. Any help would be appreciated.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    You need to support the legs like the one with the shelf.  If you are rolling that baby around and hits something your legs will fold under using wood screws.  You should consider using carriage bolts and counter sinking them, then fill the holes with harding putty for a smooth surface.  Then you could cover the tops with counter top laminates, wood is very soft.  They make a great work area, are cheap and very durable and if you do gouge the surface you can just replace it.

    If you wanted to lock them together get some Table locks.  This is the best place to order hardware,  I think.

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Rockler is a great supplier; I enjoy just browsing their catalog. They have so many things you never knew you needed!      :-)

    You believe you can get table locks at your local big box store and save the shipping costs.  I've also used brass latches from a big box for  $3.50 for a pair.  These are a good alternative for a workbench.

    They are easy to install, but you have to be absolutely sure everything is lined-up properly.  Assuming the goal is to lock two of these workbenches together, here is how I would do it:

    1 - Turn the table over, face-down on a clean piece of the floor
    2 - Ensure the mating edges are properly aligned in all three axis
    3 - With both halves of the locks locked to each other,  position the locks where you want them and use a pencil to locate the mounting holes for both halves
    4 - Drill the pilot holes for one half only
    5 - This next step is my trick: Drill the pilot holes for the 2nd half about 1/16"  (1.5mm) further away from the edge than the pencil marks indicate.  The purpose is to ensure a tight fit when the two halves are mated.
    6 - Screw-down the table locks
    7 - Align and lock the two tables.  You should have some resistance because of step 5.
    8 - Flip the table upright
    9 - Adjust the casters as necessary to ensure the height of the top surface is uniform in all four corners
    9 - Celebrate a job well down with a hoppy Oregon microbrew!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I ended up adding shelves to both tables, but that is a good point. If I hadn't done that, I would definitely have that problem.

    And I considered lining the top with mat white acrylic like my desk at home, but decided I was going to stick with the plain plywood because it is nice to photograph on (not to mention, I was working on a relatively tight budget). It will probably get scuffed up over time though, but I'm hoping that will add character.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     They look great.  Your pictures are very good and you took some with your left hand or had help either way nice job.  


    9 years ago on Introduction

    -Legs giving way. Even if you do not add shelves, adding a single rail will keep the legs from giving way. If you have 2 rails, (hence something going all the way around) they can get in the way of your ankles sometimes, so one down the middle, back out of the way, is all that is needed. For single rail it needs to be very staunch, because it needs to also be able to take a load, as well as handle any forces applied while rolling the bench about.

    Inspirational project, thank you for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     dont bother with those as they have a very limited weight range...... i figured this out after overloading some with 2 mac pros...thankfully the monitors were wall mounted


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Nice depth of field! What did you use to take the picture of the leg with the background?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    1. I have a doctor's note about motion sickness.
    2. So long as the $10 is reinvested back into cookies for everybody.
    3. Talk to Scoochmaroo about that one...
    4. No, the floor is sloped at just the right angle(s) to keep them together.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    ...and those people who do not have the planet on their side could counter-sink neodymium magnets into one edge of each desk.

    When you're not sticking furniture together, they could be used to hold up tools or as a convenient way to wipe credit cards without removing them from your pocket...